Do you want to make perfect toast on your next camping trip? If so, you’ve come to the right place!
You’re going camping, but you don’t feel like eating soggy instant oatmeal for breakfast every morning.
Luckily for you, if you’re craving a buttery, golden-brown piece of toast in the a.m., there are many ways to make that happen, from the cheap and easy to the elegant and extravagant.
When camping, you can make toast by using a cast iron skillet, camp toaster, Dutch oven, pie iron, camp oven, or solar oven, or by roasting your bread directly over the fire.
Who knew there was such a wide array of camp toasting techniques? And what the heck is a “pie iron”?
10 Best Ways to Make Toast When Camping
1. Toast With a Camp Toaster
This is one of the most popular ways to make toast while camping, and for good reason.
Camp toasters function very simply: You put in up to four slices of bread, then set the toaster on top of a burner on a camp stove. Next, you flip the bread by hand when it’s golden brown on one side and wait for the slices to toast fully.
In my opinion, the ease of use and the ability to control your toast’s toastiness make this the best way to toast bread while camping.
Honestly, I think camp toasters give normal electric toasters a run for their money.
Camp toasters provide more control than traditional toasters, as you can see what’s going on the whole time, and you can manually stop the toasting process when your toast is the exact degree of doneness you prefer.
2. Toast on a Cast Iron Skillet or Pan
Nothing says “rugged outdoors trip” like a cast iron pan. These hefty beasts are beloved by home cooks and outdoor adventure seekers alike due to their indestructible nature, gorgeous heat retention and distribution, and surprising nonstick capabilities.
Heavy stainless steel pans will also do the trick, and aluminum will work in a pinch. Just remember that aluminum pans are very light, and thus more prone to developing hot spots — making it more likely that your toast won’t brown evenly, burning in spots.
If you’re really in a bind, you can fold up a bunch of aluminum foil and use that as a “pan.” I’ve been there, and for something as simple as bread, it can certainly work. Just don’t expect anything gourmet.
Whatever material you choose, feel free to use the pan over a camp stove or campfire.
Like most campfire recipes, toast works better with low coals rather than a roaring blaze because the heat is more even and consistent.
Now, you’ll have to find some way to get your pan over the fire itself. Fortunately, many campsites come with grates by the fire pit.
In Ontario, where I’m from, even backcountry sites have fire grates that can support pots and pans. If your site doesn’t have one, feel free to bring your own.
Otherwise, you may have to pile up stones in a way that creates a flat-ish resting surface for your pan.
This can quickly go awry, especially if you’re dealing with hot oil. Try testing it out first — put your pan on top of your stone structure and see if it tips or is stable when you move it around.
Then you can put in your fat and bread without worrying that you’ll burn yourself.
You can also lay the cast iron pan directly on the coals, which will provide intense heat but be very stable. Just remember that eventually you’ll have to get either the searing hot pan or its contents off those coals, or your food will burn.
This is important: Add some fat to the pan to give your bread an even, golden toasting. A dry piece of bread on a hot piece of metal will quickly lead to burnt spots.
Butter works great here, and bacon grease is arguably better, but vegetable or olive oil will do as well. Just don’t saturate the bread, as it can soak up too much fat and become soggy and gross.
One note: Generally, you don’t want to bring nonstick pans when you go camping. The coating is at an increased risk of chipping due to the rugged nature of, well, nature — and they’re usually unnecessary.
Who expects a perfectly nonstick-fried egg while camping? Certainly not me.
That said, if you do bring a nonstick pan, definitely do not use it over the fire. Nonstick pans can’t handle the intense heat that a campfire throws off, which means you risk burning the coating and having it seep into your food — which you definitely do not want!
3. Toast With a Dutch Oven
You can use a Dutch oven to make toast just about as well as you can use a pan. They’re generally heavy, meaning you won’t want to pack it on your person.
But what a Dutch oven lacks in portability it makes up for in heat distribution and retention.
