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How to Set Up and Break Down a Camping Kitchen

by | Feb 16, 2022 | Camping, Camping Kitchen, Electronics, FOOD & DRINK, GEAR | 0 comments

One of the best things about camping is food. But it takes some effort to get a new kitchen up and running. Luckily for you, we’ve cracked the easiest way to set up and break down a camp kitchen! Come on, we’ll show you!

Step 1: Create the Camp Kitchen Shelter  

The first step to building a camp kitchen is to pick the right spot. Look for a clearing at the campsite, preferably further from your tent. If you’re camping in the woods, downhill areas are a good choice. Depending on where you camp, whether its camping near Berlin or Yellowstone, plan ahead.

However, it’s not mandatory to erect a kitchen shelter. For what it’s worth, you can pop open a portable stove and enjoy your tortillas in a chair. But a great kitchen shelter will protect you and your mates from the sun, wind, and rain.

Set up tent for cooking step 1
Shelter means you won’t have to cook in the rain or elements

Step 2: Set up the Camping Stove and Propane 

Why heat up s’mores at the fire pit when you can cook food on a real stove? After raising the kitchen shelter, choose the place where you’ll set up your stove.  

A double-burner gas stove will give you plenty of room to cook meals. There are smokeless camping stoves that cut back on smoke and fold up nicely at the same time. 

You can also consider a stove with removable grill grates for barbecues. If you’re not big on propane stoves, you can look at space-saving, wood-burning stoves. 

There’s a number of ways to have your stove maintained. For example, some people like to hang a swing-out windscreen for their camp stoves while cooking the dishes. 

Step 3: Assemble the Dining Table and Chairs 

Camping is your getaway from city life. So, compromising comfort is off the table. Especially when you’re having meals, you’ll want to sit down with your family and have jolly conversations. 

So, people like foldable chairs and tables when it comes to camping. They also search for tables with telescoping aluminum legs. The setup is easy, and they don’t require a lot of maintenance.

Kids doing dishes at campsite

Step 4: Build the Wash Station Nearby

A deluxe camp kitchen is all about efficiency and hygiene. You don’t want bugs hanging out in your kitchen or drinking from the open flask. Build a hand-washing and dishwashing space near the kitchen shelter. This is a trick we ourselves found useful, and it totally changed our camp kitchen for the better. 

Step 5: Stow Your Cooking Equipment Back Inside

And that’s how you set up a camp kitchen! Now, it’s time to pack up and get going. Fold the chairs and tables down and bring them to your minivan. If you have bulky furniture, breaking down the camp kitchen should take a while. 

Make sure you disconnected the propane and went over the protected campsite rules again. Pick up pieces of leftovers, cooking ingredients, and other stuff, and dump them in the bin. 


Best Camping Kitchens in 2022

Now that you have a decent idea of the steps to set up and break down a camping kitchen, it’s time for us to introduce you to some of the finest camping kitchens available in 2022. You can easily choose from them for any kind of camping!

ProductDimensionWeight

Cabela’s Deluxe Camp Kitchen
$159.99
Packed size: 5′ x 0′ x 6′
Assembled size: 4′ x 5′ x 0′
36 lbs.
Happybuy Camping Kitchen Table, 3 Storage Organizer, Aluminum Windscreen...
Happybuy Portable Camping Kitchen
$117.99
Folding dimension: 35″ x 6″ x 20″
Unfolding dimension 69″ x 19.5″ x 43.5″
35.96 lbs.
Camp Chef Sherpa Camp Table & Organizer, Table top 27' x 17', Table Height...
Camp Chef Sherpa Table
$149.99
15 3/4″ x 27″ x 18 1/4″ (with legs collapsed)
Table top dimensions: 27″ x 17″
Individual bag dimensions: 12″ x 11″ x 6 1/2″
13lbs.
Coleman Pack-Away Portable Kitchen
Coleman Pack-Away Portable Camping Kitchen
$129.99
Overall dimensions: 56 x 21.3 x 66.1 in.
Food prep area: 31.5 x 21.3 in.
Side table: 27.8 x 20.5 in.
13.8lbs
Camco Deluxe Folding Grill Table, Great for Picnics, Tailgating, Camping,...
Camco Deluxe Folding Grill and Camping Kitchen
$106.62
27.5 lbs
Cuisinart CFGS-222 Take Along Grill Stand
Cuisinart CFGS-222 Take Along Grill Stand
$89.99
54.00 x 20.00 x 30.50 Inches18.85lbs

Cabela’s Deluxe Camp Kitchen

Cabela’s Deluxe Camp Kkitchen – $159.99

What’s a camp kitchen without a proper food pantry? Yes, if you’re looking for a deluxe option as a camp kitchen and money isn’t much of a concern, then this can be a brilliant option for you. From the unique swing-out windscreen to the towel rack – they have it all. 

