One of the great features of enjoying time around a fire pit is being able to roast food over the flame quickly and easily, with not a lot of cleanup.
Whether you like it merely cooked through or completely scorched, you can have it just the way you like it, and quickly.
A common favorite around any fire is the venerable marshmallow. Paired with Hershey bars and graham crackers and it's a combination that’s hard to beat.
Because of its status as a fire pit staple, and the continued growth in fire pit use, more and more people are asking if it's ok to roast marshmallows on a propane fire pit, citing concerns over the potential of a funky taste.
Yes, you can roast marshmallows over a propane fire pit. It’s no secret, propane is a popular cooking fuel commonly used in barbeque grills already. In this capacity, food is heated through direct exposure to flame and heated grill media, primarily lava rock, or through vented metal inserts with no negative impact on taste.
This applies to gas fire pits as well. Best results are achieved when burner pans and fire pit media are cleaned regularly and kept free of food particles, dirt, and other debris that could alter the flavor of marshmallows being roasted.
Gas fire pits are typically not designed for cooking but that doesn’t mean they can’t do the job well.
Unlike gas grills though, propane fire pits don’t contain features such as food drip pans and easily cleanable cooking surfaces, so you will have to take some care when roasting anything over a propane fire pit.
The right cooking tools, a close eye on the kids, and a thorough cleanup can make your propane fire pit a fun and reliable option for a quick bite during any backyard gathering.
Common Propane Fire Pit Cooking Concerns
The primary concerns about cooking over a propane fire pit tend to revolve around health and taste concerns.
Concerns over the impact of cooking over a propane fire pit on the fire pit itself are also common and rightly so considering the cost of some models and their repair when things go wrong.
With the thought of roasting marshmallows on a propane fire pit, let's address these concerns.
Impact on Health.
The propane (LPG) or natural gas used with gas fire pits is the same used on barbecue grills; there isn’t a special gas used specifically for fire pits.
Both have a long and safe history in the cooking space worldwide.
The bottom line is, cooking over a propane fire pit is perfectly safe – just keep the media (lava rock and/or fireglass) and burner free of food drippings, dirt, debris, etc., to help maintain a clean flame that is free of smoke.
Related Pro Tip: No, eating burnt marshmallows cooked over gas, wood, charcoal, etc., once in a while, is not bad for you. But, as good as they taste for some, you don’t want to do it regularly – burnt food of any kind, in general, is not good for you.
Some may be concerned about a strange taste when roasting over propane but again it's the same propane used in grilling; the somewhat foul odor that is typical of propane and natural gas is added purely for safety reasons and is not noticeable when the gas is burned
Will Roasting Marshmallows Damage the Fire Pit?
The short answer is not directly; much of any food droppings on the heat-emitting surfaces of the fire pit will be burned off, however, regular cleaning is a good idea from a general cleanliness perspective, but also to prevent buildup; this buildup can clog the burner ports and affect the performance of the fire pit.
Additionally, leftover food residue on your fire pit of any kind can attract insects, rodents, etc. that can then lodge themselves into spots in your fire pit that will cause it to malfunction or operate poorly – also, rats/mice are known to chew on gas lines and electrical wiring, just like the kind in your propane fire pit; so, keep it clean and covered while not in use!
How to Roast Marshmallows On a Propane Fire Pit
Now that all of that is out of the way, let's get down to business! What is the best way to roast marshmallows on a propane fire pit? A question for the ages…
This is my own personal technique, honed in the backyard fires of my 1970s youth:
First, let me define my perfectly roasted marshmallow…
- It is slightly golden brown on the sides, with the top and bottom generally untouched by direct fire;
- The outer golden brown “skin” is dry and somewhat brittle to the touch and can be easily removed and consumed separately or left on the marshmallow (see image below; just about perfect!);
- The inside is soft, with the consistency of marshmallow fluff (BTW, if you haven’t yet had a marshmallow fluff and peanut butter sandwich you haven’t lived, but I digress);
- No part of the marshmallow is burned
Let me stress that this result is not from just shoving a marshmallow on the end of a poker and thrusting it into the base of the largest flame you can find. Patience is definitely a virtue here:
- After you’ve placed a fresh marshmallow on the end of your preferably metal roasting stick, begin looking for an area in the propane fire pit where the flame is a little smaller.
