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The Best Camping Cookware For Open Fires Of 2021 Helpful Guide

best camping cookware for open fire

There is just something really primal and wholesome feeling about cooking on a fire. It just feels like your going back to a more laid back easier time. It brings back memories of camping with mom and dad. Maybe it’s a reminder of some fun times with friends growing up. Cooking on an open fire takes some practice and skill to master. Having the right cookware can make it much easier as well. Let’s take a look at the best camping cookware for open fire cooking.

Below are our top 3 choices for the best camping cookware for open fire cooking. Keep reading below for our camping cookware top 5 including reviews, cookware guide, and FAQ.

Top Pick

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker

Editors Choice

Primus | Stainless Steel Campfire Cookset

Best Value

yodo Anodized Aluminum Camping Cookware Set

The Top 5 Best Camping Cookware For Open Fires

Below are our top 5 picks for the best camping cookware for open fire cooking on the market today. We considered features, performance, price, durability, and customer reviews in our recommendations.

Top Pick

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker, 2-Piece Set, 10.25″, Black

  • Foundry seasoned, ready to use upon purchase
  • Use on all cooking surfaces, grills and campfires
  • Oven safe
  • Sauté, sear, fry, bake and stir fry to heart’s content
  • Made in the USA

Rating

lodge cast iron cookware set rating

Summary

When it comes to cooking over an open fire, nothing beats good old cast iron. They have a lot of mass and heat retention. They are durable and hold up to the heat of a fire well. Lodge has been making cast iron cookware at it’s own foundry in Tenness since 1896. A good cast iron skillet and pot are the foundation for open fire cooking that can be used to cook almost anything.

The skillet and pot come preseasoned. The longer you use them for, the more seasoning builds up and the easier they get to clean. I was skeptical of this at first when my wife bought a cast iron skillet we use at home. After a couple of years it has become my favorite piece of cookware. Non-stick pots wear out and lose their non-stick after a while. Cast iron gets more seasoned with age and keeps getting easier to clean.

The only downside to this skillet and pot are the weight. Cast iron cookware is heavy. These are no exception. At a combined 13 lbs, these aren’t lightweight pots to take backpacking. If you are camping near your car or truck or from an RV where weight doesn’t matter they are perfect.

These are our top pick for best camping cookware for open fire.

Specifications

  • What is included – 1 skillet, 1 pot
  • Material – Cast Iron
  • Weight – 13.2 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Cooking performance
✔️ Durability
✔️ American made
What We Didn’t Like
Weight
High cost

Video Review

Editors Choice

Primus | Stainless Steel Campfire Cookset | Nesting Pots & Pan for Camping and Outdoor Cooking

  • NESTING COOKING SET: Includes a 21cm frying pan, a 1.8L and 1.0L saucepan and two lids with integrated colanders that conveniently stack and nest for easy travel. Storage bag included.
  • TWO POTS: Saucepans have a handle that wraps around the pot when stored or unfolds into a standard pot handle.
  • FRYING PAN: Includes a foldaway handle that locks into place and features an aluminum-clad bottom to ensure even heat distribution.
  • DURABLE STAINLESS STEEL: All cookware included features 18/8 corrosion-resistant stainless steel that is easy to clean and withstands the test of time.

Rating

rating primus stainless steel cookware set

Summary

Stainless Steel is another good material for cooking over an open fire. It is not as dense and durable as cast iron and it doesn’t season and get any easier to clean. It is more durable than aluminum with no coating that can scratch off. It is much more expensive than aluminum also. The Primus Stainless Steel Campfire Cookset is a good basic set of pots and pans for cooking over an open fire.

This set includes 2 deep pans, and a frying pan. Stainless steel will stand up well to heat. It does stain and scorch if really abused. It never gets any easier to clean with use. It isn’t poruous so you don’t season it with layers of oil and grease. Pots made of stainless steel tend to be lightweight. Stainless steel has good thermal properties so it retains heat well. This helps it buffer temperature changes in the fire making it easier to cook.

This cookware set includes lids for the 2 pots. The whole set nests in a nice stack. All the handles fold so that it can be stored or carried in a small space. The whole set weighs just 2.9 lbs so it’s not too heavy for backpacking use or carrying with you.

