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What Is a Backyard BBQ Pit?

Judith Smith Sullivan
Judith Smith Sullivan

A backyard BBQ pit is a permanent structure used to grill and cook food outdoors. It can be as simple as a large hole lined with charcoal and wood, or it can be a sophisticated outdoor kitchen with a brick grill and oven. Backyard BBQ pits were more popular in the 1950s, before portable gas and charcoal grills were common. Depending on the complexity of the structure, a backyard BBQ pit can be a do-it-yourself project or designed and built by a professional.

The most basic style of backyard BBQ pit is a pit dug in the earth. This method is actually quite old. It is used in a variety of cultures and works well for slow cooking. A hole is dug, lined with wood or charcoal, and allowed to burn until red-hot embers form. Then the food, which is typically wrapped in a fire resistant material or water soaked substance, is placed on the coals. It can be covered with other embers or dirt and allowed to cook for many hours.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Another alternative is to use a roasting spit over flames. This is similar to rotisserie style cooking but on a larger scale. A spike is driven through a cut of meat, and the ends of the spike rest on two posts. The meat is turned occasionally to ensure even cooking. Small animals can be cooked whole on a spit. Pork, lamb, and goat can also be cooked using a spit as well as cuts of beef.

The grill style backyard BBQ pit offers a greater variety of cooking options as well as convenience. This style usually has a grill over a well ventilated area for fuel and is encased in a brick, stone, or concrete structure. In some cases, there is a hood or chimney over the grill. Since it is a custom built structure, the grill can be as large or small as needed. Since it is permanent, the grill style pit usually includes a covering of some kind to protect it from the elements. This can be a covered patio or simply a cover for the grill.

A backyard BBQ pit can be fueled by gas, charcoal, or wood. This adds complexity to the structure since it may require a gas line and gas reservoir. A small tank, like the kind used on portable grills, is sometimes added. In other cases, the backyard BBQ pit is connected to the household's gas reservoir.

BBQ pits can include other accessories, appliances, and fixtures in addition to the pit itself. A true "outdoor kitchen" will also have a sink, counter space, storage space, and in some cases, a refrigerator. Outdoor kitchens are quite expensive to build and require a lot of maintenance to protect them from damage due to the weather.

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Discussion Comments


In relation to the third paragraph, I noticed that it mentioned goats being roasted whole on a spit. Did you know that's actually a tradition that originated from centuries ago?

However, in that case, the major difference is that due to the time period in which this took place, a more "barbaric" one, per se. the goat wasn't prepared before being roasted on the spit. It was cooked completely whole, and then the people would feast on every part of it.


Even though I haven't had experience with backyard barbecue pits, I do know that it's a very good solution for when you want to cook a whole pig. After all, it's not like you'll be able to cook it on a traditional grill, right? It's way too big.

On another note, in about two months or so, I will be going over to my friend's house and we will be having a backyard barbecue, grilling all sorts of meat. Due to my lack of experience in the subject, things should be very interesting, and I may even learn a few pointers.


In my opinion, a backyard barbecue definitely doesn't seem to be a traditional way to barbecue your meat during the holidays or the Fourth of July. However, on the other hand, I definitely think you should give it a go. Despite the fact that it does seem a bit complicated (especially with the way the article describes it), it's always good to experiment with new things, and it really shows how things were done many years ago.

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