Building an EPIC Camp Kitchen

Looking to cook up some tasty meals on your next camping adventure? Camping expert Alex Dolan runs through how to set up a camping kitchen that’s up for the task.

Photo by Chris Holder
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Any good camping adventure is paired with fun-filled outdoor exploration and activities that tend to burn a lot of calories. Having great food on your camping trip is imperative for relaxation, refueling, and keeping hanger at bay. Here is everything you’ll need for an epic camp kitchen to keep good times rolling and spirits high.

While there are some great options out there for backpackers to make minimalist meals that are lightweight and save valuable space, this article will focus on everything you’ll need for a car camping kitchen. When weight and space aren’t an issue, imagination is your only limitation. Building an extravagant kitchen in the great outdoors can be one of the most fun parts of your camping trip. Your taste buds will love you! Not to mention, you’ll be the envy of the entire campsite when you finish off your campfire pizza and pull out the portable ice cream maker!

A cast iron pan containing vegetables and meet cook over a smoldering campfire
Photo by Dan Edwards

We’ll start from the ground up. A sturdy table to place your stove and cutting boards on will get you out of the dirt and allow you to stand up straight and feel civilized while playing camp chef. Find a spot where you can place a lantern directly overhead for plenty of light while cooking and divvying out portions of mac n’ cheese. When deciding which utensils to bring with you, try to utilize multi-function cookware. Some spatulas incorporate a butcher knife into the side, and sporks are awesome for pretty much every meal.

If you plan on cooking over the fire, a cast iron dutch oven can make some impressive meals that most wouldn't even consider when camping. Some of my favorite camp dishes include pizzas, enchiladas, or baked ziti.

There are a wide variety of coolers out there and huge differences in quality. Spending some extra money on a nice cooler can mean the difference between your ice lasting a few hours or a few days. If you buy ice in blocks, it will last much longer. Try to keep your cooler closed whenever possible to keep the temperature low. You may even want two coolers, one for your perishables and one to keep the drinks cold. A 75-quart cooler should be plenty of room for all of the food items you’ll need for a couple of days. A 35-quart will fit a 12 pack of cans with some ice.

Once you are finished cooking, you can pass someone else the collapsible sink and have them go to town on the dishes! Make sure you have eco-friendly soap. Also, make sure you bring plenty of fresh water, not just for hydration but for cleanliness and cooking as well. I always bring at least 5 gallons when I am car camping.

Photo by Tegan Mierle

Outdoor cooking is an amazingly rewarding practice of patience and timing. Taking the time to play with all of your camp cooking gadgets to create delicious meals is just another way to add to the fun. So, on your next camping trip go wild, have a blast, and eat great food!

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Written By
I have years of experience planning and executing multi day river trips for up to twenty customers at a time and countless summer nights living out of my Honda Element, moving from river to river, living wherever the water is flowing. I have also toured the San Juan Islands via kayak, and circumnavi...

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