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Cooking food with pots and pans over an open fire

Nobody wants to end up with burnt food, warped camping kettles, and melting panhandles! If you are hoping to cook on an open fire, you will need the right cooking equipment.

This article will show you the best camping cookware for open fire on the market and give you useful tips for cooking safely on an open fire. 

Best Camping Cookware for Open Fire Review

Bruntmor Campfire Cooking Stand 

Our Choice
Bruntmor Grill Swing Campfire Cooking Stand
$178.95
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08/02/2021 10:37 am GMT

The Bruntmor Campfire Cooking Stand is an adjustable steel cooking stand with 5 lengths of hooks and a hanging grill. 

You can use the hooks to hang a cauldron-style pot or camping kettle; the grill doubles as a stand for a Dutch oven, cast iron pan, or coffee percolator.

You can also grill food directly on the stand, but we recommend that you invest in a few pots and pans to make buying the stand worthwhile. 

Pros
  • Great quality
  • Fully adjustable
  • Strong and sturdy
Cons
  • Doesn’t come with any pots or pans
  • Too heavy for backpacking

The Bushcraft Backpacker’s Grill Grate

Budget Pick
DZRZVD-The Bushcraft Backpacker's Grill Grate
$12.99
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08/02/2021 10:35 am GMT

The Bushcraft Backpacker's Grill Grate is a hand-welded stainless steel fire grill, suitable for more of a back-to-basics camping trip.

You can cook things like meat, fish, or vegetables directly on the grate, or you can place a cooking pot or camping kettle on top of the grate for support. 

Pros
  • Lightweight and compact (300g)
  • Hand-welded—stronger than machine-welded
  • High-quality heat-resistant steel
Cons
  • Small—can only cater to a couple of people
  • Not raised off the ground—harder to regulate temperature

Bruntmor Cast Iron African Potje Pot

Cast Iron Pre-Seasoned Potjie African Pot, 7 Quarts With Wooden Crate
$136.95
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The Bruntmor Cast Iron African Potje Pot is high-quality and functional—and it looks fantastic, too. 

This cast-iron pot has tall legs so it can be used directly over an open fire or gas burner. It also comes with a handle so that it can be hung above the fire using a campfire cooking stand.

The domed lid and base help to evenly distribute heat through the pot, and the design keeps liquids toward the bottom of the pot to prevent burning. 

Pros
  • High-quality materials 
  • Versatile 
  • Designed to distribute heat and avoid burning food 
Cons
  • Expensive—but the quality is worth every cent

Stansport Cooking Broiler

Stansport 339 Deluxe Cooking Broiler
$13.99
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08/02/2021 10:32 am GMT

The Stansport Cooking Broiler is a chrome-plated wire basket grill with a wooden handle. 

Simply place your meat or vegetables between the wire grills and then shut it securely with the locking ring. You can now place it over the barbeque or hot coals of a campfire, turning it with the handle when your food is cooked on one side. 

Pros
  • Wooden heat-proof handle
  • Mesh cage prevents food from being dropped into the fire
  • Compact 
Cons
  • Thick food might not fit inside the cage
  • Chrome basket could warp in really hot conditions—suitable for a medium-sized campfire, not a bonfire

Calaphon Pre-Seasoned Iron Skillet

Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware, 12-inch, Cast Iron Skillet
$29.99
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The Calaphon Pre Seasoned Iron Skillet is the perfect pan for whipping up your eggs in the morning. It is surprisingly light for a cast iron pan of its size, though it will still be much heavier than the pots and pans used in most modern kitchens. 

When frying in a cast iron pan, you need to get the oil really hot to prevent sticking. Also, wear suitable oven gloves because the handle will get very hot! 

Pros
  • Pre-seasoned to avoid sticking 
  • Lighter than many similar pans 
  • Lifetime guarantee
Cons
  • No cover on the handle—use protective gloves

Texsport Swivel Grill 

Texsport Heavy Duty Swivel Grill Over Open Fire
$46.14
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08/02/2021 10:40 am GMT

The Texsport Swivel Grill is a heavy-duty camping grill with adjustable height and 360 rotation to help you get the perfect cooking temperature over your open fire. 

