Survival Guide: Cooking on an Open Fire
Camping Gear Survival Food Survival Hacks

Survival Guide: Cooking on an Open Fire

Welcome to the survival guide for cooking on an open fire. This can be quite tricky when you first start to do it, but it will get easier as time goes on and you will get better. My family has a massive collection of household utensils, pans, pots and anything else you may need to grill outdoors over an open flame.

We love to go anywhere outdoors. Whether its hunting, fishing, camping or just plain to go to the park – we always have a blast. This is what we learned during our many camping outages. This information will give you the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and to check out what the items we bought for the costs of our trip and where it can be purchased from.

First and foremost, you need the right equipment. When you are cooking over a fire, there are a few things to remember. A bed of red coals is about the best you’re going to get before you start to cook. When you get more experienced – you’ll be cooking like a survival pro in no time at all. For now, though, let’s cover all this Survival Guide. It will get you fixed up like a pro in no time at all. I’m sure you’re excited about planning your outdoor cookout. Please play it smart though and learn some of my mistakes before you even make them.

What you need to work toward is a hot meal. You also have a pan that is not too close nor too far away from the coals. Cook directly on the hot coals, your food will likely get burned. Hang your pan too far above the coals, it will not cook. If you try to cook over a fire instead of a bed of coals, you will find even more frustrations. You want it just before the coals completely get ashy and burn out. That is the sweet spot.

survival guide for cooking outdoors
Man cooking on an open fire in the wilderness

How close do you get the food to the flames and/or the coal then? Well it just takes a little experience, but logically the closer your food is to the fire pit – the hotter it’s going to get and the more likely it could be burnt.

You will need to replace the coals as they get burned down. Pick a place to cook where you can get to the coals and heat above the grill. You can then position your items to where you are standing, not to where there is counter space. Then you won’t have to move around. It can be tiring.

Whenever the coals burn out or lose some of their heat, scoop hot coals from the fire area to the cooking area. Some of the spent coals can be removed during cooking, but I usually wait ‘until the cooking is over to do that. This way we can be sure that we have enough coal heat to finish cooking everyone’s meal.

survival guide: how to build a fire
Cooking over an open fire, jack frost nipping at your nose

There are many, many items that you could purchase to use for cooking over an open flame. Here are my favorites. Click the link at each section to open Amazon and check out pricing.

Spiders: No not the itsy bitsy type. This is a special stand for open fires that you would most likely only have on you if you guys are going camping. They have a ring for the pan to sit in and an open bottom. They can be bought in different sizes so you have extra options for each type of food your cooking. You should have these in your survival guide.

Trammel Hanging Arm: You can hang up an arm or two around the sides of the fireplace. This only works well inside an enclosed area. I like the one that adjusts from short to long so you can adjust how quickly your food is cooking. You also don’t have to adjust or touch the pot your food is cooking in. This is especially handy if your fireplace is small and you are cramped for room in there.

Utensils: When you are shopping for utensils you want to get the longest ones they carry. That way you don’t have to get as close to the fire as you would without it. Consider getting cast iron utensils instead of stainless or wooden ones because they will last you many years to come. You need a spoon, a slotted spoon, a fork three of various sizes, two pans and two spatulas. As you continue to go camping your collection of utensils and cooking supplies will no doubt grow in size.

Spit: As you begin to camp more and get more experience grilling out on the fire you will begin to want more utensils. You’ll also need pots or whatever you may need. You might even want a spit to roast meat on, but I like to use the cotton hang method. You season the meat before putting it on the spit. Another good way to roast meat like venison steaks is to skewer the meat onto a large fork. Then you prop the fork up in front of the fire and turn the skewer around to rotate. This means your meat is getting heated up from all angles.

Reflector Oven: Reflector Ovens are great around the fire. There is a learning curve. They can be used to cook meats, pieces of bread or deserts. Relatively slow cooking but they do the job very well. As soon as you learn how to keep the coals at an even temperature and how to pull the oven back from the fire when it becomes too hot.

Reflector Oven for use with outside cooking. Refer to Survival Guide.

Dutch Ovens: They make one with a lid on top of it that has a little groove. Buy it so you can put hot coals on the top of the pot. This also makes it to where you can cook something from the top and the bottom at the same time. I have to say there are some delicious meals that we eat out of these things. Definitely pick one up if you’re going camping even on rare occasions.

Other Pots and Pans: When you are choosing pots and pans your best off getting at least some of the cast iron. You will need a safe place to set hot pans coming off the fire. There will be a need for lots of dish towels. All of the usual fireplace accouterments like a shovel and an ash bucket. Also, have a bucket of water in case of an emergency or a fire extinguisher.

That just about covers it, everyone. The bottom line is that you won’t probably be very good at this your first time around. But you will get better.

Be sure to check out all those links that are at the beginning of the last few paragraphs. Those are the tools my family chose and I think they could benefit you as well. Click on each one to see what it looks like on Amazon, and to give you a good idea of what things will cost when you are ready to purchase them. Also please leave a comment in the thread below telling me what type of experience you have cooking outdoors and if this mini-guide was right for you.

Thank you for reading through my survival guide for outdoor cooking. We both still have lots to learn, I’m sure. If you liked this guide, you will surely like some of our related content located below.

Check out what we have from Amazon as well as other posts that may have some clarity on the finer points that we grazed over on this one. Also, leave a comment letting me know what other outdoor posts we could do.

Kenneth E. Sweet Jr.
Kenneth E. Sweet Jr. is a published author of many blogs, website content and more. He is an active YouTuber, father of 2 and Wizard in training. You can follow his personal survival blog over at