There is an inherent spectacle to the backyard barbecue. Even if you’re just flipping burgers or rotating hot dogs, everyone’s watching you make their dinner. And while some might be horrified at the idea of being stared at while grilling a steak, others fully embrace the theatrics. Enter the wild and wonderful world of improvised grills, in which the most innovative among us transform random household objects into cooking surfaces that actually work.
A quick Google search for “improvised grill” yields a stunning array of results, one more absurd than the next. In appreciation of this combination of creativity and absolutely confounding choices, here are the seven most absurd grills we found online, ranked from “pretty reasonable” to “completely weird.” And who knows: Even though it probably makes more sense to buy a grill at the store right now, this information could really come in handy when we’re all trying to survive the apocalypse.
This improvised grill, made with a clay pot, is the most practical of the DIY options. Clay-oven cooking has been around for centuries, and even if yours isn’t as impressive as a tandoor, you’ll at least be able to grill a few s’mores on your back patio without putting in too much effort.
Fashioned from a tin made for holding breath mints, this tiny cooking surface is powered by a single briquette of charcoal. It doesn’t seem especially practical, unless you’re cooking for a small family of mice, but the design is allegedly powerful enough to grill an entire hot dog, which is pretty impressive considering its size.
Aluminum soda cans are surprisingly versatile. Along with making great impromptu bongs and DIY cookie cutters, they can be transformed into personal mini-grills. On some level, this makes perfect sense, as a can is shaped like a cylinder, just like many grills are. But on another level, it raises plenty of questions — namely: Who first decided to hack open a can of Bud Light because they were hungry on a camping trip?
According to at least one 1997 article in the Deseret News, the best impromptu grill is probably sitting in your garage right now. The humble wheelbarrow can be “turned into a rotisserie, a grill, or just a big bed of coal to sit around and roast marshmallows while you talk.” Unfortunately, you’ll also need to pile about 6 inches of dirt or gravel in the bottom to prevent a fiery mishap.
This is where things really start to go off the rails. To make your own grill from a washing machine drum, you’ll need power tools — and a lot of patience. But again, this is a DIY hack that’s at least rooted in some amount of practicality. The holes on the side of the drum that allow water to pass through your washing machine should also offer excellent ventilation.
In 2017, Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn unearthed a Craigslist listing for what may be the most impressive build-your-own barbecue in history: a smoker made out of a 1988 Cadillac DeVille. The interior was completely ripped out and replaced with racks to hold as much as 1,300 pounds of meat, and a trailer hitch was installed on the back so it could be towed anywhere you damn well please. If this is your barbecue, please reach out — I need to know more.