Fire pits are the centerpieces of backyard gatherings and outdoor adventures. Can the perfect pit also make you a better outdoor cook?
Published June 8, 2023.
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.
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.
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Chase is an associate editor for ATK Reviews. He's an epidemiologist-turned-equipment tester and biscuit enthusiast.
Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.
Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.
Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.
Hannah is an executive editor for ATK Reviews and cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube.