cooking on wood beginners guide

Top Tips When Cooking On Wood

Time to read 12 min

This handy guide answers the most asked questions about cooking outdoors. It will give you all the answers you may be looking for when you want to start experimenting with wood-fired cooking.

What fuel should I use when cooking on wood?

Below are our recommended outdoor cooking fuels, all with individual benefits and outputs.

Flaming Firewood

What is Flaming firewood?
  • Kiln dried to below 20% moisture content
  • Mixed shapes and sizes of hardwood logs
  • Perfect woodfuel for firepits, campfires and chimeneas

Flaming Firewood is the offcuts off our premium line. All Ready to Burn approved, Flaming firewood is effective when cooking outdoors, due to its quick ignition and manageable heat output. 

The wood consists of British hardwoods primarily oak, beech, and ash- each offering unique benefits, such as adding a smoky flavour or providing steady heat with minimal spitting.

What is Flaming firewood suited for?
  • Cooking outdoors on firepits, campfires, and chimeneas: Flaming firewood, with its mixed shapes and sizes, makes managing the temperature in outdoor cooking appliances easy. 
  • Hobbit Stoves: Due to the smaller shapes you'll often find in a bag of Flaming firewood, these offcuts are the perfect fuel for smaller stoves.

Grill & Chill

What is Grill & Chill?
  • Perfect fuel for wood-fired pizza ovens
  • Made from a specially selected low-spitting species

This particular log is of a specially selected species, approximately 25cm long and 4-10cm wide. The thinner logs are proven to help the fire reach optimal cooking heat much faster, and they also make it easier to manage the fire throughout your cooking experience. 

As our Grill & Chill logs are only made of one species, you can ensure consistency and low spitting when using them to cook your food. Used in top restaurants throughout the UK, our Grill & Chill logs will make cooking on wood more enjoyable.

What is Grill & Chill suited for?
  • Wood-fired pizza ovens: Being a thinner cut, single species firewood, Grill & Chill is the perfect log for building a low-spitting fire quickly and managing the fire easier once it's established. 

Outdoor Cooking Kits

What are Outdoor Cooking Kits?
  • Mixed sizes of kiln-dried logs, two KindleFlamers plus a unique cooking-on-wood recipe
  • Perfect for all outdoor cooking appliances
  • Easy to carry, making them perfect for camping trips

Outdoor Cooking Kits are a new product line for Certainly Wood and were introduced in 2023 to promote outdoor cooking. 

These kits contain kiln-dried logs of various shapes and sizes, two KindleFlamer natural firelighters, and an outdoor cooking recipe for inspiration.

What are Outdoor Cooking Kits suited for?
  • Any outdoor appliance: Outdoor Cooking Kits are made to be used on all outdoor cooking appliances. 
  • Camping trips: Outdoor Cooking Kits have everything you need to light a fire on the go, making them the perfect addition to any camping trip.

What do I need to light my fire?

What's the best way to light a fire?

Top Down Method: Kindling & Flamers

We have become fans of the newer top-down approach most stove manufacturers now recommend.

  1. Place a couple of larger logs on your wood burner/ firepit/campfire base
  2. Using kindling, build a Jenga shape on the top of the logs
  3. Place ONE Flamer in the middle of the kindling formation and light
  4. Add logs when required

KindleFlamer Method

During a cold winter evening, one of our founders, George, devised a brilliant new idea to light a fire. He combined three of our normal Flamers into one super-long KindleFlamer and worked out you do not even need any kindling to light your fire.

  1. Place a couple of larger logs on your wood burner/ firepit/campfire base
  2. Lay ONE KindleFlamer along the ridge and place a smaller log on top diagonally
  3. Light the KindleFlamer and add logs when required

lighitng a firepit using the top down methord with kindling and flamers natural firelighters

What's the best way to light a BBQ?

The Easiest Way To Light A Charcoal BBQ

Lighting a charcoal BBQ is a straightforward process when using Flamers. 

How to light a BBQ using Flamers:

  1. Arrange the Charcoal: Open the air vents at the bottom of the BBQ to allow airflow and remove the cooking grate. Scatter charcoal onto the bottom grate of the BBQ. Make sure the bed is covered.

  2. Place the Flamers: Take 1-2 Flamers and place them in the bed of charcoal. Light them.

  3. Wait for the Charcoal to Ignite: Allow the Flamers to burn and light the charcoal. This process usually takes about 10-15 minutes. The charcoal will start to turn greyish-white as it ignites.

  4. Heat the Grill: Place the cooking grate back onto the BBQ and let it heat up for about 5-10 minutes before placing your food on it. This helps to sear the food properly and prevent sticking.

  5. Start Cooking:

    • Your BBQ is now ready for cooking. Place your food on the grill and enjoy!

Types of Cooking On Wood

We want to introduce you to the various methods of cooking on wood and the benefits of each type. Here we will explore campfires, firepits, kotlichs, BBQs and pizza ovens.

