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As the summer approaches and the mercury creeps up, most of our minds turn to the thought of barbecues. You can almost guarantee the smell of sausages and burgers in the air of any British street as soon as the temperature goes past 15c. However, we’ve noticed that many people are turning their backs on traditional BBQs – they’re complicated, expensive to run, and need a lot of maintenance to keep them working efficiently. Instead, they’re looking for simpler solutions to grilling food in their gardens. That’s where fire pits come in. 

Simple to use, clean,, and transport, they are the perfect alternative; especially when space is a priority. Fire pit cooking is the perfect way to feed a group on a hot, summer’s day (and if you take the grill off, they double up as a warming campfire for cool spring nights).

Join us as we talk you through the ins and outs of cooking in your fire pit.

Already sold? Browse our range of stunning, premium fire pits.

Choosing your fire pit cooking recipes

The first step to any fire pit cooking session is picking what to cook.

If you’re new to the world of BBQ food and need some inspiration, you can take a look at our favourite BBQ recipes. We have curated a range of meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes that are simple to cook on a fire pit and taste absolutely delicious.

You can stick to traditional BBQ foods like burgers, sausages, and skewers, or get a bit creative. We’ve seen dozens of amazing recipes made for fire pit cooking.

Lighting your fire pit

burning wood for fire pits

The next, and arguably the most important step is lighting your fire pit.

We have produced a range of guides discussing how to light a fire pit, and the best materials to use in your pit to ensure a long, quality burn that will give you enough time to cook your food thoroughly.

In short, though, you’ll need to gather the right materials:

  • Logs
  • Kindling and Tinder
  • Firelighters
  • Matches/long handled lighter

Once you have what you need, you’ll have to stack the logs, leaving a gap in the middle to fill with kindling, tinder and/or fire lighters.

Remember, before you start cooking you should always wait until the flames die down. This will allow your food to cook more evenly and will stop it from tasting ashy.

Cooking methods

When delving into fire pit cooking, many people are under the impression that grilling is the only option. But this is far from the truth! You can use your fire pit in dozens of ways. There are a lot of people who frequently use their fire pit to cook full meals in warmer months instead of using their kitchen. Here are some of our favourite fire pit cooking methods.

  • Grilling – a classic cooking technique, but we couldn’t leave it off our list. Grilling food is one of the simplest ways to whip up a delicious meal in a short amount of time.
  • Skewers – skewering food is another easy, quick way of cooking. Simply pop bits of meat and veg on skewers, coat them in a marinade, and stick them on the grill – no complicated recipes required. Try our BBQ king prawn recipe.
  • Pot (with tripod) – investing in a cooking pot for your fire pit will transform the way you cook on it, opening up a world of new possibilities. The sauce for our BBQ Pulled Pork Burger recipe can be made using your fire pit pot, meaning there is no messing around going to and from the kitchen.
  • Roasting oven – this is a steel lid that you can place over food to roast or smoke it. Fire pit roast beef, anyone?
  • Spit-roasting – spit-roasting is a long, but worthwhile cooking process. With the right kit, you can start spit-roasting meat over your fire pit.

We also love creating foil packet meals that can be thrown on the grill and looking for recipes that require cooking directly in the hot coals of the fire pit. This allows you to cook more at once, which is handy when you’re feeding a crowd of hungry people (or if you just fancy something a bit different).

Temperature guide

fire pit cooking food

Something that puts a lot of people off cooking on BBQs and fire pits is being unsure when food is cooked through properly. With time and experience, you’ll start to be able to tell when something needs a few minutes more, but we would highly recommend investing in a temperature probe to put your mind at ease. 

You can get relatively inexpensive probes from most supermarkets, online, and in cookware shops.

How hot should the fire pit be before cooking?

Don’t get ahead of yourself – always make sure your grill is hot enough before you start fire pit cooking. You can get a temperature gauge to give you an accurate reading, but if you don’t have one, hold your palm a few inches above your fire pit grill to determine the heat.

Temperature Range How long you can hold palm over grill
325 – 350°F 5 – 7 seconds
350 – 375°F 3 – 4 seconds
400 – 500°F 1 – 2 seconds
600°F + Less than one second

Your grill should maintain the stage of heat you need for up to 12 minutes without any interference. Covering your pit with a vented lid will extend this time.

Meat temperatures

Once your meat is cooking, you should know how hot it has to be before you eat it.

Beef Ground Beef (e.g. burgers) 160°F or 71.1°C

Rare – 125.6°F or 52°C

Medium Rare – 135°F or 57.2°C

Medium: 140°F or 60°C

Medium Well: 155°F or 68.3°C

Well Done: 159.8°F or 71°C

Lamb Ground Lamb – 160°F or 71.1°C

Medium Rare – 131°F or 55°C

Medium: 140°F or 60°C

Well Done: 159°F or 71°C

Chicken 162°F or 74°C
Pork 160°F or 74°C
Fish and Shellfish 145°F or 62°C

There is a full guide to meat temperatures here.

Fire Pit Cooking Safety

fire pit cooking bbq skewers

Safety should always be a priority when it comes to lighting and cooking on your firepit. Following this safety advice will keep you protected from burns and the risk of fire spreading.

1. Use the right tools

When cooking on a firepit, you should make sure you have the right tools. They can reach extremely high temperatures, so it’s vital that you don’t try and substitute your tools for anything that isn’t fit for the job (no picking up hot grill plates with a tea towel!) Keep the following to hand:

  • Fire pit gloves
  • Tongs
  • An ash rake
  • Shovel
  • Poker
  • Steel cooking utensils (with handles that are long enough so you don’t have to lean right into the pit)

2. Extinguish your fire pit properly

Never leave your fire pit unattended when it is burning and don’t leave hot ashes to smoulder. You should always ensure your fire pit is extinguished and cold before walking away.

3. Keep children and pets away

Large fire pits often go on the floor or are kept at a lower level, so you need to be extra vigilant when there are children and pets around. Fence off the area you are cooking in and don’t leave children unattended whilst your fire pit is burning, ensuring to educate them on the dangers of fire.

Enjoy your fire pit cooking

Now you understand the basics of fire pit cooking, you can go ahead and get grilling! Follow our blog for ongoing, up to date advice and guidance.

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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