Camping Kitchens: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing One


In the new age of camping, comfort is the name of the game. The term ‘comfort camping’ has grown popular recently and is all about striking the perfect balance between experiencing nature’s raw beauty and enjoying the comforts of modern amenities. 

A well-equipped camping kitchen falls squarely within the realm of comfort camping and brings the convenience of home to your campsite.  

In the serene embrace of nature, food takes on a new flavor. The dancing flames of the campfire, the echo of chirping crickets, the tantalizing smell of a meal cooking under the open sky; everything feels surreal. But for me, it’s more than just roasting marshmallows and hot dogs.  

Camping kitchens make cooking less of a chore and more of an enjoyable part of the experience. 

I love my camp kitchen and I can’t wait to get is all set up and start crafting hearty and memorable dishes amidst nature’s beauty and knowing everything is set up so I can focus on time with friends and family.

Also, having a camp kitchen allows the space for others to jump in and it all of a sudden becomes an activity that bonds everyone together.  

I decided to write this article for those of you considering if you should pick a camping kitchen for your next camping adventure. 

Why You Need a Camping Kitchen

Why should you invest in a camp kitchen? It’s all about convenience and creativity. Camping kitchens allow you to bring the comfort and functionality of your home kitchen to the great outdoors. 

It can also be used when your campsite is located in a place that has no picnic tables. Or if you are like me, you just want to be stress-free prepping, cooking, and storing dishes and utensils. Keeping organized means I can spend more time on having fun in the outdoors and cooking hearty meals to match.

With a bit of planning and the right equipment, you can cook up a storm in your cooking station, even in the most remote locations.

Camp Tables and Cooking Stations

Having the tools for building an optimal camping kitchen can improve your overall experience. 

The proper camping table and creating a cooking station can make outdoor cooking fun and organised so you can spend more time eating delicious hearty dishes and make the cleaning easier. 

Cooking while camping can be a fun adventure. For creating the best portable camping kitchens, use multiple tables for a separate purpose. You want a table where you can food prep, hold paper towels and dishes, and another for your camp stove.

How Large Does a Camp Kitchen Need to Be?

You need a camp kitchen that is able to hold a camp stove and an area for meal prep. 

This generally relates to requiring countertops to measure at least 32 inches in height and a minimum of 25 inches for a table. Generally speaking, these measurements are derived from camper kitchens and will need a lot of room to cook a large amount of food. 

If you’re cooking simple camping dishes this will provide a further 20 x 20 inch of room. 

If you want to make complicated dishes and have a lot of food prep, you will need more than 50 inches. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Camp Kitchen

Camp Kitchen

Buying a camp kitchen isn’t as simple as picking the most expensive or the most advertised. It involves understanding your needs, the terrain you’ll be in, and the group you’ll be with, among other things. 

There are various factors you should consider to ensure that the kitchen you choose is the right fit for your adventures.

  • Portability
    • The most essential factor to consider is portability. A camp kitchen should be easy to transport and set up, regardless of your destination. Look for a kitchen that folds up compactly for storage and transportation, yet offers enough space when unfolded for all your camp cooking and needs.
  • Heat-resistant top
    • A heat-resistant top is crucial for any camp kitchen. You’ll likely be placing hot pots and pans on it, so it needs to withstand high temperatures without warping or damage, especially if you don’t have access to a picnic table. 
  • Assembly and Breakdown
    • A camping kitchen should be easy to set up and break down. You don’t want to spend hours fumbling with a complex cook station assembly when you could be hiking, fishing, or simply enjoying the scenery.
  • Durability
    • Invest in a camping kitchen made of sturdy materials that can withstand harsh outdoor conditions. A portable camping kitchen that is not durable will quickly become a source of frustration and expense.

How Much Space Do You Really Need in Your Camp Kitchen?

When buying a camp kitchen, consider your cooking style, your food prep, and the number of people you’ll be feeding. A larger group or a more elaborate menu will require more workspace and camp table. 

Also, consider the space you need for your camp stove if you are bringing one and how many cooking accessories you will be bringing.

Camp Kitchen Gear

When it comes to outfitting your camp kitchen, the right gear can make all the difference between a so-so meal and a feast to remember. 

Think beyond the basic pots and pans. Spice it up with unique cookware like a portable grill, a Dutch oven, or even a camping espresso maker for your morning caffeine fix. 

Don’t forget the essentials like high-quality knives, cutting boards, and handy cooking utensils that fold or collapse for easy packing. 

The goal is to create a kitchen setup that’s as enjoyable to use as it is efficient, turning you into the ultimate outdoor chef.

Dishwashing: Do You Need a Sink/Wash Basin in Your Camp Kitchen?

I prefer portable camping kitchens equipped with a sink for washing dishes. Though some campsites feature a shower room with a hand and wash basin, they are always busy and I find them unsanitary for clean dishes.

A sink in a camp kitchen might seem like a luxury but it’s an element that can significantly upgrade your camping experience, especially during extended stays. Washing dishes and utensils can be a hassle in the great outdoors. But with a sink included in your camp kitchen, this task can become much easier. 

