How To Cook In A Tent?

Cooking and camping can be fun, but if you put them together, you might have an unsafe situation. Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, it’s important to clarify some points, like which tents allow for which type of cooking and which stove you need.

You also need to be aware of the weather and the length of your camping trip. This way, you can make an informed decision on how to cook in your tent. Last but not least, we will guide you to think about food choices for your camping trip, so you have a rough idea of what to bring with you.

At first glance, cooking in a tent seems like such a straightforward thing to do, but planning it carefully and having the full picture of what it actually entails means a more enjoyable and safer trip for you and your loved ones. 

Types Of Tents You Can Cook In

When it comes to small tents like instant pop-ups, A-frames, and teepees that don’t have any outside space, we don’t advise you to cook inside them under any circumstances. Cooking inside the tent should be a matter of necessity, not preference. 

It’s important to note that no tents are fireproof. Some may be treated with fire retardants, which may slow down the burning of the tent in case of fire. However, be aware of growing research proving that the toxic chemicals used may cause harm when breathed in. 

Bigger tents with screen rooms or screen porches in addition to the main room are great for cooking. These extra rooms which may come with or without flooring, offer this extra space to store gear, cook, or simply sit back and enjoy the views. 

A kitchen inside a screen room of a green camping tent

Every single tent of this kind is different, but look out for those that have mesh on all sides, for extra ventilation. 

Tents with vestibules are tents that have a protected area or space just at the entrance. Vestibules can come in different sizes, so the bigger and higher the vestibule area is, the easier and safer it is to cook. 

They can come at the front of a tent or at the side and they are great for protecting against rain and for storing things outside the tent. 

Tent porches and extensions are a great addition to a tent as they give you extra space when camping. Since they have a roof, they allow cooking in rainy weather, although not if the rain is very heavy. Some tents come with the porch enclosed, while others can be bought separately.


A green illuminated tent, pitched on a snowy slope at night

Whatever the tent size, we suggest that if the weather permits, you should cook outside, that’s the whole point of camping isn’t it? To enjoy the surrounding environment, fresh oxygen, and being outdoors! 

Only if it is too cold, windy, or raining, then you might be forced to cook inside. 

Types Of Stoves 

Now that we’ve established the different types of tents you can cook in, let’s talk about which stove type is suited for which tent when planning to cook on your camping trip. 

Wood Stove 

We advise wood-burning stoves for bigger tents as they are made of metal and come in bigger sizes. So if your tent is quite big and has a tall roof and a stove jack, then this type of stove is perfect. 

A wood stove inside a camping tent

Wood-burning stoves will heat the tent in the colder months, you have an endless supply of wood if you carry around an axe, and you can keep your clothes nice and dry inside the tent. 

You’ll need a tent with a stove jack, and these usually are heavy, canvas tents compared to lightweight polyester backpacking tents. 

Gas Camping Stove

Small, canister stoves like the MSR Pocket Rocket are popular with backpackers, as they are lightweight, can be carried anywhere, and are fast when heating food. Keep in mind that you’ll need to check on the gas level in the canister or bring a spare one. 

Once the canister runs out, you’ll be out of gas and you can’t cook. Also, cooking inside an unventilated tent can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. 

A gas stove inside a camping tent

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be dangerous if inhaled. When people are exposed to high levels of CO, it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can lead to loss of consciousness and even death.

CO poisoning is most often caused by appliances or generators that produce the gas. It can occur if you cook in an unventilated tent. 

Alcohol Burning Stove

Alcohol-burning stoves are a great alternative to traditional camping stoves. They are easy to use and require no fuel canisters, making them much more environmentally friendly. Alcohol-burning stoves also have several other advantages. 

An alcohol burning stove

They are lightweight and compact, so they are easy to pack and carry. They also produce very little heat, so they are ideal for use in hot weather. And because they burn alcohol, they are very easy to light and extinguish. 

Alcohol stoves also give out carbon monoxide, so be wary and try to keep the tent ventilated. 

Safety Tips for Cooking in a Tent

We have mentioned carbon dioxide poisoning for each type of stove above. It is a real threat, especially when cooking inside a tent. The symptoms may include dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, and feeling sick.

Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation! When you cook inside your tent, make sure you ventilate it properly. Any flame can produce carbon monoxide in an enclosed space and the flame burns the oxygen available in the room. 

So, the less oxygen is available in an enclosed room, the more carbon monoxide builds up. If the room is ventilated sufficiently, this completes combustion and prevents the build-up of carbon monoxide. 

A human hand lights a camping gas stove, bearing a blue cup, with a lighter

Always make sure to keep any stove away from the walls of the tent. Tents can be treated with fire retardant chemicals, but no tent is fireproof and will go up quickly if exposed to flame. 

After you finish cooking, give the stove plenty of time to cool down before touching it. You don’t want to burn yourself! Once it’s cooled down, make sure you have it stowed away, always outside of the tent you are sleeping in. 

Food can attract animals or bugs if left overnight, and it is our job as campers to keep our food away from wild animals. Not only will it disrupt their natural diet, but bears and other animals that become too familiar with humans will risk being culled if an encounter ends badly. 

Camp Cooking Tips

Thinking about what type of food you will need to cook will help you get organized and identify any potential problems. Will I have to buy all the food beforehand and take it all with me? Will I have access to a supermarket once I’m there? 

Also, think about water. Will you have water there or do you have to pack it all in?

A pitched tent and a table with camping cookware

If you plan to do lots of cooking and your camping trip will be quite long, don’t forget the oil and seasoning, as they are essential to yummy food. Pack all the cookware you need, and try using more pots as they are more versatile and can be used to fry food and boil water. 

Try to go for eco-friendly plates, cups, and cutlery instead of single-use plastic. Collapsible silicone bowls are versatile and can be used for drinks, soups, and most other foods.

Bring some high-energy snacks like nuts and granola bars to supplement your camping diet. Fortified crackers and biscuits can also provide a quick energy boost. 

Cooking in a Tent: Final Thoughts 

Three people sit inside a camping tent with open mesh walls

Cooking in your tent should only happen as a last resort. Not only is it a fire risk, but you can also get carbon monoxide poisoning. Always ventilate your tent well if you are forced to cook in it. The weather might be cold and gloomy, but it is better than risking your life. 

Also, always keep the stove in the middle of the tent and as far as possible from the walls. Tents are flammable and will easily melt or catch fire. Stay safe out there and happy camping! 

Alex Buchnev

Alex Buchnev

Alex loves kayaking, fishing, and all things outdoors. When he's not out there in the wild, he's probably typing away at his laptop or trying to be the world's best father for his two lovely daughters.

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