How To Cook With Cast Iron While Camping

Which Cast Iron Pans Should I Take Camping?

When deciding which pieces of cast iron cookware to take camping, you’ll want to consider these factors:

  • How much room do you have in your vehicle, camper, or RV to transport large cooking items?
  • Cast iron cookware is heavy. How far will you need to carry it to and around your campsite?
  • What type of meals will you be cooking?
  • How many people will you be cooking for at one time?

Let’s take a look at the most useful types of cast iron cookware for camping – skillets, dutch ovens, griddles, and combo cookers. Understanding what each piece is capable of and best suited for will help you decide what to bring along on your next trip.

Cast Iron Skillet

The most popular and well-known piece of camp cooking equipment is probably the cast iron skillet. Available in a range of sizes and depths, cast iron skillets are perfect for cooking for one person or a large crowd.

When deciding which cast iron skillet to take camping, consider the 10 or 12-inch sizes. These are the most versatile and portable. A 10-inch skillet is a very practical size for serving two to three people. For four or more people, I recommend the 12-inch size.

Examples of camping foods you can cook easily in a skillet include bacon, eggs, pancakes, steaks, burgers, sloppy joes, stir fry, salmon patties, fajitas, and vegetable side dishes.

cooking lemon chicken and asparagus in a cast iron skillet

Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven

The camp dutch oven is basically a cast iron pot with three legs on the bottom and a lid with an elevated rim. It typically has a handle for hanging over a fire via a tripod. The camp dutch oven’s legs raise it a couple of inches off the ground, providing room for charcoal or hot embers to be placed under the pot. This also helps prevent the coals from directly touching the bottom of the pot, which can cause food to burn due to the intense heat. The flanged lid keeps charcoal in place on top of it while cooking and helps prevent ashes from falling into your food when removing the lid.

Camp dutch ovens are incredibly versatile. They can be used for almost any cooking method that could be performed indoors, reducing the need for multiple pieces of cookware. Here are several examples of the best ways to cook with a camp dutch oven:

  • Simmering soups and stews
  • Steaming rice and vegetables
  • Boiling water for pasta
  • Searing steaks
  • Frying chicken
  • Browning ground meats
  • Sauteing vegetables
  • Slow-cooking roasts
  • Baking bread, biscuits, pies, cakes, and cobblers
  • Melting cheese on pizza, nachos, and omelets

If you’re interested in dutch oven cooking but don’t know how to choose the right size, check out my article, “What Size Dutch Oven Do I Need For Camping?”

Camp vs. Indoor Dutch Ovens

Note that a camp dutch oven is different than an “indoor” or regular dutch oven, which has a flat bottom and a slightly rounded lid without a rim. As long as an indoor dutch oven is made from solid cast iron, isn’t enamel-coated, and doesn’t contain any wooden or plastic accent pieces, it can be adapted for use outside on a camp stove, grill, or supported by rocks to create space underneath for hot embers or coals.

However, the rounded lid makes holding coals on top difficult. Therefore, the indoor dutch oven isn’t ideal for baking, melting, or slow cooking, as it can only be heated from the bottom.

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