This is a great cookware set for those looking for something that is durable and long lasting but still lightweight and compact. This makes it my top pick for best camping cookware for open fire cooking.

Specifications

  • What is included – 1.8L sauce pan, 3L sauce pan, 21cm frying pan
  • Material – Stainless Steel
  • Weight – 2.9 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Lightweight
✔️ Durable
✔️ Cooking performance
What We Didn’t Like
Hard to clean
Expensive

Video Review

Best Value

yodo Anodized Aluminum Camping Cookware Set Backpacking Pans Pot Mess Kit for 4-5 Person

  • This camping cook set is designed for four or five people
  • Quick heat transfer save time and fuel
  • All items put together into a compact mesh package for transport
  • Made from Hard anodized aluminum which makes for easy cleaning and healthy cooking
  • Perfect for hiking, camping indoor and outdoor cooks on the open fire

Rating

rating yodo annodized aluminum cookware set

Summary

If weight is a big concern for you, then aluminum is a good choice for campfire cookware. The Yodo Camping Cookware set is a good lightweight cookware set. It weighs in at only 2.9 lbs for the complete set and all the pieces nest together into a 5.5 inch diameter by 8 inch tall stack. A mesh carrybag is included to hold everything together. All of this is in one nice package for a low price.

This cookware set is made from anodized aluminum. This is safer and healthier than using teflon and most other non-stick coatings. With proper care and practice it is easy to cook with, without creating a burnt, stuck on mess to clean up with later. You should follow the included directions for cooking and cleaning for best results. This will ensure your Yodo cookware lasts a long time.

This set includes 4 anodized aluminum pots and pans for cooking. It includes a variety of BPA free plastic bowls, plates and utensils for eating with. Do not try to cook with the plastic items over an open fire or they will melt. As a bonus they also include a natural loofah sponge for cleaning with.

If weight is a big concern, this is one of the best choices available for camping cookware. The low price for an entire set also makes it a very attractive cookware set. This makes our best value pick for best camping cookware for open fire cooking.

Specifications

  • What is included – 1 x Small Pot, 1 x Medium Pot, 1 x Large Pot, 1 x Pan, 5 x Bowls, 2 x Medium Plates, 1 x Large Plate, 1 x Soup Spoon, 1 x Rice Ladle, 1 x Loofah Sponge, 1 x Mesh Storage Bag
  • Material – Annodized Aluminum, BPA Free Plastic
  • Weight – 2.9 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Low price
✔️ Lightweight
✔️ Complete cookware and utensil set
What We Didn’t Like
Not as durable as Cast Iron or Stainless Steel
Care needed to not damage anodized surface cooking and cleaning

Video Review

Best Camping Dutch Oven

Overmont Camp Dutch Oven 14x14x8.3in All-round Cast Iron Pot Pre Seasoned

  • All-round Dutch Oven. The integral legs on both pot and lid allow the oven to sit perfectly over the campfire; the lid can also be used as a skillet for frying.
  • Well known as a Lifetime Pot. Compared with pots of other materials, the Overmont Dutch Oven is made of high quality cast iron, and will last a lifetime if cared for properly.
  • Energy-saving and therefor good for the environment. Heat is evenly distributed and held, making it great for deep frying, searing and baking.
  • Considering the considerable weight of cast iron, Overmont equips a lid lifter for the Dutch Oven. The durable handle also allows you to hang it over the open fire.

Rating

rating overmont dutch oven

Summary

Dutch Ovens have been a staple of campfire cooking for ages. A good cast iron dutch oven has so many uses it’s difficult to know where to start. You can cook everything from stews and soups to roasting chickens and more. The Overmont Camp Dutch Oven is a great foundation for your camping cookware collection.

This dutch oven has a lid that can also be used as a skillet making it even more useful. It has a carrying handle and they include a lid lifter as well. Both the dutch oven and the lid have legs allowing it to be more stable sitting in the fire or anywhere else. The handle can be used to hang it from a tripod if you don’t want it directly sitting in the fire.

Like all cast iron cookware, it has no non-stick coating to scratch and wear off. It gets seasoned overtime but filling its porosity with grease and oils. Over time as seasoning builds up, it gets easier and easier to clean. It comes pre-seasoned with a starter coat of oil. You can continue to season it through use or you can add seasoning to it at home in a conventional oven.