Made from steel, it is designed with a post to be driven securely into the ground before you build the fire beneath it. You can either cook directly on the grill or use it to support other pots and pans. 

Pros
  • Height adjustable
  • Swivels 360 degrees to help prevent food burning 
Cons
  • Some users report that the pole fails after a time—not the best choice if you will be camping a lot

Camp Chef Lumberjack Over Fire Grill

Camp Chef Lumberjack Over Fire Grill 36"
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The Camp Chef Lumberjack Over Fire Grill has folding legs to help prevent you from burning your food. It is a stable, heavy-gauge steel grill that is big enough to hold two pots, or a pot and a kettle. 

Pros
  • Folding legs make it more compact and prevent burning 
  • Good size for a family camping trip 
Cons
  • Some users report a little warping after use (best for a small campfire)

Stansport Grill Tripod Cooker

Stansport Grill Tripod Cooker(18-Inch)
$27.99
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The Stansport Grill Tripod Cooker shares some similarities with our Best Choice Bruntmor Cooking Stand. The height of the hanging grill can be adjusted to cook at the ideal temperature, and you can use the grill directly or with a cooking pot. 

However, this tripod cooker doesn’t have multiple hooks to allow you to cook several things at the same time and the materials are not as high-quality as the Bruntmor’s.

On the other hand, it is lighter weight and more affordable, so it might be more suitable for some people. 

Pros
  • Adjustable height of hanging grill 
  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy three-leg design 
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not as good quality as our Best Choice Bruntmor—unlikely to last you a lifetime

Camp Chef Dutch Oven

Camp Chef 12 Qt Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven
$65.10
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The Camp Chef Dutch Oven is a brilliant quality cast iron Dutch oven, with plenty of capacity to feed a large camping group. The lid can also be reversed and used as a skillet!

This pot is huge, and you’ll be able to cook up to 18 eggs in it at the same time! Just make sure you don’t have to carry it too far because it weighs an impressive 25 pounds. 

Pros
  • Huge capacity
  • Lid doubles as a skillet
Cons
  • Heavy

Stansport 6 Piece Cast Iron Cookset

Stansport Cast Iron 6 Piece Cookware Set
$61.80
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The Stansport 6 Piece Cast Iron Cookset comes with a 10-inch fry pan, 3-quart chicken fryer with a lid, 10-inch Dutch oven with a lid, and hot handle holder to protect your hands. 

Armed with this set, you can cook almost anything. We do recommend that you get some kind of grill on which to rest some of these pots, as this will help ensure that your cooking temperature is more even. 

Pros
  • Can cook nearly anything with this set
  • High-quality cast iron
Cons
  • Must be pre-seasoned for effective use (more on this later!)

Redcamp Folding Campfire Grill

REDCAMP Folding Campfire Grill - Heavy Duty Steel Grate
$32.99
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08/02/2021 10:44 am GMT

The Redcamp Folding Campfire Grill has a design similar to that of the Camp Chef Lumberjack Grill that we mentioned previously, but it is much lighter. This can make it more convenient for a camping trip, but it also means that the materials are of lower quality. 

All in all, it’s an effective and affordable folding grill; just don’t expect it to last a lifetime. 

Pros
  • Folding legs make it more compact
  • Raised off ground—protects food and pans from burning easily
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not as strong or stable as the heavier Campchef Lumberjack Grill

Backcountry Cast Iron Square Grill Pan 

Backcountry Cast Iron 12" Large Square Grill Pan
$49.99
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The Backcountry Cast Iron Square Grill Pan is a pre-seasoned pan, perfect for grilling or searing a camping feast. One benefit of using a pan like this (rather than grilling directly on steel mesh) is that your food is less likely to roll off the edge and get cremated in the campfire!

Pros
  • Restaurant-quality searing and grill pan
  • Prevents food from rolling off into the fire
Cons
  • Perhaps excessive to have this as well as a mesh grill—depends on how light you need to pack!