Campfire Cooking

  • Very little equipment required
  • Simple lighting

Cavemen discovered the benefits of fires in terms of heating and cooking, and to this day, something about fires seems to attract us. 

What are campfires suitable for and how do you cook on them?
  • Meats
  • Smores
  • Kebabs

You will need apparatus to cook on a campfire. If you're cooking smores, you'll need a stick or a toasting fork to roast the marshmallow. If you're cooking meats and meals, you may need a grill.

campfire made from kiln dried logs and kindleflamers suitable for cooking on wood or outdoor cooking

Dutch oven cooking

  • Great at conducting heat and keeping moisture in
  • When cooking on wood with your Dutch oven, ensure you have a good bed of coals

As you might expect from something with "Dutch" in its name, the Dutch oven originates from the Netherlands. It's a cast iron pot used for cooking outdoors.

What are Dutch ovens suited for and how do you cook with them?

Almost any cooking task can be performed in a Dutch oven, such as:

  • Roasting
  • Cooking bread
  • Soups & stews
  • Frying. 

Dutch ovens conduct heat exceptionally well, so they are great for keeping food warm for longer periods of time. When cooking with Dutch ovens outdoors, make sure you're cooking on coals rather than flame. 

making chocolate pudding cooking on wood using a Dutch oven

Cooking with Kotlich

  • Enamel cooking pot means it is easy and light to handle
  • Easily adjusted to ensure an optimal cooking experience

Although familiar with the shape, many do not know the name of this tripod cooking utensil.  The kotlich (Serbo-Croat name) or bogracs (Hungarian) is an enamel cooking pot that hangs from a light tripod, easily set up anywhere from the back doorstep to the allotment, from the riverside to the beach.

What are kotlich's suitable for and how do you cook on them?
  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Boiling
  • Frying

To use a kotlich, light your fire in a firepit or campfire and place the tripod over the fire, so the pot hangs directly over the flame. The pot or grill can be adjusted to suit the heat, and it can be swung about to keep food moving and the heat even. 

using a kotlich to cook outdoors over a firepit lit with kiln dried logs for outdoor cooking

Firepit cooking

  • Perfect for outdoor chilling & grilling
  • Great for social gatherings

Firepits aren't just for outdoor chilling, why not use them for outdoor grilling! Not only are firepits amazing garden centrepiece, but they are also actually great for cooking on wood. 

What are firepits suited for, and how do you cook on them?
  • Easy to light
  • Cook an array of meats, vegetables and meals

The obvious cooking method when talking about firepits is grilling. This method is not only the most common but also probably the easiest. Some firepits actually come with a grill, but if yours doesn't, you can easily pick one up in-store or online. 

cooking a full english breakfast on a firepit fueled by flaming firewood kiln dried logs for cooking on wood

Wood-fired pizza oven cooking

  • Will insulate heat extremely well, meaning it is easy to retain heat for hours

Unlike modern household ovens, which provide nearly constant heat, wood-fired pizza ovens are typically lit once during the firing stage. After the embers are moved to the back and sides of the oven, the chamber stays well-insulated for hours.

What are pizza ovens suited for and how do you cook on them?
  • Can cook pizzas and other foods in under 5 minutes, which is very useful when cooking for an audience
  • Cook breads

When lighting pizza ovens, you want to use thinner cut logs so the fire is lit faster and you can manage the temperature more easily. Once lit, move the fire to the back of the oven so the retained heat can be used to insulate the oven.

lighting a pizza oven using grill & chill pizza oven logs using the top-down methord when cooking outdoors

Cooking on BBQs

  • Perfect summer activity with family and friends
  • Use Grown in Britain charcoal and natural firelighters for the best result

Needing no introduction, let's finally discuss the most common type of cooking outdoors: barbecuing. Charcoal BBQs give food a smoky flavour and can cook an array of food.

What are BBQs suitable for and how do I cook on them?
  • Burgers
  • Sausages
  • Corn
  • Surf & turf
  • Skewers
  • Halloumi
Tips & tricks on barbecuing
  1. Make sure to use the correct amount of charcoal: The more charcoal you use and the tighter you pack it, the hotter your fire will be and the longer it will burn. 
  2. No smoke: Only start cooking when there is no smoke. If there is smoke on your charcoal BBQ, it is a good indication that the coals are not ready.
  3. Temperature: To ensure your barbeque retains the right amount of heat, you want to purchase a temperature gauge and not let the temperature go under 107 Celsius. 
  4. Lighting charcoal BBQs: Many struggle when attempting to light charcoal BBQs, but have no fear, our fire lighters are here. Instead of struggling with newspapers and kindling, all you need is one KindleFlamer. Simply place a KindleFlamer on top of the charcoals and light and the firelighter will do the heavy work for you. 

lighting a charcoal bbq with flamer natural firelighter

Considerations when cooking outdoors


How dry are your logs?
  • They need to have a moisture content below 20%
  • Hardwoods are better for cooking with

You can’t grill on wet logs, as the food will be steamed or smoked rather than grilled, as achieving a high enough temperature is impossible. Thanks to kiln-drying, our logs are the perfect fuel for cooking outdoors.


