How to Use a Propane Camping Stove

How to Use a Propane Camping Stove
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Take along a powerful, warm, and useful propane camping stove along on your next tailgating or car camping adventure!

These models usually feature two full size burners and are the closest thing to recreating a kitchen experience out in the wilderness. 

They provide lots of heat, too, up to 20,000 BTUs, for cooking meats, stews, and dishes for a crowd. Propane does burn very hot, though.

Step 1: Finding the Right Cooking Location

At home, you have the luxury of cooking on a stove that sits in one place, and you don’t need to find the perfect location. But, out in nature, you do have to pay attention to the best location for cooking. Choose an area that is protected by the wind, since wind is the most common deterrent to outdoor cooking.

Find a flat and reasonably level surface that is swept free of natural debris, like leaves, twigs, and other materials. You don’t want a flame anywhere near something that could potentially catch fire, so use caution. A flat tree stump would be a perfect location. You want the spot to be as stable as possible to prevent your stove from possibly tipping over.

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Step 2: Connecting the Stove to the Propane Fuel Tank

With your location cleared and your flat surface ready, take out both your stove and your propane fuel tank. Follow the stove’s user’s instructions carefully to connect the stove to the fuel tank. This will depend on the stove.

In some models, like the Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove, they fit vertically on top of the propane. You’ll first put the tank in its round holder to keep it upright and stabilize the tank. Then simply twist and screw the stove in place.

Other models, like the Coleman Classic Propane Stove, feature two burners side by side and needs a lot more space to set up. It will fit on a tabletop near your car or campsite, so bring an extra portable table or you can set it up on a picnic table. It fits the small green propane tanks, and it comes with a connector. Simply screw the propane tank into the connector, resting it at an angle.

These propane stoves are not recommended for indoor use, so only use them outdoors; they give off too much heat.

Step 3: Igniting the Stove

With the stove connected to the propane tank (and any cooking grates removed), it’s now time to light either the stove itself or the burners. The two burner models have valves that you can adjust, similar to using a propane grill. Turn the valves to the low position, and you’ll hear it start to “hiss.” Use a simple lighter or match to light the propane gas in order to create a flame at the burner site.

But the vertical propane camping stoves come with a thick black knob that juts out underneath the cooking plate. It has two settings, either low or high. With the valve set to the “low” position, use a lighter or match to create a flame in the burner ring.

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Step 4: Controlling Your Cooking Temperatures

You can cook as well outdoors as you can indoors with a propane camping stove, simply by fine tuning the cooking temperature. With the vertical propane stove models, you only get two choices of either low or high. That’s enough to cook most foods. The two burner stoves have knobs to adjust from low to higher.

Once the stoves are on and burning, adjust the flame strength using the valves or knobs. They burn blue and can go pretty high to create a rolling boil within about two minutes.

Tips for Cooking on a Propane Camping Stove

When using your propane camping stove, you can pack a full set of standard cookware and be able to use it. Depending on the burner size and your stove’s configuration, these can fit up to a 10” wide skillet and larger saucepans, too.

One deterrent for outdoor cooking is the wind. You can purchase a separate wind screen for the vertical propane camping stoves. The two burner models use their wide lids as wind screens.


Propane doesn’t burn as efficiently as some other types of fuel, so the smaller green 5 lbs. tanks don’t go as far. You could cook for about 20 minutes roughly 12 to 14 times on one tank. On some models, you can adapt to use a longer connector with a larger tank, similar to a tank for a full-size grill. However, with the vertical model, you are limited.

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Adrian Jones - April 30, 2019 Reply

When it comes to convenience, having a propane camping stove can work wonders especially when you would want to cook a meal while in the wilderness and not have to fuss over having to start a fire and trying to control the temperature. Another thing to consider is that with propane gas is that you would have to be careful when cooking out in the wild, you wouldn’t want to have anything and everything catches fire by accident. If I had the chance to own a propane camping stove then I would have to be careful when using it.

Jackson Bush - July 9, 2019 Reply

It’s good to know that you can cook as well outdoors as you can indoors with a propane camping stove. My wife and I are going on a camping trip soon and she is worried that my propane stove won’t be able to cook food as good as our stove at our house. I’ll be sure to let her know that we can cook anything and it will be just as good.

Bob - August 23, 2019 Reply

I like your tip about using the two feature burners on the side. That makes sense considering there needs to be a way to ignite the propane. I’ll have to consider getting a propane tank for camping.

Brendan Shelton - September 6, 2019 Reply

My father and I are planning a long hike to reach the top of a nearby mountain and we need a way to cook our food. We don’t want to build fires and have never used a propane grill before. I appreciate you talking about how to set up the stove and use it. I especially like the tip about finding a sheltered area that is away from the wind so it doesn’t kill your flame.

Wade Joel - September 25, 2019 Reply

Thank you for these great instructions on how to use a propane camping stove. We’re planning a family trip for the next holiday and I truly appreciate your tips on finding the right cooking location for the stove. I don’t think we’re going to use it for a long time so I’m sure a 5lbs tank will do.

Devin Scott - October 9, 2019 Reply

It’s good to know that you should only use a propane stove outdoors. My brother is wanting to start barbequing for our family. I’ll tell him that he should only use propane outside of the house.

Jerry Woods - October 16, 2019 Reply

I liked your tip on how to ignite the stove when using propane. My wife and I are going camping soon. I’ll be sure to remember your tip when we are cooking while we’re camping.

Sam Li - October 16, 2019 Reply

I like what you said about finding the right cooking location. Burner fuel is vital for energy conservation. I’ll consider buying from a reliable supplier.

Cameron - March 6, 2020 Reply

Thank you for these great instructions on how to use a propane camping stove.

Valerie Jackson - April 4, 2020 Reply

Well you are CAMPING – why would you want meals equivalent to home cooked ones? Maybe there is a site for coleman creations? Also, lighting it on a wooden tree stump? Why not take a roll of extra thick tin foil and place it over whatever flats surface you are going to use? Yep, I am concerned about forest fires given the dry conditions the last number of years . Enjoy yourselves and stay safe!

Ryan - November 11, 2020 Reply

You nailed it!

Guest - October 5, 2021 Reply

Thank you for these great instructions on how to use a propane camping stove.

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