The weather is warming up, and that means it’s grilling and camping season. We love to go camping; something about the smoke of the fire pit, sleeping under the stars, and connecting with nature makes us feel good.
We are from Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, so when we go camping, it’s usually near a lake, and we love jumping in the fresh cold water and swimming life’s worries away. Of course, camping, hiking, and swimming really work up an appetite, so we make campfire pizza every time we go camping, and it’s always a hit at our campsite.
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Cooking on the campfire makes everything taste better. So the next time you are camping and tired of hot dogs and other traditional camping food, try campfire pizza. You will be glad that you did.
Campfire Pizza Cooking Gear
There are a few different ways to make a campfire pizza. You can throw the dough directly on the fire pit grill, use a tripod campfire cooker, a Dutch oven, or a cast iron skillet. We have tried them all, and here we break down the pros and cons of each one.
- A fire pit grill grate is excellent for car camping, where you just pull into a campsite and set up.
- Tripod cookers are great because they are lightweight and easy to set up.
- Dutch ovens are heavy and are not ideal for hike-in camping.
- Cast iron skillets are the ultimate campfire cooking tool, but they are heavy for hike-in camping, and if they aren’t properly seasoned, then everything will stick, and you will end up feasting on granola bars instead of a piping hot campfire pizza.
Other Campfire Cooking Gear
How to Make Campfire Pizza
Every pizza starts with a good homemade pizza dough. And when you are making campfire pizza, the easiest way to make pizza is by making the dough before you head out on your camping trip.
You don’t want to mess with measuring cups, activating yeast, and mixing dough outside. We suggest making your dough the morning of and just letting it rise in your car on the drive to the site.
Or pre-making the dough, and after it has risen, put it in a floured reusable plastic bag and toss it in your ice chest. You don’t want the dough to freeze unless you plan on using it the next day, so avoid putting it directly on the ice and double or even triple bag it.
As for the sauce, we either make it ahead and bring it in the ice chest or use a store-bought sauce for convenience. We often bring a few different sauces since we like making a few different campfire pizzas to feed our camping buddies. Marinara sauce, pesto, and vodka sauce are some of our go-to sauces for campfire pizza.
Some firepits in designated campsites and state parks have an attached grill that folds over one part of the fire. These grills are easy to use, and you can grill a pizza directly on it. If you aren’t sure if your campsite has attached grills call the camp host or check online to find out before you go.
If they don’t, you can buy a portable grill to place on top of the fire. A portable grill is an excellent choice if you have room in your car between your other camping gear.
If you use the campsite grill, you will want to clean it first. The best way to do that is with a grill-cleaning brick. We avoid metal grill brushes because the bristles can come loose, get stuck on food, and end up in your throat or stomach.
Start by giving the grill a good scrub. Once it is clean, wipe it with canola or vegetable oil to season it. Then, get the fire going, and when there are hot charcoals, spread the charcoals out and throw your stretched-out pizza dough on the grill.
Let it cook on one side for a minute or two; you can lift one side with tongs to see if the side is cooked. Then flip it over and grill the other side. The dough doesn’t need to be fully cooked. It is more of a rustic par-bake to have a solid crust to add to.
Then, take the dough off, spread your sauce, sprinkle cheese, and add the toppings. Place the pizza back on the grill and loosely cover the top with foil or a fire-safe lid to help the heat stay in and melt the cheese.
Pro Tip: If you are worried about using the public grill, lay a sheet of aluminum foil with holes over the grates and make your pizza on the aluminum. We still recommend cleaning the grill before you use it and always remove ash and other debris.
There is no denying it; cooking on a tripod over a campfire looks cool. It feels rustic and gourmet at the same time. A tripod sits over the fire with a rack or hook to attach a pot. You can make a campfire pizza on a pizza stone placed on the tripod rack or directly on the rack.
The process is the same par-bake the dough before adding the toppings. Some tripods can hang two different things simultaneously, so you can cook a pizza and grill some sausages to put on the pizza.
Remember it takes a long time for the pizza stone to cool down so keep that in mind and get some oven gloves or something.
We have a previous post about making Dutch oven pizza, and the process is the same, but the campfire-safe Dutch oven is different. You will need a specific campfire Dutch oven because a regular Dutch oven with its enameled surface will be ruined cooking on the fire.
You can place the Dutch oven on the fire pit grill or hang it from the tripod. This makes great deep-dish pizza, so if you like Chicago-style pizza, this is the best way to make campfire pizza.
Cast Iron Skillet
The humble cast iron skillet is another option. The cast iron skillet will give you a pizza similar to a Detroit-style pizza with crisp outer edges and a thick, chewy crust. We suggest investing in two cast iron skillets so you have one at home and one that is only used for camping.
When you make a campfire pizza in a cast iron skillet, oil the skillet, then press the dough in and cook the dough first. Once the dough is pressed in and partially cooked, add the sauce, cheese, and toppings, then cover with a lid.
Campfire Cooking Tips
- Cook your toppings first. If you are using vegetables, you can use skewers and cook them over the campfire first.
- Prep your cheese before you head out on your camping trip. Grate it at home and store it in a plastic bag.
- Use precut pepperoni and salami slices. Don’t use your camping knife that cuts kindling to cut your food too. So pack a separate knife or precut at home.
- Bring foil to cover the top to help it cook faster. Lids are bulky, and heavy foil is light and takes up little space.
- Bring premade frozen dough balls. They defrost while you are setting up camp and will be ready by the time your campfire is ready for cooking.
- Try making pizza by the cut, Roman style over your campfire if a full round pizza doesn’t work well.
What is your favorite way to make campfire pizza? If you’re not ready to go full-on camping to make pizza yet, try a visit to a pizza farm for a nice little picnic instead.