Cooking on a Woodstove

Cooking on a woodstove is not just a great alternative way to heat the home, especially in the event of a power outage. During the winter it is almost wasteful to not cook on your woodstove while heating your house. In the spirit of killing two birds with one stove, here is an alternate way to cook dinner for the family.

Tips for Woodstove Cooking

Golden Eagle Washington Wood Stove W/ Pedestal (brown)

Don’t wait until there is a power outage before you start cooking on a woodstove. People who cook on woodstoves will tell you it’s a learning experience. Just like changing from cooking on an electric stove to a gas burner, it’s the same for changing to cooking on a woodstove; only it’s a lot more difficult. 

  • Know your stove. Different parts of your stove have different temperatures. Try to use the same place each time you cook soup for example. That way you will always know how fast things come to a boil.
  • Baking is much more difficult. Even if your stove has a thermometer on the door you should have a standalone thermometer to use when baking. Don’t try to get an exact temperature, just get a range. The temperature will fluctuate as wood burns.
  • The top of the wood stove burns hotter than the bottom so if you’ve got something cooking on the top and it’s cooking too fast move it to the middle or the bottom. Likewise, if it’s cooking too slowly move it to the top. 

When cooking on a woodstove, it’s all about knowing your particular stove. You have to know what parts of your stove burn the hottest and the best places to bake a ham, or boil water, etc. 

Modern Woodstoves

Most modern woodstoves are not ideal for cooking, but if you have a flat surface, it can be done. Older woodstoves and those designed for cooking have the ability to divide the surface into separate heat zones. 

Other woodstoves provide an oven for baking. If yours doesn’t have an oven, with practice you can still bake, but it’s tricky. The hottest part of your woodstove is going to be directly over the fire box. Use that area for boiling and frying things. 

If you’re going to bake without an oven it works best to use a large, well-oiled cast iron Dutch oven, or even a camp stove oven that just sits on top of the wood stove. Cooking on a wood stove takes practice, so learn how now when you can afford to burn that ham to a crisp. 

Cooking in a Pinch

Hasty Baker Range Wood Stove 1864

If you haven’t learned how to cook on your woodstove and find yourself in an emergency and have no choice, you can always make a Hobo (all-in-one) meal. A large coffee can works great for this kind of cooking. Just take a half pound of beef and shape into a patty the size of the bottom of your coffee can. On top add things like onions, garlic, and potato slices. You might want to stick a half ear of corn on top as well. Cover your can with double thickness aluminum foil and nestle it among the coals. It should take about an hour to cook.

Get Ready, Get Set, Cook

Now’s the time to learn cooking on a woodstove. If you don’t already have one it’s a good idea to get a stove that is made specifically for cooking as well as heating. These stoves are so much more versatile and it will save you lots of frustration down the road when you’re learning to cook. If you’ve already got a woodstove and just have the standard flat top don’t worry, you can still cook a large variety of things with just a little creativity and practice.


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