The main motivation behind building homemade BBQ grills seems to be money — unless you want a very basic BBQ grill you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on a store-bought model. If the purpose of a backyard BBQ grill is to prepare great food, a homemade BBQ grill suits the need just fine. A good homemade BBQ grill should set you back far less than a hundred bucks for materials, and if you have materials laying around your home you could spend nothing at all.
The benefit of homemade BBQ grills is more than just financial. The satisfaction of eating a perfect steak cooked on a BBQ grill you built yourself is its own reward. Add to that the freedom you have to build your backyard BBQ the way you want it, and buying a grill from the store just doesn’t make sense.
Homemade BBQ grills come in all shapes and sizes — the design is only limited to your materials and your imagination. Homemade grills range in size from small smokers to giant pig roasting pits. Whatever size and type of grill you need, you can build it at home for a fraction of the cost.
There are three basic types of backyard BBQ grills — brick and mortar, solar, and in-ground BBQ pits. You can build your homemade BBQ grills any style you want, but these three should give you a good starting point.
Brick & Mortar Grills
Building a brick and mortar grill from scratch will cost you a little more than $100, but laying a permanent slab of cement under your grill will make it last longer than any grill you buy in the store. Simply lay bricks end to end around the perimeter of a concrete slab, add mortar between the bricks to form the shape of your grill, and continue building up. At the level you want your grill gate, build your bricks into a “jutting” shape that can hold the grill itself.
This style of grill is a bit more expensive than building a grill inside a ceramic pot, but its permanence and the fact that you can custom design your grill height makes it an extremely versatile homemade BBQ grill.
As more and more homes “go green”, the solar grill is growing in popularity. A solar grill uses heat from the sun directed at your food to cook it. If you’re not in a very dry and hot climate (such as the desert Southwest or parts of California) you may not able to run a solar grill. If, however, you live in an area that gets high temperatures, you can build yourself a solar grill.
The basic design of a solar grill works like this — take a big umbrella, line the inside of it with a reflective material (such as aluminum foil or small mirrors) align two sawhorses and securely attach two thin metal pipes to act as a “grill holder”, then place a roasting pan on the metal pipes. Position the umbrella underneath your “grill” and adjust the umbrella until the reflective surface is giving off as much light as possible.
In-Ground BBQ Pit
At the other end of the spectrum from complicated solar grills and brick and mortar construction is the in-ground BBQ pit. These simple BBQ grills have been used for thousands of years to cook meats.
Build your in-ground BBQ put by digging a hole five feet deep and long enough to hold whatever item you’re grilling. Make the hole as wide as your eventual grill gate. Now that you have a hole, stick the charcoal or wood fuel you’ll be using for heat inside the hole, and place the grill gate on top. Once the fuel is hot enough, you’re ready to cook.
This method uses the natural insulation of the ground to keep heat in, and is much safer than simply burning fuel directly on the ground.