Rice is a staple in many dishes, and it’s also pretty easy to cook. But what do you do if you’re camping? It may seem like you have limited options, but there are actually many ways to prepare rice outdoors. Knowing how to cook rice while camping is a handy skill when you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck from your meals.
The best way to cook rice when camping is to use your Dutch oven or camping pot (with a lid) directly on a campfire grate. If you’re unable to start a fire, you can use a camp stove, charcoal grill, or an electrical appliance.
This blog post will dig into 13 different ways to prepare this popular grain while camping. Read on to find the method that will work best for your camping needs.
How to Cook Rice When Camping
Some of these methods will work best for backpackers, while others will be better suited for those with campsites that offer electricity. You’ll also want to consider the amount of rice you plan on cooking when deciding which method will work best for you.
1. In Your Campfire With a Dutch Oven
The most well-known way to cook rice when camping is in a Dutch oven. A Dutch oven is a large cast-iron pot with a tight-fitting lid. This versatile cooking utensil can be used on top of coals, in the fire pit, over propane burners, and more.
To cook rice using this method, simply place your Dutch oven directly into the campfire (or above hot charcoal) for 20 minutes or
All you need to do is add water and your desired ingredients, then set the pot directly on top of your fire ring or campfire for about 20 minutes (longer if cooking brown rice).
The best kind of Dutch oven for camping is one with legs and handles on the side, as it can stand upright without tipping over in your fire ring. Dutch ovens are also great for cooking other dishes, like chicken and vegetables. It can even make cakes, other desserts and even bread. This useful article by City Homesteads gives a comprehensive list of Dutch oven recipes for those looking for some culinary inspiration.
If you don’t have a Dutch oven at home but would love to try this method of rice cookery, check out your local thrift store or yard sale. You can often find them in good condition there for much cheaper than buying a new one.
Dutch ovens distribute heat very evenly, which is great for cooking rice. You’ll need to check your pot periodically and stir the contents, as you don’t want any ingredients sticking to the bottom of your pot while cooking.
The drawback to a Dutch oven is that it is heavy. It can also take a long time to heat up. This cooking tool is best for those with lots of space in their car or camper.
2. On the Campfire Grill
If your fire pit comes with a grate, you can use that to cook your rice. Simply place the Dutch oven on top and let it heat up (while stirring occasionally) for about 20 minutes.
You can use other pots beside the dutch oven for this method as well since you won’t be placing the container directly in the fire. You can use any large pot with a lid, in fact.
The biggest drawback to this method is that it can take some skill to know when the rice has finished cooking. This will depend on the distance of your pot from the flames or coals in the firepit below.
3. On a Camp Stove
If you don’t have access to a fire pit or want to cook your rice faster, you can use a camp stove instead. A small propane burner is all that’s needed to heat a pot of rice.
There are many types of camping stoves available, so you’ll need to do your research before choosing one. There are tabletop propane stoves, single-burner camp stoves, and larger two or three-burner models that allow for cooking multiple dishes at once.
You will have many options for fuel type as well, with some stoves using propane, butane, or even alcohol. Solid fuel tabs are also a popular option for camp stoves, especially when trying to reduce the weight and volume in your camping pack.
Most camping stoves are very affordable and can be found at sporting goods stores or online retailers like Amazon. They provide an even and controllable heat source for cooking your rice, so it’s unlikely that your rice will get burned or that all of the water will be evaporated off too quickly.
4. In a Charcoal Grill
A charcoal grill provides the control of a camp stove with the rustic feeling of fire cooking. It can be a great option for cooking rice if you have the equipment.
The charcoal will generate enough heat to boil water and cook rice, especially if it has a lid that helps to trap heat for an extended period of time. (
You will have to keep an eye on the pot of rice since the heat is more unpredictable than with a camp stove. You’ll also need to be careful when adding additional charcoal or adjusting the vents on your grill, as this can cause flare-ups and burn off some of the water content in your rice.
5. On a Tripod Over the Fire
Another way to use a campfire to cook rice is by setting a pot of water on top of a tripod over the fire. Tripods are usually adjustable and can be made from wood or metal. They work by hanging the pot of rice over an open flame.
If you’d like to try this method, remember that you won’t have control over the heat source since it’s coming from an ever-changing fire. You will also need a pot that has a metal handle so it can hang.
This method will take longer than using a camp stove, but it does provide the rustic charm of cooking over an open fire.
6. In an Instant Pot
If you are staying at a campsite with electricity, an Instant Pot makes a great choice for cooking rice while camping.
This pressure cooker works by trapping steam inside, which builds up the internal pressure and allows it to cook food extremely quickly. It also has a tightly sealed lid that helps retain moisture in your cooked dish.
The main drawback of using an instant pot is that you will need access to electricity. If you are at a campsite with hookups, this shouldn’t be an issue.
The Instant Pot can prepare many other foods besides rice, so it’s nice to have if you are planning on doing some cooking at your campsite.
7. In a Rice Cooker
A rice cooker is another good option for the campsite if you have electric hookups or an outlet adapter in your car. It is a great way to ensure that your rice will come out perfectly every time and doesn’t require any extra attention once you set it up.