The Camp Kitchen comes with two side tables and a large center surface to ensure as much space as possible.

Even if you invite an RV full of guests, you’d still be able to accommodate space for them since the kitchen doesn’t take up a lot of space. The adjustable legs of this camp kitchen make sure uneven surfaces are no problem for you.

The reason this kitchen is known as a premium option is that apart from the regular components, it comes with a wide range of extras. Take the swing-out windscreen, for example. The windscreen helps you to separate the prep surface from the cooking surfaces.

But that’s not all. The kitchen also comes with a spice rack, a lantern post, a zip-fabric food pantry, a dishwashing bin (removable), and a towel rack that is side-mounted. If you’re looking for a decent portable camp kitchen, this is an amazing option.


Happybuy Portable Camping Kitchen

Happybuy Camping Kitchen Table, 3 Storage Organizer, Aluminum Windscreen...
Happybuy Portable Camping Kitchen – $117.99

Windy, chilly nights can be a bit of a problem when it comes to cooking in portable camping kitchens. It’s a bit annoying as well, to be honest. Luckily enough, we have a proper solution for this issue.

Using this camping kitchen from Happybuy, you get the pop-up windscreen that will keep the heat in and keep the wind out. This makes the whole cooking procedure much, much simpler.

The kitchen has a whopping four aluminum-based tabletops alongside three cloth cupboards. The cupboards all come with a zipping lid, too, adding a bit of security against pests. It’s 68 inches long, so there’s absolutely no risk of the kitchen acquiring too much space.

This kitchen has a couple of side cupboards alongside two shelves on each of them. They also provide you with additional storage pockets in case you need to store smaller utensils. Truth be told, the Happybuy kitchen isn’t very light, but it makes up for its weight with the easy set-up and ease of use.


Camp Chef Sherpa Table

Camp Chef Sherpa Camp Table & Organizer, Table top 27' x 17', Table Height...
Camp Chef Sherpa Table – $149.99

Smartphones, smart TVs, smartwatches – everything’s smart in this new era of technology now. Since everything’s smart, why not go for a smart camp kitchen? This portable, compact, and smart kitchen from Camp Chef is exactly the kind of stuff that the new generation prefers.

At first sight, you might feel like it’s a giant cooler bag, but don’t be deceived by the looks! All you have to do is extend the telescopic legs, attach the aluminum-made roll-top, and voila! You have a proper camping kitchen all set up right in front of you!

Camp Chef Sherpa Camp Table & Organizer, Table top 27' x 17', Table Height...

You can unzip the front of this kitchen/table, and upon unzipping, you’ll come across four compartments – all color-coded. As it’s a smart camp kitchen, everything’s portable and removable. So, if you don’t want the compartments or want to keep something else in their places, you surely can remove them!

The Sherpa table has a 66 lbs weight limit. While this isn’t the highest that a camping kitchen can offer, it still is a very practical option for you.

Coming with a padded carry handle, you can easily carry it around by rolling the telescopic legs back. You can adjust the height of this kitchen up to 28 inches.


Coleman Pack-Away Portable Camping Kitchen

Coleman Pack-Away Portable Kitchen
Coleman Pack-Away Portable Camping Kitchen – $129.99

Many people often complain about the durability of camping kitchens. While it is true that some camping kitchens may not be as sturdy as expected, this one from Coleman surely is.

This is what we call a top-class camping accessory that you can keep with you for decades. It’s portable, it’s durable, and it’s absolutely easy to use!

Coming with an aluminum frame alongside a fiberboard tabletop, you’ll never have to worry about the kitchen being heavy. The kitchen has a small side table for additional support and holding on to your camping stove.

Coleman Pack-Away Portable Kitchen

Although its legs aren’t as adjustable as expected, it covers this disadvantage with other important features.

The kitchen/table comes with a lantern hook, so you can gladly say no to the age-old system of cooking while holding a headlamp or a torch. The fact that impressed us the most was the compact design and how easily you can fold it and carry it around. You also get a mesh storage shelf alongside all these.

But that’s not it all. Its side stand comes with adjustable slider panels, so no matter what size of cooker you use – they’ll fit in easily. This is one of those sturdy yet lightweight products that come in handy in almost all sorts of camping.


Camco Deluxe Folding Grill and Camping Kitchen

Camco Deluxe Folding Grill Table, Great for Picnics, Tailgating, Camping,...
Camco Deluxe Folding Grill and Camping Kitchen – $106.62

This kitchen is, by far, the most lightweight one on our list. Weighing on around only 6 lbs, you can even carry it with you on solo backpacking tours! Weight is often a common issue while camping because, for a group of three or four, all those heavy camping kitchens often feel like a bit too much.

