How to Build a Fire Pit for Cooking

Building a fire pit for cooking brings you in touch with an ancient method of food preparation. A fire pit holds a fire below the surface of the ground to protect the flames from high winds. This dug in version, known as a Dakota fire pit, requires the construction of the main pit with a ventilation hole to feed the fire with fresh air as it burns. Always check with local authorities about regulations governing open fires.

Build a fire pit for cooking while camping.
  1. Dig a 1-foot diameter hole in the ground, 1 foot deep, to create the main chamber of the pit.

  2. Widen the base of the hole below the surface by scooping out 2 inches more of soil on all sides.

  3. Dig a 6-inch wide hole 1 foot upwind of the large hole to serve as the ventilation for the pit.

  4. Connect the small hole with the larger by digging a channel from the smaller hole to the side of the main pit.

  5. Arrange dry twigs and paper in the bottom of the main pit to serve as kindling. Light the end of one piece of rolled up paper or a twig, and touch the lighted twig to the kindling until it ignites.

  6. Wait for the fire to grow so most of the kindling burns. Add firewood a piece at a time until you have a fire of the desired heat level.

  7. Set a metal grill grate over the top of the main pit for use as a cooking surface.


  • Always extinguish all flames before leaving the campsite, and fill in the fire pit with dirt.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or water on hand at all times to stop the spread of a fire that becomes out of control.