Most modern rice cookers have timers built in so you can set them before setting up other camping equipment or a quick nap. It’s always a good idea to remain somewhat near and aware of any electric appliances at a campsite, but a rice cooker is very unlikely to cause any issues.
8. Cook Your Rice Beforehand
Cooking your rice beforehand is a great way to decrease the amount of time spent cooking when you are at a campsite.
Pack your pre-cooked rice in Tupperware containers or gallon-sized Ziploc bags. You can also pre-portion them in foil if you want to easily throw them on the open fire to reheat them.
You’ll want to keep your pre-cooked rice in the cooler, unlike the uncooked variety. This will make sure that it stays fresh and tasty until you are ready to prepare it.
If for some reason, you’re unable to have a heat source, this is the only case in which you can still eat your rice. It will be safe for consumption if you don’t mind it being cold!
9. Cook It in a Kettle
A camping kettle is usually made out of aluminium or stainless steel and can be placed over a fire, camp stove, or grill. It provides an easy and portable way to prepare your rice while camping.
Simply fill your kettle with water and set it to boil, then add the rice when the water is boiling.
This method is a great choice if you are cooking for one or two people. It will also work better with white rice and instant rice because they both come out softer and less sticky than the regular kind.
If you have an electricity hookup at your campsite, you can use an electric kettle as well. This tool is great for making coffee, tea, pasta, or anything else that requires boiling water.
10. Cook It in a Thermos
If you are looking for a low-maintenance method of cooking your rice, you could prep it in a Thermos.
Fill the thermos with boiling water and uncooked rice, then let it sit for 20 minutes. Make sure that the rice is submerged under the water so it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn at the bottom of your Thermos.
This is great for preparing a quick meal that you will be able to fit in a small backpack for a longer hike or activity during your camping trip.
It will also keep it warm for you, unlike many other options on this list that will begin to cool off immediately after serving.
11. Use Instant Rice
Instant rice is a great option for camping and can save you a lot of time on meal prep.
This type of rice can be purchased in the store and is pre-cooked and dehydrated. You simply add hot water to your portion right before you eat it then allow it to sit for about five minutes so the rice can absorb the water.
Instant rice can be found in bowls, pre-measured packets, and other containers that may be convenient for your camping trip. It’s also a very helpful way to quickly prepare brown and wild rice, which takes a fairly long time to cook.
12. Soak Your Rice Beforehand
Soaking your rice before cooking is a great way to reduce the amount of time needed to prepare it. You can do it 30 minutes to an hour prior to cooking and it will reduce your cooking time by as much as half.
There are some additional benefits to pre-soaking rice beyond a shorter cooking time. It preserves the fragrance and flavour of rice such as jasmine and basmati since it reduces the cooking time, where essential oils are usually burned off.
Rice is grown with water containing naturally occurring heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury, which are absorbed by the plant. Soaking your rice before cooking helps to remove some of these harmful chemicals from its preparation.
You don’t need hot water to soak your rice. Simply use cool tap, bottled, or filtered water and let it sit in a jar, pot, or bowl.
13. Use Foil
If you have no equipment beyond your heat source, foil can work as a last resort.
You will want to essentially create a pot and lid out of several sheets of foil. Heavy duty is best, but regular foil will work as well.
Fold a few sheets together to create a vessel that can hold your rice and water over the heat source. Then create a lid that seals around the pot. Be sure to place some holes in the lid so steam can escape while cooking.
You will have to be very careful with this method since foil is fragile and can easily rip. Be careful not to let the foil touch the heat source while cooking because it can cause a fire or burn your food.
If you bring pre-cooked rice along on your trip, cooking it with foil is a much simpler task. You can place the rice on a sheet of foil, add 1/2 tablespoons of water or liquid, and close the foil into a pack.
Put your foil packet on top of the heat source and allow it to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
What Type of Rice is Best For Camping?
There are many options when it comes to purchasing rice, and it may be confusing to know which type is best for your trip.
If you’re looking for the quickest and simplest cooking method, you will want to purchase instant rice. It’s more expensive than buying a bag of regular rice, but it will save you a lot of time and hassle when preparing meals.
It also allows you to prepare types of rice that traditionally take a very long time to cook, such as wild rice or brown rice.
You can also choose between plain rice and flavoured rice. Many brands offer unique flavours, including Cajun, Italian herbs, and garlic.
If you’re taking dry uncooked rice on your trip, the quickest type to prepare will be white short-grain rice.
It only takes about 20 minutes to cook and it will hold its heat the longest once served. It’s also a very versatile type of rice that can be used in many different types of dishes.
Whole grain rice such as brown or wild rice can take up to an hour and a half to cook. However, these types of rice are filled with fibre, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs for fuel, especially on a camping trip.
It may be worth the additional time to have a meal that is more nutritious.
Rice is a wonderful staple to bring along with you when camping. It’s easy to cook, it can be stored for a long time without refrigeration, and there are many different types of rice that allow you to vary your meals.
The trick is finding the best way to prepare your rice while out in the wilderness, depending on whether or not you have any additional equipment available.
Decide on which of the above methods is best for you and then proceed to experiment. The only way to find the best approach is to try them all out and see which one works best for you.