How clean is your wood/charcoal?
  • Choose charcoal that is Grown in Britain approved
  • Wet wood/ Bad charcoal can taint your food

Our cooking on wood fuels is kiln-dried and untreated, so when used for cooking, you will not have to worry about chemical additions or flavours. This means when cooking with wood, your food will taste nothing but the subtleties of wood smoke.

charcoal in a bbq being lit by a flamer natural firelighter


The heat of your fire
  • Cooking over embers is easier
  • Use Flaming firewood logs to manage the temperature

While sometimes cooking over live flames can be useful, the majority of the time it can be difficult to manage and not give you the results you wish for. Cook over embers to ensure your cooking experience is manageable and the heat is steady.


  • Always wear safety gloves when handling hot equipment
  • Use a poker to break the wood into coals

When dealing with fire, there is always the risk of getting burnt. To avoid this, we recommend investing in some long-handed gadgets like tongs or pokers.

lit firepit with flames lit by flaming firewood kiln dried logs ready for cooking on wood


  • Be careful when cooking outdoors in the wind

When cooking on wood, there is no point in attempting to cook when there is strong weather or winds. Not only can it be hazardous, but it will also only dampen your cooking experience and the cooking time will vary as the coals will be cooling down quicker than usual due to the wind.


  • Avoid softwood when cooking on wood, hardwoods are more effective

When cooking on wood, you want to avoid softwoods as they burn too quickly. Hardwoods such as oak, ash and beech are best for cooking heat, as they provide a long strong burn and give you a great flavour. 

outdoor campfire perfect for cooking on wood or outdoor cooking lit with kiln dried logs with friends

Cooking on Wood Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

What wood should I use for a firepit?

Any kiln-dried firewood will do just the trick! However, we recommend our Flaming Firewood, as the logs are smaller and less uniform in size, allowing for easier heat control and a more enjoyable cooking experience.

What wood should I use for a pizza oven?

Grill & Chill logs: These particular logs are a specially selected species, meaning they are low-spitting with incredible heat output. They are also much thinner in diameter, which is really useful for those with smaller ovens or beginners. 

What wood should I use for campfires?

Any low moisture or kiln dried logs!

 As long as you are not burning wet wood, you will be able to get a good, long burn which is vital for cooking on wood. If testing the camping waters, you might want to consider our log boxes which contain both logs and KindleFlamers natural firelighters, so you will only need a match or flint and steel to spark up the fire.

How do I cook outdoors with a BBQ?

Simply place your coals on the grate of your BBQ, place your firelighter of choice on these coals, cover the firelighter with some more coals, and then light! 

This process could take a while, so we suggest using one of our KindleFlamers as your firelighter. 

Why do you ask? Well, it's because they are 3x the length of our normal flamers, which means they cover more width in the BBQ. This will mean more coals will get hotter quickly, letting you get cooking faster!

How do I start a fire?

Simply place two logs on their diagonal on the grate or base of your fire pit/campfire/pizza oven, place one of our KindleFlamers in the middle, and then proceed to place another two logs in a similar fashion on top of the bottom two. Light your firelighter and stand in awe of the dancing flames you will soon see.

What can I cook on the campfire?

Anything you can imagine! You and your campfire could cook anything you wish with the right equipment. Ranging from casseroles & stews to puddings and bread, your campfire can accomplish anything. 

Head over to our Instagram for inspiration. 

What can I cook in a kotlich?

Any sauce base recipe really, whether that's soups, stews or casseroles. These are really easy to set up and can be adjusted depending on your desired cooking times.

What can I cook in a firepit?

Firepits are really versatile and depending on what equipment you have handy, you can literally cook anything! Whether that's a 5- star meal or classic smores. Toasty's, kebabs' marshmallows, burgers, sausages, popcorn, or even bread are amongst some of the foods you can cook on your firepit.

What can I cook in a wood-fired BBQ?

Wood-fired BBQs are a rare sight in the UK, as most citizens use charcoal as their main BBQ fuel. Nevertheless, wood-fired BBQs are amazing at adding that smokey flavor to your foods and can be a quicker and easier method than charcoal BBQs. On any BBQ you can cook the classics like burgers, sausages, kebabs, and sweetcorn, but there is a lot more you can cook than that. 

What can I cook in a pizza oven?

Pizza ovens are great pieces of cooking equipment and are actually a lot more versatile than people think. Other than the obvious (pizzas) you can cook a variety of foods, ranging from great-tasting roasted vegetables to fresh fish, succulent meats to pies, seafood, and even cakes, pizza ovens can do it all. 

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