Creating a Camp Kitchen

Using a tarp to create a camp kitchen

Creating a Camp Kitchen

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Aug 2014; updated May 2023.

If you're not sure how to create a great camp kitchen we provide some tips and take you through our camp kitchen setup.

In this article, we look at how to set up your camp kitchen so that you have somewhere to cook, sit, eat, all safely away from your tent...

Cooking when you are camping needn't be daunting, but it requires some preparation.

Why you need a camp kitchen

If you have good weather, you could get away with using nothing but a little gas stove.

get yourself the gear to make things easier

However, if camping is something your family intends to do often, it makes sense to get the gear to make things easier and handle most of what the British weather can throw at you.

Don't cook in your tent

You may have plenty of space to cook inside your tent. But don't.

It's not worth the risk.

Generally, cooking inside your tent is frowned upon. It's not worth the risk.

  • Most tents have fire retardant fabric, but there's still a fire risk.
  • Tents only have sufficient ventilation for sleeping, not cooking. Cooking in your tent increases condensation. This could make your tent damp, or worse, harmful carbon monoxide could build up.
  • Grease from cooking could ruin your tent fabric or water retardant coating of your tent.
  • The gas cylinders should be kept outside your tent if you have a gas stove.

There are a few exceptions. Some tents have special cooking pods with added ventilation, and sometimes you can cook in an open canopy extension as you have lots of ventilation (though keep any cooking away from the walls of the canopy).

Not convinced? Just watch a few minutes of this video.

YouTube Video Thumbnail

The best place is to create a camp kitchen outside of your tent. But you can't buy camp kitchens, so how do you create one?

Our camp kitchen setup

To help you get an idea, here's our current camp kitchen setup.

I say current, as we're always improving and adapting.

Camp Kitchen Setup

The Camp Kitchen Shelter

The first thing you'll need to get organised is your camp kitchen shelter. A kitchen shelter is typically made by putting up a tarp shelter.

Using the High Peak Tarp 2 as a kitchen shelter when camping

Using the a camping tarp as a kitchen shelter

Creating a Kitchen Shelter with a Tarp

Using a tarp is one of the best ways to protect from the elements, and if you're not used to setting up a tarp, it's a good skill to learn.

Tarps can be configured in many ways, depending on weather conditions and available space—we often setup ours right outside our tent.

You can either go down the DIY route or buy a tarp kit.

Click here for instructions on how to create a shelter using a tarp kit.

Don't forget a windbreak

Using a windbreak around the camp kitchen

Using a windbreak around the camp kitchen

Another important part of creating a shelter is to use a windbreak. This can keep the wind away from where you are cooking (which can help conserve fuel), and (perhaps more importantly), a windbreak can block off areas where you don't want people to walk, helping to keep little people away from the stove.

helps keep little people away from the stove

We're currently using an old folding Coleman windbreak on its last legs.

You can often find a windbreak that matches or complements your Outwell, Vango, or Coleman tent.

Setting up your cooking area

Cooking is what your shelter is all about, after all.

Campingaz 400 ST with Xcelerate Technology

Your gas camping stove

We camped for many years using a simple single-hob stove and a campfire. It is possible.

However, most families will find it easier with a two-hob stove.

We have created a complete guide to choosing a gas stove, including choosing and fitting a gas cylinder.

If you don't yet have a stove and are unsure what to get, then click here to read our guide.

You will need a level surface for your stove, and we'll cover that soon.

A cooked breakfast over the fire

Cooking breakfast over the campfire.

Using a fire pit

A campfire is another place to cook. Some campsites don't allow them. Some campsites do but will usually insist the fire is off the ground.

For the last few years, we've been using this Fire pit/BBQ and Tripod, though it's starting to get a bit battered after a few years of camping.

Getting something like this lets you have a small fire off the ground, cook over it, or use it as a BBQ. It also works well as a good place to cook food in a Dutch Oven.

You wouldn't place a fire under your tarp, but you could have a fire nearby.

If you use something like this fire pit for a small BBQ and your tarp is high enough, you could use the BBQ under your camp kitchen shelter. Just use common sense.

Lighting the BBQ

Lighting the BBQ

There's also another benefit: the smoke, even from a small BBQ, can help keep mosquitos and midges out of your camp kitchen shelter 😉

Kitchen Storage and Tables

You will need somewhere to store food, both perishables and things like tins. You will also have kitchen pots and pans, utensils, plates, cups, and cutlery to store somewhere. Here are a few options.

The Kitchen Table

You will need a sturdy and level platform for your gas stove, and ideally, with enough space to serve food, place hot plans, etc.

There are a few different kitchen table designs around. One that comes with a windshield is a bonus.

We have been using Outwell ones for a great many years.

In addition to the table for our gas stove, we can store pans, food (tins, etc.), and even the kitchen sink on some models!

Kitchen Storer

Another useful item we have in our camp kitchen setup is an Outwell Kitchen Storer.

This takes the plates, cups, cutlery, utensils, and even things like tea towels, washing up sponges, rolls of rubbish bags, kitchen foil....and lots more.

It's a useful kit that makes transporting all this stuff to and from the campsite easy.

Cold Storage

Testing out the Coleman Xtreme 33L coolbox

Testing out the Coleman Xtreme 33L coolbox

We have 3 different coolboxes. Two we use regularly depending on the type of camp or journey we have.

We avoid having an Electric Hookup (we find EHU too restrictive on where we could camp), and have found using a good coolbox, plus refreezing ice packs, has worked well for us.


Folding the Outwell Marilla PIcnic Table Set

We have a collection of tables. We use a cheap plastic table and sometimes an aluminium slatted table in the kitchen. These are the work tables.

The aluminium table is good for hot pans and using the slats to help dry the dishes! (see below)

For eating, we now use the Outwell Marilla table. My Outwell Bredon Hills chair is also useful, with its little side table.

Washing up in our camp kitchen

Washing up in our camp kitchen

Washing Up

Some campsites have wash-up facilities, others don't, and sometimes they're too far away to bother going!

We've been using the Outwell Collaps washing-up bowl that's been good for washing up in our camp kitchen or taking stuff to the campsite's washing-up facilities. And it collapses down small for transport too.

There's a lot of good items in Outwell's Collaps range, which we reviewed here.

A bit of glam

Our camp kitchen at night

Our camp kitchen at night

Your camp kitchen doesn't need to be just functional.

Solar-powered fairy lights and some tea-light lanterns can soon glam up your camp.  😉