How to Build a Cinder Block Grill

As summer approaches, BBQ grills across the country ignite. Outdoor cooking is a great family activity because it not only gets you outdoors and in the elements, but it’s also a great time to teach children basic fire-building and cooking skills.

Not to mention, it’s an opportunity to play with fire, eat steak, and enjoy the beautiful weather.

If you’re like me, however, you like to incorporate DIY and survival skills into almost everything… even grilling. One way to do this is to build your own grill.

Many of us take cooking for granted, because it has been so incredibly simplified by modern appliance. Still, in many parts of the world, family meals are prepared over live fires in crude, homemade stoves and grills… much like you might have to build for yourself in a SHTF situation.

That’s my justification for building a cinder block grill anyway… along with the fact that I can build an enormous concrete grill in my backyard for $50, rather than $500.

Building a cinder block grill can be a simple or complex as you want. Here’s a fairly simple design from

A concrete cinder block barbecue is a relatively inexpensive way to create a good sized barbecuing surface to cook meals and entertain. It can double up as a fireplace as well for relaxing evenings in the backyard. Follow these steps to create a fun place to cook and relax.

Step 1 – Location of the Concrete Cinder Block BBQ

Choose a spot with good drainage and accessibility including access to water for cooking and cleaning. Mark off the area: at least 70 by 33 inches, using stakes and string making sure the lines are straight and even. Don’t forget to add a project for a chimney. The projection will be around 17 by 21 inches.

Step 2 – Build the Base

Dig a depth of 10 to 12 inches of dirt from the area you’ve just marked off. Build a frame which you’ll use to build the base. Create a mix of 1/2 gravel and 1/2 sand in a wheelbarrow and shovel this mix into the bottom of the trench. Make sure the mixture is level and firm to create a solid sub base. Then mix the concrete and place a few inches of it in the trench. Make sure it’s level. Then lay the rebar in the middle and finish pouring the concrete. Double check to make sure it’s level. Smooth the top and cover with wet burlap. Allow to cure for 48 hours before continuing work. Do not remove the frame for eight days.

Step 3 – Lay the Chimney

Use the 7 chimney blocs to lay the chimney. Position the smoke inlet opening close the where you’ll be installing the metal grate for maximum airflow.

Step 4 – Build the BBQ

Lay the first row of concrete cinder blocks on the foundation to build the sides of the fireplace. Keep building up on the rows making sure each row is level before working on the next one. Keep a width of no more than 19 inches for the fireplace grate. Be careful with the positioning. No mortar is necessary. If you choose not to use it, it’s crucial to make sure the blocks are positioned tightly together. There is more give if you choose mortar since the mortar will fill in any cracks.

Step 5 – Install the Grate

Insert the grate. If it doesn’t fit, you may need to stack concrete blocks inside the pit. A height of 3 blocks all around should work fine. Then lay the grate on top of them. Allow the unit to settle for 3 days, especially if you’ve used mortar, before doing any barbecuing. Do not burn trash in the unit because the concrete tends to hold smoke smells which can affect the flavor of foods.