This dutch oven and lid weigh in at 20 lbs. Like all cast iron cookware it isn’t light. It will last you a long time and may last your kids and there kids a long time too.

The Overmont Camp Dutch Oven will make a great addition to anyone’s camping cookware set.

Specifications

  • What is included – 1 dutch oven, 1 lid that doubles as a skillet, 1 lid lifter
  • Material – Cast Iron
  • Weight – 20 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ The versatility of a dutch oven
✔️ Lid that works as a skillet
✔️ Cast Iron durability
What We Didn’t Like
Very high weight
High cost

Video Review

Best Backpacking Cookware Set

Lixada Camping Titanium Cookware Set

  • 3 Pieces Set: Full titanium set includes a 750ml pot, 420ml cup and a folding spork, great for camping, hiking, backpacking, outdoor adventure and survival.
  • Lightweight and Durable: Lightweight titanium construction is corrosion-resistant and lasts for years. It imparts no taste and odor on food or beverage.
  • Efficient Heating: With a lid to prevent heat loss. Round edges for easy cleaning and improved heating efficiency.
  • User-friendly: Collapsible handles for convenient use and storage. Movable bar on the spork to lock its handle open.

Rating

rating lixada titanium cookware set

Summary

Titanium cookware is the ultimate choice if you want the absolute lightest weight. Titanium is lighter than stainless steel or aluminum and also very corrosion resistant. It can be damaged from too much heat so you do have to use some care. If you want the lightest weight cookware set for backpacking, titanium is the way to go.

The Lixada Camping Titanium Cookware set includes 2 pots, lids and a foldable sport for eating with. All the items nest together into a 3.3 inch diamter by 3.7 inch tall stack. The total weight of this set including the carrying bag is 0.8 lbs making it perfect for backpack cooking.

Titanium retains heat similar to stainless steel which makes it good for cooking. The larger pot has both a handle for holding it like a cup and a bail handle so you can hang it over a fire for cooking. You can hang it from a tripod to help control the heat of whatever your cooking.

This is one of the best camping cookware for open fires available for backpacking. It’s small size and lightweight makes it a perfect choice for your next hike.

Specifications

  • What is included – 1 750ml Pot, 1 420ml pot, 2 lids, 1 foldable spork
  • Material – titanium
  • Weight – 0.8 lbs
What We Liked
✔️ Very light weight
✔️ Compact size
✔️ Versatile use for cooking and as a cup
What We Didn’t Like
Very small size of pots
High cost for just 2 small pots

Video Review

Essential Campfire Cooking Items

Besides cookware, there are a few other essential items you need so that you can cook over an open fire. The most important one being something to cook on. A grill top works great for something to set your skillet on while you cook. You can also use it for your dutch oven or pots. Some people like to hang pots by a tripod. You can control the distance from the flame and temperature easier than with a grill top.

You need a good set of utensils for cooking with. BBQ Grill utensils and tools work well for this. They are made to work close to the flames in your grill so they will stand up to use on or near an open fire. Stainless steel is preferred for it’s durability and not too hard to clean up.

Texsport Heavy Duty Over Fire Camp Grill

  • Sturdy cooking accessory makes it easier to grill your outdoor feasts
  • 24-by-16-inch (W x D) grilling surface
  • Made of heavy-duty welded steel
  • Designed for cooking over an open fire
  • Legs fold up for easy storage

Stansport Cast Iron Camping Tripod for Outdoor Campfire Cooking

  • Sturdy three leg design for stability
  • Nickel plated chain and “S” hook
  • Heavy duty steel construction
  • Holds Dutch ovens, coffee pots, tea pots, etc
  • Works well to hang lanterns, water Jugs, and clothing
  • Lead free, Heavy duty solid steel construction, Nickel plated chain with “S” hook for easy cooking height adjustment
  • Perfect for hanging Dutch ovens, tea pots, coffee pots ect. over a cooking fire

