Cooking over fire has been the most primitive, yet still popular way of outdoor cooking. The aroma and flavor of a fire-cooked meal have been an overriding feature which has withstood the test of time. While the emergence of fuel-based cooking mechanisms such as isobutene, propane, and other fuel sources have made them quite popular, many people still prefer fire pit cooking because of the aroma, minimal fuel costs, and reduced carbon footprint. Why else do you think most campgrounds have prebuilt fire pits available for campers.
One of the primary challenges of cooking over a fire pit is to ensure even distribution of heat. Camp Fire grills can play an important role in ensuring that. In this article, we will look at some of the best over-the-fire grills available in the market. While there are many types of fire grills, we will primarily focus on two types – collapsible table great and hovering grate. We will also look at the major factors to consider while buying the grill and also look at some of the safety considerations to keep in mind while using such camping grills.
In this article, we focus primarily on over-the-fire grills. Check out our popular article on portable gas grills for car camping, tailgating or backyard cooking. We also have an thorough article on portable charcoal grills which you should check out.
Best fire grills comparison listOur pick of the best fire grills out in the market and how they stack against each other.
|Camp Chef Lumberjack Over The Fire Grill||24" x 16" for large|
Other options available
|11 for standard grill||- Popular heavy duty grill made with high grade steel, with diamond pattern mesh|
- Foldable legs can create a height of 9-10 inches
- Comes with limited 1 year manufacturer's warranty
|Texsport Heavy Duty Over Fire Camp Grill||16" x 12"– Medium|
24" x 16" – Large
36" x 18" – X-Large
|10 for medium|
20 for X-Large
|- Heavy duty grill made with high grade steel with mesh netting made with fire-retardant nylon.|
- Foldable legs can create a height from 7 to 12 inches
- Comes with limited 1 year manufacturer's warranty
|Stansport Heavy Duty Camp Grill||16" x 12"||5.5||- Light weight, yet decent grill made with welded steel.|
- Foldable legs create a height of 7 inch.
- Can be shipped to select countries outside US.
|Sunnydaze Heavy Duty Campfire Gril||24" x 16"||11||- Popular heavy duty grill made with steel, with high quality black paint.|
- Foldable legs can create a height of 12 inch.
- Comes with limited 1 year manufacturer's warranty
|UCO Grilliput Portable Camping Grill||10.2" x 9.1"||1.24||- Ultra-light dishwasher safe, camping grill made with stainless steel.|
- Features straight legs for maximum clearance.
- Collapsible to be like a tube with a bail for hanging while storage.
|Coghlan's Camp Grill||24" x 12"||3.1||- Lightweight basic camping grill made with nickel plated steel|
- Features foldable legs that can create a clearance of 8 inch.
|Blue Sky Gear Pack Grill||12.5" x 6.5"||1.2||- Straight legged, basic grill made with steel.|
- Features foldable legs that can create a clearance of 7 inch.
|Coleman Deluxe Camp Grill||24" x 12"||3.1||- Lightweight camping grill made with nickel plated steel.|
- Features foldable legs that can create a clearance of 6.3 inches.
- Can be laid flat as well to use as grate.
|Titan Outdoors Campfire Swivel Grill||24" x 24" ; 50" height||26||- A popular, big size swivel grill made with high grade steel. |
- The 360 degree rotation swivel can have maximum clearance of 50 inch.
- Features 5 inch spiral handles which make operating the grill easy
|Adjust-A-Grill Swivel Grill||16" x 16" ; 24" height||9||- A lightweight swivel grill made with solid, heavy gauge steel|
- Features a long stake to create a height up to 24 inches.
- Comes with a storage bag for easy storage.
|Texsport Heavy Duty Barbecue Swivel Grill||24" x 16" ; 17" height||11||- Heavy duty swivel grill made from high grade steel.|
- The swivel provides 360 degree rotation by adjusting the clamp.
- The 28 inch swivel can create a height up to 17 inches.
|Camp Chef Mountain Man Grill||24" x 20" ; 24" height||11||- A sturdy swivel grill that is made of high grade steel.|
- Features 360 degree rotation swivel.
- Comes with three plates - steel grill, steel griddle and steel charcoal box
What is a fire grill and why do you need one?
