There are many tools in a fire cooks arsenal, but only a few that you cannot live without. A good cast iron skillet or Dutch Oven is one of those few. From searing a fish (like below) to cooking bread, cast iron allows traditional cooking methods to be done over an open fire. When you use it in the right way, then it opens a whole new world of possibilities. On my journey of learning how to cook over fire, I have found a few simple tips to help you get more out of your cast iron.


This post is sponsored by Camp Chef


eggs in cast iron skillet


1. Only Use the Best Cast Iron

There are so many cast iron makers on the market that it might be hard to pick which one to buy. I highly recommend looking into Camp Chef. These durable and affordable cooking pans have been my go-to cast iron lately. Not only do they come pre-seasoned, but they also have so many different styles. If you want to be able to cook pizza and corn in their own specific pans, then definitely check out Camp Chef. I have even used my own Camp Chef skillets for some of my recipes.


Cast Iron

2. Preheating is Key

Whether you cooking for 5 minutes or 5 hours, always preheat your cast iron. About 15-20 minutes before you start to cook, make sure to place your cast iron near or over the fire. Since one of the amazing benefits to cast iron is that the pan heats evenly, then preheating will allow you to start cooking immediately on a consistent surface. This will also prevent food from sticking to the skillet as the heat will be releasing the non-stick qualities of the pan.


cooking over fire


3. Don’t Clean your Cast Iron with Soap

After cooking with your cast iron, make sure to only rinse using water. No need to use soap as they will naturally take away the oil leftover from cooking. This oil is actually good for the pan as it will help keep it fresh and prevent it from rusting. “Breaking-in” a cast iron is a real dilemma that takes time and patience, but when you allow the seasoning/oil from previous cooks to sink in then you speed up this process.


Cast Iron On Coal


4. Try Using the Dutch Oven

For the people who grew up camping, then you know that Dutch Ovens are awesome. These nifty cast iron pots allow you to have the heat and consistency of a kitchen oven at the camp site. What is so interesting about this pot is that it comes with a lid that lets you place coals from the fire on top. Heat is then able to cook from all sides of the pot. This opens up so many possibilities from homemade bread to campfire styled nachos (recipe coming soon). So definitely bring a Dutch Oven the next time you’re cooking over a fire.


5. Use More Butter

When a cast iron skillet is ready to cook, make sure to add some butter! I have found that butter is better to use than oil as it has less chance for flare ups. Plus, everything taste better with butter, right? Practice this tip with my Herb Butter NY Strip recipe.


Open Fire Cooking Skillet

In the end…


Good cast iron can change the way you see outdoor cooking. So when you’re headed out camping or just grilling in the backyard, then make sure to get your cast iron out!


This article does contain affiliate links to products that we personally use and support. Purchasing an affiliate product does make us a small commission at no cost to you. This helps us continue creating for our website. All words and opinions are our own, and we appreciate your support!

Derek Wolf

Derek is the driving force behind Over the Fire Cooking. He started cooking with live fire in 2016 and decided to start a social media page so his friends and family could follow the journey. Fast forward to today and Over the Fire Cooking has spread across multiple platforms with millions now following Derek's fire cooking journey. He's a southern fellow who enjoys everything from classic BBQ to Central and South American inspired dishes. Whatever he's cooking up, it's guaranteed to be so freakin' delicious!

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  1. Thanks for mentioning that preheating cast iron allows you to cook food consistently. My boyfriend really loves cooking. Thanks for all the tips on cooking with cast iron effectively.

  2. In theory, a grill is a simple way to cook over an open fire. The fire, whether derived from burning charcoal or gas is what does the cooking. It can be intense in heat or it can be held low for slower roasting, but the limitation is that the transfer of heat is slower than in other forms of cooking. With a grill, hot air does most of the work. When boiling food (which I advise against in all cases), it is hot water. Sauteing in a pan uses the heat of metal to cook food. The heavier and more solid the pan, the more heat it can hold to transfer. No pan is heavier than cast iron, which is what makes it perfect for cooking. An added bonus is that cast iron imparts nutritional iron to foods as well.

  3. Hello Derek!

    Thanks for all your help ideas!

    Am assuming cleaning a cast iron pot is the same as skillet. However, “Cajun Classic” a pot (with lid) I bought at an estate sale has a layer of something on the inside bottom.

    You mentioned using a drop of mild soap in one of your posts. Should I pull the gunk out with paper towel or something more substantial first? What’s the best way? Then proceed with the oil and heat?

    What about the top? It has a few rust spots? Same?


    1. Yes, get as much out at you can before adding soap. This will make the cleaning process for effective on the cast iron.