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Fire Wood For Cooking

Firewood For Cooking

A big plate of Cowboy Baked Beans with thick chunks or Smoked Bacon, sitting next to a crispy, juicy helping of Rotisserie Chicken and Dutch Oven Biscuits is one reason why we love using firewood for cooking.  You just can’t beat the irresistible smells of cooking over an open fire or the primal feeling of cooking with these old school traditions.  Not to mention its tons of fun, lets the entire family get involved in the process and makes your food taste amazing.

Benefits of Using Firewood for Cooking

Why use firewood for cooking when gas and electricity are so much easier?  Easy, the smoky taste and aroma just can’t be duplicated.  You can add to a dish by making everything over a fire or choosing to smoke a main ingredient.  Crafting a dish by flavor stacking in a wooded smoky dish can lead to a mouth watering meal.

Some people cook with firewood because they have to, others do it because it is cost efficient while many choose this way of cooking to save the environment.  I do it because I think it is cool.  We have fun experimenting with different recipes and how the overall dish is affected by the smoke and sometimes texture created by cooking over an open fire.  Plus there is just something about the primal feeling of preparing a meal using firewood. 

Choosing the Right Firewood for Cooking

Choosing the right wood is going to be dependent on what you are cooking and how you are preparing your food.  You may choose a different wood if you are smoking a brisket vs if you are grilling a steak.  One basic choice is that we mostly use hardwoods because they are going to give us more heat and a longer more consistent burn.  Fruitwood enters the discussion as well.  You can use this to add additional flavor to your dish.

Whether harvesting your own firewood for cooking or buying it from a local wood provider you are going to want to make sure it is seasoned property.  This usually means a moisture content of less than 20% from wood that has been cut and stacked for about a year.  Seasoned firewood makes it so much easier to get your fire going and will offer a cleaner burn.

Tips for Cooking with Firewood

Rule number one for me when it comes to cooking with firewood is to remember to enjoy the process.  I love the constant learning and skill development when it comes to this way of cooking.  Have fun, keep learning and you can always order a pizza if a new dish doesn’t turn out.

After spending so much time in the emergency services (FTM-PTB) I almost have to comment on safety.  Fire safety boils down to this, don’t be a dummy.  Small fires or no fires on really windy days.  Keep flammable materials away from your cooking area.  Don’t be a Super Dummy and pour gasoline on a fire, your food will taste like s%*# and you’ll meet your local Paramagic.  Fire extinguisher or hose close.  This concludes the public safety message for today.

Heat regulation is key.  Adjust temperature by fire size and distance between food and flame.  Obviously different foods require different cooking temperatures.  Plan your fire accordingly.  

Experiment, experiment, experiment… Remember the saying practice makes perfect.  Explore different cooking styles, choose different firewood or take a traditionally cooked dish and see if you can spice it up by doing it over a fire or in a smoker.  Always try a dish first before you go all in on a holiday or large gathering.  Have the boys over for beers and try your new skills on them first before using firewood for cooking at the family reunion.

Final and maybe the most important tip for cooking with firewood.  Get some thermometers and use them!  Cooking times are going to vary tremendously, outside char when cooking over the fire can fool you, but with a way to validate temperatures accurately life will be so much easier.  Couple great options below.


At the end of the day using firewood for cooking for me boils down to that primal feeling of cooking outdoors. I love preparing food this way also because it seems to keep the family or guest involved or at least around the cooking process, it makes it more of a group activity.  The thought of the way the smoky flavor hits initially and then the natural food taste comes in is making my mouth water, gotta get out there and cook something.

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