As per Wikipedia, “Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of the food, commonly from above or below. Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat quickly.” Grills come in different shapes and sizes. But the most commonly used grill arrangements are table grate and swivel grills. The table grate grills consist of a rectangular surface supported by collapsible legs to keep some distance from the fire. The table grate can be heavy duty, made of high grade welded steel with heavy meshes or lightweight, made of nickel-steel wires. The swivel grills consist of a swivel, which can be hammered into the ground or adjusted using rocks and a surface plate, whose clearance from the fire can be adjusted periodically. These designs are shown in the image below:
There are three primary reasons on why an over-the-fire grill is a good to have camping cookware:
- Even Cooking: Since the grill provides a flat, uniform surface over the fire, it can help in ensuring even cooking of your food.
- Blending: A grill provides a blending surface away from the burning fuel. Cooking food without the grill can make blenders such as sauces, spice blends, rubs and marinades useless as these items would not remain on the food surface.
- Safety: Since the grill provides a uniform cooking surface, it is easier to cook items in pots and pans safely without a lot of hassle while stirring.
In the next section, we look at some of the factors while considering the best table grate or swivel grill for you.
How to pick the best fire grill for yourself?
The major decision that you have to make about picking the most suitable grill for yourself is to decide which type of camp grill you want to go for. Once you decide to choose table grate or swivel grill, the task of selecting the most suitable grill would basically be governed by a few factors. Note that we have primarily focused on standard-sized fire grills suitable for simultaneously cooking up to two items cycle, but same factors would hold for bigger grills in the same category:
- Building material of the grill
- Dimensions of the cooking surface and height of the grill
- Weight of the grill
- Miscellaneous considerations
Building material of the fire grill
Considering that the grill is exposed to direct heat from fire or charcoal, the building material of the fire grill is an important criterion to consider, as it governs the durability and weight of the grill. Typically the body of fire grill is made up of high grade welded steel for heavy-duty grates and stainless steel for lightweight grates. The mesh of the grill is generally diamond-shaped made with heat-resistant nylon, nichrome or steel. An example of this design is the widely popular Camp Chef Lumberjack Over The Fire Grill. For swivel grills such as Texsport Heavy Duty Barbecue Swivel Grill, the swivel is made from welded steel to ensure sturdiness and durability. Check that the building material is specified as steel while picking a suitable choice.
Dimensions of the cooking surface and height of the grill
The dimensions of the camping stove are defined by the cooking area expressed as length and width of the cooking plate. Typical fire grills have a cooking surface in excess of 100 square inches. Popular heavy duty table grills such as Texsport Heavy Duty over Fire Camp Grill and Camp Chef Lumberjack Over The Fire Grill come in smaller and bigger sizes as well. Lightweight camping grills can have a smaller area, though they also support around 100 square inch cooking area. Swivel grill plates also follow the same dimensions. Since the plates of swivel grills are independent of the swivel, you can fit in a larger size plate.
The height of the grill is often an important factor as it can govern if the grill can fit properly over an already built fire pit. Reclining leg table fire grills such as Coleman Deluxe Camp Grill can fit in fire pits which are wider because of their reclined legs. Straight table fire grill such as UCO Grilliput Portable Camping Grill fit only standard sized fire pits because of their straight legs.
For swivel grills, the height is typically the maximum height you can move your cooking plate too. Typical swivel grills support such as Adjust-A-Grill Swivel Grill support around 2 feet ( 24 inches) of height from fire. An exception of this is Titan Outdoors Campfire Swivel Grill which supports a height of more than 50 inches.
Weight of the fire grill
If you are backpacking or hiking and carrying your own supplies, the weight of the fire grill becomes important criteria to consider. Ultralight camping grills such as UCO Grilliput Portable Camping Grill offer a decent cooking grate and weigh as little as 1.2 pounds. Heavy duty table and swivel grills weigh a lot more and hence are not suitable for backpacking.
In addition to the major factors listed above, there are some miscellaneous considerations that can help you choose the right grill. One such consideration is the paint used on your heavy duty table grate or swivel grill. The reason certain heavy duty grills are costlier than others is that they use a better, heat resistant paint for the surface. Always, go for heat-resistant coated grills as they have a longer life.
Another factor to consider is if there are any accessories or additional items available with the grill. For example Camp Chef Mountain Man Grill comes with three plates that can be attached to the swivel. Some other grills such as Adjust-A-Grill Swivel Grill come with useful accessories such as storage bags to carry the grills. Check out the accessories available with the grill and decide if they can help you in picking the best one for you.
Which are the best fire grills and what our picks are?
