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BBQ Board: Wood Grills for Less Than $1000???

Talk about Steven's television show, Primal Grill
Nancy Lou BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 64
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
This week, S.B. wrote to us with this question:


I am a great fan of Mr. Raichlen and have learned a great deal from his books.

I have a great desire to cook with wood (not wood chunks or chips). In the book "How to Grill", Mr. Raichlen talks about using a weber charcoal grill but in other books, when the discussion of wood grilling is broached, this is not mentioned. Pure wood grills (such as Grill Works) are quite expensive. Are there any reasonable alternatives for wood grilling- such as using a Weber kettle grill?

I have a BGE and I have used wood chunks/chips with lovely flavors but do want to try cooking on a pure wood grill which is reasonable in cost (less than a $1000)."

Our reply: The Grillworks--that Argentinean-style grill Steven occasionally uses on Primal Grill as well as the Aztec wood-burning grill--always get viewers' attention because they are uncommon in the U.S. But they are too expensive for many grillers. Certainly, you can burn wood chunks or logs in your BGE or Weber kettle grill. But it sounds like you are looking for a grill built exclusively for wood. Barbecue Board...we'd love your input. Thanks!

Post Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:31 am
QJuju well done
well done

Posts: 1976
Location: La Grange, Kentucky

I would think that this could be done in a Char-Griller Outlaw about as cheaply as any other solution. I agree that the GrillWorks grill is totally slick and has a cool factor, but I too found them a little expensive given that they have an almost singular purpose.

When I still had the Char-Griller I would burn lots of chunks to get that same effect. It worked pretty well. It did not have the cool v-shaped bars or the "adjustability", but it was functional. And not that expensive. I will also add that I found the time to get the fire ready to be exceptionally long and that the results were not significantly different from lump with some chunks/chips for flavor. Also, if the wood does not have sufficient time to burn down the end result can be sooty.

I have seen a number of fire pits that have rotating grates to grill over the open fire. I have not priced any of these so I cant speak to cost, but I would suspect they would be less than Grillworks and certainly built purely for wood.

I found the Swinging Grills of Germany to be quite interesting and while having one shipped here could be expensive I would suspect a suitably functional swinging grill could be fashioned on the cheap so to speak.

In the end if cooking on wood was my goal and cost was a priority I would give the char-griller a try or use the Weber if I already had one. I hope that helps and whatever you choose Grill On!

Post Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:59 am
Nancy Lou BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 64
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Thanks, QJuju, for your EXCELLENT post. Steven is mightily intrigued by those "swinging" German grills, too, and wrote about them in Planet Barbecue. But I bet shipping would inflate the cost substantially. Grill On is right!


Post Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:05 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 13157
Location: Texas
Not sure where S.B. resides, but there are plenty of places to purchase wood burning cookers in Texas.

I own a fire pit like QJuju described and cook over a wood fire on it often. Landmann makes one called Round Rock that even has a rotisserie.

There are a number of custom smoker/grill manufacturers in Houston that ship all over the country/world, and have smaller rigs that are under $1,000.

I've also seen Chimenea style ovens for cooking over wood.
I would love to have a wood burning pizza/bread over in my back yard, but pre-manufactured ones exceed my present budget.

One could always build a ground level pit out of brick, rock, or cinder blocks.

Meteor Curlys Chuckwagon Charcoal Grill is fashioned after a Santa Maria style bbq style wood burning BBQ grill.

A Brinkmann Smoke King Deluxe (BSKD) or New Braunfels Bandera Smoker can be used as a small wood burning grill in the side firebox as can many offset smokers.

The list goes on, I hope your writer is able to find something affordable that meets their need.

Post Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:56 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

For what it's worth, I've done all-wood cooks on my CharGriller Outlaw and they've turned out pretty well. The heat varies a fair bit more than grilling with charcoal, but the CG is a decent grill to do this with. The only drawback is that the seasoning on the grates needs to be redone after a few of these cooks (or even grilling with straight Royal Oak lump), but other than that, no worries. :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:13 pm
Nancy Lou BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 64
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Thanks! Great insight. Cooking with wood is always a bit of a challenge: as you said, the heat is variable.

Post Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:29 pm
Phantom medium

Posts: 182
Location: Guam, USA
For a simple wood burning BBQ grill, I have to go with the Santa Maria style grills. They have a simple firebox with a grill that can be raised or lowered. As the wood burns down the grill can be raised or lowered to adjust the grill from the fire.

Perfect way to keep what ever you're cooking the right distance from the flames.

Here is the link to one of the pit manufacturers:

I hope this helps out. But you really cannot burn your meat on one of these, unless you fall asleep at the grill.

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