Mom Goes Camping

Camping Kitchen Essentials List: Plus How to Set Up Your Outdoor Kitchen Like a Pro

camping kitchen list

Cooking is one of the best parts of camping and food always tastes better when outdoors.  But cooking can also be a major pain if you don’t plan your camp kitchen properly.  Here’s a list of camp kitchen essential items and how to set it up so you have a simple yet functional place to cook at camp.


Camp Kitchen List

1. Camping Stove, Fuel and Lighters

You’ll need a portable gas stove for camping.  These usually use canisters of gas.  If you are going to be camping for a long time or in a large group, then you may want a stove which connects to larger propane tanks.

Note: Even if you plan on cooking over a campfire, you will still need to bring a stove camping.  Campfire cooking simply isn’t practical for most things.  For example, you don’t want to light a fire each time you need hot water for coffee.  It also takes a long time to cook over campfires and is difficult to do in the rain.

Recommended: Coleman Classic camping stove

2. Table or Kitchen Station

At the very least, you will want a table for your kitchen.  The main reason is because it is safer to keep your stove on an elevated surface – especially if there are kids, dogs, or drunk people running around camp.  Having a table also makes it much easier to prepare the food without having to hunch over on the ground.

If your campground has picnic tables at each campsite, then you can get away with not bringing a table.  However, it’s nice to have a dedicated table for the stove so you can reserve the picnic space for eating and hanging out. Some camping kitchen tables have built-in shelves and hooks for your cooking equipment.

See these best portable camping kitchens

3. Food Storage

  • Cooler: If you want to bring any items which require refrigeration, you’ll need a cooler.  There are some electric ones which you may be able to charge at camp or even with solar.
  • Large Storage Bins: I’ve made the mistake of keeping non-refrigerated food in plastic shopping bags while camping.  It’s annoying and messy to have to search through 10+ bags each time you want a snack.   Bins also help keep insects out of your food.
  • Storage Baggies and Plastic Containers: You’ll need some storage baggies and containers for uneaten food. These are also useful for repackaging snacks or sandwiches to take with you on day hikes.
  • Bear Canister: Depending on where you go camping, you may be required to put food in a bear canister. Read about them here.

4. Storage Bins for Cookware

You’ll want a separate bin for keeping all of your camp cookware, utensils, and other non-food supplies.  This will make your life much easier in terms of organization.  You can just grab the entire bin instead of having to carry each item over to the stove individually.

5. Tarp Shelter or Kitchen Tent

This is optional but really nice to have – especially for cooking in rainy weather or hot sun.   The cheapest solution is to buy a tarp and some rope to set up a shelter above the kitchen area.  The easier solution (especially when there might not be trees for anchoring a tarp) is to buy a kitchen tent.

6. Dishwashing Items

Also read this post: How to do dishes when camping

washing and drying dishes while camping

Camp dish washing station.

7. Water Jugs with Spigots

It’s annoying to walk to the camp spigot each time you need water for things like filling a pot or your water bottle.  Instead, bring along some large water jugs with a spigot on the bottom, like these ones.

8. Lantern

It’s almost inevitable that you will have to do some cooking or cleanup at night.  Make sure you have a lantern to hang near your camp kitchen for better visibility. Check out these best solar lanterns.

9. Trash Can

The simplest solution is to bring plastic bags, hang them from a tree, and use this as your trash can.  The trash can attract bees and flies though, so it might be worth it to bring a dedicated trash can with a lid that closes.

10. Eating Supplies

  • Utensils
  • Cups and/or mugs
  • Bowls
  • Plates
  • Large serving bowls
  • Serving spoons
  • Water bottles

11. Cooking and Food Prep Supplies

In addition to the above camp kitchen items, you’ll need these items for preparing food:

  • Pots and pans
  • Stirring spoons
  • Spatula
  • Chopping knives
  • Cutting board
  • Colander
  • Pot holder or lifter
  • Grill rack
  • Skewers
  • Bottle opener, corkscrew, can opener
  • Coffee maker (see these portable coffee makers)
  • Tinfoil
  • Cheese grater
  • Tongs

12. Food Essentials

This will vary depending on what you plan to eat while camping, but you’ll probably want to bring:

  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Herbs, spices, and seasoning mixes
  • Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
  • Sweeteners
  • Creamer
  • Snacks
  • Energy bars
  • Cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix
  • Instant meals
  • Pasta, instant rice, coucous…
  • Canned foods

*See these easy camping meal ideas which don’t require refrigeration.

13. Other Kitchen Items

  • Paper towels, napkins
  • Tablecloth
  • Fire pit (check campground fire regulations)
  • Charcoal
  • Firestarters
  • Hatchet (read why here)


Sources and Image credits:,,
Cooking” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by C Ames
Breakfast Dishes” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Anne Bennett,

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About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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