The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Using a grill or BBQ pit as an oven

  • Pin It
janij's picture
janij

Using a grill or BBQ pit as an oven

I have only one oven.  Oh the woes.  As I am not good at waiting to make the next batch of dough at a proper interval on bake days, my oven is over crowded and my crust suffers.  So I am wondering about using either our gas grill or our BBQ pit (charcoal) as an alternative.  Has anyone ever baked loaves in a grill or BBQ pit?  Before I try I was hoping to catch a few hints so I don't just ruin the bread.  I would think that I would not want the fire directly under the loaves.  Maybe a fire on one side and bake on the other.  Anyone have any input?  My oven just doesn't do well with 7 loaves at a time.  It is the grill/ BBQ pit or I will have to work on holding loaves in the fridge or timing better.  But I do like the idea of having another option other than my oven since I like in hurricane prone Houston, TX.

cdnDough's picture
cdnDough

I cannot see any reason why not.  As long as you can manage sustained temperatures of 400F.  That is beyond the range of most BBQ 'smoker' pits but reachable for a BBQ 'grill.'  I'd worry a little about the bread tasting like charcoal/smoke if you were to cook directly over charcoal.  In a wood-fired oven you typically remove the burning wood and cook only with the retained heat.  For a gas grill, I'd use a baking stone to even the temperature a little.  I've used both charcoal & gas for cooking pizzas.

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

I'd be inclined to try it with shapes that bake up quickly (Mini baguettes for example) so you don't have to worry about maintaining the temp consistently for very long.  A baking stone would help too

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I remember when I was a kid, my aunt used to bake on her gas grill.  She made pies, not bread, but she figured out how to use her gas grill as an oven in the summertime before she had air conditioning.

davidm's picture
davidm

For a few years I baked all kinds of stuff on a propane BBQ grill, and in fact learned to do it out of necessity after Hurricane Alicia back in '83. I was  living in Galveston then and we had no power for more than three weeks. After the power came back on, I continued to play with it in the summertime so as not to heat up the kitchen, which was already hot enough in July and August etc. We had no AC in that house.


I would use a saltillo floor tile as a stone, get it (and the BBQ) good and hot with both burners, load the bread, then shut off the burner under the saltillo tile and lower the flame on the other side. Lifting the lid too much to take a look is bad news though, because you lose a lot of heat really fast. Very much trial and error, and no shortage of error!


After a few tries, and a few inedible results, I got the hang of wrangling the temperature good enough to get decent results. Nothing fancy mind you. Straight doughs. No steam. (though I see no reason why you couldn't use steam, or a cover over the loaf for the first ten or fifteen minutes). I did regular sandwich whites and even whole wheat oatmeal raisin. They weren't bad at all. I got a lot of visitors from the neighborhood during those three weeks, and put them to work mixing and kneading. No one had power, so folks were out in the street instead of watching TV, you know? I was a good time in many ways.


Flatbreads like naan and such things as that came out really well, better actually than a regular oven, since you can get the stone really hot. I still do naan on the BBQ pit, even now. Pizza too. 


The flavor of last weeks ribs or pork loin would sometimes be an issue, if I didn't burn it off first. Fair warning! :)


I'd love to know how this comes out for you, if you give it a whirl.

jeb's picture
jeb

Anything that you can bake in your home oven, you can bake with a dutch oven using charcoal. You want a dutch oven with a lip on the lid to hold the charcoal (Lodge and Maca both make good dutch ovens). You vary the oven temp by the number of charcoal brickettes that are used.

I haven't tried breads, but I've cooked varied enough things on campouts, that I wouldn't hesitate to do so.

janij's picture
janij

Thank you to all for the overwhelming response.  I have unglazed quarry tiles (a whole case of them) and our gas grill has 4 burners to regulate the heat.  So I think i will try the gas grill first.  We have no problem getting that grill up to 500 deg + so I guess I will just have to work on maintaining about 400 deg after the first few minutes.  Thank you to everyone.


We lost power for 2 weeks after IKE.  We do have a generator, so I did bake during that time, but it really heated up the house.  So I think the next time it is bread bake day I will throw a couple loaves on the grill and see where we land.  I will let you know how it goes.

Broc's picture
Broc

I have two Big Green Eggs, and bake in them [breads, pies] all the time.  I have friends who also bake, everything from cookies to upside-down pineapple cakes.


 


This is a ceramic oven -- there are other brands, like Primo -- It is easy to control temperature, etc., and once you get used to establishing internal temps, burning of the VOCs... [simply waiting a while], you're ready-to-go.  Ceramic cookers grill, roast, toast, bake... they are the most versative things you can imagine... and never wear out.  Yes -- They are charcoal driven... use lump, not briquettes... simply start the lump with a paper towel and olive oil [any cooking oil].


 


Check out www.biggreenegg.com, go on their forum, and ask all the detailed questions you want, and outdoor ceramic bakers the world over are at your fingertips.