Five Tips for Cooking on a Wood-Burning Stove

Chelsea Hansler // April 10
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We moved off the grid on a whim. We were ready for the challenge, but we were less than prepared for getting the camp set up as a permanent residence. We had a long list of tasks to complete before we would be ready for winter and repairing the propane hookup was not high on that list.  This meant we would be without indoor cooking and a fridge until spring. We planned to utilize the winter temperatures to keep our food cold and we knew we could get by using our grill.

What I didn’t account for was that I would have to stand on the porch in my slippers frying eggs in -25c. It turns out, that is far from the thing I want to be doing first thing in the morning. 

The silver lining of this obstacle was that I forced myself to learn how to cook almost exclusively on the woodstove. With the woodstove always hot throughout the winter months, it made sense to utilize it to save on propane and not freeze my toes off

Five Tips for Cooking on a Wood-Burning Stove

How to Cook on a Wood-Burning Stove

  1. Cast iron will be your best friend when cooking on a wood-burning stove. Even heating makes everything tastes better in a cast iron pan. With proper seasoning and care, these pans will last you a lifetime.  I have found most of my pans in thrift stores over the years. 
  2. Prepare in steps. If I cook a recipe with multiple steps I will prepare as much as I can ahead of time. For example, for a recipe involving pasta, I cook the noodles ahead of time so that the actually cooking of the dish is simply throwing it together to let it cook. I would run into instances where I did not have enough room on the stove for all my pans if I didn’t divide it into steps. There is nothing worse than staring at your supper and waiting for it to finish cooking at 10 pm. 
  3. Two baking sheets instead of one. Let’s face it, kids like chicken nuggets and smiley fries. You can feed them all the homegrown foods and eventually, you’ll still be cooking these two kids' staples. Prepare your food on the baking sheet as usual and then flip another baking sheet of the same size on top of it to create an oven effect. Depending on the cooking time, you may have to create an air gap between the bottom pan and the surface of the stove so that the bottoms don’t burn. I do this by using trivets underneath from an old stove.  You can do this with two cast iron frying pans as well.
  4. Plan your time. Cooking on a wood-burning stove requires more time than cooking with propane or an electric range. Frying time will generally be the same as long as your stove is hot enough. To keep it at a hot temperature long enough to cook a casserole or dish would make your home unbearable. Unless you want to be down to your underwear cooking over the stove, I recommend treating it as if you are using a slow cooker. Slow and steady wins the race and you won’t sweat your socks off. 
  5. Watch your food closely, utilizing your draft to control the temperature of your fire. Remember that the wood will impact how hot the fire gets. If you’re using damp, uncured wood, you won’t be able to get a hot fire. Eventually, you will learn your stove's hot spots and will be able to move the dish around on the stove to the temperature you need. 

Like anything, trial and error and lots of practice will be required to master this skill. Even when you think you have it figured out, you’ll attempt a new dish and the learning begins again.

Commonly Asked Questions About Wood Burning Stoves:

Can you cook food on a wood burning stove?

Yes, you can cook food on a wood burning stove. Many wood stoves are designed with a flat surface on top specifically for cooking purposes. With proper care and attention, you can prepare various dishes using a wood stove.

Can I cook on top of my wood burning stove?

Absolutely! Cooking on top of a wood burning stove is a traditional method that's still widely practiced today. The stove's flat surface provides an ideal platform for cooking pots, pans, and other cookware. Just ensure the stove is clean and free of debris before cooking.

What can you cook on a woodstove?

You can cook a wide range of dishes on a woodstove, similar to cooking on a conventional stovetop. From soups and stews to stir-fries and even baked goods, the possibilities are endless. Just be mindful of the stove's heat levels and adjust accordingly for different recipes.

Do you need a trivet to cook on a wood burning stove?

While not always necessary, using a trivet can be beneficial when cooking on a wood burning stove. A trivet helps distribute heat evenly and prevents direct contact between cookware and the stove's surface, reducing the risk of overheating or damage to the cookware.

Cooking on a wood-burning stove is a challenge that's worth trying. 

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This post may contain affiliate links. Miss Pursuit may earn a small commission for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support our work in bringing you real information about hunting and the outdoors.

About the Author

Chelsea Hansler

Hunter, mother, wife, artist, gardener, homesteader; these are a few of the titles that best describe Chelsea. She is a wife and a mother to two beautiful 4- and 5-year-old “babies”. After serving time in the Canadian Armed Forces, she moved to a tiny home in Northern Ontario, Canada. They are surrounded by thousands of acres of crown land and closer to home you will find her abundance of chickens, a mini horse, 2 cows, and their hounds. They strive to live a simple country life, hunting, gathering, and growing their own food. Everything her family does revolves around the outdoors and living this lifestyle. Chelsea is an artist, creating one-of-a-kind pieces focused mainly on this lifestyle.