How To Do Cooking Without Fire When Camping? [6 Alternate Options]

When camping, many of the meals prepared on campsites are cooked on a campfire. However, sometimes, you might not be in a position to light a campfire, either because of campfire restrictions, fire hazard warnings, or because it’s a rainy day.

These days, wildfires are increasing at an alarming rate, making people very cautious, especially during the dry season. So, it might not be surprising to find campfire restrictions when camping in the wild at these times.

Whatever the case might be, you need to cook your meals somehow because your survival depends on it, but how can you achieve this? 

Let’s find out a couple of ways you can cook your food without lighting a fire in the wild or your campground. You’ll be surprised at the number of alternatives you have to campfires for cooking.

6 Ways of Camp Cooking Without Fire

From heat packs to electric cookers, and even the engine of your car, there are a lot of ways to cook your food without fire.

However, many of these methods won’t be suitable for any elaborate cooking, so the foods you can cook will depend on the cooking method you choose.

1. Use Your Car’s Engine

Use Your Car Engine to Cook when camping

A hot car engine is one popular way of cooking meals when on a camping trip or even a road trip. Cooking with a hot car engine is very similar to braising; it has a slower cooking time than the average oven, but a faster cooking time than a slow cooker. 

You can cook a lot of things with your car’s engine, including hot dogs, potatoes, pre-cooked sandwiches, beef, and all kinds of roasts. 

Interestingly, the term ‘carbecue’ has been given to the act of making a barbecue with a car engine, and many people continue to try it.

You can either cook with your car while it’s in parking position by revving the engine continuously until it reaches a given temperature, or by driving around in the car while you cook.

If you’re making a quick meal, simply heat up the car engine and then turn it off when it reaches a certain temperature, and then place the food wrapped in foil on the engine block.

Whatever the case might be, drive your vehicle around for a while so that your engine heats up. Then, prepare your food, spread some butter or cooking oil on some wraps of aluminum foil (to prevent your food from sticking), and then wrap it properly in aluminum foil (use 2 to 3 sheets and cover the food properly to avoid exposure)

Locate a suitable cooking space on the engine surface that is hot enough to cook your meal (the area near the exhaust manifold is often the hottest)

Ensure that your wrapped food fits well into the cooking space and then secure it to the engine. Then, you can drive around until your meal is cooked.

Be careful about cooking foods with liquid, such as soups and stews in your car because they pose a potential danger to your car engine if they were to pour. 

2. Use Heat Packs 

Heat Packs to Cook when no fire while camping

A chemical heat pouch allows you to cook your meals in a few minutes when camping without a fire. 

Most chemical heat pack kits come with a pouch containing water and a heat pouch.

What you do is to place the heat pack in the container it comes in, or in your pot or pan. Then, you pour some water on the heat pack, and you’ll notice a reaction almost immediately.

As the content of the pack dissolves in water, a chemical reaction occurs, and heat is produced. You can then place your food in a smaller pan or pot and put it in the larger one, then cover and leave it to boil. 

Many heat packs can go as hot as 203 degrees Fahrenheit and can remain hot for about 20 minutes, while some will stay hot for 10 minutes. So, you’ll need to buy as many packs as possible, depending on what you’re cooking.

Most of the heat packs will work in all seasons and locations, whether you’re in the mountains or it’s snowing. So, a heat pack will definitely come in handy in the wild when there’s a fire ban.

You can prepare almost anything with this cooking method, including meatballs and pasta, stew, soups, cheese and tomato ravioli, dumplings, etc. 

3. Solar Cooker

Solar Cooker - the best option for camp cooking without fire

Solar cookers are easy to carry along on camping trips because they are lightweight and can easily be folded to fit into your bag. 

Solar cookers are also cheap and environmentally friendly, making them a great choice when you cannot have a campfire. 

The principle behind the workings of a solar cooker is that sunlight is used to heat the pot, and then the pot in turn cooks the food by converting light to heat energy.

You’ll need to set up your solar oven in a place where you have an unobstructed view of the sun for a few hours, then place the food in the pot, cover it with a lid and then clip the reflector into place.

The solar cooker cooks your food slowly, thereby eliminating the risk of burning.

You can make all kinds of meals with a solar cooker, including eggs, vegetables, beans, rice, chicken, pasta, potatoes, etc.

Solar cookers are best used in the summer when it is very sunny, but they can also come in handy sometime in the spring or fall. However, solar cookers may not be so effective in the winter. 

4. Portable Electric Stove 

Portable Electric Stove to Cook food in camping when no fire

An electric stove will always come through for you when you cannot afford to light a fire and you don’t want to risk the chances of hazardous gasses and gas leaks while cooking.

To use a portable electric stove, you’ll need to be camping at a site that has an electricity source. If that’s not the case, then you’ll need to go camping with a generator or buy an electric stove that uses batteries. 

Most electric stoves are light and easy to carry around, especially if you’re going camping with just a backpack. However, if you’re going up in the mountains or into the wild where you can’t go with a generating set, this might not be the best option for you.

You also cannot use a generating set in the snow or rain, unless you’re able to create a dry, covered space where to keep it. If that isn’t the case, then a rechargeable battery is your only option.

A portable electric stove has just enough space for a small or medium-sized pot or pan, which you can use to make meals like noodles, rice, sauce, porridge, and other kinds of steamed food. Duxtop Professional Portable Induction Cooktop is a very good option available.

5. Self-Heating Cans and Pots

A self-heating can will work perfectly to cook your meals regardless of the weather and where you’re camping.

It generates heat using a chemical process and then cooks the food within the smaller can. 

This self-heating can have two chambers; a smaller can and a larger one surrounding it. To use it, place your food in the innermost compartment of one can and then place it inside the larger can.

You’ll need to pull or push the ring at the bottom of the can to break the barrier, after which the heat reaction is created and then absorbed by the food you’re cooking.

On some occasions, you might find the roles swapped, such that the inner container contains the heating chemical and the outer one contains the food or beverage you wish to make.

It is also possible that some cans may have food in the outer chamber, and chemicals in the inner chamber.

Although these self-heating cans are great for cooking when camping, they are quite expensive, so many campers can’t afford them.

6. Propane Camping Stove

Propane Camping Stove for camp cooking without fire

A propane camping stove will still be allowed at many camping sites where there are restrictions on wood and charcoal fires. They also work well if you want to cook inside your tent because it’s raining or snowing outside.

A propane camping stove needs a small can of fuel, a pipe, and an igniter to work. It is quick and easy to set up a propane camping stove, and also easy to control the heat while cooking.

To start cooking, always ensure the fuel is adequate. Connect the propane to the stove with a pipe connector. Use the igniter to light the stove, and you are ready to cook.

Light the stove, place your pot or pan on the stove, and get cooking.

You can make the average camper’s breakfast with eggs, cheese, and potatoes, you can also make pasta, beans, bacon, and avocados. However, the simpler you keep the meal, the better. 

It is also important to take note of how much propane fuel you have and how long it will last so that you travel with enough to make your meals for the entire trip.

Although propane tanks work all year round and in all weather conditions, they can malfunction in extreme winter conditions.

Propane fuel tanks often have a cold temperature limit of -44 degrees Fahrenheit. Under such cold conditions, the gas will convert to liquid.

Coleman Gas Camping Stove is an excellent option if you are looking for a good propane gas stove.

Final Words:

No campfire? No problem! You now have several methods and equipment you can cook your meals with the next time you go camping and you can’t make a fire.

Consider where you’re going to be camping, the season, and the meals you want to cook and ensure that you get the right products to help you make your meals.