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How to make pancakes over the campfire

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

We look at how to cook pancakes over the campfire, which is a great way to start the day when camping. They're really simple to make too.

Starting the day slowly is great when camping, and making pancakes for breakfast is a great way to start the day...

Sizzling pancake

Most people think of having a campfire in the evening, but a small fire, even one with charcoal briquettes, is good in the morning.

It can help dry out any dampness from the night, it can help keep bugs away, the warmth can be welcome on cold mornings, and you can use it to cook breakfast 😉

Pancake Mixture Recipe

Making a pancake mix is straightforward. We can't remember the exact mix we used, but it's something like this:

  • 1/2 cup of self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup of milk (buttermilk is meant to be very good, but we didn't have that)
  • Sugar and other toppings such as maple syrup

We find that measurements like 'cup' work best when camping. Of course, you could measure ingredients at home first and bring them to the campsite in sealable food bags.

Mix the batter - a good sized bowl is best

Mix the batter - a good sized bowl is best

Now many recipes will tell you to sift the flour into a bowl. We didn't have a sieve when we were camping (and the pancakes were fine without having to sift the flour).

You *should *mix the milk and eggs in a separate bowl and then fold them into the flour. We just did it all in one bowl.

A large bowl is best (especially if the kids are mixing), but large bowls can be a problem getting to the campsite. We used our Outwell Collaps bowl (see our review of collapsible cookware), which we recommend you get if you plan on cooking for your family when camping.

Cooking Pancakes over the Campfire

You'll be pleased to know that cooking pancakes over the campfire is simple.

All you need is warmth from the fire and a hot flat surface suitable for cooking.

Cooking with a Real Fire

If you're using a 'real' fire, you must get this burning sometime before you start making the pancake mixture.

As with most campfire cooking, you don't cook in the flames but instead use hot embers.

An easier option

The easier option is to cook over charcoal, which, when hot, is effectively hot embers, but it's a lot quicker to get to the hot embers stage, and you use less fuel.

We use a charcoal chimney starter (read our review and how-to guide here) to speed up the process of having 'hot embers' to cook on.

Cooking surface - the pancake iron

pancake iron

Cast iron crepe pan is ideal for cooking pancakes over a campfire (click to view on Amazon)

Now for campfire cooking, cast iron cookware is best. Don't bring your aluminium non-stick pans from home. They'll get ruined.

If you want a really thin pancake, you'll want to get a cast iron crepe pan.

These are very flat, and large, and have practically no sides to the pan, making it easier to serve up the pancake.

Cooking surface - the cast iron griddle

Cast Iron Griddle

A cast iron griddle is a versatile campfire cooking surface, and ideal for pancakes (click to view on Amazon)

A cast iron griddle is a good multi-purpose cooking surface that's nice and flat for pancakes. Unless you specifically want a crepe pan, getting a griddle is a good compromise, and the only real difference is it has slightly higher sides.

Cooking surface - the Dutch Oven lid

If you have a Dutch Oven, the lid has been designed to be used as a frying surface when you place it upside down in the embers.

If you don't have a Dutch Oven, I recommend you get one as your first cast iron campfire cookware as it's so versatile for cooking family meals when camping. You can read our Dutch Oven guide here.

The downside to using a Dutch Oven lid for pancakes over a flat griddle or crepe pan is that the lid is slightly concave.

Pouring the batter

Pour the batter onto the hot plate (or hot oven lid)

When the embers/coals are hot, place the Dutch Oven lid upside down, and pour on a little oil.

When your lid is hot, it won't take long for the oil to get hot.

Pour on the pancake batter mix.

cooking the pancake over the campfire

A cooking pancake using the heat of the campfire

The 'proper' way to tell when a pancake needs turning is when the bubbles in the top burst.

However, fire temperature can be difficult to control, and with a slightly concave surface, the pancake will be thicker in places, so use your judgement.

The first pancake

The first pancake

We've always expected that the first pancake doesn't turn out the best.

And whilst this pancake was slightly thick, we thought it was quite good for a first pancake - complete with a designer swirl (which was completely unintended).

Cooking more than one pancake at a time

Cooking more than one pancake at a time

Of course, cooking one pancake at a time will take ages. Not good when you have hungry kids waiting.

There's plenty of room on a Dutch oven lid to make a handful of pancakes at a time.

The result?

The pancakes turned out well. I can see this being requested often when we're camping.

Add the topping of your choice, and enjoy!

Campfire Pancakes ready to start the day

Campfire Pancakes ready to start the day