How to Smoke Meat While Camping – 10 Cool Ideas

People smoking meat while on camping trip.

If you’ve ever been on a camping trip, there’s a good chance you’ve tried something from the good ol’ camper’s recipe book. Needless to say, most of the stuff you’ll find between the covers of that cookbook is somehow related to meat. Anyway, there’s something about camping and smoking meat that just goes hand in hand, as they say.

Since you’re reading these words, we reckon you came here for some cool ideas on how to smoke meat while on a camping adventure. That’s exactly what we’ll show you today! Stick around to see some cool, yet totally safe ideas on smoking meat while camping!

Prepare the meat by cutting it; the thicker the strips, the longer the process is gonna take. Also, try to provide an enclosure for the firepit, as you want the meat to possess a rich smokey flavor. If the smoke’s black and thick, that’s a clear signal you should remove the meat and reposition the wood for better airflow. 

Now, of course, that can’t be the whole thing! Don’t you hesitate to keep on readin’!

Table of Contents

Is it safe to cook over a campfire?

If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to cook (or smoke meat) over a campfire, you’ll want to know that you can cook just about anything you imagine over a campfire. Yup, most folks picture some hot dogs or marshmallows or s’mores, but the thing is: you can also smoke meat over a campfire.

All in all: it is safe to cook over a campfire as long as you’re building a fire in a safe place using the proper equipment to prepare the food you’ve desired.

What does smoking meat do to the meat?

Okay, so let’s get the where-are-those-definitions segment out of the way. There’s a chance some of you mightn’t know what smoking meat exactly does to the meat. In other words: what’s the process we’ll be talking about a lot today? For those of you who don’t know, smoking is a method of preparing meat or other types of food over a fire. Some folks confuse smoking with drying, but the differences are obvious (at least once you’ve read the last sentence). Anyway, the process of smoking will add some characteristic flavor to the meat (or other types of food) and provide a little food preservation effect.

What’s mostly on the menu? Well, just about any type of meat you think about: bacon (well, of course!), pork roasts, hams, beef briskets, and many other saliva-inducing, finger-licking specialties. Oh, and don’t forget about fish: smoked salmon, anyone?

Is smoking meat the same as cooking it?

That’s right, smoking meat can also qualify as cooking since the latter’s a basic definition of a certain process. We’re talking about the process when the food’s transformed by applying heat. However, there’s a catch. The thing is: we can separate smoking into two categories: hot and cold smoking. Of course, hot smoking, in a certain way, matches the definition of cooking. Cold smoking, however, doesn’t involve it; it’s more something like a preservation method and it doesn’t really demand folks use any heating source.

So, the final answer is: if we’re talking about hot smoking (and we’ll be talking about it a lot today), you could say it’s cooking at its core. On the other hand, cold smoking doesn’t require you to use any heat and therefore can’t really match the definition of cooking (applying heat to transform the meat). Oh, it looks like we came up with something of a rhyme.

Okay, so now that we’ve gone through this introductory set of questions, it’s time for the main dish. Let’s see those ideas on how to smoke meat while camping!

A portable camping grill in the grass.

How to smoke meat while camping – 10 Cool ideas

Without further ado, let’s see those meat-smoking ideas! Also, you’ll notice that, even though these ideas seem stand-alone, they’re something of a step-by-step guide on enjoying a delicious meat-smoking adventure! Here’s how to smoke meat while camping!

#1 Meat prepping

Okay, let’s see how you’ll do this depending on the type of smoking you’re planning to do. If you’re cold smoking, cut the meat you’ve got into thin strips. Of course, try to trim any excess fat you might stumble upon. Salt the strips and dip them into a salt solution for about five minutes or so. If you’re hot smoking, don’t waste time cutting the meat into tiny strips, thicker chunks are totally fine. Still, have in mind that the smoking process will last longer in accordance with the thickness of the slices.

#2 Firepit/grill set up

Don’t worry, smoking meat is something you’d call a simple process. However, you’ll want to know that it ain’t a short one. There’s a good chance you’ll use an on-site fire pit since the whole process will take several hours to finish. Also, you can make an additional small fire pit from rocks, separate from your main cooking station.

