Our Ultimate Guide to Camping Cooking Gear

Bonfire smoke, tents, barbecue, and family time all come to mind when you think of camping.  Camping as a family might be different for different people depending on how experienced you are and how back to basics you want to go, but no matter what your expectations of camping are; food is vital and so is camping cooking gear. 

Camping cooking gear


We have been camping as a family of 6 so often now that through trial and error we have worked out what camping cooking gear you actually need and have put together this ultimate guide to save you time and make sure you are prepared, but not over laden with camping cooking gear.

Why do you need special camping cooking gear?

So, there are things you use at home to cook everyday meals and sure you could take lots of these camping, but you will soon find that you are taking up loads of space or ruining your good pans cooking over a camp fire so we recommend having camping cooking gear ready to go for camping.

The Ultimate Camping Cooking Gear Checklist

Heat resistant table or Camping Kitchen

You can go ahead an purchase a camping kitchen complete with shelves and cooking area.  You may find some models that offer the central piece with supporting smaller tables and utensil holders. Most camp kitchen tables come with heat resistant aluminium or steel frames as well. However, if you can spend a little more, invest on something with powder coated frames or heat resistant frames. These are some great ones that we have found:

Milestone Camping Kitchen Units with Storage Compartments/Windshield and Cabinets/Heat Resistant Cooking Surface/Portable and Sturdy (Double Unit with 3 Workspaces and 5 Compartments)
CASART Camping Kitchen Table, Portable Cook Station BBQ Table with Sink, Windshield and Carrying Bag, Outdoor Mesh-Door Storage Cupboard for Camping Picnics Barbecue Party
Charles Bentley Odyssey Folding Kitchen Medium Camping Storage Unit Portable Outdoor Cooking
Campart Travel Outdoor Camping Kitchem Almeria, Height Adjustable Legs, Storage, Windshield, Aluminium Frame
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Milestone Camping Kitchen Units with Storage Compartments/Windshield and Cabinets/Heat Resistant Cooking Surface/Portable and Sturdy (Double Unit with 3 Workspaces and 5 Compartments)
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CASART Camping Kitchen Table, Portable Cook Station BBQ Table with Sink, Windshield and Carrying Bag, Outdoor Mesh-Door Storage Cupboard for Camping Picnics Barbecue Party
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Charles Bentley Odyssey Folding Kitchen Medium Camping Storage Unit Portable Outdoor Cooking
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Campart Travel Outdoor Camping Kitchem Almeria, Height Adjustable Legs, Storage, Windshield, Aluminium Frame
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However, if you don't want to make that investment straight away or if you don't have the space in your car for this type of set up then you definitely need at the very least a heat resistant table.

So, why do you need this?

  • You can place your portable grill or camping stove on it to easily cook without crooking your back
  • It gives a flat surface to prepare food on and chop ingredients where needed
  • It creates a designated place for cooking which allows children to get used to the fact that this is a no go area 

We don't have room for a full camping kitchen in our car and so I have settled on a camping cupboard to store the pots and pan and dried food goods and a roll up table to put the stove on and prepare the food.  These are the type of cupboard and table that we have gone with:

TREKOLOGY Portable Camping Table with Aluminum Table Top, Hard-Topped Folding Table in a Bag for Picnic, Camp, Beach, Useful for Dining, Cutting, Cooking with Burner & Easy to Clean (Black, Small)
  • GET YOUR GEAR OFF THE GROUND! After a long hard day trekking you need a table that can take what you throw at it. A place to drop your gear—cook a meal & enjoy a hot beverage. In comes the Talu folding table that combines unsurpassed beauty, mobility and practicality without compromising its integrity. Choose from (3) light & compact sizes. Talu fits easily into cars, RV’s or the back of a motorcycle. Perfect as outdoor side table or a coffee table.
  • BUILT TO WEATHER THE STORM: Unlike wooden or nylon-top portable tables, the aluminum table top is waterproof, weather-resistant, and easy to wipe clean. This table is built with an aerospace-grade aluminum alloy that is coated with beautiful metallic colors. Rugged enough for all your outdoor needs—Backpacking, Camping, BBQ’s and Picnics. Talu’s sturdy construction supports heavy tasks such as cutting and cooking, allowing you to head outdoors and go further for longer.
  • LIGHT ENOUGH TO CARRY & STORE ALMOST ANYWHERE. These tables are substantially lighter & more durable than comparably-sized wooden tables. Folds into the included carry bag. Store in a car, canoe, or wherever you may need it. Talu provides a stable work surface for hobbyists. Suitable height for camping chairs/stools, or even sitting on the ground.
  • NO TOOLS REQUIRED, EASY to SETUP: No tools needed! The aluminum base frame is designed to pop up and fold with ease. Its unique hinge design enables easy and robust connection to the table top. Just pop it open and attach the table top and you are ready to go! You can even assemble this using only one hand! It is so easy that a kid can do it!
  • NOT YOUR GRANPA'S TABLE! Go big at home—not granpa’s clunky old camp table. Built for portability and stability. Nothing less will do! This aircraft grade aluminum table is a workhorse—with proper care is sure to give you years of service. Withstands weights of up to 13kg. Rubber feet designed to be stable on a variety of terrains. Whether in the forest or on the river—a perfect outdoor companion! Now you can cook meals, prepare drinks, play cards or enjoy your morning cup of joe.

