Outdoor Cooking Guide: How To Grill With A Wood Fire BBQ

Lekto BBQ Fuels in front of Masterbuilt BBQ

Cooking on a wood fire BBQ infuses the food with a distinct, smoky flavour that you simply can’t get from cooking on gas or charcoal, not to mention the wonderful aroma that is produced. If this sounds like something you’re keen to try (and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you be?) then you’ve come to the right place. Our simple guide on how to grill with wood fire covers everything you need to know about wood fire grilling from choosing the right BBQ wood to blending the best flavours. So without further ado, let’s dive into our top tips on how to grill with wood fire…

Start With The Right Wood

When it comes to learning how to grill with wood fire, the first thing you want to consider is your choice of wood. You should only use hardwood that has been properly dried out as this will impact dramatically on the taste of the food. Softwood such as pine or spruce burns too quickly and often contains high levels of resin that produces a bitter aroma when burning. Additionally, wood that has a high moisture content will produce too much smoke that will impair the flavour of the food you’re cooking.

That’s why you want to stick to a dry hardwood that will provide a good, long burn and a fantastic aroma. Our kiln-dried oak and kiln-dried birch firewood are perfect for cooking on a wood fire grill. Naturally sourced, you won’t experience any nasty chemical aromas, whilst a moisture content below 20% will mean you don’t get completely smoked out!

2 stacked boxes of Lekto Kiln Dried Oak Logs next to 4 hardwood heat logs

Choose The Best Pairing

As you’ve probably worked out by now, choosing the correct wood is an essential part of how to grill with wood fire. It’s not just about choosing high-quality hardwood that’s low in moisture (although this is of course crucial). The type of wood used directly affects the flavour of the food you are cooking and so it’s important to think about what you are cooking and find the best wood to match.

As a general rule, heavier hardwoods such as oak and hickory are best for grilling rich meats like pork and beef whilst lighter hardwoods such as maple or birch are perfectly paired with fowl and fish. For adding a sweet aroma to your foods, try out our kiln dried cherry wood chips or kiln-dried apple wood chips. Both these BBQ wood chips are perfect for adding a delicate flavour to poultry and vegetables - they also taste great when blended together. However, talking about how to grill with food fire doesn’t just mean meat, fish and veg. You can cook pretty much anything on a wood fire grill, even desserts!

Light The Fire

This wouldn’t be a very good guide on how to grill with wood fire without telling you how to actually light the fire in the first place. When it comes to lighting a fire, we always recommend using the ‘Top-Down Fire Lighting’ method. Simply place your primary wood fuel at the bottom of your BBQ grill and make a small pyramid of kindling and firelighters on top, allowing plenty of gaps for the air to circulate. Once lit, the fire should work its way down and you can add more charcoal or firewood around it as necessary.

If you’d like to see the top-down fire lighting method in action, watch this 20-second video of it being used to start a fire in a wood burning stove.

Once you’ve got a good heat base the logs will start to turn white meaning it’s time to start cooking! You can also of course start your fire using charcoal and add hardwood chips onto the hot charcoal to let the aromas burn.

Control The Heat

One of our biggest tips on how to grill with wood fire is to take control of the heat. The great thing about cooking on a wood fire grill is that you can move the fuel around to create different cooking zones. Move the wood to one side to create spots of direct and indirect heat for cooking. As a general rule, you should cook over the embers and not the flames. If you want to sear meat then the occasional exposure to flames is okay, but for a slow and even cook you want to keep your food above the indirect heat.

Don’t Overdo The Seasoning

So far while discussing how to grill with a wood fire, we haven’t spoken much about food prep and that’s because there really isn’t much prep required when it comes to cooking with BBQ wood. The real flavour comes from the smoke and so you don’t want this to be overpowered by anything else. A little oil, salt and pepper will do for smoking meats, and remember if you’re cooking with flavourful wood chips like apple or cherry this will add another dimension anyway.


Finding out how to grill with wood fire really ups the BBQ game. Cooking on a wood fire grill provides a great focal point for evenings outside with loved ones, not to mention the flavours produced are amazing. Just remember to fully extinguish your fire before going back inside and always stay safe around the fire - you don’t want any accidents ruining your fun!

2 stacked boxes of Kiln Dried Oak Logs next to a box of natural firelighters and kiln dried kindling on a bench with firewood stored underneath