There’s also little chance of your bread sticking to the surface, if it’s enameled, or if it’s cast iron that’s been properly cared for. Just make sure to use some fat — the same rules as toasting bread in a pan apply here.
Unlike pans, some Dutch ovens come with handles that can be used to dangle the pot over a fire. That way, you don’t have to worry about finding a grill or building a rock formation to rest it on.
If you find three large-enough sticks and lash them together at the top, you can easily make a tripod that will support the weight of your Dutch oven.
Online, you’ll find a lot of guides on how to do this. You can also buy camping tripods from Amazon or outdoors stores.
The higher sides of a Dutch oven won’t do you any favors, toast-wise, and it’s overkill to bring one just for browning your bread.
But if you’re car camping, there are a million and one recipes to make with a Dutch oven, including soups, stews, and pasta dishes.
4. Toast Directly Over the Fire
Here's where you can get a little creative. Isn't that the whole point of camping in the first place?
You can use tongs, an oil strainer, or a fish roasting griddle; prop your toast against a rock near the campfire; or even do it marshmallow-style, with a stick or one of those pronged metal marshmallow roasting sticks (if you don't mind having a hole in the middle of your toast).
Just make sure your toasting implement has a long handle, as you don’t want to get your hands near the flames.
If you’re lucky enough to find a campfire grill near the fire pit, you can lay your bread right on top. Just be sure to check it, as the flames can take your toast from beautiful to burnt very quickly.
This is what you might call an advanced toasting method, and it’s certainly more prone to burning or failure than others.
But hey, if you use a stick you find at your campsite, you don't have to bring a toaster or any other equipment with you.
This also works well if you’ve lost or broken your lovely camp toaster on the way in. It’s the outdoors; these things happen!
5. Toast in a Pie Iron
Now here's a beautiful camp food instrument. You may have seen these two-pronged, cast iron, sandwich-like implements most often used to make waffles while camping, but they can make a mean slice of toast as well.
To use one, open the iron and grease the inside with oil or butter. Then put in the bread and hold the cast iron part over the fire.
Or, if you’re feeling brave, you can jam it right into the embers. This is easier on your arms, but your toast can go past golden to burnt pretty quickly.
If your fire pit has a grate, you can easily rest the pie iron on top, saving you the trouble of having to hold it there.
You can also do this part over a camp stove, but the weaker flame will take a long time to heat the heavy metal.
Once the pie iron is in the fire, it's just a matter of checking on your toast every once in a while to make sure you haven't burnt it to a crisp. Rotate the pie iron every once in a while — it can be heavy, so don’t be afraid to prop it against a rock or steady log.
Also, pie irons can be used to make delicious breakfast sandwiches. Try popping in some cheese, cooked bacon, and a fried egg with your bread. Or experiment with a roasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Heck, try to build a whole mini pizza in that little compartment. Delicious!
That said, like Dutch ovens and cast iron pans, pie irons are heavy as sin to bring along. They’re worth it only if you’re driving in or taking a kayak or canoe directly to your campsite. (Trust me, you do not want to portage with one of these things!)
6. Toast in a Camp Oven
A camp oven is basically a metal box that looks like a safe, with a rack or two in the middle. It acts just like your oven at home, though it sets up a bit differently.
You can pop it on a camp stove burner for even heat or set it on top of a fire if you’re feeling saucy.
Inside, many camp ovens have a thermometer that displays the temperature on the front, so you can keep an eye on things. That makes cooking much more predictable than guessing when things are done based on a roaring fire.
To make toast using a camp oven, just plop your bread on the middle rack, or set it over a fire or stove burner, and watch that baby get golden.
Toast is just the beginning of the camp oven’s capabilities. You can use this oven to bake sweet treats like cakes and muffins and to cook comfort foods like macaroni and cheese or even pulled pork.
Keep in mind that a camp oven is heavy. You won’t want to bring it along if you’re hiking for any stretch, and it will take up half of most packs. But for car camping trips, it can be a great investment.
