How to Build a Firepit Grill

A firepit grill is a open fire pit which you can also cook on, over a real hardwood fire. If you've read any of my site then you probably know that I'm a big fan of this style of cooking. It is the most primal, basic and natural way to cook food and the real hardwood gives off such a great aroma and flavor.

The problem of open fire pit cooking

Despite the ideal advantages of cooking over a real fire, for ease of cooking and to save time, charcoal and gas grills are usually preferred because they are quicker to get going and less messy. The problem is that a fire pit grill takes some prep time. You can't really cook over the open flames directly above the fire because the active flames will quickly burn your food before it is done on the inside. Ideally, you want to burn a lot of wood a long time to create a nice bed of hot embers to cook over. This takes some time to develop. Many fire pits won't even have room for a grill to be laid on top with a big pile of wood anyway, you'll have to wait until the firewood has burned down to fit it on.

Another problem is that once your wood has burned down to nice, hot, glowing embers, the heat starts to fade. So you can quickly cook a handful of items, but for longer cooking times the heat will fade (although stirring the embers a bit occasionally to get more oxygen to them can help prolong the heat).

Finally, most outdoor fire pits are quite large and will not fit a standard sized grill over it. Some people resort to having a metal worker weld a custom one, fitted to the size of their firepit, but this can be difficult or expensive.

The Solution

So if you want to cook regularly on an open firepit grill but want to avoid many of the problems discussed above, you can design and build a firepit which solves some of the common difficulties of cooking over an open fire. You will be designing and building a brick or stone firepit much in the same way as is discussed in detail on Outdoor Stone Fire Pit page. But instead of planning and marking a circular footprint for your pit like this:

You will instead plan two intersecting circles that overlap a bit like this:

firepit grill

They should only overlap slightly and one should be smaller than the other. The smaller one should be measured out to be just smaller in its inner diameter than a standard round grill grate. For example, the most widely available round grill grate is the Weber grill grate made for the Weber kettle grills. These grills are made in 18-1/2" and 22-1/2" diameters. So plan the inner diameter of the smaller circle to be just smaller than one of these sizes. Just the inner diameter should be this size, the inner most edge of your finished bricks or stones that will cap your fire pit grill. The fire pit can then be built to have these two connected circles with the smaller one accommodating the grill grate which can rest right on top of the fire pit rim, like this:

firepit grill

The advantage of this type of firepit grill is that you can have your regular fire going in the larger pit at all times. As you develop hot embers in the bottom of the pit, you can push them over with a long implement into the smaller circle (or use a tongs or shovel to transfer them). You then simple cover the smaller section with the grill and you can grill over the hot hardwood embers! As the heat fades, you can periodically transfer more embers from the fire to your cooking area. This way you can keep your big fire going continuously, out of the way of your cooking area, and you can have a continuous source of new hot embers to cook with. You can theoretically keep cooking indefinitely! Assuming you have enough firewood.

Good luck building
your own firepit grill!

Done with the How to Build a Firepit Grill page?
Return to the Build a Fire Pit page.

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