- Once you’ve identified the area of the fire pit you are going to use to toast your marshmallow, gently place your marshmallow just above the tips of the flame, you don’t want to make direct contact with the flame.
- As you are holding your marshmallow above the flame gently rotate it regularly to keep one area from “over-toasting.” Pay attention to the color for cues.
- On occasion, you can dip the marshmallow in the flame but only for a few seconds at a time, think 3-4. Remember to keep rotating that marshmallow while doing so.
- Once you have achieved a semblance of golden-brown goodness all around, remove the marshmallow from the fire pit and gently blow on it to speed cooling.
- Once the marshmallow has adequately cooled remove it from your roasting stick and eat, or set it aside for whoever is in charge of putting the smores together.
Sorry for so many steps, but this is serious business. I hope you picked up a thing or two about what it takes to produce what’s in the pic above ; )
Marshmallow Roasting Fun Facts
- The origins of marshmallows go back to the good old days of ancient Egypt – back then the treat was only for the rich and famous and contained sap from the root of the marshmallow plant – who knew?; today’s marshmallows do not contain ingredients from the marshmallow plant…sorry
- Bon Appetit magazine reports that in the U.S., modern marshmallows are made from water, sugar, gelatin, corn syrup, and air
- Ever wonder where s’mores came from? National Geographic writes that a recipe for s’mores was first seen in a Girl Scout campfire guidebook published in 1927.
- According to the National Confectioners Association, the marshmallow capital of the world is Ligonier, Indiana – congratulations to everyone in Ligonier!
- If you want to take your s'mores to the next level, check out these recipes from the outdoor living and fireplace company Woodland Direct.
Conclusion: Toasting Marshmallows on a Propane Fire Pit
So, going back to why we are here; can you roast marshmallows on a propane fire pit?
Yes, you can.
In addition to being safe to do, it's probably easier to do it well on a propane gas fire pit. The flame from a gas fire pit is probably a little more controlled, not as hot, and much less smokey.
All good things in my book when roasting marshmallows. Not that I would ever pass it up on a wood-burning fire pit.
Just remember to keep things clean and do regular preventative maintenance on your propane fire pit and it will always be ready for the next time you are ready to break out the marshmallows.
Before you go, if you are looking for some quality gas fire pit options that are easy to move around and take on the road, check out my article Best Portable Propane Fire Pit for Patios, RVs, and More for my top pick and 2 other strong candidates.
All will help you take your marshmallow roasting game to the next level.
Thanks again for reading and take care!
So, what are the best marshmallow roasting sticks for propane fire pit use?
First, whether you use your marshmallow roasting sticks for a gas fire pit or wood, I'd recommend using metal ones as opposed to bamboo or some other wood type.
Obviously, you can use the metal kind over and over as the bamboo/wood type are pretty much a disposable item.
Also, metal roasting sticks or skewers are commonly available that “telescope,” and can be extended to a few feet in length and collapse down to just a few inches when not in use.
This is a nice feature if you have kids around the fire – it allows them to roast marshmallows, but also keep their distance from the fire.
When kids are going to be around the fire I'd recommend this option, the HigherHuman Safety Smores (see on Amazon). The roasting stick's tines are reversed which reduces the possibility of a child poking someone else or themselves accidentally.
Even the best-supervised kids are going to mess around sometimes, or not be paying attention, and then someone gets poked. Been there! These will save you the trouble. Collapsed, they are just over 6.5″ long and 26″ fully extended.
If you prefer a roasting stick with the tines facing forward, this option from MallowMe (see on Amazon) is a decent value and should last you a few seasons. Also, extendable, they collapse down to about a foot in length and extend out to 32.”
Are you more of a marshmallow-roasting traditionalist? There are a variety of bamboo roasting sticks available on Amazon as well. Get the longest ones you can find; 36″ is usually about the longest available; look for options in the 6mm thickness range – most are available in 5mm though.
If you are interested in more fire pit accessory ideas, check out my list of 25 “Gotta-Have” Fire Pit Accessories for Your Next Backyard Burn. It covers a number of recommendations for both propane and wood-burning backyard fire pits.