Can I Place A Dutch Oven Directly Into or Next To a Campfire?

Gear that is most used on a campout, besides your sleeping equipment, is a Dutch oven and a campfire. When you are hungry and ready to cook, and you want to put your Dutch oven directly in the campfire, that’s okay, but there are precautions you need to follow.

Can you place a Dutch oven directly next to or in a campfire?

You can place a Dutch oven in a campfire or even next to a campfire. A campfire won’t harm a Dutch oven since the oven is made from cast iron and is virtually indestructible. Do note, however, that it is difficult to control the heat of a campfire and you might burn your food.

In this guide, we will walk you through some tips and tricks of using a Dutch oven directly in or next to a campfire. We will show you how to control your campfire and how to cook with the coals from the fire. We will also include a couple of recipes that can be prepared in a Dutch oven placed in or next to a campfire.

Can You Place a Dutch Oven Directly in a Campfire?

Many campers build large campfires to keep warm and experience the ambiance of a campfire when camping. At times a campfire can get five or ten feet across and even taller than it is wide. If you stand next to the fire, you will get overly hot and possibly burned. Experts say that a fire like this can exceed 2000 degrees F. Cooking directly in a burning campfire like this will not harm your dutch oven, but it will burn your food and create a challenge in getting the Dutch oven out of the fire.

Most guides on Dutch oven cooking suggest placing hot coals on the lip and underneath the oven. They also recommend hanging the oven from a tripod over a bed of hot coals.

There are a  couple of styles of Dutch ovens you can use for cooking in or near a campfire. One has three legs and a lid designed to hold coals. Research shows these types of Dutch ovens were designed to be used on top of the coals of a campfire.

There is another type of Dutch oven that has a flat bottom, no legs, and a domed lid. Dutch oven chefs suggest that this type of Dutch oven is better used by suspending it over the fire with a tripod.

The best way to cook using a Dutch oven in a campfire is to let the fire die down into good cooking coals and bank the coals around the Dutch oven for effective cooking. Put coals on top of the Dutch oven, with the flanged lid, and cook food from the top and the bottom.

These are the suggested methods to use a Dutch oven in a campfire, but you can also place your Dutch oven directly on or in a small fire. Pile burning wood around your Dutch oven if you want a higher temperature. Caution: be very careful when cooking directly in the middle of a campfire. Your food will burn quickly if not watched and stirred, and it’s hard to stir and manage food when the pot is in the middle of a campfire.

Watch the wood as sits in a campfire. The pot will shift as the wood burns and your Dutch oven could fall as the wood burns. Such shifting would cause burned food, burned fingers, and a poor Dutch oven experience.

Can You Place a Dutch Oven Near a Campfire?

Yes. Placing your Dutch oven near a fire would be a preferred method of cooking. Use coals that have burned down and are still glowing red. When you cook with your Dutch oven near a campfire, place two-thirds of the coals on the top of the lid and one-third on the bottom. Coals on the top and the bottom of the Dutch oven will give you even cooking.

Place your dutch oven next to your fire, use a single layer of coals from your main fire,  and place the coals under your Dutch oven. If you are making a roast, chicken or ribs, take the lid off and sear or brown your meat first. After the fire has settled down, and the coals are glowing, place the lid on your Dutch oven and pile glowing coals on top of the lid. For roasting, you should have a 1-inch pile of coals that covers the lid. For baking, pile the coals higher (about 2-inches) and cover the lid thickly with the coals. You can also place a few medium sized flaming sticks on the lid instead of coals. Do be careful; with this method, you could have hot spots.

Check on your food often or at least every five to ten minutes. Keep turning your dutch oven to make sure one part of the oven is off the coals and another part is on a bed of glowing coals. Checking your food and turning the Dutch oven prevents a burned dinner.

Remove the lid with a “crow’s” foot or Dutch oven lid lifter. Place the top where the underside won’t get dirty. Visually inspect your food for signs of burning, You might try and get your nose down close the Dutch oven to smell for any burning odors. Watch for vigorous bubbling.

