How To Cook On A Wood Stove – 8 Important Tips

Cooking on a wood stove is simple, however, it requires patience. It may not be as fast as your gas-powered cookers or electric cookers.

However, it rewards those who wait because the cooked meal is always delicious and the method is cost-effective.

Wood is a fuel that has stood the test of time. Cooking using wood stoves may not be as fancy as other modern methods regarding heat regulation but remains the best method for off-grid living.

We will outline the steps you need to take when cooking on wood stoves or fireboxes.

We will also look at how long it will take you to cook on a wood stove and end our discussion with tips when cooking on a wood stove. Keep reading to find out more!

Benefits Of Cooking On The Wood Heat Stove

Benefits Of Cooking On The Wood Heat Stove

Wood heat stoves are the best alternative to gas and electric stoves. It is more sustainable and comes with many advantages or benefits over other mentioned methods, including the following:

  • Cost-effective: Using a wood heat stove can significantly reduce your home heating bills and cooking expenses, especially if you are an off-gridder near a forest. Wood, which is the primary fuel, is cheap or available for free.
  • Decorative and stylish: Wood heat stoves add a unique style to every home. If you are more inclined to vintage and rustic home decoration designs than modern designs, a wood stove offers you the best way to achieve it.
  • Effective heat output: If you have been struggling to keep your home warm in the winter using other methods, that will be no more with a wood heat stove. The appliance can radiate enough heat to warm up your house in minutes.
  • Reliable: Grid-tied individuals can use it as a backup plan when there is a problem with the gas supply or power outage. It is easy to quickly collect or buy firewood to get going with your cooking as usual. Make it your primary source of heat for cooking without even a second thought.
  • Environmentally friendly: Every individual is encouraged to reduce their environmental footprints as much as possible. A wood stove can make you achieve it. Wood is a carbon-neutral source of fuel and can be harnessed responsibly by replanting new trees.
  • Wood-burning stoves are energy-efficient: Open fireplaces are about 20-25% efficient, while wood stoves boast 80% efficiency. The wood used in fueling a stove is much cheaper than gas or electricity consumed by modern stoves.

How To Cook On Top Of The Wood Heat Stove

How To Cook On Top Of The Wood Heat Stove

Before lighting a fire in the firebox, you need to check the chimneys to ensure that it is not blocked by soot. You should clean it regularly. Also, you should remember all safety measures required when using a firebox for cooking.

Cooking on a wood stove has to be efficient to make it sustainable, reliable, and cost-effective. It is also fun to cook on a wood stove, however, you should be cautious and follow the steps.

There are eight basic steps, and they include the following:

  • Build A Fire
  • Find The Hottest Spot And The Slow Cooking Spot
  • Build A Hotter Fire By Using Thin Logs
  • Preheating Your Pans
  • Add Food And Start Cooking According To Your Recipe
  • Use A Lid
  • Rotate The Food
  • Wait And Enjoy When The Food Is Cooked

The following are the details on how to go about each of the above-listed steps:

Build A Fire

The secret behind starting a fire in a wood stove is using dry slender wood. It is harder for wet wood to catch fire, and when they do, they burn slower.

The next step is to prepare the kindling and old newspaper or even dry leaves. You can also use fire-starters, however, they will take much more time to catch fire.

Open the damper and put the old newspapers or dry leaves on the stove and use a match to light them up. Put in the smaller dry wood pieces prepared earlier to also start burning.

Once they do, add more and more firewood to allow the fire to spread through the chamber of the woodstove.

A good start will ensure you have a hotter fire and consequently faster cooking. So, always ensure you get this first step right.

Find The Hottest Spot and The Slow Cooking Spot

Cooking on a wood stove can be annoying if you are used to electric or gas stoves that are relatively faster.

But if you know where the hottest spot of your stove is, then you might not even notice the difference in cooking time.

The sweet spot is usually at the top of the woodstove. It allows you to do any frying or boiling routine required when cooking.

