How to Master Cooking Over Fire: 5 Helpful Tips & Tricks

As temperatures drop and the winter season starts, it’s time to bust out the fire pit for outdoor cooking. Besides helping you prepare a hearty meal, a fire pit is also great for drawing people together – they can’t help but gather ‘round for some warmth and comfort!

But while cooking over fire is exciting, it can be difficult to control. Here are some best practices to remember if you want to up your campfire-cuisine game!

Check your pit.

Many kinds of fire pits are available in the market and can also serve as backyard grills. Just make sure that it’s a wood-burning pit, as gas fire pits are primarily meant to enhance the decor of your outdoor space and provide a bit of warmth. Cooking over them is not recommended.

Firebrand offers a range of fire pits in all sizes and budgets. For example, the Hellrazr NOMADA Live Fire Cooking BBQ and Firepit offers grill support and comes with a hangman specially made for hanging meat, dutch ovens, or even cowboy coffee makers. The Chapala SUNGOD Fire Pit and Grill is great for bringing alfresco areas to life, doubling as a charcoal grill. If you want a durable and versatile fire pit and grill, the Hamrforge EL PARILLA Grill and Firepit is easy to carry anywhere and is suitable for all cooks. Lastly, if you want a badass and sexy fire pit that doubles as a wood fired grill, you can do no better than the Hamrforge EL PADRE Fire Pit and Charcoal Grill, built to last many winters.

Choose the right fuel.

Unlike grills that usually utilise charcoal, most fire pits use firewood. This is ideal as smoking wood infuses a special flavour into your cook, allowing you to customise the tastes you want for your food.

But not all firewood are made equally! Sure, they burn, but should you really cook food over it? Getting premium quality cooking wood is a must when you want to experience live fire cooking at home.

Your typical servo firewood sold in bulk is great to keep you warm, but it’s not seasoned – or, simply put, dried out – well enough to be truly safe for cooking. It can contain moisture, moss, and god knows what from where it was originally collected.

The Firebrand Vintage Ironbark has been specifically chosen for the properties that make it valuable for cooking over fire. It’s properly dried out, cleaned, and sourced ethically from its natural habitat. No trees need to die for your fire passion! It comes double split for convenience, and the quality and density of the wood means you need less in your pits to cook with.

This style of ironbark makes it suitable for your fire pits, smokers, pizza ovens, parillas, and even your regular grill. Just throw a few small pieces in with your charcoal to add a wonderful smokey profile to anything you’re grilling.

Now that you’ve figured out which type of firewood to use, you’d want to know how to start the fire. You’d want a good bed of fast, hot-burning kindling. Stick with dry hardwoods like oak and hickory or our Firebrand kindling, which have been split out from Australian spotted gum logs.

Avoid using lighter fluid to start your flame. Moisture causes excess smoke, which adds acrid, foul flavours to your cook, so choose fuel with low moisture content, like fire starters or flame straight to your kindling.

The Fireband Vintage QLD Ironbark not only produces an intense flame when burning in an open firepit, but it also provides an authentic and robust smokehouse aroma that pairs well with protein and vegetables. Its low moisture content also makes for an efficient and clean burn.

On the other hand, Firebrand’s Smoking Wood Chips and Smoking Wood Chunks have different versions of wood, each recommended for various cooks. For example, Apple is best for lamb, pork, and chicken, while Cherry is excellent for most meats, including beef and seafood. If you’re looking to cook beef, lamb, pork, or chicken, you can also use Hickory. 

Mesquite, on the other hand, is recommended for beef, lamb, pork, and veggies. Oak can be used for all meats, including seafood. (If you need help choosing the right kind of wood for your cook, check out our flavour guide here.)

Wait for the right timing.

Mastering cooking over fire is all about timing. Wait until the firewood has fully caught fire but don’t place your food down just yet – hold off until the fire dies down a little. Ideally, you’d want to cook over hot coals, not a blazing flame. 

It’s normal for grease and other meat drippings to stoke the fire, so don’t panic. These tiny flare-ups will impart outstanding flavours to your cooks.

Don’t forget your accessories.

There’s no need to get fancy, but remember that when cooking over a fire, you’ll need a few BBQ essentials to make your life easier. Start with grill gloves, which are heat-resistant and used for tending the fire and manipulating hot equipment like grates and other metal surfaces. You’ll also need skewers, tongs, and a grill rack. Skewers can hold or rest vegetables, seafood, and meat until ready to eat, while a grill rack can turn any fire pit into a grill. 

Make sure to put out your fire completely.

Apart from keeping the fire 4 or 5 metres away from anything you don’t want to be burned down, having water nearby is essential while cooking. You can use a bucket of water or a hose to put out the fire when you’re done and make sure it is properly extinguished. Be careful not to get too close as the cool water hitting hot firewood can give off steam that can cause injury. 

Cold water may not always be ideal if your fire pit is made of metal. The repeated and sudden change from hot to cold can weaken the material over time, and it might deteriorate faster or form cracks. Instead of water, use dry sand or dirt to put out the fire pit once the wood has nearly burned out to ember. You may also use a snuffer – designed to go on top of your fire pit, cut off oxygen flow and stop the fire from burning.

Cooking over fire can be highly satisfying, but give yourself time to get your cook right. Fire pits are more challenging to control than grills, so it might be a hit-or-miss for the first few times. As they say, practice makes perfect! 

Looking for food to serve for your next barbecue? Click here for our mouthwatering recipes!