Whether you’re camping or just enjoying the warm summer weather outdoors in your backyard, there’s just something special about cooking some of your favorite foods outside. Do you like roasting hot dogs over an open campfire? How about making s’mores before bedtime? Can you smell those hamburgers on the grill?

Cooking outside can be challenging. For example, you don’t have all the tools and comforts of a full kitchen. Without a stove, you have to turn to another heat source for your cooking needs.

If you’re camping, you will probably rely upon a campfire as your heat source. Roasting hot dogs over an open flame is easy enough, but what if you want to cook hamburgers, boil water or bake potatoes?

If you have a metal grate, you can easily cook hamburgers over an open campfire. You could also set a pot of water on the grate to boil water for coffee or hot cocoa. If you want to bake potatoes, you can wrap them in aluminum foil and tuck them into the hot coals of the fire. Just be careful! Make sure your outdoor cooking is supervised by an adult!

If you’re at home in your backyard, you may use a grill or a smoker instead. These outdoor cooking appliances use charcoal or propane to create fire to cook on. Grills are great for making all sorts of delicious foods, including hamburgers, roasted vegetables and barbecue ribs.

Smokers are great for slow-cooking large pieces of meat, such as roasts. People have made an art form out of slow-cooking meats for barbecue competitions. They use different types of wood to create smoke that helps to flavor the meats.

What kinds of foods can you cook outside? While certain types of foods, such as hamburgers and hot dogs, spring to mind, there’s really no limit to what you can cook outside if you put your mind to it.

Fresh vegetables, for example, can be easily roasted on a grill or over a campfire. With a pot of boiling water, you can even make many types of pasta dishes. And, if you’re a fan of s’mores, you know that tasty desserts are always a possibility!

People who camp often will tell you that some of their favorite meals are the ones they eat while camping. There’s just something about food cooked outdoors that makes it taste even better than it does when cooked at home. For example, have you ever had bacon and eggs fried over an open campfire early in the morning when it’s still a bit cool outside?

If you have, then you know what we’re talking about! The smell of frying bacon can bring the most sleepy camper out of the sleeping bag and over to the campfire. The cool, crisp air of an early morning, combined with the salty crunch of a piece of fried bacon, can make any camping trip extra special!

20 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (4 votes, avg. 4.50 out of 5)
    • That’s a really GREAT question, Lucas! We like the way your Wonder brain thinks about cool things like that! The corn-on-the-cob doesn’t turn into popcorn on the grill because it is fresh corn with lots of moisture inside. Kind of like when your parents heat up fresh corn in the microwave or on the stove for dinner. Did you know there is an AWESOME past Wonder that explains all about popcorn and how it POP, POP, POPS? Check it out!

      Wonder #20 – What Makes Popcorn Pop? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-makes-popcorn-pop/. :-)

    • We sure will, Wonder Girl! We hope you have a WONDERful 4th of July with your family and friends, too! Thanks for being so AWESOME! :-)

  1. Happy 4th!
    I liked how the chef cooked the corn on the grill. I hope to try cooking it like that sometime.
    S’mores are my favorite to cook, but I do not like when my marshmallows catch on fire.
    I’m going to go camping this month and I hope we can cook over a campfire.

    • What a SUPER GREAT comment you left for us today, Charlie! Going camping sounds like FUN! Please be sure to come back to this Wonder and leave us another comment after your trip to let us know what it was like to cook over a campfire and what WONDERful things you and your family made to eat! We hope you have an AMAZING time! :-)

  2. Happy Fourth of July or Independence Day! My dad likes to grill all the time, but when he cooks chicken wings a lot of the time they’re burn. Ha Ha.

    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about diamonds.

    • We like your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder, icebat2! Did you know there is already an awesome past Wonder about DIAMONDS? Check out Wonder #191 – Where Do Diamonds Come From? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/where-do-diamonds-come-from/.

      Also, please tell your dad we think it’s AWESOME that he likes to cook on the grill and we bet his chicken wings taste WONDERful! We hope you and your family have a SUPER SPECTACULAR Independence Day! :-)

  3. Hi Wonderopolis, My family got a new grill. My mom likes to cook on it. She made shrimp and corn on the cob on it. It tasted sooooooo good. I love summer it has been good. Has yours? Have a happy WONDERing day.

    • Our summer has been WONDERful so far, Olivia, thanks so much for asking! We’re glad you are enjoying your summer, too! For some extra WONDER fun, you can check out our Camp What-a-Wonder Podcast downloads and cool Activity Pages here: http://wonderopolis.org/camp-what-a-wonder/! Camp just started this week and will be full of fun things for our Wonder Friends to explore and learn for the whole month of July!

      That’s really awesome that your family got a new grill! Thanks for sharing about that! Grilled shrimp and corn….YUM! We think we might just make that for 4th of July dinner here in Wonderopolis this evening, too! :-)

  4. I once went camping in the camping area where tents are, and I caught 2 small fishes. Another time, I went camping in my boy scouts. And I camp in my backyard 3 times 2 years ago with foods, games, and movies with my family. :-)

    • Those all sound like CAMP-tastic FUN times, Carlos! Thanks so much for sharing about your favorite camping adventures…we really enjoyed hearing about them today! :-)

  5. Happy independence Day! My dad grilled steak on the grill tonight. It tasted really good. I love cooking food on the grill. :D

    • Steaks on the grill DO sound really good, Julie! Thanks for sharing what you guys had for your 4th of July dinner today! We hope you had an AWESOME celebration with family and friends! :-)

  6. I like this wonder a lot! A few years ago, I have been cooking s’mores in a BBQ at a camp.
    I used 2 chocolate digestives with a melted marshmallow and 2 gummy bears inside! It tasted very delicious.

    • Thanks for sharing the yummy s’mores recipe you made at camp, Sophie! We will have to try gummy bears in ours the next time we make s’mores around the campfire! We’re glad you enjoyed this Wonder of the Day®…thanks for visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

    • We can understand that, Aiden! No one likes to cook with bees flying around us! What is your favorite meal to cook, Aiden? :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do you like to cook outside?
  • What kinds of foods can you cook outside?
  • What’s your favorite food to cook outside?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready to fire up the grill or build a fire from scratch? There’s no better way to celebrate Independence Day than to cook a homemade meal outside over an open flame!

Check out the recipes below and choose one or two to try with your friends and family:

When you’re done cooking, take a picture of your creation and post it to Facebook. We can’t wait to see what you cook. We bet it’ll taste WONDERful!

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Education’s Crispy Critters article, “The Bug Chef” describes the best ways to cook up insects — and how eating them is good for you and the environment!

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