You can also make your own, low-powered camp oven by covering a cardboard box in tin foil and putting a tea light inside. The result is essentially a lightweight Easy-Bake Oven.
Here is a video that shows how to make a camp oven step by step.
It’s a great project if kids will be camping with you. (I made one in Cub Scouts and produced a dangerously raw lava cake, which, of course, I ate in its entirety.)
7. Toast That Harnesses the Power of the Sun
No, I don’t mean use a magnifying glass to toast your bread. That would take hours (though it would be very impressive to pull off).
Instead, try a solar oven. Solar ovens are another fun choice to heat all sorts of food. They work by soaking up sunlight and reflecting it inside a box to intensify the heat. They’re quite nifty, and they don’t use any fuel.
As with camp ovens, you can easily make your own using things that might be lying around your house.
All you need is:
- cardboard box
- aluminum foil
- black paper
- plastic wrap
8. Toast on a Camp Stove
A two-burner Coleman stove is your best friend for making toast — and making camp cooking much easier in general.
Simply pop on a pan or a camp toaster, get a flame going, and you're golden (or golden brown, perhaps).
A stove provides a way to control the heat your toast is getting, making it much less prone to burning than it would be with any of the methods that use a campfire.
A single-burner stove will be more difficult to use and may require a balancing act with a small pan on top, but it's still doable and comes with the same temperature regulating benefits as a stove with two (or more) burners.
Plus, one-burner stoves are much lighter than their two-burner cousins, making them more feasible for a hiking trip into the backcountry.
The rules for pans apply here: Cast iron and stainless steel skillets will provide excellent heat retention and distribution, leading to an easier, more even browning. Nonstick skillets are lighter, but they’re more prone to uneven heat distribution.
That said, using a nonstick pan on a camp stove will give you more even heat than using an unpredictable campfire.
9. Toast That Takes Full Advantage of Your RV Trip
Now we're cheating a bit, but many people consider RVing to be camping. If that’s you, there are plenty of ways you can hook up regular electric appliances inside your RV.
Your vehicle might run on solar energy, the engine’s electricity, or another source of power. But there are likely plugs inside, which you can use to charge your phone or plug in small appliances — like a toaster.
Also, most RVs have some kind of built-in stove, which often runs off propane. In that case, frying up a piece of bread using the previous pan or camp toaster methods is super easy.
10. Toast With a Generator
No RV? No problem.
If you're already bringing along a portable generator, say, to power lights or a sound system, you should be able to hook up a toaster to it with no problem.
Just make sure to check the wattage and plug types that your generator supports.
That said, bringing an actual toaster sort of defeats the point, doesn't it? On the other hand, this might be a total power move (get it?).
Best Camping Toaster
Luckily, camp toasters are pretty cheap. You probably wouldn’t want to splurge on an expensive one anyway — get one made with inexpensive, lightweight stainless steel.
That way, it won’t rust, and if it gets broken or bent on a rough trip, it’s no big deal.
Coghlan’s has a reputation for making inexpensive camping gear. I wouldn’t recommend the brand for everything, such as critical safety equipment, but its camp toaster will work just fine.
It is stainless steel, can toast four slices at once. Most camp toasters use that design, but others have the toast lying flat on top.
Toast Camping Recipes
Why stop at making toast? A wonderful array of recipes use toast or bread and can easily be made while camping.
I won’t lay out specific ingredient amounts because you don’t really need them. That said, if you’d like some instructions to follow, many more accomplished cooks have posted tried and tested recipes online — just give it a search.
I’m a firm believer that experimentation is part of the fun of getting outside. Why not give a recipe a shot and play with it until you have something you like?
A classic. Simply dip bread in a beaten egg mixture (milk, sugar, and cinnamon are optional) and fry it up in a pan, over a stove, or over the campfire. Maple syrup is the go-to topping, but the options are unlimited: Think peanut butter, berries, whipped cream, or bacon.