Stansport Coffee Percolator 

Stansport Stainless Steel Percolater 28-Cup Coffee Pot
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The Stansport Coffee Percolator is a large 28-cup coffee percolator, perfect for keeping all the troops happy on your next camping trip. Keep in mind that 28 cups refers to the standard cup measurement, not how many large mugs of coffee you can get out of it. 

This coffee percolator will last much longer if you place it on a raised grill rather than directly onto the fire. 

Pros
  • Good for a large group
  • Percolated coffee tastes better than instant coffee!
  • Lightweight materials
Cons
  • Plastic lid could melt if you use it too close to fire—make sure you use it on a hanging or raised grill stand
  • Light materials can be damaged or dented with rough use

Odoland Folding Campfire Grill 

Odoland Folding Campfire Grill, 304 Stainless Steel Grate Barbeque Grill
$25.99
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The Odoland Folding Campfire Grill comes with a carry case and camping tongs. It has a nonstick surface to make cooking and cleaning easier. It is the perfect size for two people and the stainless steel is scratch- and rust-resistant. 

Pros
  • Scratch- and rust-resistant
  • Non-stick
  • Comes with tongs
Cons
  • Quite easy to tip over—make sure you stabilize it with some small rocks around the base

Odoland Camping Kettle with Cups 

Odoland 4L Camping Kettle Set with 4 Cups
$27.99
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The Odoland Camping Kettle can be used on an open fire, gas burner, or electric, alcohol, or ceramic stove. It comes with 4 cups that stack together and can be stored inside the kettle, making it portable and lightweight. 

A clear audible whistle will tell you when your boiling water is ready, but make sure you use this on a cooking stand because the rubber handle could be ruined at high heat. 

Pros
  • Light and compact (2.4 lbs all together)
  • Heat-resistant handle (but still use on a stand!)
  • Whistle tells you when your water is ready
Cons
  • Not as strong or durable as cast iron alternatives (but a lot lighter!)

Mr. Barbeque Folding Grill Basket 

Camping Cookware Set - Compact Stainless Steel Campfire Cooking Pots and Pans
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The Mr. Barbeque Folding Grill Basket is a stainless steel basket grill, designed to resist rust. Unlike the Stansport Cooking Broiler that we mentioned earlier, the Mr. Barbeque version does not have a wooden handle. It comes with a heat protection glove, but be sure to avoid touching the metal handle with your bare hands. 

Pros
  • Rust-resistant
  • Comes with accessories 
Cons
  • Metal handle could burn you

Mallome Smores Sticks

MalloMe Marshmallow Roasting Smores Sticks (Set of 8)
$14.99
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No campfire is complete without roasted marshmallows!

The Mallome Smores Sticks are perfect for the job. The rounded ends will help prevent children from cutting themselves, while the multi-colored-handle tips make for easy identification and less squabbling!

Pros
  • Rounded edges
  • Wooden handles protect hands from burning
  • Color identification
Cons
  • Light-duty—suitable only for marshmallow roasting; no heavy meats

Meat Thermometer

Karidge Meat Thermometer
$12.99
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08/02/2021 10:46 am GMT

If you are going to be cooking meat on the bonfire, it’s important to use a Meat Thermometer. This allows you to check that the center is cooked without having to take a bite. 

For food like chicken and fish, this can prevent sickness that will ruin your trip. 

Pros
  • Prevents food poisoning 
  • Easy to use 
  • Waterproof
  • Automatic off function to preserve battery
Cons
  • Feels less ‘back to the wild’ to use a temperature probe (but we think your health is more important!)

Extreme Heat Gloves 

Extreme Heat Resistant Grill/BBQ Gloves
$34.99
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08/02/2021 10:43 am GMT

Another important piece of equipment for open fire cooking is a pair of Extreme Heat Gloves. These are lightweight and compact and will protect your hands when you’re handling metal pots or adding wood to the campfire. 

Don’t do anything with these gloves that you wouldn’t do while wearing conventional kitchen oven mitts, as no oven gloves are completely fireproof!

