Campfire Cooking 101: Simple Hacks All RVers Should Know

Last Updated on June 26, 2023 by Christina

Two people in a hammock watch a fire with food cooking at a campsite.
Campfire cooking hacks can ensure your camping trips are successful and enjoyable

Enjoying a great meal around a campfire with friends is one of the best parts about camping. But the last thing you want to do while on vacation is spend hours cooking. Instead, use these campfire cooking hacks to learn how to make quick and tasty meals in the great outdoors.

S’mores and hot dogs probably come to mind when you think of campfire food, but don’t limit yourself! You can cook just about anything over a campfire with the right tools. Check out some of our many delicious recipes that will have everyone coming back for second helpings!

Tips for cooking outdoors or in your RV

Plan your campfire meals

Planning campfire meals can make your RV travels more enjoyable.

Meal planning takes a little work up front but it’s well worth the effort. The more prep work you do at home, the less chaotic your camping trip will be. After all, no one wants to tear down camp for an unexpected run to the store when you realize you’re out of a key ingredient. Plus, you’ll save money and waste less food by creating a meal plan.

Choose easy recipes over complicated or labor-intensive meals

While enjoying a hot meal prepared over a campfire is a cherished outdoor tradition, no one wants to spend their entire vacation cooking or washing dishes. Choose simple recipes that can be cooked in one pot or grilled together, and select foods that require less effort to prep like ears of corn or asparagus.

Prep as much as possible at home

Prepping food ahead of time can save time and effort at the campground.

Whether on a weekend getaway, or a week-long excursion, the less chopping and mixing that needs to happen on site the better off you’ll be. Less food prep at the campground also means less gear being hauled out, as well as fewer opportunities for cross contamination or foodborne illness. Stews and soups are easy to make beforehand and then reheat onsite, for example. Just be sure to keep prepared food chilled until it is cooked.

Only pack what you need

Aluminum foil is one of the most versatile products to stock in your RV.
Instead of bringing jars of spices, try filling a drinking straw with your desired spices and seal both ends.

A common household product that comes highly recommended for campfire cooking is aluminum foil. If you’re at all wary of campfire cooking, foil will be your saving grace. Simply pile ingredients into a square of foil, wrap them up, and let your campfire do the rest. In most cases, you’ll end up with a meal that’s comforting and concentrated in flavor. You can also use aluminum foil over your grate grill for less greasy grilling and to minimize dirty dishes. Need some spice in your life, but you don’t want to bring the whole spice rack? Use a lighter to seal the end of a drinking straw (or pinch, fold and tape it), then fill with your desired spice. Seal the other end of the straw, label it and snip it open when you’re ready to get cooking. It’s a simple and easy cooking hack that will save you time, space and money!

Practice food safety

Always keep your foods at a safe temperature to avoid illness.

Maintain food safety by keeping harmful bacteria at bay. If your RV does not have a working refrigerator, pack a cooler with both ice and bags of cold water for any meat, dairy or other items that must remain below 41 degrees F. The bags of water help keep the temperature cooler for longer. If you’re uncertain about the doneness of food, an instant read thermometer can help ensure that foods are cooked through to between 145–165 degrees F, as suggested by the FDA.

Keep things clean

A family enjoys a meal together inside their RV.

Make sure you have plenty of clean, potable water and soap for washing anything that touches raw foods. You might also consider packing sanitizing wipes or some bleach to help kill any harmful pathogens. Keep an eye on your fresh water tank levels or bring bottled water for longer trips and boondocking.

Store food properly

Thor Magnitude Class A motorhome includes plenty of storage for coolers and other outdoor cooking gear.

Be wary of outdoor critters both big and small. It’s best to keep food stored away inside your RV. If food has to be stored outdoors, make sure you pack it in tightly sealed containers. Whether you’re heading out for the weekend or longer, coolers are likely going to be part of your planning. Packing and using your coolers efficiently is important to keeping the contents from spoiling. If you’re camping in areas where bears are present, follow these additional tips from the National Park Service about storing food and bears.

Practice campfire safety

A family prepares hot dogs over a fire in front of their Forest River Ibex travel trailer.

Before you start cooking, choose a campfire site at least ten feet away from bushes or anything flammable, including tents or RVs. A general rule is to have three times the height of the fire in clear overhead space. Always keep a bucket of water or sand nearby to extinguish the campfire when you’re done. Once the flames die down, stir the ashes and pour more water or sand to cover the ashes completely. Always obey any burn bans and pay attention to the weather in areas where wild fires are common.

Start the day right with coffee while camping

A pour-over coffee maker is an easy way to brew great coffee at the campsite.

