The smoky aroma, cool fresh air, and crackling fire — cooking outdoors is an experience for the senses. From collecting kindling to standing over the flame, you are more immersed in your meal than when you cook indoors. The work makes the food well-worth it, and the ingredients certainly tastes better.
Even if you love the outdoors, you might not be sure how to get started with outdoor cooking. This guide will break down the basics of cooking over a fire, camping stove, or outdoor oven. While it can take some practice to master, the art of outdoor cooking can help you reconnect with nature and find more pleasure in the food you create.
Where can you cook outdoors?
When it comes to outdoor cooking, you’ll have a few boundaries. One of the most common spots to cook meals outside is on a campsite. If you are in a controlled campground with a designated firepit, a wood fire can be a great cooking option. You might also have a firepit in your backyard. However, small gas flames are often best if you are camping in the backcountry, especially if there is wildfire risk.
For more advanced outdoor cooks, a solar or brick oven can be great options. Brick ovens are generally permanent structures in your yard, while you can take a solar oven with you on trips. Your ideal cooking location might be in your backyard and campsite, so you might learn multiple outdoor cooking methods.
What equipment do you need?
While your specific list of equipment will depend on your cooking method of choice, you’ll need some common tools to help you cook outdoors. You should first invest in a quality cooking grill to place over the fire. Some outdoor cooks will need multiple grills of different heights. You will also need a pair of fire-safe gloves and outdoor cooking tongs. Outdoor fillet knives can also be handy for preparing and serving meals.
Especially if you are camping and cooking with a gas flame, some lightweight pots and pans are also a must. You might also need a bag or charcoal if you will be using an outdoor charcoal grill to cook.
What types of meals can you cook outdoors?
With the right equipment, your outdoor cooking recipe options are boundless. Place a small skillet or sheet of aluminum foil over the fire to cook bacon in the morning. Toast some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches over the fire in the afternoon. While backcountry camping, turn on your gas flame and let a pot of stew simmer. Outdoor cooking allows you to challenge your culinary knowledge, finding innovative ways to create satisfying meals.
How can I stay safe while cooking outdoors?
Basic fire safety and first aid knowledge will help you stay safe while cooking. One of the most important tips is to keep the area around the fire clear and level to avoid tripping. You should also avoid cooking with a gas flame while burning a campfire at the same time. Be sure to always wear your gloves and use tongs to handle the food. When camping, you should keep a standard first aid kit on hand. Ensure that it is stocked with burn ointment and bandages in the event that someone gets burned. It is also extra important to avoid cooking in areas with high fire risk. Always check with the park rangers before lighting an open flame while camping.
By getting creative and practicing proper cooking safety, you can create delicious meals to share with friends and family. As you improve your skills, you can try different methods of preparing meals outside. Once you taste the difference that outdoor cooking makes, you may never turn on your indoor stove again.