What about grills? Well, it’s probably for the best you create a tripod-type grill out of green branches or, of course, you could “employ” a metal grill grate. If you opt for the latter, your best bet is to use a swivel grill. This will enable you to move the meat around or regulate the heat without any hassle.

#3 Who’s the firestarter?

I’m the firestarter, twisted firestar… Good, now that song’s stuck in our head forever. Anyway, to get the fire started – you can work with softwoods (avoid pine or spruce, or wet wood in general) since they’ll ignite more easily and provide you with a good base. Once you put the meat on, your best chance (almost a necessity) is to use pieces of wood that are slow burners (hickory, maple, oak, etc.), while, at the same time, keeping a consistent temperature and a hotbed made from coals.

Lastly, try to avoid any piece of wood that seems rotten or waterlogged since they’re no good for a long-lasting hot fire. No good? Great, now there’s an additional 90’s hit stuck inside our brain. You guess the band! PS. If you still can’t remember, here’s your answer.

#4 How to find the right temperature?

One thing’s pretty clear: there’s no way you can simply turn a dial to the temperature you require when you’re smoking meat without a smoker. Most camping enthusiasts will agree that regulating the temperature is probably the most strenuous part of the guide on how to smoke meat while camping over an open fire. That’s because the temperature of the air and winds, alongside other elements, make things pretty difficult to control.

In order to keep the temperature consistent (between 200-300°F (93-149°C) for hot smoking), ensure you’re maintaining a hotbed of coals all of the time. Also, make sure you add wood (when it’s required) around the edges of the fire so your meat can “enjoy” constant smoke, without feeling the touch of the fire itself. As we’ve already said, a swivel grill works wonders in that area.

#5 Provide an enclosure

Don’t let any of the smoke escape! In other words: build an enclosure (using long strips of green, live tree bark) around the pit! This will, as we’ve said, keep the smoke from wandering aimlessly around and speed up the whole smoking process. Not to mention the fact the meat will absorb a richer smokey flavor. Another great advantage of this: it’s much easier to handle the regulation of the temperature when you’re using an enclosure.

Lastly, be very cautious. At some point, the tree bark might become extremely dry. Needless to say, that’s a serious fire risk. Keep an eye out for that moment and remove the enclosure when it becomes necessary to avoid a total catastrophe.

#6 Patience is a virtue

Of course, that’s a cliche if there ever was one. Still, smoking meat will require you to invest some time and virtue (patience) into the process. Now, you could easily just grab your favorite drink and take a seat around the fire. That’s about it: the biggest virtue you can show off is to chill by the fire!

#7 Don’t move

We’re just kidding! However, it’s best you never stray too far away from your meat smoking experiment. You’ll need to keep an eye out for both high flames and a dying fire. The first issue will result in non-edible, coal-ish, burn meat. The other will just delay the process into oblivion.

All in all: make sure the smoke’s constant and there are no flames. Also, for more tips on staying safe while being outdoors, click right here.

#8 Kitchen tongs to the rescue (and other items)

Don’t forget that you’ll need some tools to operate the enclosed fire pit. There’s no need to emphasize that if it’s well-enclosed, your access to it will be most probably downright limited. That’s why you’ll want to bring a pair of trusty kitchen tongs and solid pair of work gloves just to make sure you don’t end up with a burnt hand once you start removing the meat.

#9 Watch the smoke (with an emphasis on color)

If the smoke’s either white or light blue, that should mean you’ve got a well-ventilated fire that’s burning good ol’ hardwood. However, if the smoke appears to be black and thick, that means there ain’t enough ventilation. Subsequently, that will lead to your food tasting bitter-ish. Anyway, if you were to notice smoke that’s black and thick, move the meat away and reposition the wood in order to enable a better airflow.

#10 Well…

There’s nothing else to say than feel free to enjoy your smoked meat! This process isn’t one you’d call easy, but with the right pieces of advice, you’ll be totally fine!

For more useful camping tips and every other piece of info related to camping and outdoor activities, go ahead and visit our blog page!

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