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How to Transform Your Backyard Firepit into a Wood-Fired Grill

Fire grates and Dutch ovens, set up to allow easy cooking over an outdoor fire.
Amazon Basics/Lodge/Sunnydaze

If you love spending your summer evenings by the whirling flames of your fire pit, then you’ll surely fancy the thought of cooking your dinners there, too!

You can cook just about anything over a campfire, so why not turn your backyard pit into an ultimate cookout? We’ll go over the basics of starting a safe fire that’ll burn just right for your firepit fiesta and go over tips for grilling over an open flame.

From there, you’ll get to choose which grill transforming gadget will work best for your pit or bonfire location. We’ve got tripods, grates, cooking swings, and more to choose from.

Tips for Grilling Over a Firepit

Before we delve into the world of firepit transformations, be sure to check out all our tips for creating the best blazing flames for fire-grilling your food without getting injured or sick.

Safety First

Grilling with your firepit requires the same kind of safety choices you’d make for using it for recreation. Here’s a quick refresher:

  • Locate the pit away from low-hanging trees or structural overhangs. Make sure it’s not too close to your home, any fences, or anything in your yard that might catch fire. (That includes surfaces, you might be able to get away with grilling on your deck but a roaring firepit is a different store.)
  • Keep a hose or bucket of sand nearby to help put it out if your grilling session gets a bit out of control.
  • Don’t forget yourself when thinking about safety either. Keep your hair tied up and sleeves rolled up, and always use extra-long sticks and tools for roasting and grilling.

Pick Dry Seasoned Wood

It’s one thing to toss random scrap wood on a bonfire, it’s another thing to cook over that bonfire, too.

Magazines, junk mail, and flyers often use ink and plastic coatings that release toxic fumes when burned, so don’t toss them on the fire. Some construction material like plywood, old decking, or leftover scraps of fencing in your yard is most likely pressure-treated. You should never burn pressure-treated wood in a firepit, period, but especially not one used for cooking.

Always opt for properly seasoned firewood. It’ll get up to temperature faster (greenwood will burn but it takes ages to get to the smoldering embers stage that’s so great for even cooking) and you don’t have to worry about your food having a faint flavor of burnt advertising mailers.

You Can Grill Just about Anything

What’s cool about grilling over a fire pit is that it’s just like cooking on a grill. Whether you are cooking marinated chicken breasts, juicy burgers, or roasting corn, your fire pit will get the job done! If you are sticking to traditional roasting on a stick, check out our favorite foods to roast besides marshmallows.

Just be sure to prepare your food beforehand. A good rule of thumb is to follow the same rules you would in a kitchen, called Mise En Place. It basically means to have everything put into place before actually cooking.

In the fire pit grilling world, this means having your meats marinated, burger patties formed, and cooking tools within reach. Make sure all your condiments, plates, and utensils are ready to use once your food is cooked.

Don’t skip this step. It’s one thing to have to wander over to the fridge while cooking in your kitchen, it’s another thing to have to walk all the way back into the house when you’re cooking over your firepit.

Temp Your Meats

Finally, If you plan to make chicken, pork, or any meat, be sure to have a meat thermometer close by.

Alpha Grillers Instant Read Meat Thermometer

Fast reading and easy to calibrate, this meat thermometer will ensure you get all the flavor and none of the food poisoning.

There’s something quite satisfying about cooking delicious meals on a fire that you’ve built yourself, so don’t ruin the fun with food poisoning.

6 Ways to Transform Your Fire Pit

Whether you have a traditional stone ring firepit, a fire bowl, or a raised backyard pit, there are plenty of ways to turn it into a mean grilling machine.

Install a Tripod

A Stansport tripod holding up a large Dutch oven simmering soup over a campfire.

One great way to grill over a firepit, especially if it is unusually shaped or oddly sized, is to use a tripod hanging system. The Stansport tripod is perfect for putting over most fire pits, including inground or raised pits. The 24-inch grilling grate works great for this tripod if you plan to grill steaks, hot dogs, veggies, or fish.

Otherwise, feel free to hang a camping Dutch oven for simmering soups, stews, as the steel legs are sturdy enough to hold heavy cooking pots with ease. The heat of summer might not be the time you’re dreaming of a bubbling stew, but just imagine how amazing your whole yard would smell this fall with the whiff of woodsmoke and a hearty stew!

The tripod features the tripod itself, a nickel-plated chain, and an S hook for easy cooking height adjustments. So, you’ll have to purchase other accessories (like grates, extra chains, and Dutch ovens) separately.

Place a Grill Grate on Top

Two side by side images: the left image is of bacon, and home fries cooking on a Sunny Daze grill grate. The right image is of chicken wings and hot dogs cooking on a SunnyDaze grate, which is attached to a grilling tripod.

Grill your foods with a simple add-on grate, perfect for raised pits, stone-built pits, and in-ground fire pits. The Sunnydaze grate comes in multiple sizes, so you can choose which one will work best for your bonfire setup.

This heavy-duty grate is a solid accessory option for the tripod and works wonders when placed directly on the lip of the firepit itself.

Add a Folding Table Grill

An Amazon Basics foldable grill table holding multiple skillets and a camp coffee maker.
Amazon Basics

If you hope for a grill top fit for skillets, camping coffee pots, and dutch ovens, a grill table might be a better option. The high-quality welded steel surface is excellent for high temperatures but not intended for direct-contact grilling. Think of it as more like using your firepit as a stovetop instead of a grill.

It’s sturdy and structurally sound and can hold heavy Dutch ovens and a few skillets all at once. Plus, the legs fold in so you can take it on the go and put it away after it’s cooled down. This is the perfect way to make a fun summer breakfast outdoors or take with you on your next camping trip.

Try a Stake and Grill Set

A texsport grill stake palced directly over a firepit with pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs cooking, along with a camping coffee maker.

A simple stake and grill set is another reliable option for anyone hoping to do some outdoor firepit grilling. The 24″ X 16″ grilling surface is large enough to hold at least two skillets at once, and the height is adjustable as well.

Plus, the entire grill can rotate 360 degrees, so when you are finished cooking, turn it away from the heat and have your family or friends self-serve safely.

Go for a Campfire Cooking Swing

A couple chatting together at camp, while their food simmers away on a Bruntmor campfire grill swing.

A campfire cooking swing is the ultimate grilling transforming gadget, built to last with high temperature-resistant material. The set is complete with five different hooks for adjustable hanging grills and comes with a swing grate. You’ll also love the convenience of stowing this set away using the storage bag.

Hold heavy Dutch ovens, skillets, or place your food directly on the tray at your favorite camping location or right over your backyard fire pit.

Go Traditional with Skewers

Two images: The left image is of a mother and her daughter roasting marshmallows with the Jolly Green Products roasting sticks, and the right image is of a plate of ingredients used to make smores, with the roasting sticks nearby.
Jolly Green Products

If the previous suggestions look great but a bit too hardcore for your needs, why don’t we dial it back a bit. There’s nothing quite as nostalgic for parents and exciting for the kids as roasting marshmallows over the fire. Now you can make S’mores and so much more with these heavy-duty, extendable camping skewers.

Roast veggies, fruits, shrimp, and anything else you can think of with these fun barbecuing skewers. The stainless steel construction means these work for hot dogs, kielbasa, and just about any form of meat that won’t break apart. All you need is a bit of ketchup or Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce, and you’ll be good to go.

This summer, make memories by the fire with family and friends. There’s nothing quite like cooking a good meal and enjoying a cold beverage on a warm night under the stars.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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