Camp Oven Chronicles: Cook Wild, Eat Epic

Picking the right camp oven is a game-changer for your outdoor eats. This guide is your ticket to becoming a campfire culinary whiz. We’ll cover everything from the cosy warmth of cast iron to the grab-and-go convenience of aluminium. Get the scoop on choosing the perfect camp oven for your adventures and score some pro tips for cooking up a storm in the great outdoors.

This article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.

Our Top Camp Oven Picks

Want to skip the read and get straight to cooking? I totally get it. Here are our top picks.

Types of Camp Ovens

Righto, here’s the lowdown on the camp oven scrum: whether you’re a lone ranger or the king of the campsite, we’ve got your back with the trusty cast iron, the nifty spun steel, and the featherweight aluminium. Choose your mate for the flames, and prepare to sizzle in style.

Cast Iron Camp Oven

The cast iron camp oven is the old faithful of bush cooking, a tried-and-true mate that’s seen more campfires than a swagman’s billy. It’s a champ at keeping the heat, perfect for those slow-cooked bush tucker dishes that need a good dose of patience and a sprinkle of love. It’s like bringing a slice of a gourmet kitchen to the outback, guaranteeing a top-notch feed every time. The 12-quart beast is the pick of the bunch for camp cooks, with plenty of room to whip up a ripper of a meal for your hungry mates.

In my bush cook-ups, the cast iron oven’s been a solid cobber, its hefty walls giving off a warmth that rivals the campfire’s embrace. Sure, it’s a bit of a lug, but the tucker it turns out is fair dinkum worth it. Just remember, she needs a bit of TLC; neglect her and she might crack, putting an end to your legendary campfire feasts. Look after her, give her a good seasoning post-wash, and she’ll be part of your gear for yonks, ready to be handed down to the next lot of campfire cooking legends.


  • Unmatched heat retention is perfect for slow-cooking

  • Even heat distribution for consistent cooking

  • Durable construction that can last for years


  • Heavier than other types, making it less portable

  • Can crack if not properly maintained

Spun Steel Camp Oven

The spun steel camp oven is your cheeky mate for outdoor cook-ups – it’s light as a feather, heats up quicker than a kangaroo on a hot tin roof, and its lid? That’s your trusty frying pan for flipping snags or frying up a river trout. This little ripper can handle the rough stuff, too – no worries about it cracking a sad if things get too heated.

Giving this oven a good seasoning is like teaching it the secret handshake – it’s how you get in the club of ace camp cooks. Treat it right, and this spun steel beauty will be your loyal sidekick on many an outback adventure, always ready to cook up a feast.


  • Quick to heat up and lightweight for travel

  • Durable and less prone to damage from temperature changes

  • Versatile lid that can be used for additional cooking


  • Not as good at retaining heat as cast iron

  • Requires seasoning to maintain a non-stick surface

Cast Aluminium Camp Ovens

The cast aluminium camp oven is a true featherweight in the world of outdoor cooking, a real boon for the nomadic camp chef everywhere. With its remarkable lightness, this oven is a cinch to transport, making it an excellent ally for those long treks through the bush. It’s crafted from durable food-grade aluminium, which means it’s built tough to withstand the rigours of serious outdoor cooking use and won’t succumb to rust, ensuring longevity and ease of maintenance.

When it comes to heating up, this oven is quick off the mark, reaching cooking temperatures with impressive speed, and it’s just as speedy when it comes to cleaning. While it may not have the heat-holding prowess of its cast iron counterparts, its ability to distribute heat evenly ensures your meals are cooked thoroughly and efficiently. It’s an outstanding option for adventurers who value their time and energy, allowing for more exploration and less fuss.


  • Lightweight and easy to handle

  • Does not rust, making maintenance easy

  • Durable and will not crack if dropped


  • Does not retain heat as well as cast iron

  • May require more fuel to maintain desired cooking temperatures


When it comes to camp ovens, it’s not just about picking the shiniest one on the shelf. The true camp chef knows the devil’s in the details. Here’s some factors to consider when choosing a camp oven:

  • Durability of the material

  • Size

  • Heat source

  • Cooking method

  • Maintenance

Your oven’s lifespan hinges on these factors, so choose wisely.

Whether you’re eyeing a heavy-duty cast iron or a sleek spun steel, understanding the nuances will make all the difference in your outdoor culinary adventures.

Material Matters

Choosing your camp oven’s a bit like picking your team for backyard cricket – each player’s got their strengths.