Cuisinart Deluxe Grill Set, 20-Piece, CGS-5020, Stainless Steel

  • TWENTY ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR GRILLING: Chef’s spatula, grill tongs, digital temperature fork, silicone basting brush, four pairs of corn holders, five skewers, cleaning brush with extra brush head are all contained in a durable aluminum carrying case – perfect for the on-the-go or at home.
  • SPATULA & TONGS: The perforated spatula with serrated edge for cutting and built in bottle opener, makes it easy to flip, cut, and serve foods. The tongs are designed to easily grab, flip, and serve foods, both made from durable stainless steel.
  • DIGITAL TEMP FORK: The digital temperature fork comes with recommended preset temperature and has a built-in alarm, ensuring you wont’ overcook your meat again.
  • SILICONE BASTING BRUSH: The silicone brush is designed to lather the meat in thick and even coats of marinade to deliver the ultimate flavor to any meat.
  • 18.5″ GRILL BRUSH: The 18.5-inch-long brush with 14 square inches of stainless-steel bristles allows you to clean your grill faster with less passes and less fatigue!

Camping Cookware For Open Fire Cooking Guide

There are many options for cookware that can be used over an open fire these days. What cookware works the best and is the easiest to clean? Which materials will hold up and last the longest when used over a campfire? What other things are important to consider when looking for the best camping cookware for open fire cooking? Let’s answer all these questions below.

Material

The most common materials for cookware that is used over an open fire is cast iron, stainless steel, aluminum and titanium. Let’s take a look at each material and it’s benefits.

Cast Iron

When it comes to campfire cooking, nothing works better than good old fashioned cast iron. Cast iron continues to be popular for cooking because it works and works well and lasts. The cast iron cookware you by for camping might well be the cast iron cookware your grandkids use too someday. Cast iron has excellent thermal properties. It is dense and heavy so it radiates heat well and takes a long time to cool off.

Cast iron cookware requires seasoning to be easy to clean. Seasoning is layers of oil and fat filling up the iron porosity giving it a nice smooth easy to clean surface. If you scratch off the seasoning, more cooking with oils and fats will replace it. The only real downside to cast iron is its weight. If you are backpacking and need to carry it long distance, cast iron is not for you.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a good choice if you want cookware that is lighter than stainless steel but more durable than aluminum. Stainless steel still has okay thermal properties for cooking. It is still high density like cast iron. Stainless steel is durable and will stand up well to the heat of an open fire. You can stain it so it may not look as pretty the more it gets used. It is very scratch resistant. You don’t have to worry about scratching off any coatings.

Stainless steel is more difficult to clean when your done with cooking. You don’t have the benefit of the seasoning or any coating to help keep things from sticking to it. It’s my least favorite thing about cooking with any stainless steel pots and pans at home. I like it for boiling water but almost nothing else.

Aluminum

Aluminum with annodized coatings makes good camping cookware. You do need to be careful not to scratch the anodized coating off. Aluminum cookware can be purchased with teflon and other similar non-stick coatings. I personally do not like teflon for health reasons. You should avoid any coatings that contain BPA also. You do need to follow the instructions that came with anodized aluminum cookware so that food doesn’t stick and you don’t damage the coating.

Aluminum is less dense than cast iron or stainless steel. It is easier to scratch than both of those as well. It heats up and cools off quicker than either of those materials. It is also much lighter weight. If you are concerned about weight for backpacking aluminum is a good choice.

Titanium

Titanium is the most expensive material and also the lightest weight. It has thermal properties similar to aluminum. If you are backpacking and want the lightest cookware possible, titanium is your choice.

Because it is a lightweight metal, titanium will heat up quickly and cool off quickly. You can also damage it from too much heat. Take some care when using it if your fire is really hot. Titanium is very high strength for it’s weight so it will be durable as long as you don’t over heat it.

Weight

If you camping near your car, truck or RV, the weight of your cookware doesn’t matter that much. In this case you should go straight for cast iron cookware. If you are backpacking or need to carry your cookware long distances you should look at one of the other materials. Cast iron will be the heaviest followed by stainless steel and aluminum. Titanium will be the lightest material for camping cookware.

Cost

Nothing is free and with most things you tend to get what you pay for. Cheaper cookware will have non-stick coatings that will wear out. It may be made out of lower grade materials that will rust or oxidize quickly. Cheap stainless steel can rust and will rust quickly when exposed to a lot of heat. Lightweight, high strength, materials such as titanium will cost more. Spending a little more on cookware with better materials will get you something that lasts much longer.

