Two years ago, when my husband and I moved into a new apartment with a gorgeous fireplace for the first time, we asked this question: can I grill in my fireplace? I’d heard of maybe, possibly, roasting marshmallows in a fireplace before, but I just wasn’t sure if it would be safe or healthy to grill something else.
Long before ovens and gas grills, though, that’s exactly what folks used their fireplaces for cooking dinner. But those safety concerns are natural and reasonable – and some things definitely need to be addressed before you start whipping up a stew in a giant cauldron.
Is it Safe to Grill in the Fireplace?
The short answer is yes, it’s safe to grill in an indoor or outdoor fireplace. But only if certain safety measures are met, and the right recipes are used.
Only Use a Wood-Burning Fireplace
Unfortunately, it’s not safe to cook food in a gas fireplace. If you can’t use wood, it’s best to find a safer way to grill indoors. Gas fireplaces can easily get ruined by cooking in them, which then makes them unsafe to use.
Get the Chimney Inspected
If you’re not sure the last time the chimney was cleaned out or examined, you’d better get that done. Hire a fireplace expert to inspect the whole system to ensure it’s safe to use. There should be no clogs, and the integrity of the chimney needs to be assured, or you run the risk of fire as you do your fireplace grilling.
Clean the Chimney After Every Use
Whether you’re cooking or just using the fireplace to keep warm (or enjoy some romantic cuddles!), you need to make sure you clean the fireplace every single time. It will help prevent dangerous build-up and clogging.
Use the Right Wood for Cooking
Not all wood is equal. In fact, some wood is toxic for use indoors or use with food. Instead of using standard “fireplace” wood for your grilling efforts, find woodcuts meant for grilling and smoking. It will help you avoid poisonous woods and any coatings that you don’t want to ingest. Also, be sure to use only seasoned wood, as it’s much safer than unseasoned wood.
Avoid Food with Lots of Fat
Fatty foods, like rib-eye steaks, create extra smoke when they’re cooked over direct fire. The smoke will wind up billowing into the house, making the affair far less pleasant. Fatty foods are also more likely to create dangerous build-up in an indoor fireplace. It may lead to fires.
Fatty foods in a fireplace are less healthy when cooked this way, thanks to that extra smoke. Instead, choose leaner cuts of meat, vegetables, and other items for a healthier and happier meal.
Use Proper Cookware and Tools
Just like the wood, not all cookware is created equal. Some pots and pans simply aren’t going to do well in a fireplace. Find proper, sturdy fireplace tools like long skewers and tongs and fire-resistant gloves for safe cooking in the fireplace. In a way, your fireplace is more like a firepit at the campgrounds. You need extra precautions because of working with open flame.
Some good pots and pans to consider using would include a Dutch oven, cast iron skillet, or pans intended specifically for use in campfires/fireplaces.
Additionally, you may use the French technique of A la ficelle (on a string) if you’re able to properly hang a hook or a nail directly above the fire. It works for cooking larger meats that take a long time and can’t be skewered.
Always Make Sure Meat is Heated to the Proper Temperature
Grab a meat thermometer and test any meats you cook before serving. Fireplaces don’t evenly heat food the way a grill can, so you’ll likely wind up with portions of food more thoroughly cooked than others – so always, always test meat to ensure it’s reached a safe temperature for serving.
Enjoy Your Fireplace Meals
Grilling in your fireplace can be a wonderful choice, especially in cold climates where grilling outdoors simply isn’t an option in the winter. Just be sure to use precaution and practice safety protocols to keep your family and home safe.