Cast iron is the dependable all-rounder, perfect for those low-and-slow stews that’ll have you coming back for seconds. Treat it right with a bit of seasoning, and it’ll be slicker than a politician on voting day.

Then there’s cast aluminium – the quick kid on the block, heating up faster than a snag on the stovetop but not great at hanging onto the heat. It’s a beaut for the nomad who’d rather explore than scrub off rust.

Spun steel? That’s your utility player. Light enough to not give you a hernia and doubles as a frypan for a mean bush brekkie. It’s tough as nails, too – won’t crack under a bit of rough and tumble.

So, grab your cast iron, cast aluminium, or spun steel, and let’s get crackin’. Each has its moves, and once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be cooking up a storm around the campfire, no worries.

Sizing Up Your Options

Size matters when it comes to camp ovens, and the 9qt (12inch) size is the Goldilocks of choices – not too big, not too small, but just right for almost any dish you can dream up. It’s the versatile middle child that plays well with others, ready to roast a chicken to golden perfection or bake a cake that rises like the morning sun. The common diameters of camp ovens range from:

Picking the perfect size is like packing for a camping trip – you want enough room for all the essentials without being weighed down. A 12” oven is the versatile companion that will see you through a weekend jaunt or a weeklong wilderness adventure. It’s the trusty sidekick, ready to feed a hungry troupe or just a few starry-eyed explorers.

Heat Source Considerations

When it comes to firing up your camp oven, the world’s your oyster, or should we say, your campfire’s your kitchen. The beauty of these ovens lies in their adaptability to various heat sources, from the classic campfire to modern single-burner propane stoves.

The secret to perfect baking in a Dutch oven? It’s all in the charcoal. A simple formula of doubling the oven’s diameter and adding one gives you the number of charcoal briquettes needed for that golden crust.

Mastering your camp oven’s temp is like being the conductor of a bush orchestra – it’s all about the perfect balance of stoking and simmering. Whether you’re boiling the billy on a gas burner or letting the stew bubble over the hot coals, it’s the savvy heat control that turns a decent feed into a bush banquet to remember.

Camp Oven Cooking Tips

Mastering the camp oven is like nailing the perfect cricket pitch – it’s all about prep and technique. Start with oil and seasoning the pan – it’s the oiling ritual that stops rust from wrecking your game. When cooking, remember: coals go top and bottom, like a good game of two-up, to get that smoky bush tucker taste just right.

Baking damper? Heap coals on the lid to avoid a burnt bottom. For stews, a fiery bed of coals underneath the pot does the trick. Fancy a steady heat? Pop your oven on a tripod like a true Outback alchemist.

Cleaning Your Camp Oven

Post-feed, it’s time for the clean-up huddle. The process is simple: wash, rinse, dry completely, and give it a light oiling. If you need some elbow grease, you can purchase cast iron scrubbing pads. That’s your maintenance drill, simples. Crack the lid open to keep the rust monster at bay. Stick to this playbook, and you’ll be the campsite legend, serving up dishes that’ll have your mates queuing up like it’s the Boxing Day Test.

Looking for a speciality cleaner? Check out Campfire Cast Iron Scrub.

Camp Oven Recipes

Think of your camp oven as the multitasking legend of the campsite – it’s got your back whether you’re frying up a feast or slow-cooking a stew. Keen for a brekkie that’ll beat any cafe spread? Try the ‘Bushman’s Breakfast Bake’ – just toss in some spuds, bacon, and eggs, then let the oven do the heavy lifting while you sip your billy tea. Sweet tooth calling after a day of adventuring? Chuck some apple slices, a sprinkle of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon into the pot for an ‘Outback Apple Crisp’ that’ll have everyone at camp grinning like they’ve struck gold. Simple, no-fuss recipes that’ll make sure your campfire feed is the talk of the track.

Camp Oven Accessories

Righto, let’s talk about the unsung heroes of the bush kitchen – the camp oven accessories. They’re the trusty sidekicks that make sure your damper doesn’t end up as charcoal and your stew doesn’t stick to the bottom like a lost swagman.

Here’s what you’ll want in your kit:

  • Trivets – these little beauties keep your grub from burning.

  • Tripods – they’re the secret to a stew that’s a flavour sensation, not a burnt offering.

  • Lid lifters – the magic wands for unveiling your culinary creations without singeing your fingers.

