Weekly Hack: Winter campfire cooking tips

Published: February 21, 2020 · Updated: February 27, 2020

campfire cooking By Nick Lundgren/Shutterstock

Campfire cooking in the summer is fun but—let’s face it—sometimes uncomfortably hot. In the winter? Cozy! Canadian grilling and campfire cooking experts (and past Cottage Life Show presenters) Maddie and Kiki Longo gave us some winter campfire cooking advice. Bundle up!

Build your fire with (dry) hardwoods. Oak and birch, for example, will burn hotter and longer than softwoods such as pine and cedar. 

Start your fire about an hour before you plan on cooking; you want to cook over a fire that has burned down to smoldering embers. Raging flames just result in food that’s burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.

Read more about how to build a winter campfire

Using a grill grate? Grilling in the cold does present some challenges when it comes to campfire cooking. Colder temperatures can mean longer cook times for foods that you’re cooking slowly over low heat (ribs, brisket). On the other hand, cold weather doesn’t typically affect foods that you traditionally cook hot and fast (steak, rack of lamb).

Cook with a Dutch oven. “Low and slow” meals are perfect for winter campfire cooking. Try stews, oatmeal, or vegan chilli. Prep everything inside, then cook for about an hour–or whatever your slow cooker recipe recommends–stirring every 15 minutes or so. 

No special equipment? No problem. You can cook veggies such as onions directly on the coals. Place the onions on the coals, cook for 20 minutes, then remove the charred skins. Use the tender, smoked onions in a salad. You can also cook steak this way; it’s called “caveman style” or “dirty steak.”

Campfires aren’t just for food. Hot toddies are delicious in winter, and adding foraged white pine needles to this classic drink takes it to the next level. Toss a sprig of pine needles to a pot of water along with sliced lemon, cinnamon sticks, and a drizzle of honey. Place over the campfire until boiling. Pour into mugs, and add a splash of bourbon.

Try these other hot drinks to help you warm up this winter.

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