Homemade Grills From 55-Gallon Steel Barrels

A homemade grill is the perfect backyard accessory for summer, offering a whole range of tasty cuisine, with that smoky, tender flavor that only a barbecue grill can give. Using a 55-gallon steel barrel is a popular way to make a homemade grill, whole roaster or even smoker. When sourcing your 55-gallon steel barrel, make sure to find one that previously housed foodstuffs, rather than chemicals or oils to avoid hazardous materials contaminating your grill and your food.

Things You'll Need

  • 55-gallon steel barrel
  • Jigsaw with metal cutting blade
  • Metal file
  • Newspaper/kindling
  • Matches
  • Metal cart
  • Drill with metal bit
  • Bolts
  • Metal grate
  • 4 angle brackets
  • Black marker
  • Screws
  • 2 metal hinges
  • 1 wood grip metal handle
  • Grill plate


    • 1

      Cut the barrel lengthwise in half with the jigsaw. File along the cut edges with the metal file to dull any sharp points and jagged patches.

    • 2

      Fill the two halves with newspaper and kindling and light with the matches. This is to cure the drum and burn out any remnants of material previously stored inside.

    • 3

      Place one half of the drum atop the metal cart, open side up. The cart should be around the same length as the drum and around 35 to 40 inches high for easy cooking. Metal carts can be found at most home improvement stores and even at thrift stores. If you can't find a cart, a simple metal table can easily be constructed by bolting four metal legs onto a sturdy metal tray.

    • 4

      Drill four equally spaced holes through the barrel bottom and through the cart, then bolt the barrel down onto the cart. Drill four more small holes, this time on the bottom sides of the barrel, to aid ventilation of the grill fire.

    • 5

      Cut a metal grate with the jigsaw to fit inside the barrel, around two inches from the bottom. The coals will sit on top of the grate with the ventilation space underneath.

    • 6

      Space the angle brackets about five inches in from the sides of the barrel, so that their horizontal portion is facing inwards and is flush with the top of the barrel. Mark the screw holes with the black marker, then pre-drill the holes, before screwing them in place.

    • 7

      Space the metal hinges about eight inches in from the sides of the remaining half of the barrel, on the barrel edge. Mark the screw holes, drill the holes, then screw the hinges down. Mark the screw holes for the wood grip handle on the rounded top of the barrel half, pre-drill and screw down. This is the grill lid.

    • 8

      Line up the second half of the barrel, hinges attached, with the first half of the barrel, so that their edges touch, and the full barrel shape is reformed. Mark the screw holes for the other side of the hinges with the marker. Drill and screw in the hinges, so that the lid is attached and opens on the hinges.

    • 9

      Place the grill plate over the bottom portion of the barrel grill, resting on the horizontals of the angle brackets.

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