What type of camping do you do?

The cookware for RV or car camping is much different than the cookware for backpacking. Keep in mind how often and how far you will need to carry your cookware while camping. A 20 lb cast iron dutch oven can get heavy real quick.

What do you want to cook?

A dutch oven is good for stews and baking. A skillet is good for cooking up steaks or burgers. Sticks work great for hot dogs. Think about what kind of things you would like to cook while camping when selecting your cookware.

Easy to clean

No one wants to spend all day cleaning up pots and pans while camping. You go camping to have fun. You don’t have an indefinite supply of hot water to scrub with either. A well seasoned cast iron skillet or pot is very easy to clean. Stainless steel without any coating can be a giant pain.

Non-stick coatings

Many non-stick coatings use teflon or BPA. Both of these substances can be toxic. Teflon scratches and comes off of pans pretty quick making them no longer non-stick. I tend to avoid non-stick pans these days even at home these days. Even high end non-stick pans from companies like Scan-pan don’t last that long. To learn more about Teflon Flu and other hazards of non-stick coatings, see this article from Healthline.com

Annodized aluminum doesn’t have teflon or BPA and has some non-stick value to it. You need to take care with how you cook with it and clean it for it to work.

There are ceramic non-stick options as well that are more durable and much more expensive.

Cast Iron seasoning

Seasoning is the process of filling the porosity and coating your cast iron with carbonized oil. You do it by cooking oil into the cast iron. This prevents the cast iron from rusting. It also gives you a nice non-stick cooking surface. The more you cook with a cast iron pan using oil or grease, the more seasoning you will build up on the pan. Some cast iron cookware comes pre-seasoned but it always helps to add more.

We purchased a really high end Scanpan non-stick pan and a Le Creuset cast iron pan around the same time. After a few years of seasoning, the cast iron pan is much much easier to clean. The non-stick pan has gotten less and less non-stick.

To learn more about seasoning, see this article from Lodge cookware.

cooking pot hanging over open fire

Camping Cookware For Open Fire Cooking FAQ

Q: Can you put stainless steel on open fire?

You should not put your stainless steel cookware directly in or on a fire. You should use a grate or tripod to keep it from being directly on the flame. The temperature in your fire can get hot enough to damage stainless steel and aluminum.

Q: What kind of pan do you use on a campfire?

The best pan to use over a campfire is cast iron. It is very durable and able to handle high temperatures. Because of it’s high density it has excellent thermal properties. Once it is heated up it will radiate heat very evenly into your food. Unless I was backpacking and weight really mattered, I would always choose cast iron for cooking over an open flame.

Q: What frying pans do professional chefs use?

Most professional chefs prefer cast iron, copper or high carbon steel cookware. These all have great thermal properties and are easier to clean with proper use. Most chefs avoid teflon coated cookware because the coatings are not durable. They fumes given off cooking with them can be hazardous.

Q: Is Teflon still dangerous?

Yes. Teflon is still dangerous. Fumes given off from teflon exposed to high heat can give you Teflon Flu. If you have pet birds in your home, cooking with a teflon pan can kill them. Many bird owners have found this out the hardway. Teflon coatings scratch easily and do not last long. When you buy teflon coated cookware you are buying disposable pots and pans that won’t last long.

Q: How do you season a cast iron skillet?

To season a cast iron pot do the following:

  • Clean the cast iron pot or pan. Scrub it good and clean.
  • Apply a thin coating of cooking oil to all the surfaces that need to be seasoned. Vegatable oil works fine.
  • Bake it in an oven at 450-500F for 1 hour.

The below video shows how to season a cast iron pot.

Q: How do you clean a cast iron skillet?

To clean a cast iron pot do the following:

  • Wipe off any food still on the pot.
  • Rinse with warm water
  • Wipe with a soapy sponge or scrub pad. Do not use a metal scrubber as you can scratch off the seasoning.
  • Rinse and dry.
  • To maintain the seasoning you can heat the skillet until all moisture is gone. Add a small amount of oil, rub it into the surface of the skillet, with a paper towel, until all the oil residue is gone.

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About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water.  I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions.  I decided to start this Gear Craver as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.

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