There are a few different ways to turn your blazing, warm campfire into an impromptu campfire grill on your next camping trip. When camping, cooking outdoors is part of the fun. But campfire cooking doesn’t have to be confined to just things you can stick on a skewer to hold over the fire. In fact, you can cook just about anything you would cook on your grill back home if you have a little creativity. If you don’t plan to go camping, but have a large backyard with a simple fire pit dug in the ground, you can use many of the same ideas and tips. Here are some such ideas about how to enjoy a campfire grill.
- Grill Grate Campfire Grill
I strongly recommend you serious hikers and campers look into this. A basic round (or square) metal grill grate, like the type sold for basic Weber-type kettle grills, is generally pretty lightweight and, because it is flat, does not take up much room. You can find these replacement grills just about anywhere grills are sold. Many round grates are even made to fold in half or one end folds down. Generally this is created this way to allow you to lift up the side and add coals during cooking on a charcoal grill, however this can come in handy for the camper! A fold up grill grate is easy to pack and carry where ever you go!
So why am I mentioning grill grates? What does it have to do with a campfire grill? It is as simple as starting up a nice campfire and then laying your grill across it! Thats it! However, there are a couple tips that will make it work better:
- First of all, you need to build a fire pit which is the right size for your campfire grill. In particular, use your metal grill grate as a guide to the size you are aiming for. If you make your fire pit too big the grate will fall right in on top of the fire!
- You want your grill to be some distance above your hot fire and coals so that food is not instantly charred! To do this, you can dig a nice deep fire pit for your campfire beforehand. Alternatively, and preferentially, in addition to digging a pit so that your firewood sits down low, form a ring of rocks around the perimeter of the campfire. Choose large sturdy rocks. Make sure you make this perimeter ring the right size (just slightly smaller on the inner diameter than your grill grate) so that you can lay your grill on top and it will sit stably across the top, elevated several inches above your fire.
- Build a nice big fire first and let it burn down a bit before adding your campfire grill. Cooking over big open flames it not ideal, it will burn and char your food quickly! Ideally, you want a nice core of hot embers at the base of the fire and you want to let the big flames die down before you add your grill and food. This way you are cooking over hot embers and not open flames. Your heat will start to die down eventually but you can prolong it by stirring the embers a bit periodically (with a skewer or long stick) to get more oxygen to them so they burn longer and hotter.
- If you plan to cook for a longer period of time the method above can be modified a bit to keep a steady supply of heat going indefinitely. Here’s how to you do it… First, make your campfire fire pit similar to the one described above. However, instead of making a complete circle, make somewhat of a figure 8 shaped pit. Basically you want a round area with a rim of stones which you can lay your campfire grill grate across as above. This does not need to be very deep, maybe 8 to 12 inches under the grill grate. In addition to this, you want a side pit which is connected to the campfire grill pit. This is where you will build your campfire big and strong. As wood burns down to burning coals or embers, use a large stick or skewer to push this nice glowing heat source under the adjacent grill. You can keep adding fresh wood to the fire to keep it going as long as you desire. This allows you to keep your hot open flames away from your food while maintaining a constant supply of hot coals to cook over. Just keep the process going, adding more wood to the campfire while pushing some of the hot embers at the base under the campfire grill!
- Campfire Tripod Grill
I have a whole other page devoted to this on my Campfire Tripod Grill page. In effect, you are suspending a grill grate over your fire pit. While this seems more elaborate and less portable, there are tripods built specifically for this purpose which fold up into a relatively small package which can be carried with you on your next camping trip.
- Portable Grills
If all else fails, there are several types of portable grills available which are lightweight and easy to carry with you and set up. There are both charcoal and gas grills available. Some specific examples of these can be found on my Weber Portable Grill page and my Char-Broil Portable Grill page. The advantage of these is that they are lightweight and don’t require any digging or other work to set up and use. The downside is that they are bulkier than just carrying a flat grill grate or folded up tripod grill. You also have to carry the fuel (propane tank or charcoal) as well, although they do make smaller propane tanks to go with these smaller portable grills. If you are traveling by car and then camping out not far from where you park then these can be a very viable option.
That’s it! Good luck with your campfire grill. Whichever way you use to grill when camping you can cook up any number of great grilling recipes just as you would at home.
Have fun with your campfire cooking on your campfire grill!