If your social media feeds are populated with footage of deeply seared ribeyes, sauce-lacquered chicken wings, and sides of salmon nailed to cedar planks, you probably already know Derek Wolf, the man behind Over The Fire Cooking, who has built a community of millions of outdoor cooking enthusiasts across his Instagram feed and YouTube channel.

If you don’t, Wolf’s new cookbook, Food by Fire, can introduce you to the Nashville-based author’s maximalist approach to live-fire cooking: big cuts of protein, liberal use of spice blends and sauces, and an indulgent amount of butter. But behind all of the #forkyeah-worthy foods is a mastery of managing and cooking with fire, wherever the flames are flickering.

Photo courtesy Derek Wolf

Here, Wolf shares his essential outdoor cooking gear, as well as a recipe for citrusy, spicy shrimp cooked in cast iron.

Grills, Smokers, Etc.

“I use a few different kinds of equipment for live-fire cooking, including a Kankay grill from Argentina, an Oklahoma Joe smoker, and a Stadler Made outdoor oven. I also frequently cook over my Breeo fire pit and a homemade fire pit made from heat-resistant bricks, which I can reconfigure depending on what I’m cooking and the direction of the wind.”

Cast Iron Skillet

“For me, the [cast iron] skillet is so essential I treat it like an extension of my body. The reason it is so sacred is that it can be used so many ways—from searing off delicate pieces of seafood to getting the perfect crust on a smashburger. The skillet opens new doors for those who want to master open-fire cooking. When I’m cooking over an open fire, I’ll set the skillet on a cast-iron stand and build the fire around that, or I’ll use a grill grate, or, in a pinch, prop the skillet up on logs or rocks—whatever it takes to allow some airflow between the fire and the coals.”


“I like using flat, Brazilian-style churrasco skewers from Norcal Ovenworks or Super Skewer, They can handle big cuts of meat and are sturdy enough to stick into the ground for leaning food over the fire.”


“I always have a pair of welding gloves around, which can withstand enough heat that I can pick up burning logs and move them around with my hands.”

Pitchfork and Shovel

“I use a traditional metal pitchfork for picking up or breaking apart lit logs, as well as a food-grade stainless steel shovel, which you can actually cook on as well.”

Recipe: Chili-Lime Shrimp

Yield: 2 servings



Make the chili-lime marinade: In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk all the marinade ingredients to combine.


Make the shrimp: Add the shrimp to the marinade and gently toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate the shrimp to marinate for 1 hour, but no more than 2 hours.


Preheat a medium-hot fire or grill. Preheat a cast-iron skillet with a touch of oil in it over the fire for 1 to 2 minutes before cooking.


Once the skillet is hot but not smoking, remove the shrimp from the marinade and place them in the skillet. Discard the marinade. Cook the shrimp, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until they turn from translucent to whitish-orange in color. Pull the shrimp off the fire and let rest for 1 minute. Serve with a touch of cilantro on top, lime wedges for squeezing, and a side of rice and beans, if you like.

Recipe adapted from Food X Fire: Grilling and BBQ with Derek Wolf (Harvard Common Press, 2021)