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    How to Cook Food on a Rock

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    How to Cook Food on a Rock

    When most people think of using rocks, they most likely think of construction and landscaping. Cooking on rocks is a traditional preparation method that is now mainly found in specialty restaurants.

    However, anyone can use this style of cooking if they find the right rock and know how to build a fire. It can save you in a pinch if you forget your frying pan while you’re camping.

    Don’t just think you can grab any rock and heat it, though. There are some factors to consider to avoid injury. Let’s take a look at what rocks you can use, as well as tips to help you cook on them safely.

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    When would you use a rock to cook on?

    While you can cook food on rocks at any time, there are some scenarios in which it would be handy. Centuries ago it was used as a primary way of grilling or cooking meat and vegetables.

    Today, you seldom see it used outside of the survivalist community and restaurants looking to do something different for their customers. A lot of Asian restaurants will serve raw meat and seafood to their customers to cook on their tableside hot rocks.

    Speaking of survival, that is a scenario in which it would be effective. You won’t necessarily have a frying pan on you in a survival situation, making a rock your next best option.


    If you’re out in the woods for an extended period then you’ll more than likely be hunting for meat or fish. Preparing your catch on a heated rock is a great way to evenly cook the food as long as you can keep the heat under control. 

    In the case of a societal collapse and the need to bug out quickly, you won’t have time to grab all of the kitchen items you’ll need. Not only that, the added weight of a pan can bog you down if you’re traveling over long distances. 

    What foods can be cooked on a rock?

    You’ll primarily be grilling or sauteing your food if you’re cooking on a rock. You can boil water in a container on a rock, but that would take much longer than simply hanging the container over the fire.

    Instead, you want to focus on whatever foods cook best in a frying pan. The nice thing about this style of cooking is that you need minimal cooking grease if any at all.


    Foods that cook well on a rock include:

    • Meat
    • Seafood
    • Vegetables
    • Bread 

    The key to cooking these foods is to find the right rock for the job. Luckily, there are many types to choose from and with a little experience, you won’t have any problems finding the perfect rock.

    Picking the right rock to cook on


    It’s important to remember that not all rocks are the same. Different kinds will react differently to the heat you’ll be applying. To answer the question that’s probably been burning to get out of your brain: yes, there is a chance that the rock can explode.

    Everyone will have different criteria for what makes a rock explode, the truth is, any rock can explode. However, you can minimize that chance with the rock from the right environment.

    Ideally, you want a rock that is dense with no structural flaws. It needs to be non-porous and not found in water. That last part is the most important factor to consider when picking a rock.

    A porous rock that’s been sitting in water has most likely absorbed that water. As you heat the rock that water turns to steam and forces itself out of the material. This is what generally causes cracking, and in the worst cases, an explosive rock.

    When selecting a rock keep an eye out for these types, which are often the best for cooking on:



    Compared to other rocks, granite can withstand low and high heat. It has excellent heat transfer capabilities making it effective for many food types. Look for a slab about 1.5-2 inches thick if you want to use it for repeated cooking sessions. It is porous so be sure to introduce it to the heat slowly and wipe it with some oil or fat beforehand if you can.



    The French have used slate for cooking in their rustic cuisine.This type of rock can be temperamental but is a viable option. You have to find the right thickness, store it properly, and heat it slowly.

    Otherwise, it will crack quickly, often after the first use. Avoid using slate from near rivers or lakes as they are most likely filled with water.



    These types of sedimentary rocks are great for cooking as long as you don’t get them from water. They are highly porous and prone to exploding once heated if they have absorbed water.  

    Cooking on a Rock: step by step

    Cooking on a rock is simple as it’s mainly controlling the temperature of your fire. Here is a step-by-step guide for cooking your food on a hot rock.


    1. Start by building a campfire and letting it burn down to coals. A hot flame at the beginning can sometimes heat the rock too quickly.


    2. Find the flat rock that you’ll use for cooking. Try to make it no more than 2-4 inches thick. You’ll need two other rocks with a flat side to prop up your main slab. Simply put a big slab over the two rocks so there is a space underneath for coals.


    3. Shovel some coals underneath the main slab to start heating it. From there you can add some twigs to build up the coal bed and flame as needed. 


    4. Place your food on the hot rock and turn what you're cooking every so often for even cooking. Add wood to your fire as it starts to cool down.


    That’s all there is to cooking food on a rock. Some people will rub oil on the surface of their slab to add a non-stick coating.


    Tips for safely cooking on a rock

    Cooking over hot rocks can be dangerous for a few reasons and it’s best to follow some safety guidelines to avoid injuring yourself or others.

    Test the rock out first –  Finding a rock is great, but testing it out before you use it will determine if it’s the right rock. To test the rock simply place it over the hot flame or coals and then step away from it. You want the rock to heat up enough so that you can see if it’s going to crack or not.

    Don’t touch a hot rock with your hands – It’s best to flip your food with some sticks or a pair of tongues. Even after cooking you’ll want to not touch it for at least half an hour to let it cool down.

    Let the rock cool naturally – Splashing or submerging the rock in water can be quite a shock to it. Even spritzing some water on a hot rock can cause it to explode, especially if it’s porous. Give it an hour or two of cooling down before you attempt to move it.   


    Final Thoughts

    Cooking on a rock is a great way to grill meat, fish, and veggies in a variety of outdoor situations. Picking the right rock is vital to being successful while avoiding personal injury. However, if you manage to pull it off then you’ll find that the food you cook on them is just as delicious as if you used a frying pan.

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