Make a Cardboard Box Camp Oven [4-H Activity]

Camping season is just around the corner. No need to rough it when you have a cardboard box oven!

This camp oven made out of common household materials and can be made in about half an hour. Not only does it act as a makeshift kitchen away from home, it also comes in handy during a power outage. Not to mention when the smell of chocolate chip cookies meanders through the outdoor air, you’ll be the envy of the campground. So take this oven on your next outing, and everyone will be a happy camper. (Plus, it's just plain fun to make!)

Share what you bake in your box camp oven in the NH 4-H Community Group on Facebook!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cardboard box (about 12" x 12" x 18")
  • Foil tape
  • Box cutter
  • Aluminum foil
  • 4 Aluminum cans
  • Sand or small rocks
  • Wire rack or coat hanger
  • 2 Aluminum pie plates (1 for charcoal and 1 for sand)
  • 1 Aluminum baking tray
  • 9 Charcoal briquettes

supplies for camp box oven


Find a box that is about 12" x 12" x 18". It doesn’t need to be exact, as long as it is wider than it is deep and large enough to hold a small wire rack on the 4 aluminum cans. You can cut a coat hanger with wire clippers and then poke through the sides of the box to make a rack as well. Line your box with aluminum foil, layer using about 3 sheets throughout the inside and the door. Duct tape the edges down on the outside of the box. There’s no need to cover the outside of the box with foil.

completed oven design

The heat source for the oven is charcoal briquettes. Each charcoal briquette generates approximately 40 degrees, so, for example, if you want a 400-degree oven, you will need 10 briquettes. (An oven thermometer will help you gauge the actual temperature.) But you can just wing it too. I used 9 briquettes to achieve roughly a 350-degree oven for my recipes.

charcoal briquettes

Heat the briquettes outside in the aluminum tray until they are hot, about 15 minutes. Pick up the pans using potholders, with the sand pan underneath the charcoal one. Put both in the oven. The sand will help keep the bottom of the box from getting to hot. Shut the door and preheat the oven for 5 minutes or so. The coals will stay up to temperature for about an hour. You can bake pizza, chicken, cookies…whatever you want!


WARNING: The box will be EXTREMELY HOT when the charcoal sits in it. Always place the camp oven on rocks, bricks, or concrete, preferably on the ground, like your driveway or sidewalk. Never use the oven indoors or set it on a table — it can burn whatever surface it is on.

Here is a video showing the whole process: