Pro tip for summer: It’s a great season to start cooking over your fire pit. Instead of just roasting hot dogs and marshmallows on sticks, you can upgrade your fire pit with an iron grill and start preparing real food. When you’re looking to expand beyond the standard campfire fare into more significant culinary endeavors, one of the first questions to ask is which firewood for cooking is consistent with your goals. Because there are a wide variety of options, it can be a challenge to figure out which one best suits your needs as a chef. Read on to find out more about each cooking firewood so you can start planning out your summer menus.

For the culinary generalist…

If you’ve just upgraded your fire pit with an iron grill and are just starting to test your skills, oak cooking wood is the standard, go-to option. No matter what you decide to cook, you’ll likely get great results from oak cooking wood: not only is it good for grilling, but it also works when you’re trying out smoking techniques. Plus, it fire starters and burns for a long time, so you won’t have to build in a lot of time to get the fire going, and you won’t feel strapped for time, worrying that the fire will go out. That’s an ideal situation for beginning cooks, because it allows you to relax, even when your preparing unfamiliar foods. Oak wood is also great because you can mix it with other cooking woods as you branch out and start cooking more specific dishes. With a supply of oak wood on hand at all times, you can never really go wrong.

For the carnivore…

If your primary aim is to smoke and/or grill meat over your fire pit, you’ll want to choose a kiln-dried firewood that imparts a unique flavor to the meat. Whether you’re looking to add sweetness or give your meat a more savory note, there’s a cooking firewood that can support your needs. For instance, if you choose cherry cooking wood–often considered an applewood substitute–you’ll get a naturally fruity flavor when you smoke and grill meats. Alternatively, for a more nutty nuance, give pecan cooking wood a try. This wood is especially popular among smoking enthusiasts because it burns hotter and longer, thereby improving the overall quality of the final product.

No matter which one of these cooking firewood options you choose, you’ll end up with the best grilled meats you’ve ever eaten–perfect for savoring on summer nights by your firepit, and far more flavorful than anything you’ll ever find at the grocery store. Also, if you make the most of the extra time you have this summer to smoke meat over your fire pit, your family and friends will be thanking you when the warm season ends and you still have high-quality smoked meats to get you through the cold winter months. The cherry and pecan notes in these meats can evoke comforting memories of summer that will last throughout the year.

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Fire pit grilling options aren’t just limited to meat: you can also use the iron grill on your fire pit to make pizza crust or flat bread. In the summer, there are multiple advantages to choosing your fire pit to bake pizza. Most importantly, you’ll significantly boost the quality of your product. With oak, cherry, or pecan cooking wood, you can increase your burn temperature, which experts say is crucial to producing the best possible pizza crust. Plus, these cooking firewoods are all known to have particularly long burn times, which is essential when it comes to cooking pizza crust, giving its unusually long bake time.

Cooking pizza or flatbread over your fire pit also gives you the chance to get out of the kitchen during the summer months–a significant relief as the temperatures in the Atlanta area rise. Even though you’ll still be rolling out the dough in your kitchen (and possibly par-baking it for a few minutes in your oven), you’ll be spending a lot less time sweating over your stove and a lot more time in the open air, watching your pizza or flatbread crisp up over your outdoor fire pit.

Stil, par-baking can be tempting, since it allows you to quickly pull a pizza crust out of the freezer and grill it up over the fire pit in less time. If you do decide to par-bake your crust in a wood-fired oven before taking it out to grill over the fire pit, you should opt for pizza cut cooking wood for your oven. That way, you can maximize the burn temperature at every point in the baking process–and thereby optimize the flavor of the crust you end up with in the end.

Not ready for advanced cooking over the fire pit?

No problem! You can still up your game this summer season by using roasting forks for your marshmallows, hot dogs, or sausages. That way, you won’t have to worry about finding that perfect, straight stick for grilling. A roasting fork is optimized for length and perfectly straight, so evenly cooking your sausages and marshmallows won’t be a problem. Plus, a roasting fork empowers you to efficiently feed a crowd by roasting up to six marshmallows or four hot dogs/sausages at the same time!

This summer, Cutting Edge Firewood is eager to see what you cook up, so don’t forget to tag us on Instagram. To order your iron grill, cooking firewood, and roasting forks, head to our order page!