Sinks for camp kitchens come in different forms. Here are a few common types you might want to consider:

  • Portable Camping Sinks
    • These sinks are designed to be lightweight and compact, making them ideal for camping trips. They usually come with a faucet and a basin, and some even include a soap dispenser.
  • Collapsible Basins
    • If space is at a premium, a collapsible basin can be a great choice. When not in use, it folds flat for easy storage. These basins are usually made of flexible, durable materials like silicone, making them resistant to damage.
  • Built-in Sinks
    • Some high-end camp kitchens come with built-in sinks. These are typically larger and more stable than portable sinks or basins, but they also make the kitchen more cumbersome to transport.
  • DIY Sinks
    • If you’re on a tight budget or prefer a customized solution, you can create your own camp kitchen sink by using a simple plastic tub.  
    • I would recommend 2:  one for soap and water and the other for rinsing.  Consider buying a drying rack to make life easier and allow the dishes to dry in the sun while you enjoy other activities.  

4 Tips for Choosing Your Portable Camp Kitchen

Camping Kitchen

Making the right choice for your portable camp kitchen can be a game-changer for your outdoor adventures. Here are some tips to guide you through the process and ensure your camping trips are comfortable and hassle-free.

  • Tip #1: look for a portable camping kitchen that matches your height or, better yet, offers adjustable legs to cater to everyone’s needs.
    • You don’t want to be hunched over your stove, stirring your pot of soup, or straining your neck looking up at your cooking surface. A kitchen that’s too high or too low can cause back or neck pain, turning your cooking experience into an uncomfortable chore.
  • Tip #2: A camp kitchen with built-in lighting can illuminate your counter space, making it easier to see what you’re doing, especially if you plan on cooking after dusk. 
    • Outdoor cooking in low light can be challenging, even for the most experienced camp chefs. Poor lighting can lead to mistakes in food prep and cooking, which can affect the quality of your meals. 
    • If the kitchen doesn’t come with integrated lighting, ensure there’s an option to add your own, like a hook or lantern pole to hang a lantern which is our preference.  
  • Tip #3: Don’t Forget about Storage
    • Adequate storage space allows you to organize your cooking utensils, food, and equipment efficiently.
    • This saves you time as you won’t need to rummage around looking for that spatula or your secret ingredient. It also keeps your workspace tidy, making cooking a more pleasurable activity. 
    • Some camp kitchens come with multiple shelves, cupboards, or even hooks for hanging your pots and pans.
  • Tip #4: Assess the Assembly and Breakdown Process
    • You want a kitchen that is easy to set up and pack away. Complicated assemblies can waste valuable time and energy, detracting from the overall camping experience. 
    • Look for a kitchen that is user-friendly and comes with clear instructions.
    • The faster you can set up and break down your camping kitchen, the more time you’ll have to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors.

Food Storage for Camping Kitchens

Storing your food properly is crucial when you’re out camping, not just to keep things fresh but also to keep critters at bay. 

Investing in airtight containers and coolers can go a long way in preserving the quality of your food. 

Also, consider portable camping fridges if you plan to be out for an extended period or have perishables that need to stay cool. 

Reusable silicone bags can be a game-changer for both organization and sustainability. 

Remember, a well-organized food storage system makes meal prep easier and camping more enjoyable.

A Note on Wildlife

Speaking of critters, it’s essential to be mindful of local wildlife when setting up your camp kitchen. Food smells can attract animals, both big and small, to your campsite. 

Always store food and cookware in sealed containers and never leave them out unattended. Some campgrounds offer bear-proof lockers for food storage; make use of them if available. 

For more tips on keeping your food safe from wildlife, check out our article on wildlife safety

Being responsible with your food storage is not just good for you, but also for the animals who call your camping area home.

Exploring Alternatives: Chuck Boxes and Slide-Out Kitchens

Slide-Out Kitchen

While a camp kitchen is a fantastic addition to any camping trip, it’s not the only option for outdoor culinary endeavors. Depending on your camping style, you might want to consider alternatives like a chuck box camp kitchen or slide-out kitchens for truck beds.

1. The Charm of Chuck Boxes

Chuck boxes, also known as camp boxes or patrol boxes, are compact, portable storage units that keep your cooking gear organized. 

Chuck Boxes typically come with sections for your camp stove, utensils, dishes, paper towels, and pantry items. Put your camp stove on top and you have a mini organizer for your cooking necessities.

A chuck box camp kitchen is a fantastic choice if you value simplicity and compactness. They’re easy to transport, quick to set up, and keep everything you need within arm’s reach. 

Plus, packing up is a breeze! Just close the box, and you’re ready to go! 

2. The Convenience of Slide-Out Kitchens for Truck Beds

If you’re a fan of truck camping or overlanding, a slide-out kitchen could be your perfect match. These kitchens slide out from the bed of your truck, providing a convenient, elevated cooking area.

Slide-out kitchens are generally more spacious than other portable camping kitchens. They often include a camp stove, sink, and ample storage for food and camping kitchen gear. 

Plus, since they’re already in your vehicle, setup is almost instantaneous. Imagine pulling up to your campsite and having your kitchen ready in seconds. That’s the convenience of a slide-out kitchen!

Final Thoughts

Gone are the days when camping meals meant oatmeal for breakfast and hot dogs for dinner. 

Investing in a camp kitchen can transform your camping experience by turning your outdoor meals from a survival necessity into a highlight of your adventures.  

Keep in mind the aspects of camping kitchens discussed in this guide, and you’ll be on your way to cooking delicious meals co-mingling with the fresh air and smells of nature.

Happy camping!

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Kelley Brakstad

Kelley, the voice behind Comfort Camping Insider, hails from the stunning landscapes of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. She passionately shares her tips, tricks, and insider knowledge to enhance your camping adventures, fostering a love for the outdoors with the comforts of home. Join her in discovering the art of comfortable camping.

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