How to cook with cast iron while camping? Cast iron is a popular material for camping because it is durable, versatile, and simple to use. Griddles, cast iron skillets, and ovens are used over an open campfire, on the grill, or on a camp stove. Because the iron retains and conducts heat well, it is simple to sear, boil, steak, and fry eggs, simmer stews, cook pancakes, and prepare a variety of other delicious camping meals.
While camping, cast iron cookware is also very simple to keep clean and fresh. Simply wash the pan with water after cooking and then dry it thoroughly before applying a thin layer of cooking oil all over the iron to preserve it from dirt and moisture. Toward the conclusion of this post, we will go through outdoor cast iron cleaning and maintenance in greater detail.
It is vital to remember that cast iron is best utilized in cars and when camping near your campsite, or if you will be staying in a camper, cabin, or RV. If you will be walking a very long distance to the campsite, need storage space or weight restrictions, or are primarily lightweight or backpacking camping with little gear, there are portable, lighter cookware options available to better fit your needs.
Which Cast Iron Pan Should You Use?
As you may expect, cast iron cookware comes in a variety of sizes and forms, all with specialized functions. It all depends on what you plan to prepare!
A cast-iron skillet will help you accomplish nearly any task, whether it is pan-frying a steak, cooking eggs, creating a stir fry, or making curry. There are various sorts to choose from based on personal taste. Some skillets are deeper for added versatility (and weight). We use the same 10-inch Lodge skillet every day.
If you desire a grilling texture to your food without using a grill and have more room for cooking, use a cast iron griddle. These may be utilized on your kitchen stove with two burners, but they can also be used on a campfire and provide you with a clean working surface. Some of these cast iron griddles have a flat side as well, which is ideal for pancakes, eggs, bacon, and other items that require only a large flat surface.
A camp oven, also known as a dutch oven, is a cooking device that can be used to prepare meals such as casseroles, stews, cobblers, and other baked dishes. These are the classic cast iron cookware that makes your mouth water thinking about crisp and hot peach cobbler or hearty and delicious frittatas.
How To Cook With The Cast Iron While Camping
1. Camping Stove Cast Iron Cooking
The most popular way to cook with cast iron is over an open fire since there are times when building a campfire would be too much work or it might cause you to exceed your camping site’s permitted a number of people (especially if you are doing this on public land), and using charcoal can be time-consuming and dirty. Even though the heat from a camper stove is concentrated, baking is still doable!
Here are a few ideas to make cooking with cast iron on your camping stove a little simpler:
- Always use the LOW heat and take your time – To prevent overheating, do not pour into a preheated pan after coming off the heat. It is easy to overcook the cast iron on a stove and it takes a long time for it to cool down, which might be inconvenient and have the potential to ruin your camping dinner – no Bueno.
- To ensure that the mixture cooks evenly and that it does not burn on the bottom, heat each component separately before combining them into an oven baking configuration for baking. Due to the differences in metal thickness between the two components, this method will help the homogeneous distribution of heat more evenly when you start cooking.
2. Cooking With Cast Iron Over The Campfire
Nothing beats cooking a meal with cast iron over the coals of a campfire for the most rustic and genuine cast iron cooking experience when camping. Though it is more difficult and time-consuming, it is always a lot of fun! Here are some pointers to make practicing campfire cooking with cast iron a little less difficult.
- Start your fire early – You will need about four or five hours for the fire to convert the wood into coals. Coals, on the other hand, are a more steady heat source than wood that has been reduced to ashes.
- Use indirect heat – When preparing foods that require a lot of heat, do not cook them directly over your main fire where temperatures fluctuate dramatically and are difficult to manage. Instead, build a careful gap off to the side of your campfire where coals from your campfire may be carefully separated if needed. This will allow for better control and uniformity of heat when cooking.
- Elevate your cast iron pot or dutch oven above coals – For example, if your campsite does not have a supplied fire pit with a cooking grate, you may utilize three to four fairly sized rocks and/or a metal cooking grate to stand up your cast iron cooker.
3. Cooking With The Cast Iron Using Charcoal
Although using charcoal while camping may be time-consuming, requires more “stuff” to work with properly, and might even be dirtier, it offers a far more even and controlled heat source than cooking over a campfire. Charcoal briquettes last longer and are significantly simpler to place strategically around or on top of a cast iron dutch oven, making this technique ideal for slow-cooking or long-term baking.
- Getting the charcoal started – A camping stove with a folding charcoal chimney* is an excellent method to get your charcoal burning fast and simply, or you can spend more money on matchlight charcoal briquettes*, which are picky and need a charcoal chimney to start.
- Positioning the coals – Using a pair of charcoal tongs to move the coals once they are ready is an easy technique to get them in place. For higher heat cooking, lay your cast iron directly on top of the flames. Elevate your cast iron 3-6 inches above the fire for low/medium heat. To cook bread, place coals both beneath and directly over your cast iron dutch oven while it is in its normal shape.