How to barbecue on a fire pit
After a long harsh winter, the sun is shining again!
And if you’re anything like us, that means one thing – sizzling burgers on the BBQ!
But have you ever thought about barbecuing on a fire pit?
Cooking on a fire pit is a thrilling experience, and with a few tips and tricks, you’ll wonder why you never tried it sooner.
So grab your friends and family, cosy up around the flames and toast your BBQ favourites to perfection with our guide to fire pit cooking.
Is a fire pit the same as a BBQ?
Barbecues come in a range of types, from barrel charcoal BBQs to modular kitchens that’ll rival your pantry!
But one thing they all have in common is their primary purpose: cooking.
Fire pits, on the other hand, aren’t predominantly designed for cooking, but many models include grills and fire pit accessories to make your own fire pit BBQ.
But fire pits do have advantages over barbecues, namely their versatility and unparalleled social vibes.
Let’s take a closer look:
Fire pit menu
Fire pit food is incredibly versatile – anything you can grill; you can cook on a fire pit.
So sear those steaks, hot dogs and burgers on your fire pit – but don’t stop there!
Throw a pan over the flames to fry seafood, veggies; anything that takes your fancy!
And if your fire pit has a lid, you’ll open a whole world of roasting, letting you cook things like whole poultry gamebirds to, if it’s big enough, suckling pigs and lamb.
Fire pit cooking: the social aspect
Barbecues are as synonymous with British summers as Pimm’s and Wimbledon.
But fire pit cooking is more involved, more inclusive than traditional barbecuing.
Think about a BBQ party – there’s usually one person flipping burgers and searing sausages while everyone else laps up the beers and vino.
But fire pit cooking gets everyone involved.
Give it a go, because few of life’s pleasures are more enjoyable – and primal – than eating with loved ones around a fire at sunset.
Tips for cooking on a fire pit
Cooking on a fire pit is alien to many, but it’s a pretty simple cooking method. You just need to bear a few things in mind to make the most of the experience.
How to use a fire pit for barbecuing
If you’re still in barbecue mode, it’s second nature to start searing as soon as you see flames.
The ideal fuel for fire pit cooking comprises hot coals and wood, but more on this in a minute.
Once you’ve got your fuel, light the fire and wait for 30-40 minutes for the flames to burn down and the coals to start glowing – now it’s ready to cook!
Best fuel for a fire pit
Burning wood can be captivating, but when cooking on a fire pit, a wood-coal combo is best.
Why? Two simple reasons:
The coals bring the heat, the wood provides the flavour.
You can pick up coal from several specialist retailers, while cherry, almond, hickory, and mesquite wood have quick burn times and bold, intense flavours.
If these materials aren’t available, charcoal is a great substitute, but avoid artificial fire starters – they’re not fire pit compatible.
Fire pit safety
To stay safe while enjoying your fire pit, keep these safety tips in mind:
- While fire pits are designed to contain flames, they occasionally spit, so always keep a water bucket or fire extinguisher nearby.
- Only light a fire pit in an open space – there should be no overhanging trees or structures in the vicinity.
- Never light a fire pit under a gazebo or in a tent.
Fire pit cooking
The beer’s on ice, your guests are mingling and the coals are red hot, so it’s time to cook.
But how do you cook on a fire pit?
Here are five simple methods:
Grilling is a common way of cooking on a fire pit and probably the simplest.
You already know the method and timings, and everyone can have a go of the grill!
As mentioned, some fire pits come with a grill, but if yours doesn’t, we’ve got plenty to choose from here.
Alternatively, lay out the raw ingredients and let your guests cook their own food in a grill basket – it frees you up to host and adds a bit of theatre.
Skewering – the quintessential cooking method for happy campers – is a great way to cook on the fire pit.
It’s quick, easy, and keeps the conversation flowing.
Sausages are a given but try experimenting with other chunks of meat and veg to create tasty fire pit kebabs!
One thing to remember – always ensure the skewer you’re using is metal.
Pot cooking requires the most equipment but will expand your fire pit menu to epic proportions!
One-pot recipes like curries and stews are sure-fire winners, letting you serve pre-made piping hot favourites. Just cook them in your home oven, transfer to a pot, and hang over the fire pit flames with a tripod – easy!
Another great advantage of pot cooking is the even heat distribution, which is perfect for making and serving mulled wine.
To fry, put a pan or pot on the fire pit grill and cook as normal.
For faster-cooking dishes and those that need boiling, rake the coals and wood to one side and pop your pot into the empty space.
A cooking method spanning millennia, spit roasting strips cooking back to its core – fire and meat.
While it takes time, that first bit of tender smoked meat is one to savour, but one word of warning – you might ditch your oven!
Most fire pits won’t handle a hog roast, but you’ll get brilliant results by starting with small game birds and working your way up to bigger birds like turkey.
Just remember to turn the spit regularly, follow standard cooking times, and you’re good to roast!
Now you’re a fire pit cooking maestro, let us know how you got on in the comments below!
Also, don’t fret if your fish don’t fry or sausages don’t sizzle – fire pit cooking is one of those easy to learn, tricky to master skills.
Fortunately, with a long hot summer ahead, you’ve got plenty of time to hone your skills and find your ideal fire cooking method!
For more tips and tricks, handy hacks, and interior inspiration, head over to our blog.