These bits and bobs turn a campfire feed into a bush banquet. In my cook-up kit, they’re as crucial as the camp oven itself. They bring the precision of a kitchen to the great outdoors, turning good tucker into great tucker. And don’t forget the extras like tough gloves and a carry bag to lug your gear. They’re the cherries on top of the camp cooking cake.


Wrapping up our Camp Oven Chronicles with the coals still warm, let’s yarn about what we’ve sussed out. Spun steel heats up fast, cast iron hangs onto the heat like a koala to a gumtree, and cast aluminium is as light as a feather. We’ve shared a swag of cooking hacks to turn any campsite into a bush kitchen and served up recipes that’d make your nanna proud. We’ve tipped our hats to those handy accessories and banged on about looking after your gear.

The guts of it? Cooking in the great outdoors feeds more than just your belly – it’s about the yarns spun and the belly laughs around the flames. Whether you’re a greenhorn to camping or a bushie who can cook blindfolded, take these tips and tucker ideas and have a crack at creating your own campfire masterpiece. The campfire’s beckoning – time to answer with a feast that’ll have the wildlife lining up for seconds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the ideal size for a camp oven?

The “Goldilocks” size for a camp oven is generally the 12-inch model. It’s versatile enough to cook various dishes without being too cumbersome to transport. However, the best size for you depends on how many mouths you’re feeding and how much gear you’re willing to carry.

How do I season a camp oven?

Seasoning a camp oven involves coating it with cooking or vegetable oil, and baking it at a high temperature. This process creates a non-stick surface and helps prevent rust. For a new oven or after a thorough cleaning, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil, and heat the oven upside-down in a campfire or kitchen oven at around 350°F (175°C) for about an hour.

Can camp ovens be used on different heat sources?

Yes, camp ovens are designed to be versatile and can be used over an open fire, on a grill, or with charcoal briquettes. Some models can also be used on gas stoves, but always check the manufacturer’s recommendations first.

How do I clean my camp oven after use?

To clean your camp oven, wait until it’s cooled down, then use hot water and a stiff brush to remove any food residue. Avoid using soap, as it can strip the seasoning. Dry the oven thoroughly with paper towel, and apply a light coat of oil to the pan to protect the surface.

Are there any accessories that are essential for camp oven cooking?

Essential accessories for camp oven cooking include a lid lifter for safe handling, a trivet to prevent food burning, and heat-resistant gloves for protection. A carry bag can also be handy for storing it for transport and storage.

Is a heavier camp oven always better?

Not necessarily. While a heavier camp oven, like those made from cast iron, has excellent heat retention, it may not be practical for all camping situations. Lighter options like spun steel or cast aluminium provide good cooking performance and are easier to carry on treks.

What are the benefits of a spun steel camp oven?

Spun steel camp ovens are a top pick for trailblazers and bush cooks. They’re lighter than cast iron, so you won’t feel like you’re lugging a boulder while trekking to your campsite. They heat up faster too, so you can go from zero to sizzling in no time flat, perfect for when hunger strikes like a dingo on the prowl. Plus, they’re tough as nails – less prone to cracking under high heat pressure or an accidental tumble from the camp table.

What is the difference between a camp oven and a Dutch oven?

So, think of a Dutch oven as the city slicker and the camp oven as the rugged outdoorsman. The camp oven has legs to stand over hot coals and a lid designed to hold more coals, while the Dutch oven is just a heavy pot. No more coals, no more problem!

Can I use my Dutch oven over a campfire?

Absolutely! Your Dutch oven can be used over a campfire, as it’s made of cast iron and can withstand the heat without melting or warping.



G’day, I’m Stacey, CAW4D wifey, author of all our CA4WD blogs, and builder of all things website-ey. When I’m not writing about our family’s camping adventures, you’ll find me kicking around on social media with the incredible camping and 4wd community we’ve built.

Ohhh, and sometimes, you may find me doing ‘actual work’…which, ironically, is very similar to what I do ’round these parts – marketing. You can find more of my pen-pedalling atrocities here.

In the meantime, kick back, grab a coldie, and check out some more cool camping content I’ve put together for you here. Cheers.

Wanna hear about a tale about an emergency dunny roll and the Mundi Mundi Bash? Read it here.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 April 2024



We’re Stacey and Lee, the creators of Camping and 4wd Downunder. We wanted to create a space to connect with other camping and 4wd enthusiasts who love nothing more than to leave the chaotic, noisy world behind and escape to the bush. If you’ve landed on this website, our guess is you’re one of those people. Our people. Welcome.