Texsport Heavy Duty Over Fire Camp Grill – Editor’s choice for best heavy duty fire grill
The Texsport Heavy Duty Over Fire Camp Grill is a well-built, heavy-duty fire grill. The body of the grill is made of high grade welded steel, with a diamond-shaped mesh made from fire-retardant nylon, providing a sturdy cooking surface. The standard medium sized grill weighs 10 pounds, while the extra large grill has a weight of 20 pounds.
The Texsport Heavy Duty Over Fire Camp Grill comes in multiple sizes, with the smallest size being 16 inches by 12 inches. The large size is the standard size of 24 inches by 16 inches, which creates a cooking grate for two vessels at one time. It features two inclined foldable legs to support the grate. The reason it scores over the Camp Chef Lumberjack Over The Fire Grill is that it has bigger meshes on the grate, which ensure that maximum heat is passed on to the cooking utensil or food.
The Texsport grill comes with one year manufacturer’s warranty.
UCO Grilliput Portable Camping Grill – Editor’s choice for best light weight fire grill
The UCO Grilliput Portable Camping Grill is an ultra-light, dishwasher safe, straight-legged camping fire grill which is made from heavy duty stainless steel.
The UCO grill has slightly smaller dimensions of 10.2 inch by 9.1 inches. Its straight legs help in creating a clearance of more than 7 inches. Its sturdy construction can support up to 3.3 pounds.
The UCO Grilliput camping grill has an ultra-lightweight of 1.24 pounds and is extremely storage friendly. It can be collapsed to fit in as a tube with a bail for hanging during storage.
Camp Chef Mountain Man Grill – Editor’s choice for best swivel fire grill
Camp Chef Mountain Man Grill is a large sized camp fire swivel grill made with high-grade steel. The body and cooking grate is made of solid steel, with wired meshing for uniform cooking.
It features a swivel which supports a clearance of as high as 2 feet for slow roasting. The fire grill comes with 3 cooking grates – steel grill, steel griddle and steel charcoal box. The surface dimensions of the grate are 24 inches by 20 inches.
The grill comes also has a smart tote carry bag for easy storage.
Safety Considerations while using campfire grills
Some basic safety considerations should be kept in mind while using a campfire grill. These considerations are listed below:
- Never use the fire grill in a closed area such as tent even as a storage or heating surface as it can harm the tent liner.
- Always ensure that you place the grill on a stable ground surface. For swivel grills, ensure that the swivel is hammered deep into ground. This will ensure that the grill is properly balanced while cooking.
- Always use recommended pots and pans of correct size with the grills, especially around the edges. Overloading the grill can often lead to untimely folding of the grill legs or swivel.
- Do not touch the grill with bare hands. Always use heat resistant gloves, mittens or a cloth to operate.
- Grill Armor Extreme Heat Resistant Oven Gloves
- G & F Dupont Nomex Heat Resistant gloves
- Comenzar Silicone Insulated BBQ Cooking Gloves
- Always ensure that you dispose of the ashes/residue after the cookout responsibly and safely. Use fire pits wherever possible. Any smoldering wood or charcoal can cause fires.
You can consider the following options for heat resistant gloves:
Fire Grill Cookware
As discussed above, in order to cook over the fire grill you need to use only recommended cooking utensils. Generally, heavy duty table and swivel grills can hold more weight and hence can support cast iron and enamel pots and pans. Some of the popular cookware sets for such grills are listed below:
- Lodge 5-Piece Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Cookware Set
- Stansport Cast Iron 6 Piece Cookware Set
- Outdoor Gourmet 5 Piece Cast Iron Cookware Set
- Winterial Cast Iron Camping Dutch Oven
For lightweight grills such as the UCO Grilliput Portable Camping Grill, you should opt for special aluminum or titanium cookware as they are lightweight and would not overburden the grill. Some of the popular camping cookware sets are listed below:
- MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit
- Unigear Camping Cookware and pot set
- Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set
- HealthPro Titanium Lightweight Cook set
- Snow Peak 3 Piece Titanium Cook set
Final thoughts on best fire grills for camping or backyard cooking
In this post, we looked at some of the best tables and swivel over the fire camping grills. For table grills, we looked at the heavy duty as well as ultralight versions for backpacking. While camping grills and grates come in many shapes and sizes, the table and swivel grills are the most popular for backyard or camping cookouts. Do let us know how you found this article and if you would want us to consider anything else. Have a great backyard or camping cookout!