Build A Hotter Fire By Using Thin Logs

The difference between cooking using a wood stove and an electric or gas stove is heat regulation. In the latter method, you can easily do it by just turning a knob.

Regulating temperature in a wood-burning stove is a skill you should master to effectively cook your various dishes.

The wood stove is made hotter by adding more thinner woods, usually less than four inches in diameter. Thinner logs catch fire faster and burn with rage, producing heat almost instantly.

You do the exact opposite if you need to reduce heat. You can consider making your wood stove hotter if you want to cook faster.

Preheating Your Pans

If you have accompanied your mom to the kitchen, then you must have seen her putting an empty pan on the stove before adding food to be cooked later.

That action is what we refer to. Put the pan on top of the wood stove with a hot fire in it to heat up first before adding your food.

Preheating the pan will significantly reduce your cooking time. You can choose a cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel pan for your cooking. Cast iron pan is preferred of the three.  

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Reversible Grill

Add Food And Start Cooking According To Your Recipe

Add your food once you are sure the pan is hot and follow the cooking procedure provided in your recipe.

You will realize how fast it goes if you had identified the hot spot, made the flame hotter, and preheated your pan from the previous steps.

Use A Lid

A tight-fitting lid will make the food inside the pot cook faster. According to science, this action limits convection to only the air space in the pot.

And since the cooking pot and all its content is being heated up, everything in it gets hot. No heat loss through convection currents occurs.

You Should Rotate The Food

The new technology we use today, such as microwaves, borrows from the principles that were applied by the pioneers. For even cooking, the microwave plate rotates.

You should also do the same to avoid having half-cooked food. Use a wooden spoon to stir the food so that every piece has a chance to be at the hottest part of the woodstove.

Wait And Enjoy When The Food Is Cooked

Time your food when cooking. The time it will take to cook depends on how hot the woodstove is. So, you should always keep watching to take it off the stove in time and enjoy a delicious meal.

How To Cook In The Firebox

How To Cook In The Firebox

Cooking in the firebox is different from cooking on the heat stove. A firebox is part of a heat stove where the wood actually burns, and that is where you will place your cooking pot.

That means you need to wait until the wood completely turns into red hot coals before commencing your cooking.

To cook on a firebox, you follow these five steps:

  • Start A Fire In The Firebox.
  • Build Up Your Fire Hot And Let The Wood Burn Down To Coals.
  • Put Food In A Style Oven With Feet And Cover Your Food.
  • Put The Oven Or Grill Basket In The Firebox.
  • Check On Your Food Once In A While.

It should be a straightforward process to cook on a firebox. If you follow the steps as described below, your meal should be ready in no time.

Start A Fire In The Firebox

There is no difference between starting a fire in a wood stove and a firebox. You will need small pieces of dry wood with diameters no more than four inches.

Gather dry leaves, old newspapers, or fire starters. Put what you found inside the firebox and then ignite using a match stick. Add the small pieces of wood.

Build Up Your Fire Hot And Let The Wood Burn Down To Coals.

Build up the fire by adding more larger pieces of wood. Larger wood pieces form big coals that last longer.

So, you need to burn many of them and ensure they all burn to red-hot coals before proceeding to the next step.

Otherwise, the smoke produced by the still-burning wood will ruin your pot and food. We are sure you do not want to feed yourself or the family with a smoke-scented meal.

Put Food In A Style Oven With Feet And Cover Your Food

Now put the pot with its content on a grill. That will raise it above the coal and give room to effectively continue burning down to ashes, producing the heat you need to cook the food.

Do not forget to cover your food to make it cook faster and prevent soot on the upper side of the firebox from getting into it.

Put The Oven Or Grill Basket In The Firebox

Put the oven or grill basket with a pot and covered food in the firebox. If you have enough hot coals, it should not take you much time to cook the food.

The firebox is recommended for grilling meat but is also effective in cooking, as you are just about to realize after completing the next step.

