Dutch Oven Cooking

When we bought our camper, we had a two burner stove that came with our set up.  It sets up outside so that I easily prepare easy meals without smelling up our camper.  However, I knew we would want to have an oven to do some additional cooking while camping.

Outdoor kitchen stove for cooking.

Rather than buying a small toaster or convection oven, I asked for a Dutch Oven.  This was my Christmas present this past year along with several kitchen camping items.  I love all of them!

My Christmas camping loot. 
I wanted a Dutch Oven for several reasons.
  1. It can be used like an actual oven.
  2. It can be used for soups and stews.
  3. It's both an "appliance" and a large pan!  Double duty wins here.
  4. Dutch ovens last virtually forever.
Size does matter for a Dutch Oven.  I recommend getting a larger 6 or 8-quart one that you can easily bake or stew in.  Price wise, both Amazon and Walmart and pretty comparable in terms of price.  At the time of this post, the 8 quart 12 inch Dutch Oven is exactly the same price at both retailers. Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven - 12 Inch / 8 Quart

I usually set up on our campsite grill or firepit for safety.
Aside from the actual Dutch oven, you are going to need few additional items that will make Dutch oven cooking easier and more enjoyable.
  1. Pit Paws are heat resistant gloves that make it easy to remove the lid to your Dutch oven when cooking to check on or remove food from inside.  Trust me, you want something like this rather than just a standard pot holder.  They are made for high heat.  Charcoal Companion Pit Paws BBQ Gloves / Pair - CC5146
  2. A lid lifter allows you to remove the lid easily.  Lodge Camp Dutch Oven Lid Lifter
  3. A charcoal chimney starter.  This compact Webber version is the smaller version of mine.  I wish this is what I had just for space saving sake.  Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter
  4. You will want a couple cake pans without a lip to use for baking inside of your Dutch Oven.  
  5. T-fal Gold 9" Round Cake Pan, Nonstick - Walmart.com
The Pit Paws gloves allow for full dexterity while keeping your hands safe while cooking with hot coals.

These T-Fal cake pans cook evenly and is nice and heavyweight while being non-stick.
So, how does this all work?  Basically, you will need hot coals that you place underneath and on top of the lid of the Dutch Oven to bake and cook.  I use an app that tells me how many coals that I need under and on top of my Dutch oven to create a certain temperature.  There are several apps that you can download from the iTunes or Android app store.  Dutch Oven Helper Lite for iPhones

First, I calculate the number of coals that I need based on my desired temperature.  Next, I count out the charcoal briquettes and place them in my charcoal starter.  Once my coals start to ash over, I dump out the number for under the Dutch oven and place the remaining hot coats on the lid.  Wear your pit paws or heat resistant gloves while doing this to be safe and keep from being burned.

Set a timer to cook your food for the appropriate time.  Use your lid lifter to check on your food as and if needed.  I also use my lid lifter to just rotate the lid on top of the Dutch oven to ensure even cooking.

It really is easy.  I use our Dutch Oven to cook breakfast and dinner.  We have done things like biscuits, pigs in a blanket, cinnamon rolls and pizza in ours so far.  This fall and winter I have plans to make stews, chili and maybe some enchiladas.

Dutch Oven Pizza

Dutch Oven Cinnamon Rolls
To make clean up easy, you can always purchase Lodge Manufacturing Parchment Paper Dutch Oven Liners or even aluminum liners.  I'm planning to get some of these before we do any soup, chili or items that I would cook in our Dutch oven beside what I have done in a cake pan.  I use parchment paper at home all of the time.  So, I really like this option.

Dutch oven cooking is easy and practical.  I really enjoy it.  Just remember, these pieces hold heat for a really long time.  You won't be able to pack up and leave your campsite right after you have cooked your breakfast in one of these.  Plan enough time for your equipment to cool down.  Be careful with small children around so they don't get burned while cooking or while everything is cooling.  

With everything, be prepared to spend between $100 and $120 for the whole set up.  It's an investment.  And we use ours all of the time.  It is probably my favorite kitchen equipment when we camp.  My Dutch Oven allows me to cook like I would at home.  But, it is real camping gear that gives me a feel of doing something completely different from the everyday meal.  I enjoy sitting and drinking my coffee while I prep and cook.

If you are looking for additional ideas for Dutch Oven Cooking, take a look on Pinterest.  There are lots of recipes to choose from.  I have a Pinterest board for Campfire Cooking as well.

Do you Dutch Oven cook?  If so, what is a meal you really enjoy to prepare in your Dutch Oven?  While a little planning and practice, you can master Dutch oven cooking too.  Get out there and master your inner camp chef with a little Dutch oven cooking.  It is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors.  Happy camping!

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