Build an Outdoor Stove, Oven, Grill and Smoker

For only $300, you can build this durable outdoor cooking unit that can function as a stove, oven, grill, and smoker.

| April/May 2010

finished stove oven grill smoker

This outdoor stove/oven/grill/smoker is made of concrete blocks and firebricks so that it will last a long time.


This DIY, wood-fired, outdoor masonry stove can be used four ways: for baking, grilling, cooking, and smoking. Whatever your cooking needs, our outdoor stove/oven/grill/smoker can do it, thanks to interchangeable grill grates and griddle surfaces. If you want to grill steaks or fish, use the grill grate. If you want to bake bread, slide on the steel griddle, stack some bricks on top to retain heat and add the door to hold in the heat. If you want to use the stove top, just slide the metal plate (or griddle) over the top of the firebox.

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors and I wanted to design a highly efficient, multi-purpose stove that uses little firewood (or charcoal) and retains heat for baking and cooking. So, we included a thick insulation layer of lightweight perlite/cement between the firebox and surrounding concrete block, and we included a removable door. This design holds the heat in the firebox where it’s needed. (Perlite is the porous white stuff often found in potting soils. You can buy this mined mineral product at garden centers.)

You can build the outdoor oven in stages, a few hours at a time. (You’ll need a few days between some steps.) Check local building codes before you start building. The oven is made from materials you can buy at local hardware or building stores. You may be able to find some of the materials at a salvage yard, too. (See the materials list and the building diagram). Detailed instructions for building the outdoor brick oven are below. Even if you only use it to bake bread, you can save enough money in one year to more than pay for the $300 cost.

Ideally, the stove is built to a comfortable height with concrete countertop space on each side, plus a roof to protect against the elements. We covered the concrete blocks with tile, primarily for aesthetic reasons, but you could apply stucco over the blocks, or just paint them. Having an outdoor sink and storage space nearby is also convenient.

Our outdoor oven requires a fire in the firebox for about 45 minutes to one hour to reach a baking temperature of 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, if you want to grill, you can start in less than half an hour. For comparison, it can take about three hours to get a clay earthen oven up to proper baking temperature. That’s a lot of time and firewood expended, which really adds up if you’re using the oven frequently. The firebrick used in our stove reaches cooking temperature more quickly than clay because its higher density makes it more efficient at conducting heat.

Another key design element is the firebox size — not too small, not too large, but just right. Properly sized fireboxes heat up quickly, have improved combustion, produce less smoke and stay hotter longer. We measured cookie sheets, bread pans, medium and large roasting pans, canners and baking dishes to arrive at our optimal firebox size of 13 inches wide by 28 inches deep by 13 1/2 inches high.

6/22/2015 2:34:24 PM

Is it easy enough to make this larger by altering the sizes or will it cause safety issues, etc. Also, how do you make your own homemade reusable charcoal and is there any other way to keep the heat in other than the concrete blocks? (since I have a really bad back) Thanks! Doreen

5/14/2014 6:59:34 PM

Need to get busy and do this!

2/5/2014 5:59:04 PM

one could build a more efficient [and probably less expensive] version of this using Rocket Stove technology. just as easy to build, but makes more controllable heat. i would have also used sand or "cob" instead of perlite for heat retention and insulation. one could build one of these for a lot less than $300 if one were to scour the local salvage and building re-use businesses. we have several in my area. just a thought.

9/1/2013 1:52:25 PM

Can you send me demensions and a drawing

8/7/2013 6:39:59 AM

Awesome idea! I actually came here looking for cleaning ideas but now you have me intrigued lol. Can this be implemented inside at all? And I have used professional cleaners for my ovens in the past such as <a href="">oven cleaning kent</a> and <a href="">oven cleaning birmingham</a>, but could I use baking soda and vinegar on this like my cooker inside my home? Thanks for the great DIY post - looking forward to trying it! I'll post some pictures up and comment back here after.

7/11/2013 4:20:41 PM

Is there a reason why this couldn´t be implemented inside of a house?

george sisson
7/14/2012 2:07:42 AM

For those that have completed this. Did you cast the counteryop in place? I am a little confused on this. Thank you

firerock products
4/20/2012 1:31:19 PM

For more ideas on how you can integrate an outdoor oven into your home and for other possible product ideas, please visit Product specialists are standing by who can assist you with any questions you may have.

nancy smith
4/5/2012 10:14:17 AM

I cannot wait to try this! It helps to have some of the supplies already on hand!

nancy smith
4/5/2012 10:13:34 AM

I really, really like this idea! I cannot wait to try it!

