Hot Tips for Fire Pit Cooking
Folks have cooked food over an open flame since the dawn of time—but even with all that history, it can still be tricky to get a good fire going and enjoy a family meal together outdoors. Let these tips and tricks be your spark of inspiration, and you’ll be dining al fresco in no time!
What Wood Should You Use?
Smell the wood you’ll use for cooking before lighting it. Do you want your food to taste like that? When cooking over an open fire, the wood you use (and its smoke) will impart unique flavors. Most hardwoods like oak work well, but try to avoid pine, as pine resin turns acrid at high temperatures and can leave food tasting bitter. If you’re feeling fancy, soak commercially available apple, cherry, or hickory wood chips for 30 minutes and add them to your fire pit. They will smoke and add depth to the flavor. For easy access, store your firewood in a handy deck box to ensure it stays safe and dry when not in use.
Hot Competition: Coals or Flames?
What cooks better—a raging fire or a hot bed of coals? This is a common misconception: While hot coals may not provide the same impressive photo op you get with a roaring fire, they’ll actually cook your meat much more evenly. Hot coals also make it easier to roast food like chicken that doesn’t respond well to ultra-high heat. If you prefer to cook over a roaring fire, choose campfire classics that can handle a quick sear like hot dogs or marshmallows!
Become a Kabob Connoisseur
Kabobs are another classic, and for good reason! Slice small cubes of chicken or thin pieces of steak at your outdoor prep station so they’ll cook through quickly. Veggies also work great because they caramelize and blister for that fresh-from-the-fire taste. If you have skewers to spare, try to cook proteins and veggies separately so you’re not burning your veggies while you wait for the meat to cook through. Pro tip: food tends to spin on round skewers, making it difficult to cook evenly, so invest in a set of flat skewers to make your meal prep easier.
Explore & Experiment to Discover New Favorites
Outdoor cooking provides endless opportunities for tasty experimentation. Proteins and veggies may grab the headlines, but fruit cooked over a fire pit can be truly delicious too. Grab some freshly sliced pineapple to give your burger some tropical tang, or try grilled peaches with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Looking for something savory? Halloumi is a cheese from Cyprus that tastes fantastic grilled. Keep an open mind, and you’ll have a full stomach in no time.