Creating a Camp Kitchen

August 22, 2019

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 does require a bit of 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 yourself the gear to make things easier, as well as handling 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.

  • Although most tents have fire retardant fabric, 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.
  • If you have a gas stove, it’s advisable the gas cylinders are kept outside of your tent.

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.

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

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 High Peak Tarp 2 as a kitchen shelter when camping

Creating a Kitchen Shelter with a Tarp

Using a tarp is one of the best ways to provide protection 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 a number of 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.


Using a windbreak around the camp kitchen

Using a windbreak around the camp kitchen

Don’t forget a windbreak

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

helps keep little people away from the stove

We’re currently using an old folding Coleman windbreak, which is on its last legs.

You can often find a windbreak that matches or complements your Outwell, Vango, or Coleman tent. Click here to view some windbreaks on Amazon.

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 just 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 & Tripod, though it’s starting to get a bit battered after a few years of camping.

Getting something like this enables you to 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 close by.

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 & 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 Outwell Richmond table comes with a windshield and small sink

The Outwell Richmond table comes with a windshield and small sink

The Kitchen Table

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

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

We have been using this Outwell Richmond kitchen table for a great many years. The Outwell Richmond also has a lot of storage.

In addition to the table for our gas stove we can store pans in it, food (tins, etc.), and even a large rubbish bag (in a separate zipped compartment).


Outwell Kitchen Storer

Outwell Kitchen Storer

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 bit of kit that makes transporting all this stuff to and from the campsite really easy.


Testing out the Coleman Xtreme 33L coolbox

Testing out the Coleman Xtreme 33L coolbox

Cold Storage

We have 3 different coolboxes. Two we use regularly depending on the type of camp or journey we have. (Click here to see our comparison of the different coolboxes).

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


Folding the Outwell Marilla PIcnic Table Set


We have a collection of tables. Within the kitchen, we are currently using a very cheap plastic table and sometimes an aluminium slatted table. These are the work tables.

The aluminium table is good for hot pans, as well as 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.

In fact, there’s a lot of good items in Outwell’s Collaps range, which we reviewed here.


Our camp kitchen at night

Our camp kitchen at night

A bit of glam

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.  😉


Getting Started with Family Camping Series

Continue reading; click on the next article in the series.
  • Camping with Kids

    Why you should be adding camping as something you and your family do, what we consider the ‘right way’ for camping with kids, and also some pitfalls to avoid

  • How to pitch a tent

    If you are worried about pitching a tent - don't be. They are quite straightforward these days.

  • Choosing the right family tent

    There are many types of tents available for different sizes of familes, different ages of children, and how often you go camping. We give you some pointers to help choose the right tent.

  • Setting up your sleeping area

    We've learnt the hard way on what makes a good night's sleep for the family at the campsite. Read these tips on how to best set-up your family's sleeping area.

  • How to set-up your camp kitchen

    You need somewhere safe to cook and feed your family. Doing this in your tent is not recommended. We show you how to set-up a camp kitchen.

  • How to set-up a gas camping stove

    There are different types of gas camping stove. Some are small and simple, and some are larger and need a gas regulator. This guide shows you what to get.

  • How to cook using a campfire

    Want a more traditional camping experience? Here are some tips for cooking using a campfire.

  • Camping Check-list

    Here's a useful check list of things to take camping.

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. Hi there this is very informative site and thank you for taking the time to set this up, I have only been family camping twice and I would still consider myself as Newby to family camping, I have vango anteus 600 it as built on porch so after reading your advise and seeing your vid on making camping kitchen outside so would it be OK to my kitchen under the porch ? Thank for all the good work you do for Newby family campers

    • Generally yes, if the porch is open and well ventilated, and anyone in the tent had another door to escape out of – assuming you are using gas for cooking. If you are using an electric hob, things a bit safer.
      Things with gas cooking in/near the tent you have to watch for:

      • Flames from the gas or things catching fire from it. Most tents are treated with fire-resistant materials, but there are still cases where tents burn.
      • Carbon monoxide from the gas. This is why your porch and tent must be well-ventilated.
      • Cooking can increase condensation in your tent. Again, a well-ventilated porch (and tent) should reduce this.

      Your tent has a nice big wide tent. We had a similar porch set-up on a tent once and had a kitchen unit that fitted perfectly inside it.
      I also got a tarp BBQ cover that fitted over the kitchen unit, and so if the rain came in sideways while weren’t using it, it was protected.
      A small windbreak on the front of the porch can help too.

  2. This has been such a great read, thank you for posting.

  3. Do people leave their camp kitchen setup over night? If the weather is particularly bad then I imagine definitely not…..but if responsibly dry and not strong winds would you? 2018 is the year for me and my family to get into camping, I’m a complete novice. Cheers

    • Yes, we leave it up. The tarp shelter keeps it dry. If it gets too windy for the tarp, it can be brought down and pegged over the kitchen until the storm passes.

  4. Wow mind blowing article on Camp kitchen, I really appreciate it. I am thinking of buying it as it really looks cool, do tell me. Thanks 🙂

  5. What a superb post, I shall be practising this weekend 🙂 thanks

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