Portable Outdoor Fireplace

A portable outdoor fireplace can keep your party moving!

| December 2011/January 2012


Build this easy-to-construct outdoor fireplace for food and family fun.


I really enjoyed your article on hearth cooking, Hearth Cooking: An Ancient Cooking Technique Revisited. A few years ago, while trying to find a place in the backyard to have a wienie roast, I put my mind to work and came up with a simple but workable plan for a cooker of my own. I call it my “portable, backyard cement-block fireplace.”

I used standard-sized cement blocks and recycled grill racks. I didn’t use mortar, so we can move the portable outdoor fireplace to a different location if the need arises.

For my family and friends, it has been an enjoyable and useful backyard wood cooker, cooking everything from smoked sausage on a stick to our Thanksgiving ham. Plus, the kids love it!

Ronnie Norwood
High Point, North Carolina

6/12/2015 8:49:09 AM

How do you make it

4/7/2015 3:31:08 PM

I haave searched the web for grills, I get everything except the top cooking grill and the bottom wood grill pictured. What else would you call them and any idead where to get them? Thanks

4/1/2015 12:50:52 AM

Have to watchout for exploding concrete. .... we had a brick one at camp like this that has lasted 50+ years.... Enjoy nothing like bbq

1/31/2015 7:24:49 AM

Love to see a better photo of the blocks near the bottom and how they are turned sideways. Is the smoke/heat directed out the back of this or up through the slots in the blocks above those to heat as it appears the pot sitting on top of the cement blocks?

7/10/2013 12:17:11 PM

I reinforce Megan's comment below regarding the safety of using cinder blocks for this purpose.  Perhaps there are special heat resistant types, but the ordinary variety is not suited here

steve racz
1/5/2012 7:07:06 AM

Circle of rocks, two forked sticks, a steel bar and a dutch oven hanging by an S shaped piece of steel bent from a tent peg. That's my outdoor cooking area. No worries about cadmium, galv etc. Just mild steel and cast iron and stone. Oh, how complicated we can make things!

megan racevskis
11/28/2011 6:46:54 PM

Cinder blocks are NOT safe for high heat applications. They will crack, or possibly even explode and throw off "splinters". Please note that fire bricks should be substituted for the cement blocks. Serious safety issue. Thanks.

michael heward
11/21/2011 5:12:12 AM

Excellant idea. Do check the wire racks. Cadmium plating is very toxic. If the plating is very shiny and will rust if scratched, it's cadmium. Only high end fridge racks would be stainless. Also, Never, Ever use galvanized. Same deal. except, galv. is generally dull. Very Deadly when heated... The block fireplace can be a real life saver in hard times. You can also use wrought iron as a grate. Make sure it is clean. Heat and season just as an iron skillet. No plating problems... Cedar Mill Bumper and Hitch

tina norwood
11/18/2011 1:29:38 AM

Hi Ben, all these are racks made for grills, the top one is just 2 racks connected. We've since found one that has a little better fit.

tim sefton
11/17/2011 3:17:13 PM

We working on a project developing and building a low cost stirling engine for electrical generation that would work well with outdoor fireplaces - We are targeting a building cost of $110 for a 1KW output - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/672465444/low-cost-sterling-engine

ben boynton
11/17/2011 2:03:33 PM

I have read and been told of poisoning from using old refrigerator shelves for barbequing. The concern is the toxicity of cadmium plating used on them. Search- "refrigerator shelves" cadmium- for more information. What I'm still interested in is how to tell if a shelf would have this cadmium plating or not, and of course if other metals would be also toxic.

angie allen
11/17/2011 1:50:58 PM

What a great idea, not just for fun, but an excellent way to be prepared for an emergency situation where evac is not necessary, but the usual cooking methods are not available. Thanks!

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