The humble fire pit has often been perceived as somewhat of a one hit wonder, that is, as we know, to warm us up and keep us warm. That bone defrosting warmth produced can be all it takes to lift spirits and create morale where said morale could be at an all time low. Or it could just be your patio party centrepiece… But did you know that your fire pit has a bit of a Bruce Wayne/Batman vibe going on? What I mean is that you can actually use your fire pit as a very handy camping grill. Yep, that’s right, if you got a fire pit, you got a grill!
Of course the pit you own may require some tinkering but needless to say, you can definitely have a decent cooking facility whilst out in the middle of nowhere. You can purchase fire pits that already have a camping grill attached just like the BALI OUTDOORS Wood Burning Fire Pit with Removable Cooking Grill or the 2 in 1 Outdoor Fire Pits with Double Layer Cooking Grill. Otherwise we are going to walk through some other options or concepts if you will to help you create a badass camping grill that will make you the envy of your friends.
Before we dig into the inventive stuff, it’s probably a good idea that we quickly run over a couple of minor side topics so we’re clear on them before we create that much anticipated feast!
But can your propane fire pit be used as a camping grill?
Gas cooking is a quick, convenient and easy way to get you and your family or friends fed and propane is an excellent choice of fuel source. To be totally honest though, your propane fire pit can be used as a camping grill but there are a few things to keep in mind.
When cooking over gas burners, there is a chance that the grease and drippings from the grilling food can clog the burners and give your media (rocks) a bit of a dirty appearance. Not only that but propane fire pits burn a bright yellow flame for appearance and those yellow flames can possibly produce soot and smoke. This in turn can taint your food which is something that you don’t really want to happen. Not only that but any residue from leftover food can attract insects, rodents, etc and that’s not really something that you want hanging around while you sleep nerny if your camping for instance.
As a solution to this, simply turn off the burners that sit directly under what you are cooking (if possible) and keep the surrounding burners on. You should also keep the grill lid closed. So this small side issue is nothing that doesn’t have a work around. If you’re worried that you may run into issues using propane then you can always switch to a wood burning pit but of course that is a decision that you will need to make in the beginning of your fire pit journey. Or you could just own one of each.
What are the best types of food to grill over a propane fire pit?
As we went over in the previous topic, it’s better to avoid foods on a propane pit that have some serious drip or fall-apart factor like:
- Flaky Fish
- Pork Chops
- Filet Mignon
- Messy marinades
Foods that are perfect to grill are:
- Skinless white meat (chicken or turkey)
- Beef (flank steak, sirloin, porterhouse, t-bone)
- Lamb fillets
- Sweet peppers
- Portobello mushrooms
Of course this is just a small list and it will all depend on how well developed your ninja skills are at catching anything that may fall on to the burners. Alternatively, a wood fire pit would allow you free range at the foods you choose to grill. The more that drips, the better the smoke and flavor
How to create a makeshift camping grill for your fire pit
Ok, so there are a multitude of options when it comes to adding a grill to your fire pit. It will all depend on your budget and your inventory space. If the fire pit that you have already purchased or are considering purchasing comes with a grill grate and you are planning on grilling then by all means, add one to that outdoor cooking kit purchase. This could save you a lot of headaches later trying to source one in anticipation.
If you want to go down the path of creating your own or having your own fabricated then you will have a couple of options. No matter which way you choose to go, knowing which materials to use will make your grilling experience a lot easier. It’s widely known that the best types of grill grate materials are:
- Stainless steel grill grates – The surface is non-stick and a lot easier to clean. They are also a much more affordable option. On the other hand, they can lose temper and chip, deeming them less durable than the others.
- Cast iron grill grates – The heavier they are, the better they are full stop. Once they get hot, they hold the heat extremely well. They are supremely durable. The downside is that they require a lot more maintenance and they cost more than other options but you pay for what you get really. In saying that, cast iron is the preferred material for a bbq.
- Enamel coated grill grates – Porcelain is a great option for more low temperature cooking. You want to make sure you choose high quality enamel with a cast iron or steel base. It’s not ideal to use metal tools and the coating can chip off, these are 2 downfalls to the mid price range choice.
Have a grill plate fabricated
If you know someone who is handy on the welder then draw up a simple design and get them to do it for you. Otherwise, paying a company to knock one up for you isn’t going to break the bank, especially if it is something that you aim to use on a consistent basis. It will be worth every cent you spend. Here’s a really simple design that would be quite cheap to have created but also be very effective to grill on. Also, you can check out pinterest for other designs that quite honestly will blow your mind. The options are endless.
Create your own grill plate
If you don’t have the funds to fork out for a professionally welded grill plate, you are still in luck. You can make your own camping grill grate with relative ease using a couple of simple tools. So what you will need to do is:
- Try to find yourself an old unused grill. Unused meaning nobody is using it as opposed to a brand new, unused one. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure right? This could be something you see at a tip, a friend or family member may have one sitting round, whatever.
- Get a hold of a couple of pieces of rebar. These are generally cheap or again, can be found whilst scalping. Make sure that they are least slightly longer than the diameter measurement of your fire pit. These will be what holds up your grate if not the grate is not the right shape or size.
- Attach the grill plate to the rebar using either some hose clamps or tie wire.
- Cut the rebar to length if they aren’t already. Mark them and use an angle grinder or a set of bolt cutters. Make sure they don’t stick out over the edge to avoid slicing your leg open on the newly cut steel.
- File down the edges to further remove the safety hazard that the steel may cause.
- Get your fire pit cranked up and enjoy!
So to recap, you can most definitely use your propane fire pit as a camping grill providing you follow a few simple guidelines. A wood style grill would be a more well rounded option but not necessary. The grill itself isn’t really something that breaks the bank or your back to create yourself or have created for you. When stuck out in the middle of nowhere, being able to kill two birds with one stone of course will make your life a lot easier. Being able to stay warm and cook at the same time is one luxury that is definitely worth throwing a bit of extra paycheck at in the long run. With this short guide, we hope that we have filled any void of thought that you may have. Please don’t hesitate leaving a comment and letting us know of any other cool designs or hacks when it comes to creating your own camping grill. All that’s left to do now is get out there and try for yourself!