Cooking in a Dutch oven over a fire may seem like a lot of work. But I assure you it’s easier than you think and just may become your preferred way to cook. Dutch Oven camping is a great way to impress your friends and family with a delicious and easy meal.
When traveling abroad the food is one of our favorite parts of travel. The colors, smells and tastes are what anchor in some of our fondest memories. So when we travel within the states we try our best to cement our memories of the day with a good meal.
Why You Need a Dutch Oven
Cooking at camp is often plagued by these thin pots and difficult to control camp stoves. Making for uneven heat and scorched meals.
Dutch ovens offer uniform heat and a set it and forget it type of cooking. My favorite part about Dutch Oven meals is once it goes on the fire, it’s time to chill. They require almost no effort once the prep is done. Just sit back and relax.
In addition they open you up to a whole new level of camp cooking. I’d like to see you make bread or biscuits on your camp stove. Baking is EASY in a dutch oven. In fact, just use your favorite recipe or a variety of ready to bake options and you’ll have the entire camp drooling over your biscuits and bread.
Dutch Oven Meals
- Sourdough bread – home-made of course and absolutely delicious
- Pizza- home-made crust with toppings of your choice. If you think you can’t make from scratch bread and pizza dough while on the road, you’re wrong. I will show you how.
- Soups, stews, fried fresh fish and some amazing desserts
Head over to Country Living for some great Dutch Oven recipes.
Choosing the Right Dutch Oven
- Aluminum vs cast iron
- Aluminum is lighter, can be washed with soap, but heats faster and can have hot spots. Makes cooking things like bread or pizza dough more difficult as the heat isn’t distributed evenly.
- Cast iron requires initial seasoning, can’t use soap, heavy, but has better cooking properties with a more consistent heat.
- Cast iron is the only way to go in my opinion. I will go over everything you need to keep these seasoned and non-stick
Dutch Oven for Campfire
- Lid choice and feet – this is important – to cook with a Dutch Oven over coals it’s essential to be able to apply heat from not only the bottom but also the lid. This allows it to function
likean oven. The feet are necessary so you can place coals under the oven and the lid must have a lip so that coals will stay put on top.
- What size – we use a 12 inch but your needs may vary based on how many people you plan to serve. The 12
inchwould be the smallest I would go if you want to make bread.
- What brand you ask – I prefer Lodge Dutch Ovens as they are affordable and very well made. Lodge has been in the business since 1896 so I think they know a thing or two about Dutch Ovens. Stay away from the less expensive options that are too thin and don’t cook evenly.
Don’tforget the Dutch Oven Hook as well to help move the pot around.
Best Dutch Oven Size
Dutch Oven Seasoning
So now that you have your new oven we need to get it all seasoned up. Seasoning is that magic part that bakes in the oils so that it will be easy to clean and last a lifetime. Here are the steps
- First you will need to wash the pot and lid with soap and warm water. Be sure to wash everything including the outside. This gets rid of all the wax and oils that are on it from the factory. This is the only time you will use soap on your Dutch Oven. Thoroughly dry before going to the next step.
- Apply vegetable oil over the entire pot, lid and outside of Dutch Oven.
- Place upside down on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. I recommend doing this twice with a new oven. Once complete, turn off oven and let it cool.
Cooking with Charcoal
Now that your new oven is ready let’s cover one of the most important parts of Dutch Oven cooking, temperature control.
Without a doubt the most precise way to heat your oven is with good quality charcoal briquettes. For baking or dishes that require consistent heat, briquettes are the way to go. For less demanding dishes like a stew I often just use coals from the fire and rotate the pot frequently.
The collapsable charcoal chimney below makes for quick and easy briquette startup without the need for harmful and dangerous lighter fluid.
Dutch Oven Temperature Guide
This temperature guide will get you real close to that perfect temp for your particular recipe.
Dutch Oven Cleaning
And last but certainly not least, it’s time to do the dishes. Important stuff here so don’t skip it.
- First off don’t use soap. It will get rid of all that seasoning and patina that make these such good cookers. If you do happen to wash with soap just be sure to re-apply oil and bake according to the seasoning instructions above.
cleaningI just scrape out all the food and wash with warm water. If something is sticking you can put some water in the Dutch Oven and simmer over a fire to loosen things up.
- Once cleaned and dried it is a good idea to wipe the Dutch Oven down with a light coat of oil before storing.
Dutch Oven Camping
If you follow these simple tips you will have a great performing Dutch Oven that will truly last for generations.
I find that cooking in a Dutch Oven is MUCH easier than any other method. Save the stoves for boiling water for that morning cup of coffee.
The baking ability of a Dutch Oven opens up a whole new category of food. Making bread, biscuits or cookies will be sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.