When I first saw shiny Solo Stove fire pits popping up on Instagram I rolled my eyes and thought two things. “Another status symbol brand” and “Is there anything they won’t make stainless steel these days?” The pits seem to be a commercial take on the washing machine fire pits folks rig up at home, using the perforated drum where the clothes spin as a base. But the brand wormed its way into my brain (thanks social media) and months later, I found myself buying one. I’ve used the pit for a few months now and I am here to say my initial skepticism was misinformed. I am converted. I have been evangelized.
For me it comes down to two things:
- Solo Stove fire pits really do smoke less than regular fire pits. Once you get the fire going right, you can sit so close and cozy without getting a smoke facial and having to yell, “RABBIT, RABBIT, RABBIT!” and point the smoke away (to thoroughly inconsistent results).
- They’re highly portable. Because it’s stainless steel, the stove is really light, so you can pack it up in the included drawstring bag (with carrying handles) and take it to the beach, a campsite, or just store it away easily when not in use.
Which Solo Stove Fire Pit Is Best?
There are three sizes: The smallest model, Ranger ($269.99 manufacturer suggested retail price [MSRP]; Amazon prices may vary) is very portable, about the size of a propane grill gas tank. The largest, Yukon, ($599.99 MSRP) is a statement, a centerpiece of a patio. The middle model, Bonfire ($349.99 MSRP) is best for most people. I went with that size and found it small enough to fit in a car with other stuff but big enough to have a good-size fire with generous gathering space around.
Solo Stove’s Grill Attachment
Considering my love for my Solo Stove—and grilling—this probably comes as no surprise: When Solo launched a fire-pit cooking attachment ($179.99 MSRP), I ordered one so fast that my keyboard was smoking.
The attachment arrived with two parts: a metal crown that goes atop the fire pit and a grill grate that rests on the crown. The crown elevates the cooking grate away from the fire. The cast-iron grate holds the food as it cooks.
What I Cooked With Solo Stove's Cooking Attachment
For my first cooking foray, I started with shishito peppers and garlic scapes. I nailed the peppers but burned the scapes. Chicken wings came next. The fire was too hot; they were charred but edible. Shell-on shrimp came out beautifully. Over the next month I cooked hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, steak, trout, halibut, artichokes, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, corn, onions, peppers—the list goes on. I am still learning, but here I am, again, in love.
The attachment is great if you just want to throw on some hot dogs at your next fire-pit sesh. It’s also great if you’re like me and want to get into live-fire cooking. It gets my family outside and forces us to be present, focused on the very elemental. We’ve made chicken wings a few times now—they’re better each time, and I already have an idea for what I’d tweak next.
My therapist tells me to use the word “should” less. It’s not what you “should” do, it’s what you “want” to do. There is nothing you should do about live-fire cooking. It’s slower, messier, and you’re gonna burn some food. You’ll like this hobby if you keep one thing in mind: It’s about the process. And when you get it right, the food is sublime.
How to Get Started Cooking on the Solo Stove Grill Grate
- Get your fire going earlier than you think you should. It needs to cook down to mostly coals before you can put the food on, and this takes time. An hour, hour and a half, before you want to cook is a reasonable rule of thumb.
- Start with some low-stakes foods: hot dogs or sausages, little potatoes folded up in a foil packet. Then get creative.
- You will need some sort of long poking device to arrange your wood and coals. Solo Stove sells one but any fireplace tool (like a blow poke, any Staircase fans here?) will do. A grill spatula and grill tongs are useful to move the food.
- Most importantly—grab a cold drink and enjoy the ride.
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What is the Solo Stove made of?
The stove is made of stainless steel. The cooking attachment has two parts: a stainless-steel ring and a cast-iron cooking surface.
How much does the Solo Stove weigh?
The Ranger (the smallest model) weighs 15 pounds, the Bonfire (the medium-size model) weighs 20 pounds, and the Yukon (the largest model) weighs 38 pounds.
What size Solo Stove should I get?
Most folks will probably want the Bonfire (the medium-size model). It's big enough to gather around but small enough to still be portable. The Ranger (the smallest model) is roughly the size of a propane grill gas tank, great for camping and the beach. The Yukon (the largest model) is a real statement, the centerpiece of a patio.
What other equipment do I need to cook on my Solo Stove?
- Split wood logs, kindling, and newspaper and/or fire-starting cubes
- A lighter
- A long poker or pincer to arrange the fire
- A grill spatula and grill tongs to move the food
- Neutral oil and paper towels or a cloth to season the cast-iron cooking grate
- Not necessary but nice: a side table, a small trash bin, and dish towels
How do I clean the cast-iron cooking grate?
Here's what Solo Stove recommends. I did it a little differently because I found it hard to lift the heavy grate to wash it this way. I also didn't want to mess up the cast-iron surface with too much soap. I found it easier to clean the grate with a grill brush after cooking, while it was still on the fire pit. Then I used grill tongs and a cloth soaked in canola oil to oil the grate, leaving it to heat on top of the fire pit for a while to let the oil seal. I also always brushed the grates with oil before cooking, as they preheated. This makes them more nonstick and continues to build a seasoning on the grate so that it doesn't rust.
What do I do if my Solo Stove cooking grate rusts?
Don't worry! If you leave the grate outside or store it in a moist environment, it will rust, which looks awful but is easily remedied. The next time you use it, while it's preheating, brush the surface with a grill brush to remove debris and grime, and then rub it with a cloth (or paper towel) soaked in canola oil, getting into the grooves as much as possible. The grate will look glossy and black again in no time.