If you enjoy camping, a pie iron should be high on your shopping list. You can cook all your camp meals over a campfire, from breakfast to dessert, with one handy tool that will last a lifetime with little to no cleaning or maintenance.
A great pie iron doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We’ve researched the market extensively and come up with a list of our top 5 best pie irons, based on qualities such as durability, handle length, special design features, and overall construction.
So what are the best pie irons? The best pie irons are made from cast iron. You can also find lighter pie irons made out of aluminum, but they can warp or melt, so they have a shorter lifespan. On the other hand, aluminum irons can be more versatile and easier to use for some fireside cooks and, if well cared for, are still very durable.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know to help you choose the right pie iron for your next camping adventure.
What is a Pie Iron?
The most basic pie iron will have a square body made of cast iron or aluminum, approximately the length and width of a slice of bread, that opens like a clamshell. Inside this body, you can fit a heavily loaded sandwich, if the situation called for it.
Each half is attached to a metal pole, usually around 2 feet long, and they join together with a hinge at the opposite end to the poles. The poles have heat resistant handles, such as wood, so that you can hold onto the pie iron safely.
There’s also an attachment on the poles that clips into place to hold the two halves of the cast iron body together easily.
You can also find pie irons in a variety of shapes, though the standard size fits a slice of bread.
You may also find round irons approximately the size of an English muffin, double-width irons, Panini press style, or even pie irons dedicated to cooking hot dogs or Frankfurters.
How to Use a Pie Iron
Pie irons are designed for campfire cooking. Whether you’re having a safe cookout in your back yard or you’ve escaped city life for a back-to-nature vacation in the woods, pie irons are perfect for warming up and/or cooking your breakfast, lunch, and dinner over a fire.
When using a pie iron, you first want to heat each half over an open fire. You want it to be warm when you add your sandwich or other food for cooking, but you don’t want it to be so hot that your bread or dough will burn. Usually, about 5 minutes in a hot fire is perfect.
Set one half on a burn resistant surface and coat the inside pocket with a small amount of oil. Spray oils are very convenient for this. Campfires are difficult to temperature regulate, so use an oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed or avocado oil.
Place your bread or dough along the bottom and fill with any fillings you want inside your “pie.” Once filled, top with another piece of bread or dough.
Spray or coat the top of the iron with a bit of oil and close the iron, using the fastener at the lower end of the handles to close it together tightly.
Place the pie iron on a bed of hot, flat coals. It doesn’t have to be directly in the fire if the iron is already warmed.
Depending on your filling, you’ll need about 2–5 minutes per side. Check after about 2 minutes per side. It’s cooked when it’s golden brown.
What Can You Make In A Pie Iron
The most common use for a pie iron is toasted sandwiches, but they work equally well for a number of other delicious hand-held food items. Consider swapping your bread slices for any of the following in your own pie iron:
- Pizza dough
- Pie dough
- English muffins
- Tortilla wraps
- Waffle or cake batter
- Cinnamon roll dough
The 5 Best Pie Irons
We’ve shared our top 5 choices below, with their best features and biggest potential drawbacks detailed to help you make the right choice when choosing a pie iron for your next camping trip.
|Rank||Pie Irons||Best Feature|
|1.||Rome's Pie Iron||Double iron to maximize cooking space|
|2.||Coghlan's Pie Iron||Long handle|
|3.||Toas-Tite Pie Iron||Lightweight and versatility of cooking options|
|4.||Camp Chef Pie Iron||Dedicated camp cooking brand|
|5.||Palmer Pie Iron||Ribbed design for a better sandwich seal|
1. Rome’s Pie Iron
Rome Industries has a good collection of both basic and specialty pie irons that are high quality and very reliable.
This double iron is the most popular because maximizes the cooking space available, cutting down on the time it takes to cook multiple sandwiches or pies at once.
- 28” in overall length with beautifully designed wooden handles
- Double iron to make two sandwiches at once, calzones or even quesadillas
- Ridged to keep sandwiches and pies tightly sealed after toasting
Biggest Drawback: Some of Rome Industries other pie irons have detachable handles which make storing and cleaning easy. Unfortunately, this double pie iron is not one of those products, which is a bit of a let down from the manufacturer but, to be fair, none of the other products on the list have detachable handles either
2. Coghlan’s Pie Iron
Coghlin’s is a highly respected outdoor brand that had over 500 camping accessories to help you enjoy the great outdoors safely and in the best comfort possible. Their pie iron camp cookers are durable and easy to use.
- Long 27” pole with wooden handle
- Perfect size for a nicely crimped and sealed toasted sandwich
- Single, Double, Single broiler and Double broiler options available
Biggest Drawback: Advertises that it is pre-seasoned, but as with all cast iron, it’s always a good idea to enhance that with your own seasoning and maintain it carefully between uses. Cast iron will rust if not properly cared for and that is true of all the irons on this list.
3. Toas-Tite Pie Iron
Toas-Tite is a fun, retro brand that has been making pie irons since 1949.
This model is highly versatile and you don’t have to wait to go camping to put it to use – you can use it on your BBQ or even in your oven!
- 16” pole with hardwood handle, but there is an XL option to extend the length to 22”
- Round design removes crusts on bread or fits English muffins
- Suitable for campfires, but also BBQs, fire pits, and even ovens and gas stoves
Biggest Drawback: This pie iron is made from aluminum, which is not as durable as cast iron. It can melt under extremely high fire temperatures, warp from use and the heat distribution isn’t as even. That said, they are much lighter, making it easier for children or those who find cast iron too heavy, and they heat much more quickly allowing them to be used even on a stovetop.
4. Camp Chef Pie Iron
Camp Chef is an outdoor cooking brand, specializing in all things cast iron.
You can think of this brand as your one-stop camp cooking shop, with pie irons as the #1 item on your shopping list.
- 22” pole with wooden handle
- Open hinge for easy access
- Pre-seasoned well so you can use them right out of the box
Biggest Drawback: This pie iron is slightly smaller than some of the other major brands and it takes some squishing to get your bread to fit, which can affect the cooking of your sandwich. If you’re planning on using dough or removing the crust, that won’t be a problem for you at all.
5. Palmer Pie Iron
Palmer has created a very durable pie iron out of high quality cast iron. This model does not come pre-seasoned, which means you must season it yourself before you use it. This allows you total control and makes it more likely that it will be treated well, right from the first use.
- 18” long overall for the standard size model, but they do have an extra-long option that is 26” overall
- Ribbed inside design to crimp and seal your pie or toastie
- Can be used on any outdoor grill or fireplace
Biggest Drawback: The hinge does not allow for the separation of the two pieces, which can make it a bit more cumbersome to handle and clean. For others, it’s easier to keep track of one unit rather than two separate pieces.
Up Next: The Best Cast Iron Seasoning Oils