Building an In-Ground BBQ Pit

B.T. Alo

In-ground barbecue pits are a great alternative to above-ground barbecues, as they can also be used as a recreational fire pit when not cooking food. There are various designs of in-ground barbecue pits.

Get some embers burning in your very own barbecue pit.

Some are used for slowly cooking whole meats, such as a full pig pit, and these are generally dug deeper into the ground and covered over for a number of hours. More common designs are those that have a shallower fire pit which supports a metal grill for cooking smaller meats such as chops, sausages and steaks.

  1. Dig a hole that is 1 foot deep and 3 feet wide. Make sure the bottom is level and the sides are straight up. Depending on your design, you may either dig a square hole or a round one.

  2. Line the bottom of the pit with firebricks, packed in tightly.

  3. Mix the mortar as per the mortar manufacturer’s instructions in the bucket. This mostly involves the addition of water, but every mortar mix configuration is different, so follow the instructions carefully.

  4. Lay a brick-width line of mortar around the edge of the walls, on top of the firebrick base. Run a furrow in the middle of the mortar line using the tip of the trowel.

  5. Set the first line of firebricks into the mortar, tapping them gently with the trowel to set them properly into the mortar. Make sure they are all the same height.

  6. Continue laying courses of bricks along the wall of the pit, and continue the wall around 1 foot up from the pit as well, creating a pit 2 feet deep in total. Scrape off any excess mortar that squishes out from between the bricks with the trowel. Let cure for at least three days.

  7. Lay a single course of the concrete slabs, or pavers, around the edge of the pit, pushing them right up against the wall, to create a perimeter that is relatively fire-proof. These do not have to be mortared down, just pressed into the ground.

  8. Place the metal grill on top of the firebrick pit. If it is a square pit, purchase a metal grill that is rectangular in shape and approximately one-half or three-quarters the size of the pit opening. If it is a circular pit, a semi-circular metal grill that covers half the pit is ideal. This will allow you to tend the fire while cooking.


Build the barbecue pit in an area that is well away from any combustible materials or overhanging trees.

Prior to construction, make sure that a fire pit is allowed by your local fire department and by residential zoning regulations in your area.