We don’t have to tell you that not all camping trips are created equal. A night at the local campground is much different from a week spent roaming national parks, so it’s important to pack for camping accordingly lest you find yourself hauling around too much or lamenting that you brought too little. That being said, you should always be prepared for every contingency that comes with outdoor adventuring. This checklist for camp cooking leaves no stone unturned and no trail unexplored, tackling everything from camping cookware and camp grills to cleanup necessities and food storage. We were as comprehensive as possible, so feel free to pull from this list and adjust as necessary based on your preferred camp kitchen setup.
- Camping Grill: Cooking on a camping grill is easier, quicker, safer, and more efficient than building and tending to a fire.
- Grill fuel: Whether it’s charcoal, pellets, propane, or wood, your grill needs fuel like a campfire needs a spark.
- Outdoor Cooking table: You need a place to set down your camp grill and perform any other prep or cooking tasks.
- Skillets, pots, and pans with lids: Your standard kitchen cookware gets plenty of use, and it’ll be no different when you’re on the go.
- Griddle: One of the most versatile grilling accessories, a griddle enables you to start days with an incredible breakfast hash and end on a high note with amazing stir fry or beautifully seared beef.
- Grill Basket: Grilling finer items like veggies or seafood is always easier with a perforated basket accessory.
- Roasting Pan: Catch rotisserie drippings or roast directly in the pan, which is designed to sit on top of the grill grates.
- Pizza Stone: We’re not sure you can get delivery where you’re going, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a perfectly wood-fired pie.
- Wood plank: Even if you’re going to be surrounded by timber, it’s best to bring your own plank for grilling fish or even baking cookies.
- Kettle: No, not the classic charcoal grill — we’re talking about those times when you need to boil water for a recipe or safety.
Cooking & Prep Utensils
- Grilling Tools: You wouldn’t grill without tongs, spatulas, basting brushes, and the like at home, so why should things be any different on the road?
- Kitchen knives: Trimming fat, slicing steaks, carving roasts — at one point or another, you’ll be glad you brought along a few knives.
- Cutting Board: Chopping meat on a nearby stump isn’t exactly sanitary, not to mention the damage your knife could sustain.
- BBQ Thermometer: Being in the wild may make you feel more in touch with our primal ancestors, but there’s still only one way to be certain food is safe to eat.
- Can Opener: It’s always smart to have canned goods in stock when camping, so it only makes sense to keep a can opener, too.
- Measuring cups and/or spoons: What does a teaspoon of salt look like? After a long day on the trail or on the water, a measuring cup makes everything easier.
- Skewers: Shrimp and veggies appreciate a good skewering over the camping grill.
- Toasting Forks: If you’re partial to camping around the bonfire, there’s only way to get those marshmallows and hot dogs perfectly toasted.
- Colander: Not just for pasta, a colander is extremely useful for straining food remains from dish water for more eco-friendly disposal.
- Cooking Oil: This kitchen staple is just as vital in the outdoors when you’re satuéing, trying to form a crust on meat, need a binder for seasonings, and much more.
- Seasonings: You should always have salt and pepper on hand, but it’s also a good idea to bring along other spices you commonly use.
- Canned or dried food: For as much as we’d love for you to use your grill for every meal, we know that’s not always feasible. Keeping some easy meals on hand will let you enjoy those times you do let loose on the grill.
- Energy bars: This may seem like one of the more obvious items to pack for camping, but you never know when you’ll need a boost of energy to get you through a day of adventuring.
- Outdoor Dining Table: Yes, we’ll accept a folding table, but you’ve got to eat somewhere!
- Tablecloth: Who says you can’t be classy while dining outdoors?
- Camp chairs: You deserve a place to take a load off after grilling a delicious meal — oh, and after doing all that adventuring.
- Plates and Bowls: Unless you specialize in finger food (or just really want to channel early man), it’s best to have dinnerware on hand.
- Outdoor flatware: As stated above, camping is all fun and games until you’re trying to eat a steak with your hands.
- Camp mugs: That morning cup of joe demands a suitable vessel, as do hot cocoa and your favorite cocktail.
- Tarp or kitchen tent: Until we figure out how to control the weather, you’re better off being prepared for a rainstorm.
Food Storage & Safety
- Ice: Odds are you need to keep drinks cold and meat frozen, making ice an absolutely indispensable part of this checklist.
- Cooler: All those drinks and frozen food items need to be kept chilled somewhere, right?
- Insulated food storage containers or resealable bags: Ingredients as well as leftovers need to be kept sealed off from critters and germs.
- Aluminum foil: This is key for preserving food during longer trips, plus it’s the easiest way to tent food that needs to be rested.
- Water filtration system: Sure, it’s not “food,” but we can’t overstate the importance of having access to clean water when you’re in the wild.
- Grill brush: Though you may be roughing it, your grill grates deserve a good scrubbing after every use.
- Grill cleaning products: Think it’s hard to keep the exterior of your grill clean in the backyard? Just wait until you get it in the great outdoors.
- Cleaning spray: Work surfaces need cleaning, too.
- Paper towels: It’s much easier to clean with paper towels that you can (responsibly!) throw away than to keep track of numerous rags that need washing. Bonus points if you use the eco-friendly kind.
- Collapsible sink: This major camping hack saves space and provides a luxury not always found at campsites.
- Biodegradable dish detergent: Cleaning your dishes while protecting the environment is what we call a win-win.
- Hand soap or sanitizer: Your camping buddies would appreciate it if you grill with clean hands after hiking that dusty trail.
- Moist towelettes: Same idea as above, with the added benefit of cleaning surfaces.
- Steramine tablets: Combining these sanitizing tablets with water creates a cleaning solution that’ll keep your camp sink clean all trip long.
- Scrubber or sponge: Food debris tends to attract critters, so getting a thorough clean on all dinnerware and utensils is a must while camping.
- Drying rack or bin: You can designate a buddy to dry while you wash… or let time do its thing while you both kick back after dinner.
- Dish towels: When it comes time make sure everything’s dry, microfiber and/or quick-dry towels are your best bets in the outdoors.
- Trash bags: If we catch you littering, you’ll have your camp grill privileges revoked.
- Fire Starters: Charcoal camping grills require an ignition source, be it a lighter cube, a charcoal chimney, or an electric lighter.
- Fire extinguisher: One of the most important things to pack for camping, a fire extinguisher could be the difference between an enjoyable trip and a serious hazard. Besides, you don’t want to let Smokey Bear down, do you?
- Heat-resistant gloves: Whether you’re dealing with the camp grill or an old-fashioned campfire, it’s wise to keep yourself protected from the flames.
- Oven mitts & hot pads: Handling and setting down camping cookware is much safer this way.
- Insect repellant: Don’t let pests ruin your big trip or threaten your grilled meals.
- Batteries: Electronics always run out of juice at the worst possible moment, so make sure you can keep them going for your entire excursion.
- Flashlight or lantern: This goes double if you like grilling in the evening after a day’s worth of outdoor exploration.
- Lighter or matches: Besides the possible need to start your grill the old-fashioned way, fire can be life-saving in the wilderness.
- Bottle/wine opener: No matter what you do when you’re adventuring, you’re bound to work up a thirst.
- Coffee maker and supplies: We work with enough non-morning people to consider coffee an essential item.
- Printed recipes: Do you really want to be winging it when everyone’s tired of energy bars and hungry for a real meal? Print those recipes and take them with you just in case, especially if you’ll be in a far-flung area with no data coverage.