For people like that, the Camco Deluxe is a delight. It’s lightweight, but that doesn’t mean it’s not durable. As a matter of fact, the frame of this kitchen is made from high-strength steel, so it’s just as sturdy as the other heavier kitchens.

Setting up this product is quite easy too, all you have to do is extend the steel frame, and that’s all. You won’t even have to attach the fold-down side tables, they’re pre-attached!

The tabletop of this kitchen is made from aluminum and is large enough for two to cook simultaneously. Its wire shelf is quite low, so you won’t face any sort of difficulties while hooking it to the frame. Additional features of this kitchen include a paper towel holder and four hanging hooks.

But that’s not it all! The product also comes with a carry case for ease of portability. It’s also fine if you don’t want to use the carry case since the design of this kitchen is quite compact, and you can put it on your backpack!

What makes this very camp kitchen even more special is that it’s waterproof and quite easy to clean. It will take less than a minute to set up and will be your friend for a long, long time if kept right!


Cuisinart CFGS-222 Take Along Grill Stand

Cuisinart CFGS-222 Take Along Grill Stand
Cuisinart CFGS-222 Take Along Grill Stand – $89.99

Our list of top camping kitchens comes to an end with the best budget option for you. Yes, if you’re planning to camp but are a tad bit down on the budget, then this can be a great option for you.

The best part? You won’t have to compromise on the quality or features even if you’re paying a lot less than the usual top-quality kitchens!

Cuisinart CFGS-222 Take Along Grill Stand

This camping kitchen from Cuisinart is super lightweight and hence, quite easy to carry. It comes with a nylon handle for ease of use. You can fold it when you’re not using it and turn it back to its normal state in less than 10 seconds. It weighs only 17 lbs, making it the second most lightweight kitchen on our list.

We can call this a no-nonsense camping kitchen, mostly because it does what it’s supposed to do quite well. It’s user-friendly and has all the parts pre-attached, so there’s no extra hassle of adding or clipping different parts. You can just buy a set of wheels and add them to this stand if you wish for more portability!

Overall, this is a great budget option for people who aren’t looking for anything fancy.


Compatible Fuel Source for Camp Stoves 

Depending on your preference and the stove’s compatibility, choose a suitable fuel type. While it’s true that a propane stove burns nicely and fights the breeze, there are other fuel types alongside propane that offer similar advantages.

If you haven’t made a decision on what camping stove to buy, check out our Best Camping Stoves guide. But if you are backpacking, we’ve compiled our top backpacking stoves that will keep your pack light.

Have a look!

Gas (Propane/Isobutane)

We don’t want to pick sides, but gas camp stoves are it for us. They have some cool benefits that we liked. For starters, these stoves are affordable and lightweight. Gas is available in most stores, so you can easily refill the tank and be on your way. Thus, gas stoves are great for camping or a sudden tailgate party. 

GasOne Camping Stove Fuel Blend Isobutane Efficient and High Output

A group of people won’t spend their money on a gas stove thinking it’s a fire risk. But it turns out, propane stoves have premium flame control, and they’re the easiest to light. Our only problem with this item is it suffers a pressure drop in cold seasons. 

Liquid Fuel 

This camping stove will make your life better on a long trip. Of course, liquid fuel will require some sort of priming every time you fire it up. Stoves that run on liquid fuel are created to be heavier than others. They also require more maintenance.

Looking on the bright side, this strong fuel is designed to burn well in cold temperatures. You can also ensure safe burning and receive less smoke from the pit. 

Multifuel Stoves 

In addition to gas and liquid fuel stoves, we have alcohol burners, alternative fuels, and multifuel stoves. The latter include dry grass, firewood, bark, sticks, and pinecones.

Multifuel users provide some pretty good reasons to try this type of stove. It allows you to burn white gas, LPG gas, diesel, and unleaded petrol with ease. And that was enough for us to try that product. 

We’re pleasantly surprised with Multifuel stoves. They offer the users a generous runtime and burning quality. What’s more, they can tolerate severely cold temperatures and start without an issue. So, the next time you go out camping, your friends and family are in for a royal treat! 


Top 5 Accessories for a Camping Kitchen 

Do you always forget something on your camping trip and regret it later on? Luckily or not, we’ve had our fair share of camping troubles. So now we know exactly what to bring for our camping kitchen without weighing the minivan down.

To complete your deluxe camp kitchen, you’ll need each item from our checklist below. So, make sure to keep reading! 

Cookware & Utensils 

A camp kitchen is incomplete without a bread pan and an all-purpose cooking pot with a lid. If you’re setting camp for a week, get a cutlery organizer and a lanyard for hanging wet utensils.

