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Camp Oven Cooking 101

Wednesday 18th September 2019
By Ely Power
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By Ely Power
There’s nothing quite like campfire cooking under the stars, with your family and friends, gathered around the crackling flames for a hearty feed. And by cooking with a camp oven, you can enjoy the tastiest textures and fullest flavours!

An age-old favourite, records of this camp cooking method date back centuries. Once a standard piece of any cooking set for Aussie explorers, cattle drovers and bush settlers on the go, these trusted pots are now a quality ingredient for campervan holidays.

From fire safety guidelines and cooking equipment to camping recipes and cleaning methods, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to feasting with Mother Nature. Want to master the art of campervan cooking before your next camping trip? We’re here to help you release your inner chef, serving up some handy tips that will take your campsite dinners from canned beans to mouth-watering roasts.

As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you find an RV that is perfect for you so you can experience the joys of caravanning - without having to own one yourself. 

Interested? Learn more about Camplify here.

Types of Camp Oven

Can you taste the goodness already?
Photo by Alexey Ruban on Unsplash

Cast Iron Camp Oven

Stroll around any campground or holiday park and you are guaranteed to find several cast iron camp ovens - this classic style is manufactured in its thousands and sold in most camping stores. Available in a variety of sizes, you can buy a cast iron camp oven for any price from $30 to $150. 

Which one you purchase depends on what you plan to cook and how many mouths you have to feed. Whatever the size, our advice is to go for a camp oven with a positive seal lid that prevents ash fall. Also look out for handles with a coiled wire bail so that you won’t burn your hand, as well as a smooth inner surface for easy cleaning.

Be aware that these camp ovens can be pretty heavy to transport and manoeuvre around campfires. That said, their thickness facilitates heat retention and distribution (even in cold and windy weather) so they’re great for fixing up a meal in the wild. 

A final note: handle cast iron camp ovens with care. While robust, they are susceptible to cracks if dropped on hard surfaces or subjected to harsh changes in temperature, like adding cold water after heating them up.

Spun Steel Camp Oven

The most popular alternative is the spun steel camp oven, which is far lighter and easier to handle than its cast-iron counterpart. For instance, the 12.5L Hillbilly only weighs 4.5kg, about 10kg less than a similar-sized cast iron oven. Additionally, spun steel isn’t porous so its surface is simple to clean and won’t crack if dropped or filled with cold water while hot. 

What’s more, a spun steel camp oven heats up quickly so is perfect for cooking on a gas stove. However, as steel has a lower mass, its heat retention and distribution won’t quite match that of a cast iron camp oven. The latter heats up slower but also holds this heat for longer, making it more suited to roasts, stews and curries. 

No matter which pot you’re cooking with, a few extra tools can make all the difference to perfecting your plate! Check out our recommendations below.

Camping Cooking Gear

  • Heat-resistant gloves or oven mitts
  • BBQ tools with long handles
  • A camp oven lid lifter to check on food
  • A trivet to avoid heat damage to your camping table or campervan counter
  • A baking tray to place on top of the trivet
  • A small whisk broom to brush off ashes from the lid
  • A thermometer gauge for roasts
  • A high rack for pizza making

Keen to find your very own camp oven? Snowys, Oztrail, Hillbilly and Anaconda all stock a wide range of cooking gear made specifically for Aussie camping trips!

Top Tips For Camp Cooking

Make the most of your camp trip with authentic camp food
Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

Seasoning Your Camp Oven

Before you cook anything, take some measures to make your camp oven as non-stick as possible. Trust us, your future self will thank you when it comes to washing up in the great outdoors!

Cast Iron
Camp ovens are usually manufactured with a rust-preventive coating. The best way to remove this is with warm soapy water and a scouring pad. Once cleaned, leave it out to dry completely.

To season, give your camp oven - including its lid - a full wipe down with vegetable oil before heating it up for an hour or so. Afterwards, let your pot cool before repeating the process again.
You know a cast iron camp oven is well-seasoned when it gets a glossy black finish!

Spun Steel
Seasoning spun steel camp ovens is a slightly different process. 

Start by scrubbing the pot in hot soapy water and drying it thoroughly. Then heat up a teaspoon of oil within the camp oven, wiping hot oil all over its interior and lid (you know you’re doing a good job when the paper towel turns black!). Let the oven cool down before repeating this process again and again until no black residue is left on the paper towel.

Preheating Your Camp Oven

Always preheat your pot on the campfire before cooking. To do this, use a tripod or simply place the oven on a barbie plate to catch its flames. Remember to heat the lid, as well! Skip this step and you’ll lose half of your cooking coals’ heat by having to warm up a cold camp oven.

Cooking With Your Camp Oven

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: camp cooking is an art. First things first, determine your camp oven’s temperature by leaving a piece of paper towel inside it for five minutes.

  • If this paper comes out black, your oven is probably too hot.
  • If this paper comes out brown, your oven is on moderate heat.
  • If this paper comes outs cream or yellow, your oven is on lower heat.

Remember that easy campfire cooking and temperature regulation rests more in repositioning the pot than taming the flames. Some wood types also burn hotter than others so although you should try to take off the lid as little as possible to avoid heat loss, a check-up every once in a while to ensure nothing is burning. 

Roasting

Sit a preheated camp oven on burning coals, cooking your meat for one to two hours according to how much there is (add any vegetables in the last 45 minutes). Check your camp oven temperature about every half hour, adding extra hot coals if necessary.

Stewing

The longer you cook your stew, the more tender its meat. Heat the camp oven on a low or moderate heat over an extended period of time for the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth results!

Baking

When cooking up treats and desserts in trays or tins, place a trivet at the bottom of your camp oven to encourage airflow for even baking.

Cleaning And Storing Your Camp Oven


Spoon out any leftovers and clean your camp oven with warm water and a brush, setting it to dry completely near the flames or in the sunshine. Whatever you do, never use detergent! 

To prevent rust and improve seasoning, lightly oil your camp oven before storing it in a cool, dry place. As for transport, your best bet is to buy a canvas bag to carry the camp oven from your campervan to the campfire. 

Scrumptious Camp Oven Cooking Recipes

Camp oven cooking; the possibilities are endless!
Photo by Tom King on Unsplash

Oh, the culinary delights that camp ovens make possible… No longer does camping have to equal spartan dining, so relish in delicious treat-yourself dishes - after all, you’re on holiday! Think rich, syrupy desserts, succulent, juicy roasts, curries bursting with spice and much, much more. The camp oven is your oyster.

For some foodie (and campfire-friendly) inspiration, do some recipe research and meal prep before you hit the gas. From blueberry banana pancakes to beef stroganoff, Fresh Off The Grid has all sorts of yummy camp cooking recipes to tantalise your tastebuds.


Now that you’re equipped with the basics of campfire cooking, you can get this show on the road. Of course, practice makes perfect, so conquer your camp oven one meal at a time. We promise you and your stomach will never look back.

Bon appétit!

So what is Camplify? 


We are Australia’s largest & New Zealand's newest caravan hire and RV sharing community, helping connect thousands of holidaymakers with RV owners. 

What does that mean?

Essentially, we provide a unique sharing service where owners of caravans, camper trailers, motorhomes, and campervans list their RV for hire while not in use. As an owner, this enables you to earn over $10,000 each year instead of having your RV just sitting around while you’re not using it. 

As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you find an RV that is perfect for you so you can experience the joys of caravanning - without having to own one yourself. 

Interested? Learn more about Camplify here.

To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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