Bread, fried egg, cooked bacon, cheese, mayo, mustard. Done. For bonus points, fry the whole thing in the grease left over from cooking the bacon.
For double bonus points, add a bit of grated cheese to the outside of the bread before you fry it. This will result in a gorgeous golden brown cheese crust. You’ll never go back.
Egg in a Hole
This one requires a pan or Dutch oven. When you first put in your bread (after your fat, of course), get a small mug or other circular implement — or be brave and use a knife — and cut a hole in the middle of the bread.
Then crack an egg into the hole and sprinkle some salt, pepper, and maybe cheese over top. Flip once the bottom of the bread is toasted. Toast the other side, and voila! That’s about as fancy as you can get for a backcountry breakfast.
This is a good option if the bread you brought along got squished during the hike.
Put torn-up bread into a saucepan or deep cast iron, pour melted butter on top, and add milk (or milk powder), beaten eggs, and sugar, as well as vanilla, cinnamon, and raisins if you’re feeling fancy.
Then bake in a camp oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the top springs back satisfyingly.
Frybread or Bannock
Why toast store-bought bread when you can make it from scratch?
This Native American staple was also a staple for us when I was in Scouts — probably because it kept us occupied and fed us, killing two birds with one stone for our tired leaders.
Making it couldn’t be simpler. Just add some flour and lard or butter until it’s good and lumpy, then add some water until it comes together. You want to be able to handle the dough without it being super sticky.
Then fry it in a pan, or go for the more fun method: Wrap it around a stick and roast it like a marshmallow. Low coals are your friend here.
When it’s nice and golden brown, spread some butter and jam on that bad boy, or make a savory version with cheese and ground meat — maybe with taco spice mixed in. Heaven.
Which Bread Should I Bring Camping?
Instead of a soft, processed, pre-sliced loaf, you’ll likely fare better with a crusty, unsliced sourdough, a springy focaccia, or a harder baguette — but still, any loaf of bread will take up quite a bit of room in your pack compared to other starchy food items.
What Can I Bring Camping Instead of Toast?
The squish factor, as I’ll call it, is a serious drawback of bread when you’re deciding which grain to bring on your camping trip.
Bagels are an excellent alternative, as they’re usually tougher and chewier than bread and can take a beating inside a pack. If they get a bit squished, it’s no big deal — the chew is part of the charm!
Also, flatbreads like naan, pita, and tortilla wraps are camping staples for a reason. They really can’t be squished any more than they already are, and they’re super light, making them perfect for long hiking trips and car camping alike.
Plus, you can do a lot with them in terms of recipes. Why not try a naan pizza or a breakfast burrito in a stretchy flour tortilla?
Bonus points if you let it steam over the campfire wrapped in aluminum foil, which gives the flour tortilla a restaurant quality, making it extra chewy and delicious.
Breakfast in the great outdoors can and should be so much more than bland oats or trail mix.
There are drawbacks to consider when it comes to bringing along bread when you’re camping, but the reward of biting into a crisp, buttery slice of toast while gazing out over a still lake can make it all worth it.
Plus, if you pull out a gorgeous sourdough loaf at the campsite, you’ll find yourself very popular.
Cooking that bread will almost always be more complicated than toasting it up at home would be, but isn’t that the fun of camping? You didn’t fling yourself into the woods to have an easy time, after all.
Also, I’ve given you some ideas on how to spruce up your bread beyond making toast. If you make full-on breakfast sandwiches for your camping buddies one morning (don’t forget the grated cheese on the outside), I guarantee that you’ll be hailed as a conquering hero.
Bacon and cheese taste so much better when all you were expecting to eat was mushy instant oatmeal.
I hope you found this article on how to make toast while camping helpful, and I wish you many happy camping adventures!
Jack Hauen is a freelance writer and backpacking aficionado. When he's not writing, he can often be found in the Algonquin backcountry, wheezing through a portage that looked smaller on the map.