How to Setup a Car Camping Kitchen

Whether you’re new to open-flame cooking or you’re a seasoned campsite cook, DIY car camping kitchen can transform your camping experience completely.

Doing a car camping kitchen can be challenging, but it can also be a blast if you’re prepared, and you have all the essential gear.

From a car camping kitchen set up to clean, this post covers the must-have cooking equipment you need for an efficient car camping kitchen. You’ll also find some tips to stay organized, along with a few easy and fun camping recipes.

How to Choose Right Car Camping Kitchen Equipment?

The type of cooking equipment you need will depend on your style of camping.

Are you camping alone, with kids, or a large group? Are you able to park your car near to the campsite? Are you heading to a remote area?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start with the basic essentials listed below and add them as necessary.

This car camping kitchen setup is ideal for RVers, car campers, and those who enjoy a few extra creature comforts.

What is the Basic DIY Car Camping Kitchen Setup?

The primary necessities for this car camping kitchen setup include pots and pans, a small foldable table, a sturdy cooler, and essential dinnerware and utensils.

Depending on what you plan to cook, you might want to include extra items like a grill gate, a cutting board, a large knife, and a coffee maker.

However, consider having a camping stove if you don’t feel comfortable cooking over an open flame. Camping stoves are mostly gas-powered. They are available in a range of sizes which make them ideal if you’re car camping.

On the other hand, cast iron is must-have cookware for outdoor cooking. It can be used with high heat. Because it’s very versatile, you can create gourmet campfire meals here too. There’s no need to settle for only white bread and hotdogs.

Essential DIY Car Camping Kitchen Checklist.

Outdoor cooking is easy when you have the right gear. For a gourmet camping experience, here’s a list of the essential tools and equipment you need to have.

The bare essentials:

  • Campfire cooking grill
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Cutlery
  • Cutting board
  • Folding camp table
  • Large kitchen knife
  • Pots and pans
  • Utensils, cups, and dishware

Add these items on as needed:


  • Camping stove and fuel
  • Coffee maker
  • Dutch oven
  • Marshmallow roasting forks
  • Spatula
  • Spoon

Cooking tools and accessories:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Can opener
  • Charcoal and charcoal lighter fluid
  • Cooking spray
  • Firepit
  • Firewood
  • Ice
  • Lantern or headlamp
  • Lighter/matches
  • Potholders
  • Table cloth


  • Dish soap
  • Paper Towels
  • Plastic Freezer Bags
  • Scouring pad
  • Trash bags
  • Washbasins
  • Water containers

How to Keep Your DIY Car Camping Kitchen Organized?

With enough preparation and planning, you can create an easy-to-use car camping kitchen that will make campfire cooking quick and convenient.

Here are some hacks to ensure your car camping kitchen is efficient and organized.


When packing your gear, use totes or stackable plastic bins that will fit comfortably in the back of your car. Not only these are durable and weather-resistant, but these also ensure your items are organized and accessible.

If you don’t have space for large bins, another great option is the reusable bags. Try to organize each bag by meal. For example, you have a breakfast bag with everything you need for breakfast – apart from other items that need to be stored in the cooler).

Picnic caddies and portable cutlery organizers can help reduce clutter and keep everything in one place.

If you’re still looking for another way to keep your camp kitchen essentials organized and mobile, then you need a plastic toolbox. You will simply fill the compartments, and you’re good to go.

At the Campsite

Use a plastic shoe organizer to keep things organized at your campsite. The various pockets are perfect for storing everything from meal prep tools and utensils to cleaning essentials.

Be sure to use separate ice coolers for food and beverages. In the food cooler, you can create a barrier between food using cooling racks and melting ice. You simply pack ice at the bottom of the ice cooler and line it with cooling racks and placing food on top.

Don’t forget a basin for clean-up.

How to Set Up Your DIY Car Camping Kitchen?

If you’re in a stable campground, you can set up your kitchen on a picnic table easily.

If you’re using a table, choose an area that has a level ground away from your tent, trees, and bushes.

When using the table, set one side for the meal prep and the other for cooking if you’re using a camp stove.

Keep the coolers, cookware, and kitchen gear under the table. Using the second table, separate the area for clean-up and washing the dishes. You can also bring a portable car camping kitchen which has extra spaces for all your cooking supplies and accessories.

How to Keep Animals Away from Your Campsite?

Store your food in air-tight containers. This will keep the raccoons and other animals and insects at bay.

When you’re cooking, make sure that your location is at least 100 yards from your tent.

Also, keep your campsite spotless. Pick up all the uneaten or spilled food and wash the dishes and utensils immediately after use.

Dispose of all your food wrappers and trash in odor-proof bags and take it to the nearest waste area. Lastly, don’t leave your food unattended. Remember to lock your food in a car at night whenever you leave the campsite.

3 Easy and Delicious Campfire Recipes

Once your car camping kitchen set up and ready to go, it’s now time to put all that gear to use. Here are some delicious campfire recipes everyone will love.

1. Campfire Chili Cheese Fries

What you’ll need:

  • A small package of frozen french fries
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can of chili
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cooking spray


  • With the use of cooking spray, spray one side of aluminum foil.
  • Put the frozen fries in the middle of the sheet. Fold to enclose.
  • Cook the fries for about 15 to 20 minutes over the campfire until they’re cooked.
  • Spread the cheese and chili over the fries.
  • Close the foil again and cook until the cheese has melted and chili is hot.
  • Remove and let cool slightly.

2. S’mores Dip

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 4 chocolate bars
  • Graham crackers for dipping
  • Aluminum foil
  • Iron skillet


  • Break the chocolate bars into pieces and put them at the bottom of the skillet.
  • Place a layer of marshmallows over the chocolate.
  • Use the aluminum foil to cover the skillet and place over the fire, away from direct flames. The chocolate should melt in roughly 5-10 minutes. Be sure not to leave it on too long.
  • Serve when melted thoroughly.

3. Campfire Nachos

What you’ll need:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese
  • Nacho cheese or cheese dip
  • Iron skillet
  • Camp grill


  • Put the chips in an iron skillet and layer with cheese dip or nacho cheese
  • Cover all ingredients with shredded cheese and cook over the campfire until the cheese melted.
  • Remove from the fire. Then, top with green onions, salsa, and sour cream.

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