S’mores are a huge part of the summer season at my house. We have a fire pit in the backyard where the kids love to toast marshmallows. They ask to do it almost every day. I’m always putting them off because building a fire every single day is not worth the hassle just for a few s’mores. (Sorry, I hope my opinion doesn’t offend any diehard s’mores lovers! Bear with me for a minute, I did find a way we can eat s’mores just about anytime we want — without building a fire.)
On the days my kids really beg to make s’mores, but I really don’t want to build a fire, I can pull out my handy dandy tabletop fire bowl. It produces enough heat to toast marshmallows so we can make s’mores.
I put the whole fire bowl together in about 2 minutes. It was so easy, I don’t know why we had not made one sooner. I had everything I needed to make it – minus the Sterno s’mores heat cans – at home.
Want to know how to make a tabletop fire pit like mine? All you need is at least 1 can of Sterno s’mores heat, a metal pan and rocks.
Sterno canned heat (also called cooking fuel) is commonly used as the heat source for camping stoves, fondue makers and buffet chafing dishes. The s’mores heat is a blend designed to be used with their family fun s’mores maker. The heat produced is perfect for evenly toasted marshmallows!
I also used a circular galvanized steel feed pan, but I’m pretty sure even a metal cake pan from the kitchen would do the trick. The pan doesn’t need to be round – I just like that the feed pan is round and larger than an average cake pan, so we can put it on the patio table and everyone can sit around it and toast marshmallows.
The metal pan I used is about 13 inches diameter and 2.5 inches high. You’ll need enough rocks to hold the Sterno can(s) in place inside the pan. I filled my pan as high as possible, to try and sort of hide the sides of the Sterno cans.
I had some leftover decorative stones from a succulents terrarium craft project, so I used those. But you could simply wash off some rocks from your yard and use those if you want. Or, buy rocks at the hardware store. Pick colorful river rocks if you really make your tabletop s’mores look fancy. The rocks just can’t be too big. Golf ball size rocks or smaller works best. Even gravel size works.
How To Make a Tabletop Fire Bowl S’mores Maker
- Sterno S’mores Heat *I used 3 cans in mine
- Decorative Stones or Gravel
- Metal Pan
Place Sterno can(s) where desired inside the metal pan. Fill with rocks or gravel to hold cans in place.
To use S’mores Maker: Remove the lid from each Sterno can and light as directed on the Sterno package. It’s easier for me to light the cans using a lighter with a long wand. Use a skewer to toast marshmallows over the flames. Be careful not to place marshmallow directly in the flames – it will catch on fire!
The Sterno cans I purchased say they will burn for several hours. I have been putting the lids back on the cans to put out the flames and re-lighting our cans each time we want to make s’mores. Sterno cans are fairly inexpensive (I got mine for a couple dollars each in Walmart’s camping section,) and I doubt I will need to replace our cans anytime soon. Each s’mores making session lasts about 15 minutes max.
As for any safety questions you have about Sterno, I recommend reading all the FAQs on the Sterno website. There’s a lot of helpful information.
It’s important to treat the lit Sterno cans the same way you would treat a fire’s flames. The cans get very hot and the area immediately around them gets hot enough to burn. In the daylight, you can feel the heat, but the flames are virtually invisible. It’s much easier to see the flames at night when it is dark. They are several inches high. I tried to show this in my project photos.
It’s nice that each Sterno can has a heat indicator on it to let you know when it’s cool enough to touch. Another good thing about using canned heat for s’mores is that there’s no smoke or odor.
My outdoor tabletop is tile, so I don’t need to put anything underneath the fire bowl for heat protection. I also have a small painted wooden spool table that the kids and I have used the fire bowl on. It’s pretty rustic, so I don’t worry about it getting ruined. Just keep in mind that the fire bowl will get hot, and you may need a hot pad or something else under it to protect your table’s finish.
We have also set the fire bowl directly on the ground and made s’mores while we sat around it, just like we would a campfire.
Once we are finished making s’mores, I put out the Sterno cans and allow them to cool. Then, I bring the tabletop fire bowl inside to store it on a shelf in the garage. Although there’s nothing that would really get ruined if left out in the rain, it will stay nicer stored out of the weather.
Do you love to make S’mores? If you want to make s’mores without a campfire, you should give this tabletop fire bowl slash s’mores maker a go. It’s fun to use outdoors. Not quite as fun as a real fire, but almost! The kids are happy and get to toast marshmallows for easy s’mores, and that’s what matters to me.