11 Piece Camp Kitchen Cooking Utensil Set Travel Organizer Grill...TravelSource -2-person Stainless-Steel Camping Eating Utensils Kit + Case...wuudi Camping Equipment, Outdoor Camping Pots and Pans Set 2PCS Camping...

Other than non-stick pans and pots, your camping cookware should include a dutch oven or a cast-iron skillet. Non-stick surfaces are easier to clean and are also quite durable. Mess kits are perfect if you’re going light and prefer your gear to be multi-purpose.

Camping Lantern 

An LED lantern or a similar light source makes cooking at night easier. You can place it inside the kitchen shelter for better visibility or hang it from a tree. A camping lantern is usually a great product and illuminates a large area with sufficient light.

LuminAID PackLite Nova USB Solar Inflatable Waterproof LightGarberiel USB Solar Camping Light with Remote Control - Hanging IPX7...LE LED Camping Lantern, Battery Powered LED with 1000LM, 4 Light Modes,...

Pot Holders 

Be it a campfire tripod or a simple pot holder, you need something to hold the burning pot in the fire pit – especially when you’re cooking in open flames. Potholders are inexpensive, and you only need a couple on a short camping trip.

Apart from pot holders, remember to bring larger cooking tongs for s’mores and barbecues. Speaking of holders, don’t forget a side-mounted towel rack. That stuff is useful when you’re doing the dishes.

Storage Bags

Another accessory you need for a camp kitchen is storage bags and a lot of them. We personally prefer Ziploc bags and plastic containers because of their durability and sturdiness.

You need these in different sizes to organize the camp kitchen essentials. Or, you can keep the small ingredients in boxes that slide out from a portable cabinet.  

Reusable Plates 

You can choose either reusable or disposable dinnerware. The first one you’ll have to wash and keep clean. Packing a bunch of disposable glasses will help you enjoy hot and cold beverages anytime on your trip. They also come in handy in backpacking and tailgate parties. 

HOMWE Silicone Oven Mitts and Pot Holders, 4-Piece Set, Heavy Duty Cooking...GSI Outdoors 74340 Pivot Tongs Orange, 8 inchOdoland 22pcs Camping Cookware Mess Kit, Large Size Hanging Pot Pan Kettle...

Where to Set Up a Camp Kitchen

If you’re already planning to set up a proper camp, you should be well aware of the place you’re planning to camp. In order to set up a camp kitchen, a few things are an absolute prerequisite.

If you’re car camping, then you can be flexible about the location, but if you aren’t, then you need to keep a few things in mind if you’re planning to set up one of the best camping kitchens in the world.

For starters, you need to avoid uneven surfaces and go for flatlands with proper drainage. If you’re planning an open fire in your camp kitchen, then you should keep it a bit far from the tent since open fire can be risky around the tent.

Next, you need to set it up in a place that has water sources nearby. Cooking requires the disposal of trash as well, so keep a place for stashing all the garbage made from cooking.

Washing dishes at campsite in river
Cleaning up after lunch

Last but not least, try to have removable compartments in your camp kitchen, making it easier to clean.

Read this Tale from the Trail about a camping kitchen.


What Size Camp Kitchen Should I Buy?

The size entirely depends on your preference and usage, but we’ll give you a basic idea about the standard size of a camp kitchen. Considering a proper camp kitchen should have a stable weight capacity, it should have adequate space for holding your stove and keep other food preps.

A countertop of 32 inches and an additional 20 inches of storage for keeping other items like wire rack and utensil hooks are necessary.

But that’s not all, you’ll need more space for bowls, stirring spoons, and many other cooking instruments; hence, even for a very simple camping meal, you’ll require another 20 inches for extra space.

But if we’re talking complicated dishes like smoked brisket, at least 50 inches of space is needed apart from the general size requirement. Folding side tables are a good alternative here? as they’re capable enough to provide food prep space and keep different utensils.


Aluminum vs Steel ” Which Is Better for a Camping Kitchen”

Before we even start the comparison, let us be frank – none of these are flawless. Both of them have their drawbacks, and it depends on your preference while choosing something like this. We’d suggest your camp kitchen have a balance of aluminum, nonstick, and steel cookware.

If you’re planning to do camp cooking that is complicated, then stainless steel cookware is quite effective since it can actually change the flavor and taste of a dish.

Again, aluminum countertop, storage rack, or aluminum tabletop are easy to carry and relatively inexpensive. Even your main tabletop can be made of aluminum! For basic meal prep, aluminum cookware is enough.

So as we can see, if you want a deluxe camp kitchen, then stainless steel cookware is great, but for more inexpensive and regular usage, aluminum cookware isn’t too bad either!

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