2/21/2011 9:54:45 PM

Maybe you could send me a JPEG image by email: strawhouses [at] Then I will share with Mother Earth News.

r.j. curtin
2/19/2011 12:18:49 PM

I completed this project last fall. Like many good Americans, I altered the plans slightly to make for a larger cooking surface. We used it to make big batches of soup and to bake squash. We plan on canning with it this summer. I works very well and it makes for some fun times. I covered it with slate tile and a coat of clear sealant. It gets very cold here and I am hoping it survives the winter without cracking. I also was able to draw up the metal parts and get them made professionally by a local job shop. It added to the expense, but it is better quality than I could fabricate with my limited resources. I would post a picture, but the comments section doesn't allow this.

2/17/2011 7:31:03 AM

There's a photo of perlite on our earthbag blog. We used the type in the center called expanded perlite.

troy griepentrog_1
1/27/2011 2:01:48 PM

Curt, A note from the author is below. Thanks, Troy --- We used fine perlite that contains some powder but mostly small pieces about 1/16" or slightly larger. This makes it easy to mix with cement. It seems like you'd lose R-value with all powder. Owen

1/26/2011 12:49:25 PM

Perlite comes in different grades (fine, medium, coarse). What grade of perlite is to be used?

troy griepentrog_2
7/26/2010 2:32:37 PM

Hi, everybody! Just wanted to let you all know that the diagram and materials list are all we have for this one. Links are available on the first page of the article. No line-drawing plans exist (sorry). Be sure to check out the Image Gallery, too. There are several photos of the oven under construction. Here's a tip, though. The diagram show a cut-through version of the oven that precisely splits the oven in half. So where you see two firebricks in the front of the oven floor, the total will be four across the front. Thanks, Troy Senior Associate Editor Mother Earth News

7/21/2010 4:30:12 PM

I have the same problem as others. Can't find the plans and I would love to try my hand at this. Ya'll are great and have a great publication. Thanks

7/13/2010 6:41:07 AM

Nice oven-grill :-) Sadly I cant find the link to the plans.. I was wondering if you could email me the diagrams,plans and materials list or email me a link to location to the info on your website. Thanks Joe

7/7/2010 10:24:00 PM

I was wondering if you could email us those diagrams and plans to build it...and a materials list...thank you I am soooo very excited to build this!!

6/28/2010 8:52:19 PM

I would also like the plans and diagram to build this project - could you please email them or post them??? Thanks

6/14/2010 5:40:04 PM

Regarding the materials list: I'm finding the Perlite is sold in cubic feet (and/or quarts)is the "13 pound bag" equal to a 4 cubic foot bag? And to the person who asked about asbestos in fire brick - it is no longer used in manufacturing firebrick.

michael _3
5/30/2010 7:09:24 PM

Can you email me the plans and diagrams for this project ? I can't wait to build it. Thanks

dale gronberg
5/30/2010 2:14:26 PM

Hi, I am also having a problem finding the detailed instructions/diagrams for this project. Could you please advise? Thanks.

5/29/2010 11:14:50 AM

We are wondering...does anyone know if firebricks still contain asbestos, and if so, is it wise to bake bread directly on the firebricks?

randy fish_1
5/24/2010 2:07:46 PM

We also unable to find the link for detailed instructions for building outdoor oven?? Please advise, can't wait to see them. Thanks! Randy

5/12/2010 8:56:58 AM

Hi -- has anyone started/done this project. We would like to start soon. Contemplating the cost/building/and then learning to use often and efficiently. Any comments/advice? Thanks

dennis mckaskey_2
4/21/2010 6:42:49 PM

Hi! Great project but the link to the diagram(s) is getting lost in space and never materializes. Thanks for all you guys do! I'll try from a different computer and network to see what happens.

troy griepentrog_1
4/21/2010 2:27:54 PM

Thanks for letting us know about the links to the diagrams. They should be correct now. Troy

leonard c_1
4/21/2010 11:22:02 AM

The building diagram link "(See the materials list and the building diagram)." points to the lintel diagram (Lintel-diagram.pdf) instead of the building diagram.

michael marino_2
4/20/2010 7:57:10 AM

Outdoor oven looks great. How do I get the diagrams?

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