Guide to Cooking over Wood

The pleasure gained from cooking over wood is undeniable. Its appeal must come from the simplicity, the connection to nature and to the rituals our ancestors have performed over hundreds of thousands of years. Oh, and of course the food tastes better too…

In celebration of The Abergavenny Food Festival where famous chefs are cooking over fire for two solid days, we’ve put together some tips with our partners Certainly Wood for getting the best from cooking with wood.

Get set…

  • Choose your wood carefully. It should be kiln-dried hardwood and approved under the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme which guarantees the wood is dried to below 20% moisture. This ensures maximum heat output and minimal smoke. The latter is not only important for those standing around the fire pit, but it’s important to minimise smoke to reduce particulate emissions.
  • For the optimum cooking experience use thinner cut logs. Length will depend on your fire pit size but a good standard length will be 25cm with a diameter of 4-10cm. Thinner logs enable you to get your fire up to heat with lovely hot embers faster, and is far easier to manage.
  • Light your fire at least 45 minutes before you want to cook.  Use kindling and one of Certainly Wood’s Flamers natural firelighters which will not give any chemical taint to the food. Better still, try their new KindleFlamers which negates the need for kindling. For a detailed guided to fire lighting see here.
  • You don’t need a huge fire for cooking over as you will find the heat too great for the food and for you while cooking.
  • Consider the position of your cooking area and where your guests will be – work out the wind direction and make sure you are downwind of your guests if possible.
  • If you’re cooking on a larger fire pit create two areas for the fire – one for embers and cooking over and one where you can keep adding small logs to feed the embers.

Ready to cook…

  • Use an ash rake to move the fire around to control the heat.
  • Our Swing Arm BBQ Grill is ideal for giving control over how the food is cooking – you can swing the food off the heat in an instant while you adjust the fire below.
  • Use heavy bottomed pots and pans on your fire to give yourself more versatility. A huge one-pot dish with flatbreads warming alongside it makes a fabulous winter party.
  • Using a cloche or Roasting Oven will allow you to cook with ‘indirect’ heat for a slower and gentler cook and expand your fire cooking repertoire further.
  • Invest in long-handled sturdy tools (no rubber!) so that your hands don’t get too near the heat.
  • Have your tools easily accessible on a table next to you with an area ready to transfer food that is cooked.
  • Instant-read thermometers are very useful for cooking larger pieces of meat.
  • Use your fire for making hot cocktails before or after eating.

For later…

  • Don’t forget the marshmallows and toasting forks! Instead of pudding, try some of the divine gourmet marshmallows now being made – they are definitely good enough for grown-ups.
  • Have plenty of logs at the ready for when the cooking and eating is done and you can crank up the heat for a long evening of drinking, chatting and star-gazing.


Looking for cooking inspiration and ideas? Here are some links to easy but delicious recipes, ideal for cooking on your fire pit, from fabulous fire cook Genevieve Taylor.

Spatchcock Chicken with Coconut & Soy

Carrot and Cumin Fritters with Tahini and Coriander Yoghurt

Prawn, Chorizo & Ciabatta Skewers

Barbecued Carrot Salad with Ricotta and Toasted Pecans

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