A few readers asked me if they can cook over their gas fire pit or if they had to buy a separate grill. I had an idea, but I wasn’t too sure. So I did some research to find out more. Here’s what I found.
Since gas grills and kitchen stoves use the same kinds of gas as fire pit, most people feel comfortable cooking over gas fire pits. However, gas fire pits are consider decorative appliances and not specifically tested for cooking. Avoid cooking marshmallows and other sticky foods as they clog the burners.
Let’s take a look at the different types of gas, some cons, and other tips to cook over a gas fire pit.
Looking for a wood fire pit to do more cooking? Check out this cool fire pit with a grill attached on Amazon.
Why Cooking Over Gas Fire Pits is Considered Safe
Propane Gas Fire Pits
Propane is the primary type of gas that gas grills use and it’s considered safe when cooking. This gas burns cleanly and is designed to be used inside both open and closed grills, so there’s no harm in using it to cook your food.
Keep in mind that indoor kitchen stoves and other appliances use natural gas, so it’s best to keep propane appliances outdoors.
There are some cons of cooking over gas fire pits (more on these later), so do some consideration before using it to cook on.
Natural Gas Fire Pits
Like propane, natural gas is used in cooking appliances, especially gas kitchen stoves. Since gas kitchen stoves are designed to be cooked on, and in an enclosed space, cooking over a natural gas fire pit is also considered to burn cleanly and safely.
Propane is more commonly used with gas fire pits, but some are designed for natural gas. Typically, these are gas fire pits that are built to be stationary.
If you’d like to be extra safe, use a pot, pan, or another surface in between the gas and the food (just like you would in the kitchen).
Recommended: Can Fire Pits Get Wet (Do They Need a Cover)?
Cons of Cooking Over a Gas Fire Pit
- Small Flames
- Attracts Pests
Most gas fire pits have mediums such as glass or lava rocks, which makes it difficult to cook over. Not only are the flames likely smaller, but any spilled food sticks to the glass, rocks, or components.
The flames cook the spilled food, baking it onto the material and making it incredibly difficult to remove. If you’ve ever tried to scrub the inside of your oven, you know what I’m talking about. Add to that the frustration of cleaning individual fire pit glass pieces.
Many people have found that simply baking soda and vinegar are enough to remove the food stains on ovens, so this should work for gas fire pits as well. However, it might be more trouble than it’s worth to clean individual glass or lava rocks, so you might want to replace them.
Other than affecting the fire pit’s appearance and being difficult to clean, messes like this easily clog the burners and valves. This directly reduces the gas fire pit’s heat and efficiency.
Leftover food also attracts pests such as rodents and bugs, which have been known to nest in fire pits. This further affects the fire pits components, including blocked burners and chewed wires.
However, there are some ways you can successfully cook over gas fire pits without making a mess.
Ways to Cook Over a Gas Fire Pit
- Aluminum Foil
However, there are some accessories and attachments such as a grill frame that fits over your gas fire pit. This makes it possible to put hamburgers, steak, chicken breasts, and more over your fire pit.
If your gas fire pit has a large enough flame, you’ll find the easiest way to cook over it is with a stick or skewer. This is perfect for foods such as hot dogs and marshmallows (although, I don’t recommend cooking marshmallows over gas fire pits due to their mess).
My favorite and least messy way to cook food over a gas fire pit is to wrap it in aluminum foil. While the food won’t have that nice char, it’s a much simpler and cleaner way to cook. The best foods for this are potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other solid foods.
You can also wrap your s’mores or banana s’mores in aluminum foil to make them less messy.
Recommended: How to Calculate Fire Pit Size, Dimensions, & More
If you have the right accessories, you can even put a pot or a rotisserie over the flame. While this is a bit trickier to manage than using a stick or a grill, there are some good options out there (see the grill and rotisserie attachment linked below).
13 Best (& Worst) Foods To Cook Over a Gas Fire Pit
Here are some of the best foods to cook over fire pits, especially if you have a grill attachment (found on Amazon).
- Hot dogs
- Corn on the cob
And here are the foods to avoid cooking over your gas fire pit:
- Marshmallows and other sticky or goopy foods
- Bacon and other greasy foods
- Flaky fish
Cooking over a gas fire pit is already challenging enough, so choosing foods that cook easily and cleanly goes a long way.
Also, if your gas fire pit has low flames, it’s likely not worth cooking over it. However, if there’s enough heat and space for you to cook, then there’s not much harm going for it (as long as it’s not messy).
Pro-tip: Use liquid smoke or chipotle powder to add a smoky flavor to your grilled foods. Remember that chipotle is a bit spicy since it’s a smoked jalapeño.
More Tips for Cooking Over a Gas Fire Pit
- Avoid sticky and greasy foods as it makes a mess and sticks to the fire pit’s glass, lava rocks, and other materials.
- Grease fires sometimes happen from greasy foods, so keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Keep in mind water makes a grease fire worse.
- Switch to a wood fire pit with a grill attachment (found on Amazon) if your gas flames are too low or you’re doing a lot of cooking over your gas fire pit. You can also get a separate grill. For example, this tabletop grill on Amazon is super affordable.
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
- Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10