Camping stove

This item is must have in your camping cooking gear to enjoy scrumptious food in middle of wilderness. Sure it is great to cook over a camp fire, but that isn't always possible on camp sites and it can be a time consuming process.  So we recommend a camping stove even if you just want it for boiling water for your coffee - although I am sure you will use it for more than that.

Camping cooking gear camping stove

Camping Stoves are typically powered by gas and depending on the size of the stove they will either have cannisters or small gas bottles.  

When choosing a camping stove there is lots to consider, but for us the main things are the space you have available for transporting the stove and the amount of cooking that you plan to do on it.  We are a family of 6 and just have a one ring burner with a gas cannister.  I tend to keep to easy camping meals when we are away so this is sufficient for us, but I do think that to have two rings would be better - we simply don't have the space for the gas bottle though in our car.   You can find out more about things to consider and the best camping stoves here.

INSERT LINK TO BEST CAMPING STOVES

Camp grill

Although regular grills can work just fine when paired with charcoal or firewood, you can go for sophisticated options which can either be placed on a table top (with frames as they come with camping tables) or on accompanying shelves.

Camping grills come with basic to advanced range of features, depending upon the price you can pay. Just like the case of camping stoves, some of these grills work when provided with gas, and others with liquid propane. Your best option is to go for cast iron or powder coated aluminium  grills to avoid any rusting or heat related degradation.

We just got one of these for a camp site that we are due to go where you can't have camp fires.  You are however allowed BBQs and grills as long as they are raised from the ground and so this little camping grill will be perfect for toasting marshmallows and giving a little warmth of an evening whilst we sit outside enjoying the sunset.

Fuel

Well that’s something you can’t run your stoves and grills without (in case firewood isn’t your choice), don’t forget to take along extra canisters or cartridges of fuel. Whilst you don't want to be taking tons with you you also don't want to run out...

Camping cookware

Your choice of camping cookware is really governed by the number of people in your family and your vehicle’s luggage space; for example, cookware made of cast iron is well suited for camping purposes because of it's heat resistance and distribution properties, but its weight can become difficult to handle when carrying other luggage along and it can take up more space.  So for most families stainless steel or aluminium camping cookware sets will be the best option.

If you buy a camping cookware set specifically designed for camping you will find that they tend to all fit into one another so as to take up less space when you are packing.  Here are some good options that we have found, but do also check out our Best camping cookware post for our complete round up:

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Camping Cool Box

Just like the previous entry, camping cool boxes need to be selected based upon the number of people travelling and the number of days that the trip will last.  If you have an electric hook up at your campsite then a plug in cool box can be a winner as it will be very much like a fridge.  We still take our electric cool box with us even when we don't have electric hook up as with ice packs inside it still keeps the food cooler for longer and we plug it into the car on the way down and even at points during the day when we can.

If you don't have an electric hook up then you will also need to make sure you have some good quality ice blocks.  We also recommend pre making some of your meals and freezing them before you go so that you have frozen items in the cool box.  Not only will this mean that you have meals ready to heat for a couple of days, but also it will help to keep the fridge items colder for longer.

Top Tip

If you take zip lock or silicone bags with good seals you can fill these with ice and simply buy more once it melts to also help to keep your food cold.  

Most camp sites do tend to sell ice we have found.  The water from the melted ice can then be used for rinsing off plates before you head to the central washing stations which just means you don't have to go straight away


Camping Tableware

Just like every other thing which falls under the category of camp cooking gear, camp kitchen tableware needs considerations that you just don't need to make with your at home stuff i.e. they must be lightweight, easy to wash in remote areas, and durable as well. 

The market is full of kits comprising of all basics including plates, mugs, spoons, knives, bowls, and forks etc. We recently purchased these roll up sets from Vango and they are a great space saver:

We also love this style of set for kitchen utensils as again they save loads of space and keep all of the kit organised.

On that note here is another top tip for you....

Top Tip

  • Get some hangable shoe storage and use it to store all of your camping kitchen gear
  • Hanging storage is also great for the games and toys that you don't want all over the floor
  • Overhead storage is a brilliant way of maximising the space in your tent and can keep things like cooking knives away from children


Cleaning Supplies

Even if you are in a very organised camp site with amazing washing facilities you will benefit from having a washing up bowl - even if it is just to carry the washing up from your tent to the washing hub.  We recommend getting a collapsible one like this which doubles as a colander to drain your veggies or pasta.  Love a bit of space saving...

You will also need a bottle of biodegradable liquid dishwashing soap and some sponges along with washcloths and a tea towel.

I also take biodegradable antibacterial wipes for the table

A couple of foldable bins or baskets

If you are taking along loose tableware and cookware, cleaning supplies, baskets and bins are the things you’ll need as storage spaces or the shoe storage I suggested earlier works too!

These bins can even make great linen baskets or places for the kids stuff.  Keeping things organised when camping is a great way of making the whole thing easier and camping cooking gear is no exception.

Last update on 2021-07-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API