Pros
  • Much easier to use than bulky oven mitts
  • Long cuffs to protect your wrists 
Cons
  • Shouldn’t be used for anything other than what normal oven mitts are used for
Grilling food on a stick over open flames

Tips for Outdoor Cooking

Cooking Stand

If you have space, it’s a good idea to bring a cooking stand. These can be on either folding legs or a hanging frame. Cooking stands make it easier to regulate the temperature in your pots and pans and prevent any handles from melting or metal from warping. 

Low-Tech Campfire Cooking

If you are packing really light, you can roast food in aluminum foil. For example, you can stab a potato a few times with a fork, then wrap it in foil and place it in the glowing coals of a campfire. Turn it occasionally, and it will cook evenly. Don’t worry if the skin goes a bit black; the inner potato will be delicious. 

You can also roast food on a metal stick. For example, sausages, bacon, marshmallows, and even bread dough work well with this method.

If you want to cook an egg on a stick, you can carefully peel an orange and use half the peel as a basket which you pierce with your stick and crack the egg into!

Wait for the fire to die down

The best way to start cooking on a campfire is to ‘cook on the coals’. This means building a fire, waiting until the flames have subsided, and then cooking on the hot embers.

This way, you are less likely to burn yourself, but you will have to be patient and start the fire well before you are ready to cook. 

Cast Iron Care

Cast iron is more expensive than steel or aluminum, but it can last a lifetime. It’s important to not use soap to clean it. Use just hot water and a brush, and make sure you season it occasionally to prevent rust and food from sticking to the pan. 

This video shows you how to season your cast iron:

Preventing Wildfires

Every year, people and wild animals lose their lives and homes due to wildfires accidentally caused by campfires. For this reason, don’t build a campfire in places where it is not permitted. 

The best way to prevent wildfire spread is to use a firepit that is raised off the ground. You could either look at purchasing one or use designated firepits in National Park camping zones. 

If you do build a fire on the ground, it is much better to do this outside of summer, or at least on the beach or rocky ground rather than in a forest.

Make sure to put it out yourself rather than wait for it to go out. It takes up to 20 minutes to properly put out a campfire because fire can spread beneath the ground through the underground root systems of trees and grasses. 

Despite what you might think, lining a fire with stones does not prevent fire spread. It can stop the fire from spreading at the surface, but not beneath the ground. So, it is a good practice, but you still need to put your fire out with lots of water.

Leave No Trace

As users of nature, we must leave the outdoors as we find it. This video has some great tips for building a leave-no-trace fire:

FAQs About Campfire Cooking Equipment

What does pre-seasoned mean?

If a cast iron pan is pre-seasoned, it has been greased with fat or oil before purchase. You should still periodically season your pan, as described in the Tips for Outdoor Cooking section.

Can you put stainless steel on an open fire? 

Yes, you can. To prevent warping, it’s a good idea to use steel cooking pots on a stand rather than directly on the embers. 

What is better: stainless steel or hard-anodized aluminum? 

Whilst hard-anodized aluminum (nonstick) cookware can be useful, it is also linked to some health concerns such as Alzheimer’s. For this reason, we recommend stainless steel, though it needs to be seasoned to prevent sticking. 

Can you use enamel cookware on an open fire?

It is not a good idea to use enamel cookware on an open fire because the coating can get damaged and flake off. 

Final Thoughts

There is so much brilliant equipment to use for cooking on an open fire. We recommend cast iron pots and pans like the Bruntmor Cast Iron African Potje Pot and the Calaphon Pre Seasoned Iron Skillet.

Cast iron is, indeed, more expensive and heavier than steel and aluminum cookware, but it will last a lifetime if you look after it well. 

We also recommend that you use a good quality cooking stand like the Bruntmor Campfire Cooking Stand because it will help you cater to more people at the same time, without burning your food. 

If you are backpacking, you will have to forget cast iron and cooking stands and go for a simple cooking grill like the Bushcraft Backpacker's Grill Grate or the Stansport Cooking Broiler instead. 

Make sure to put out your campfire before going to sleep. We wish you many happy cooking adventures over the open fire!

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Rachel

Rachel Horne

Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.


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