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The Best Fire Pits for Cooking

Fire pits are the centerpieces of backyard gatherings and outdoor adventures. Can the perfect pit also make you a better outdoor cook?

By , , , , and

Published June 8, 2023.

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What You Need To Know

Open-fire cooking takes practice no matter which fire pit you buy, but some models are easier to cook with and maintain than others. The Breeo X19 Smokeless Fire Pit Grilling Bundle is our Best Overall fire pit. Its large, adjustable cooking grate is easy to move up and down or swivel laterally for unhindered access to the fire. The pit and grilling accessories are made with durable steel that holds up well to long-term use. It also emits noticeably less smoke than more traditional models. We named a Best Portable Pit as well, the Barebones Cowboy Fire Pit Grill - 23”. It has an easy-to-use adjustable cooking grate, and its wide base provides ample space for zoned cooking. It’s lighter and easier to transport than the Breeo, but it gives off more smoke and is more prone to rusting without proper care. 

What You Need to Know

Fire pits were once simple backyard centerpieces, usually capable only of roasting s’mores and hot dogs. Nowadays, grilling rigs with detachable cooking grates have upgraded these pits to open-fire grills that can handle entire barbecues. The market has exploded with innovations promising to make gourmet, open-fire cooking easy and “smokeless.” In reality, learning to cook over open flames or coals takes patience and lots of trial and error. The right fire pit may not keep you from burning your first batch of food, but it can make things easier so that you’ll get better, faster—and have more fun while learning. 

To find the best fire pit for cooking we tested a range of options available, buying everything we needed to properly use, clean, and maintain the pits, including cooking grates, grilling accessories, and weatherproof covers. For some models, we were able to purchase bundles or kits; for others, we purchased accessories separately. We explored whether key design elements such as adjustable cooking grates, lightweight materials, or “smokeless” technology (popularized by the Solo Stove) were worth the hype. Find out which factors set the winners apart below. 

What to Look For

  • Easy Assembly: Our favorite pits required minimal assembly and included grilling setups that were simple to put together and install. Not having to waste time with nuts and bolts meant that we could get to the cooking faster. 
  • Adjustable Cooking Grates: We strongly preferred adjustable-grate pits because they granted us freedom when repositioning food and making changes to the fire. We could raise the cooking grates or swivel them away from the flames when we wanted to slow down cooking and rearrange the logs or coals to maintain consistent heat. Lowering or swinging the grates closer to the fire allowed us to...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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Reviews you can trust

Reviews you can trust

The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.