Check On Your Food Once In A While

Time your food, occasionally checking it. Take it out when cooked and enjoy your meal.

Cooking Time When Using A Wood Stove

What is the average cooking time when using a wood stove? That is a common question we often get from our readers, and we are sorry since it depends on many factors.

We cannot quote a specific time because it can range from a few minutes to hours, depending on the recipe, stove itself, and the wood fuel used.

  • Recipe: Some recipes take shorter to accomplish while others take more time. Frying an egg on a wood stove will probably take you a few minutes. A simple rice and beans recipe might take you hours to accomplish, given the time beans require to soften.
  • Woodstove: Some wood stoves are big. Therefore, they cook faster. Some are also more efficient and allow more air to burn the wood much better to release more heat for faster cooking.
  • Wood: Wet wood will not burn or will burn slowly. That means less heat is released to the stove, making the cooking process take more time. Slender dry woods will significantly improve your cooking time because they burn faster to make the wood stove hotter. Wood species, quantity, and configuration in the firebox all affect the amount of heat you get.

8 Tips When Cooking On A Wood Stove

8 Tips When Cooking On A Wood Stove

You need to be very effective to get the best out of your wood stove.

You might be wondering why some people take a shorter time to prepare food on a wood stove while others take forever to do the same. The trick is in the tips they use.

The cooking tips not only make you cook faster but also enhance your safety. They include the following:

Using Appropriate Protection For Your Hands

Invest in wood stove-friendly gloves and wear them every time you want to cook. They will protect your hands from possible burns.

The firebox is always hot when there is a fire inside it and you should always be cautious.

Always Have A Fire Ready Before You Want To Start Cooking

The wood stove itself requires time to get hot. The trick to faster cooking is to light the fire in the stove well before the cooking time so that the wood stove heats up.

It will also take you a shorter time to preheat the pan when the stove is already hot.

Using Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron cookware is preferred for cooking on the woodstove because they conduct, distribute, and retain heat more evenly.

They are the best for cooking at lower temperatures. Additionally, they are elegant and add aesthetics to your kitchen.

Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Always Use A Firm Fitting Lid And Preheat Your Pans

A tight-fitting lid will ensure heat within the pot is preserved. When combined with pan preheating, you will cook food on a wood stove faster. They are tricks to significantly reduce your cooking time.

Not Just Stirring, Let’s Rotate Your Food

This action ensures that the food is evenly cooked since every part or piece would have been in contact with the hottest part of the stove.

Use a wood spoon or any other poor heat conductor to protect your hands from burning. Also, be cautious as the hot steam from the covered food can cause serious harm to your skin.

Know Your Temperatures/Time

It is not easy to regulate the temperature of a wood stove, however, the bubbling or boiling rate of the food being cooked can give you a hint.

Time the cooking based on that and trust your judgment. The faster it boils, the less time it will take to cook.

Learn Other Ways To Control The Temperature  

Apart from adding more dry small woods into the firebox, there are other ways of controlling heat inside it.

These include changing the size of the air vent, altering load configuration and orientation, and using different wood species.

The larger the air vent, the faster the wood burns and the hotter the stove will be. Also, know which wood species burns faster and the ones that take time.

Lastly, find out the wood arrangement inside the firebox that gives the best heat.  

Keep An Eye On Your Food -Is It Cooking Fast Or Slow?

You will not know when to adjust heat if you are not aware of how fast or slow the food is cooking. Occasionally open the lid to observe it and take the most appropriate action.


A wood stove is an efficient home appliance that creates fun when cooking. Many people have also used it for heating their homes during winter.

It is energy-efficient, effective, reliable, and sustainable compared to other cooking stoves.

We hope that this article at the Em Offgrid has expanded your knowledge on how to cook on a wood stove.

Please give it a thumbs up and share the knowledge with others. We appreciate your time and invite you to check our previous posts on related topics.