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What are the Best Tips for Fire Pit Cooking?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Just about everything that is commonly cooked on a grill can be cooked on a fire pit; fire pit cooking can be done over an open fire or over a fire pit made of stone or brick. Some cooks choose to do fire pit cooking over charcoal, while others use certain types of wood. In either case, this type of cooking will be more efficient if the cooking is done over red coals rather than open flames, though cooking can be done over open flames if the cook is willing to pay close attention to the cooking foods.

Cooking over red coals rather than open flame ensures that the heat radiating toward the food is an even heat; open flames can be intense when they get close to the food, and less intense when they are far away from the food. Since flames tend to fluctuate in size, the heat will be uneven and can lead to either undercooked foods, overcooked foods, or unevenly cooked foods. Fire pit cooking is most effective when an even heat source is available, and the cook may need to move the food up or down in relation to the heat source to ensure the food gets cooked properly.

A fire pit.
A fire pit.

A grate, a spit or rotisserie, or even a tripod can be used for fire pit cooking. The method used will depend on the type of food being cooked. Baking can be done quite efficiently by hanging a Dutch oven from a tripod mounted over the fire pit. A Dutch oven is a great choice for baking because the cast iron distributes heat very evenly, and placing coals on the lid of the Dutch oven can ensure the food gets backed from all sides. The Dutch oven can also be placed directly in hot coals; this makes placing hot coals on top of the oven much easier as well.

Some cooks do fire pit cooking over certain types of wood.
Some cooks do fire pit cooking over certain types of wood.

The fuel used to start the fire in the fire pit will affect fire pit cooking as well. A fire can be started using wood, but the wood will need to be seasoned properly to ensure proper lighting and heat conduction. Charcoal can also be used; some charcoals are meant to be long-lasting and evenly heating. Charcoal must be lit by either using lighter fluid that can affect the taste of the food being cooked, or by using a charcoal chimney; the chimney will not add any flavors to the food, but it will take significantly longer to get the coals lit and heated using this method.

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Discussion Comments


I made myself a perfect fire pit grill by taking several grills out of old gas grills and connecting them together with metal wire. It creates one big grill that can span the whole pit and can be removed easily.


One of the most important things to do when cooking over a fire pit is to wait until you have a good coking fire going. You want a thick base of glowing hot coals with a minimum amount of new wood flaming up. That gives you a hot, consistent fire that you can work around without having to deal with the smoke and heat of open flames.

When you start your fire, get it going and then put a good amount of medium sized logs on. After twenty or thirty minutes when they have burned down to embers you are ready to cook. Create an even bed of coals to cook over and dedicate one side of the fire pit for burning new wood and making more coals as necessary.


I think the easier the better, especially around a fire pit where there is some real danger if you get too close to it. I have long metal skewers and I usually limit myself to hot dogs or sausages that I can just hold over the fire and let cook.

There is very little mess or clean up and you end up with a delicious meal. I know it might sound simple, but I have seen too many people try to cook overly elaborate meals over a campfire. You usually end up with disappointing food and a huge mess you have no good way to clean up.

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    • A fire pit.
      By: Harris Shiffman
      A fire pit.
    • Some cooks do fire pit cooking over certain types of wood.
      By: GummyBear
      Some cooks do fire pit cooking over certain types of wood.