Use a wooden or metal spoon and dig to the bottom to make sure nothing is burning or sticking. When you are satisfied that everything is okay, place the lid back on top and rotate the Dutch oven by about 90 degrees.

When using a Dutch oven next to a fire, watch the heat. If you are unsure of how many coals to use, it is better to use too little heat as opposed to too much heat. After you check your dutch oven and your food and nothing seems to be bubbling, go ahead and add coals to the top.

The best tips: Use the right size Dutch oven. An 8-quart camp dutch oven is excellent. It’s big enough to handle meals for up to six people, but it doesn’t take up much space. A good pair of insulated gloves are also recommended. Some chefs use a pair of leather welding gloves with a gauntlet to protect the wrists. You can also purchase gloves made explicitly for Dutch oven cooking from a sports store. Use your Dutch oven often so you can gain experience on how much heat is needed.

Over The campfire Dutch oven Recipe

There are a lot of recipes that can be cooked directly over a campfire. Here is an example.

Dutch oven Apple Crisp over a Campfire Recipe

Place about a quart of a stick of butter in the bottom of the Dutch oven (use real butter, margarine will insult the apples)

Cut up five or six apples into bite-size pieces and put on top of the bubbling butter

You can also add walnuts or pecans to add to the taste of the crisp.

Add your crisp mix (self-rising flour, oatmeal, more butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Pour it on top of the apples and add more butter.

Put the lid on and cook your crisp.

Let the campfire burn down to coals. Place your Dutch oven directly on the coals and pile more coals on top of the lid. Tip: use a Dutch oven with feet.

Place coals from our main fire on the lid. The coals on the lid cause the heat to cook the top of the crisp. Conversely, the coals on the bottom of the Dutch oven cook food from the bottom. Check for burning food and remove the dutch oven from the fire if you smell burning.

How many coals you need on top is a good question. Most Dutch oven chefs claim it is all trial and error.

Recipe for Dutch Oven Cooking Next to a Campfire

Cooking next to your campfire will help you to control your heat much better than putting your Dutch oven in the fire pit.

Dutch Oven Tater Tot Breakfast Pizza

Tater tots make an excellent crust topped with bacon, eggs, cheese, and sausage.

Place the tater tots on the bottom and sides of an oiled Dutch oven. Bake the tots for about fifteen minutes with the lid off and hot coals on the bottom.

Flatten the tater tots with your spatula.

Pour scrambled egg mixture (eggs and milk) on top of the tater tots

Layer with cheese

Sprinkle cooked bacon on top of the cheese and add more scrambled egg mixture.

Layer with more cheese and sprinkle with crumbled (cooked sausage)

Put the lid on the Dutch oven. Make sure there are plenty of coal on the bottom and top of the Dutch oven.  Cook for about 10 minutes.

You can try your variation of this recipe. Just be sure to place your dutch oven next to the fire and not in the fire.

Dutch oven cooking in a campfire or next to a campfire is a good way to fix your meals on a campout. Remember to turn the Dutch oven often if it is in the fire pit itself and check for any hot or burned spots.

Cooking next to the campfire is ideal. You can use the coals from your fire, regulate the temperature, and have yummy food cooked quickly.

More articles we think you will love.

Dutch Oven Campfire Potato Recipes ( Cheese, Fried, Baked, Scallop )

11 Must Try Dutch Oven Campfire Breakfast Egg Recipes 5 Bonus Videos

What can you cook on a campfire?

Can you cook with stainless steel or aluminum over an open fire?

What can you cook on a campfire? ( Meats, Veggies, Sandwiches and more )

Rickie Arms

Hi, I'm Rickie Arms, owner of Glampingorcamping.com. I am so invested in writing the best and most informative articles for you that I went out and bought a travel trailer just so I could write about it for you. I spend just about all of my off time both camping and glamping so I can share everything I have learned and will learn with you. I have spent my whole life camping and over the last 10 years, I have spent a large amount of time checking out glamping experiences with my wife and kids as well. Thank you for coming by and we hope to see you back here getting great information in the future. Rick Arms-

Recent Posts