What’s a better way to greet the morning in the wilderness than to drink a hot cup of camp coffee? Craving for the drink is one thing; preparing for it is another. In the past, forcing down brutal instant coffee was the norm. But some simple ingenuity can easily raise the standards of your morning brew. A pour-over portable coffee maker allows you to use your favorite grounds in a paper filter, brewing the coffee directly over your cup. Another easy way to brew your coffee: coffee bags. Similar to tea bags, the coffee bags will steep in hot water and help you get your caffeine fix. To make your own coffee bags, simply pour grounds into a paper filter, and then tie it closed with some string or non-flavored dental floss. Dunk the newly-made filter bag into a cup of hot water, and watch the magic happen. Discard the bag when your coffee has finished steeping.

Bring the right equipment

Cast iron is a necessity if you are cooking over a campfire. You can cook anything on it and cleanup is a breeze. Cast iron cookware also lasts for generations if you season it well and care for it properly. Not to mention the flavor of cooking on cast iron is amazing!

Grabbing food from the campfire grill grate or from the coals with your bare hands is a bad idea. You’ll only make that mistake once, and then you’ll get yourself a good pair of grilling tongs. On a related note, the item most highly recommended by campfire cooking experts is an oven mitt, since the last thing you want on a camping trip is a bad burn.

Cast iron skillet heating over open flames
A cast iron pan is a versatile campfire cooking tool you can use for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Make sure you have these items packed for your next camping trip:

  • Cast iron pan
  • Tongs
  • Oven mitt
  • Aluminum foil
  • Campfire forks
  • Grill grate
  • Washing-up kit

Helpful products for cooking while camping

For many, some of the best camping memories are made while enjoying a meal together. General RV has a huge selection of equipment and accessories to simplify your camp cooking experience – whether you’re feeding one or a crowd. Some of our favorite products from General RV’s Parts Department include:

Camco Sink Kit

It’s a universal truth that those who eat must also do dishes. Having a consolidated set for washing and drying dishes is a must. It helps you feel organized and makes dish washing efficient!

A Camco Galley Sink Kit in the original packaging. The sink kit includes a mini dishpan, mini dish drainer with tray and sink mat.
The Camco Galley Sink Kit includes a mini dishpan, mini dish drainer with tray and sink mat to make cleaning up easy.

Progressive Microwavable rice and pasta cooker

Hungry but too tired to cook over the campfire? Rice and pasta are simple and filling which makes them great for chow time after a long day of exploring. The Prep Solutions Microwave Rice and Pasta Cooker is designed specifically for cooking and reheating your favorite starchy dishes in the microwave. It features an easy-locking lid that secures tightly and prevents spills and messes while preparing your food.

A plastic rice and pasta cooker set includes a gray plastic pot with clear lid, a white straining basket, gray nesting measuring cups and spoons, a gray pasta measuring tool, and a white rice serving spoon.
Prep Solutions Microwave Rice and Pasta Cooker

Rome Extension Fork

Perfect for cooking brats, hotdogs and marshmallows over a roaring fire. The fork extends a good length so you’re not burning your hands by reaching too close to the flames.

Pudgy Pie Revolution cookbook

This cook book is filled with 81 unique pie iron camping recipes that will inspire campers and backyard cooks to bring their campfire cuisine to the next level.

The colorful cover of the Pudgie Revolution Pie Iron cook book includes photos of various recipes and a cast iron pie iron that can make them all.

Rome Double Pie Iron

It’s no secret that we love a good pie iron recipe, and this is the big daddy of pie irons. Perfect for cooking two pies at the same time over the fire. Get your creative juices flowing to make delicious sandwiches, pizzas, mountain pies and more!

A cast iron double-sized pie iron is large enough to make two pie irons at the same time. This cooking tool is double the width of the original pie iron and features a long handle with wooden grips so you can hold your pie iron over the fire securely.

Stromberg Carlson Stake & Grill cooking rack

Some fire pits at campgrounds have a built-in rack, but they don’t reach far enough over the fire or they’re not positioned correctly once the fire is burning. This adjustable cooking rack solves that problem.

A grill rack filled with food - including burgers and hotdogs - cooks over a campfire.
Stromberg Carlson Stake & Grill cooking rack

Nesting bowls

These nesting bowls are great multi-taskers and can be used for preparing ingredients, serving meals, and storing leftovers. The space-saving design allows individual pieces to be stacked neatly together, making it a great addition to any camper or small kitchen.

Omelet maker

As much as we love breakfast over the campfire, sometimes the weather isn’t ideal for building a fire. That’s where microwave cookers become lifesavers. This Omelet Maker makes the perfect omelet, filled with all your favorite ingredients, quickly and easily! The pan does the hard part for you; simply flip the pan and your omelet is folded!

Campfire cooking doesn’t have to be intimidating

Anyone can cook a great meal over a campfire. All it takes is a little know-how, the right tools, and a recipe. General RV is here to help. Stop by the Parts Department at your local General RV dealer before your next adventure and start enjoying mouth-watering meals wherever you go. Subscribe to the General RV Blog and check out more helpful advice to make RVing the relaxing, enjoyable experience it should be.