Cast Iron Versus Steel Camp Ovens


If you love a good campfire cooked meal, then a camp oven of your own will open up a whole new world of recipes to test out at the campsite.

Given there are two distinct types of camp ovens on the market, we get lots of questions regarding which one is best: cast iron or steel. So, if you’re currently tossing up between the two, we’ve put together a list and a video of everything that you need to consider when choosing a camp oven.

We cover which is the easiest to transport, what material is stronger, easier to care for and cook with and more – so read on for all the details.

For a visual rundown on the differences between cast iron and spun steel, watch the video above.

1. Transporting your camp oven

While the size of the two camp ovens is fairly even, there is a huge difference in weight between them.

Cast iron camp ovens are quite heavy. This is a big consideration for long trips when you are packed to the hilt and you are fitting everything within your Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM).

In most cases, steel camp ovens are as little as half the weight of their cast iron equivalents.

2. Cast iron or steel – which is stronger?

Camp ovens usually take a beating. They are subject to incredibly high temperatures, picked up by shovels, multi-grips, and wire hooks. They usually get dropped every now and then and tend to get knocked around at the campsite.

Cast iron is very robust but cracks easily if you drop it on a hard surface. Steel camp ovens were invented to overcome the issue of being dropped out of stockman’s saddlebags, the worst you can expect is a dent or two should it take a fall.

A cast iron camp oven with hot coals next to a spun steel camp oven with lit firewood

A cast iron camp versus a spun steel camp oven.

3. Caring for your camp oven

It doesn’t matter which oven you choose, they both need to be cared for in the same way. Initially, new camp ovens need to be seasoned, so check out our full guide on seasoning cast iron here.

All camp ovens need to be stored clean, dry and oiled. After your oven is washed and dried, you will need to get a paper towel and spread a thin layer of oil around the inside of the camp oven to avoid it rusting.

Some people will tell you to never wash your oven with soapy water but it really doesn’t matter, as long as you oil it afterwards.

4. Cooking with your camp oven

For many people, this is the deciding factor between choosing between cast iron and steel.

Cast iron heats up slower and holds heat longer, making it easy to achieve amazing meals. Roasts, casseroles, stews and curries all taste so much better when they are slow cooked and the cast iron oven does this the best.

The steel transfers heat much quicker making them a little trickier to perfect – so you may have a few ‘less than perfect’ meals when you first start out.

Cast iron camp oven next to a spun steel camp oven

A cast iron oven will hold heat longer in comparison to a spun steel oven.

5. Additional features

One great advantage to most steel ovens is that you can use the lid as a frying pan.

The Bedourie oven has a large flat lid that, when flipped over, makes the perfect size for a large frying pan that can be used straight on the fire.

It can be a real advantage having one oven that has it all rather than having to carry multiple items to the campsite.

6. Cooking with gas

Because steel ovens transfer heat much quicker, it makes them easier to use when cooking with gas. They are basically a large pot or frying pan that will work with your gas stove.

Cast iron will take longer to heat up on a gas stove but will retain heat for longer, so once hot you can turn off the gas and let it slow cook for longer.

Whatever oven you choose, you can make gourmet meals from any camp oven with a little practice. Cooking on a fire is very different from the control of your kitchen. But, once you get the hang of it, you’ll fall in love with campfire cooking!


Have you mastered some camp oven meals? Share them with us in the comments.

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Joined back in December, 2011

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