For Derek Wolf, cooking about an open flame is an art variety. When he thinks about campfire cooking, his brain doesn’t go to roasting a warm pet dog on a stick or tossing some foil-wrapped taters into the coals. As an alternative, he dreams up dishes like spicy rotisserie beef ribs with grilled bacon-wrapped asparagus, coal-roasted lobster tails with cowboy broiled cheesy broccoli, and al pastor skewered tacos with charred and glazed pineapple. Assume campground eats can not be gourmand? Wolf’s recipes will change your brain.



Wolf is the mastermind behind the Over the Fire Cooking site (as effectively as its Instagram account, which has captivated 1.eight million followers for its flame-kissed meals porn) and writer of the cookbook Meals by Fire, so it’s fair to say he is aware a point or two about producing a masterful campfire meal. We just lately talked with him to get his strategies and tricks for cooking an elevated outside feast. Study on for his guidance (and a delicious recipe, also).

1. Develop a Log Cabin-Style Fire

When developing a hearth, do you prepare your logs in a teepee or stack them into a log cabin? If you request Wolf, he’d say each have their execs. The teepee is good for making superior warmth at 1 centralized position (the prime of the teepee), and it’s best for boiling drinking water. For your meal, having said that, opt for the log cabin. This style of hearth generates warmth in a huge, even plane—better for heating up a skillet or grill.

To make 1, place your hearth starter in the hearth pit, light it, and then include two logs in parallel on both facet, suggests Wolf. Then include two much more logs—perpendicular and on prime of the first two logs—to variety a square close to your hearth starter. Retain stacking in this alternating order until finally you achieve your wanted top.

“I typically do about 4 tales,” Wolf tells Men’s Journal.

As the hearth burns, the layers of logs will crack down, but you can stack much more logs to maintain it likely. If carried out adequately, the hearth must very last for several hours.

two. Hold out for Coals

Normally talking, you really don’t want to place your meals on the hearth the instant it’s lit. At first, the flame won’t create steady warmth, and you are going to operate the hazard of burning your meal. As an alternative, get the hearth likely and give it time to burn off down to coals, suggests Wolf.

“A good hearth can just take any place from thirty to 45 minutes to crack down and get to the place you’d like it temperature-clever for cooking,” he suggests.

When the hearth grows, use that time to do meal prep. If you’re cooking meat, be absolutely sure to just take it out of the fridge or cooler and let it heat to home temperature. This will support it cook evenly.

3. Look at the Sort of Heat You Will need

There are two ways to cook about hearth: instantly and indirectly. Direct-warmth cooking signifies you are going to place your meals ideal about the warmth resource: Making use of skewers, cooking on coals, or grilling about the flames with a grate. This process exposes your meals to superior-depth warmth, and it’s good for searing and meals that really don’t need to have a lengthy time to cook.

The indirect process locations meals around or close to hearth and makes use of radiant warmth to cook it. This is prevalent apply for barbecue. Indirect warmth is terrific for blocking flare ups (grease and fat won’t drip into the flames), breaking down seriously fatty meats, or cooking delicate protein (i.e. rooster). It also results in a attractive exterior crust.

four. Retain Your Fire Constant

Retaining your fire’s temperature steady is key to cooking your meals just ideal. But that’s less difficult mentioned than carried out. 1 trick Wolf recommends is the “hand take a look at.”

“A good hand take a look at tells you the temperature centered on the time you can hold your hand around the hearth,” he suggests.

Here’s how to do it. After your hearth is likely, hold your hand six to eight inches absent from the flames. The total of time you can hold your hand around the hearth around tells you how warm it’s burning. If you can hold it there for up to three seconds or considerably less, the blaze is making superior warmth. Medium-superior warmth is close to 4 to five seconds, medium is six to eight, medium-minimal is eight to 10, and minimal is 10 to 12. If you can hold your hand around the hearth for lengthier than 12 seconds, it’s not warm ample for cooking.

five. Examine Your Food’s Temperature

The very last point you want to do is undercook your rooster and hazard meals poisoning or overcook a decision steak. The finest way to avoid all those situations, suggests Wolf, is to use a meat thermometer. To use it, insert the thermometer’s tip at the deepest position on your reduce of meat, producing absolutely sure not to touch any bones. Rooster must be cooked to 165 levels, pork and fish to a hundred forty five levels, and ground meat must be about one hundred sixty levels, for illustration.

six. Be Aware of Have-Over Cooking

Lots of men and women make the slip-up of cooking their meat all the way until finally it hits the best internal temperature. Which is a issue because the meals proceeds to cook even after it’s off the hearth, a approach acknowledged as carryover cooking.

“This outcomes in it remaining overcooked,” Wolf clarifies.

As an alternative, pull the meat off the warmth a bit prior to it reaches the wanted internal temperature. When cooking a steak, for illustration, just take the meat off the hearth when it hits 120 levels and let it rest—it’ll achieve medium-uncommon (one hundred twenty five levels) on its own. It’s a good idea to let meat rest for about 50 percent the time it was cooked, Wolf suggests.

seven. Instruments of the Trade

1 of the finest sections of campfire cooking is its simplicity—no ovens or extravagant stoves, just wooden, flames, and meals. That mentioned, Wolf does advocate a couple of equipment goods to make the work a little less difficult.

He likes the light-weight Breeo Outpost grill for cooking in the backcountry, and the X Collection hearth pit is a terrific choice for the yard. He prefers a natural hearth starter and matches to make his fires—you want your meals to taste smoky, not like lighter fluid, he says—and welding gloves can be valuable for maneuvering logs devoid of finding burned. Lastly, you are going to need to have a meat thermometer as effectively as a sharp knife and a slicing board for prepping your meals.

Thinking what to cook? Wolf recommends the recipe below as a good place to begin. Of study course, you can also examine out Over the Fire Cooking for even much more hearth-completely ready meal inspo.

New York Strip Steaks cut up on a wooden cutting board campfire cooking

New York Strip Steaks with Bourbon Mushrooms
Courtesy Image

New York Strip Steaks with Bourbon Mushrooms


  • Cast-iron skillet
  • Tongs
  • Knife
  • Reducing board

Ingredients for the Steaks:

  • 3-four New York strip steaks
  • 1.five tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • two tsp garlic powder
  • two tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Ingredients for the Bourbon Mushrooms:

  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • two oz bourbon
  • two tbsp beef broth
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • two tsp Worcestershire sauce

How to Make It:

  1. Rub steaks with oil. In a bowl, combine together salt, pepper, garlic, and chipotle powder. Season steaks carefully and established apart for thirty-forty minutes in the fridge or cooler to dry brine. About 10 minutes prior to cooking, pull the steaks out and let them occur to home temperature.
  2. Develop a medium-superior warmth hearth for direct cooking. Include some canola oil to the cast-iron skillet and place skillet higher than the hearth two minutes prior to cooking.
  3. Include steaks to skillet, cap facet down, and cook for 1 moment to render the fat. Then, place the steaks flat to cook for about two-3 minutes for each facet, until finally they achieve a 120-diploma internal temperature. Then pull them off skillet and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Include mushrooms to skillet and cook out the drinking water (about four minutes). After they are golden brown, deglaze the skillet with bourbon and let simmer for 1 moment. Following, include the rest of the substances for the bourbon mushrooms and let simmer for 3-four minutes, or until finally decreased. After carried out, pull the mushrooms off the warmth and established apart.
  5. Slice steaks, prime with the mushrooms, and garnish with chopped parsley.

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