How to build a brick BBQ fireplace

Written by lauren wise
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How to build a brick BBQ fireplace
A very hot fire is the key to building a brick BBQ fireplace (bbq fife image by bluefern from

You don't need to invest a lot of money in a fancy backyard BBQ - build one yourself with simple materials from the hardware store and a little cultural influence. Polynesian culture (particularly at Hawaiian luaus) influenced the method of grill cooking in an underground grill called an "imu." This can be built in a backyard, while camping or on the beach, as long as it is away from items that can catch fire like brush. Although building this brick BBQ fireplace takes time and hard labour, the slow-cooking, tender meat that results make it worthwhile.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Charcoal
  • Matches
  • One cord of wood
  • Hardwood smoking chips
  • Meat
  • Burlap sacks
  • Aluminium foil
  • Chicken wire
  • Bricks
  • Grilling grate
  • Non-stick cooking spray

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  1. 1

    Soak the hardwood chips in water overnight so they are thoroughly moist. This ensures the chips will smoulder in BBQ fire, not just burn up.

  2. 2

    Use the shovel to dig a hole in the ground that is three feet deep. A square shape is common, but you can also create it in a circle shape if desired. Dig the hole about three feet wide and three feet long.

  3. 3

    Lay the charcoal on the bottom of the fireplace hole, layering it around three to four inches deep. Start a fire in the charcoal and continuously add the cord of wood until the fire is large and hot.

  4. 4

    Set up the support for the BBQ grate by placing a pair of bricks on each side of the hole, or for square shapes, on all four sides. Stack the bricks as high or as low as you want. It is important that they are sturdy.

  5. 5

    Layer the hardwood chips that you soaked in an even layer on the fire. Set up the BBQ grate on the bricks.

  6. 6

    Prepare the meat you plan to cook on the brick BBQ fireplace. If you wish to use the typical luau style of grilling, proceed to Step 7. If not, then you can just lay your food on the greased grill grates and let it cook.

  7. 7

    Prepare the meat for imu-style cooking by wrapping it tightly in clean burlap bags that have been soaked in water for at least a couple hours. Wrap the meat next in aluminium foil. Then wrap the burlap bags in the chicken wire. Backfill the dirt you removed from digging back into the pit around the meat. Lightly sprinkle a couple inch layer of dirt over the chicken wire. This creates a smoking effect for the food. The dirt will not get on the actually meat because of the burlap, aluminium foil and chicken wire.

  8. 8

    Let the meat cook for about 45 minutes per pound, but it is your best bet to use a thermometer to gauge the temperature. Beef, veal and lamb steaks must be at a minimal temperature of 145 °F, pork at 165 °F, ground meats at 160 °F, and all poultry at 170 °F. If you didn't bury the meat in traditional imu style, then you will know the meat is done when the char marks are apparent and the juices run clean.

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