Fire pit cooking combines the aesthetic and function of a fire to give you a delicious meal—as long as you heed a few tips. With the right setup, anything you can cook on a grill can be cooked over a fire pit. So, whether you have a basic campfire, a portable cast iron fire pit, or a permanent in-ground fire pit, consider these basic tips and you’ll be on your way to enjoying dinner in no time.
Typically, wood is the fuel of choice in a fire pit. Take care with the kind of wood you choose for cooking, though. The best wood for fire pit cooking is a dry, seasoned hardwood (like oak). Avoid green and softwoods (like pine, specifically) as these will spoil the taste of your food. Another option is to burn charcoal. It burns hot, and it’s easy to light, so it also makes a great choice for beginners. And, if you want to sit around and enjoy wood-burning flames after you’re finished cooking, you can always throw some wood on the hot coals!
Unless you’re exclusively using long skewers for your fire pit cooking, you’ll want to invest in a fire pit grill rack. This is essentially a grate that is made to stand over a fire, and you can find all kinds of variations (some will just lay over your fire pit; others have adjustable heights). Your two main options for managing the heat when cooking over your fire pit are how close your food is to the embers and how many embers you have. Just like a regular charcoal grill, if it’s too hot, move your food further from the flame or embers (to the edges of the grill) or move the embers further from your food (if you can access them beneath a raised grate).
You’ve got your fuel and your grill rack, but there are a few more items you’ll be glad to have on hand when fire pit cooking:
If you’re a fan of food—and fire—then fire pit cooking should definitely be on your to-do list. Give yourself time to experiment and practice. There’s definitely a learning curve, so if your first attempt isn’t perfect, who cares? Keep it fun, enjoy the experience, and consider it part of the adventure.