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Dec 15, 2010 04:47 AM

Grilling in the Fireplace

Living in Houston, many homes and apartment have fireplaces but many do not.

Truth be told, you can only legitimately use a fireplace here maybe a dozen times a year. My mom used to get up early on Christmas mornings and turn the air conditioner down real low so she could have a fire for Christmas morning. Really. It's not at all uncommon here for Christmas morning to find the neighborhood kids out riding their new bikes barefooted and in shorts.

Anyway, I was living in an apartment about twenty years ago and because it had a small balcony, all I had to grill with was a hibachi.

So one cold and blustery day, I brought that puppy in, put it in the fireplace and made grilled ribeyes in the warmth and comfort of my living room.

Later I lived in a string of apartments without fireplaces and never thought much more about it.

That thought recently re-occurred to me however, and since I have one of those large Lodge cast iron "hibachi style grills" (Link here:, I've been wanting to do it again - just for the novelty of it.

So I cleaned the ashes out of the fireplace and grilled some chicken breasts last night.

In my living room.

It turned out great.

So, assuming I'm smart enough to open the flue, (I am), is there any other danger from doing this? I can't help but think it's no more dangerous, (from a carbon monoxide point of view), than starting a wood fire, right?

Am I missing something obvious, or am I a genius? Please let me know as I plan to do this again.

Burgers and a bowlgame.

Steaks and sitcoms.

As long as it's at least cool outside, (obviously wouldn't do this in the summer as it does put out some heat), it's killing two birds with one stone. As long as I don't kill US in the process!

Thanks in advance for the collected wisdom of the Chowhound Nation.

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  1. I think you're a lot safer with wood than charcoal, as far as fumes. I don't think I would cook with charcoal in the house.

    1. Nah, no issues, along as the damper is open and drawing. I'm guessing since you're working indoors, that you cannot use a chimney starter (depending on hearth space) for charcoal, and must use the pre-soaked stuff? May be better off waiting for coals to build up from a wood fire to use for cooking....your call

      4 Replies
      1. re: BiscuitBoy

        That's what we do, it takes a long time to get that red glow from the logs but cooks meat better than almost anything. I feel like every year I hear about a family dying from using charcoal indoors to cook or heat the house, for whatever reason they have.

        OK I had to look it up, glad to know my brain isn't completely gone yet!
        I know I wouldn't take the chance. I'm sure the CO2 detector would go off anyway, and ruin the fun.

        1. re: coll

          Thanks for the link!

          From that page:

          "Never use a charcoal grill or a barbecue grill indoors. Using a grill indoors will cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper unless you use it inside a vented fireplace."

          The last eight words do it for me!

          Best regards,


          1. re: DoobieWah

            It's embedded in my mind that every year that there will be a news story about some poor family that didn't have any heat, with a sad ending, and including a warning to all from some government agency. Probably more common up North here. But if you are sure you are vented correctly....I'd still open all the windows too!

            You should still try the wood way, it's the best.

            1. re: coll

              Of course, I agree with you and that's why I asked the question. But the sad endings you describe are almost always of someone burning a bbq grill in the middle of the living room for heat. That's NOT what I'm doing.

              I'm using a small camp stove with maybe a dozen briquettes inside the fireplace.

              I think it's pretty clear from the link you posted that doing so in a vented fireplace is no more dangerous than burning a fire in there. I wouldn't think twice about that.

              P.S. It worked great.

        1. re: Gio

          Thanks, I had seen that page, but I didn't see anything about cooking on a grill in a fireplace. It was more about the old style hearth cooking.


          1. re: DoobieWah

            We cook in the fireplace all the time ETA over a wood fire. We have a cabin and on Friday nights, we want to hang out by the fireplace, not in the freezing cold kitchen.

            Plow and Hearth has a true fireplace grill -

            The husband is petitioning for the above as he wants to be able to do steaks but I have my doubts. I think the wood/coal prep would test my patience. I think I would like an old fashion iron arm with pot thing to do chilis but that might be taking it a little too far.

            Mainly, I do kabobs (on hot dog forks) and all sorts of pie iron things - meat pies, pizzas, hot sandwiches, burgers. Sometimes, I do packages of small things in foil.

            1. re: DoobieWah

              You are cooking in the fireplace using solely wood, right?
              As Coll said, this seems perfectly safe, as long as it's vented, but I hope you are not using charcoal...

                1. re: cleobeach

                  Copying part of my post from the frying chicken in the fireplace thread.

                  I have been cooking and baking regularly in my fireplace for about three years.
                  My fireplace was built to cook in, but there is no reason that anyone can't do it in any functioning fireplace.
                  The food is incredible! Steaks are excellent, any stew done in a dutch oven,baked goods, all amazing. Something about the heat and the flame combined.
                  I've been collecting antique fireplace cooking tools for a couple of years. The only thing I have left to get is a rotating spit. They have electric ones, I know, but I have visions of torturing myself and my kids by turning a spit with a leg of roasting lamb.

                  The most interesting thing I have done is roasting meat on a string. You truss the meat with cooking twine, and hang it in front of the fire. The physics of the whole thing spins the meat slowly in front of the flame. The most perfect roast chicken or leg of lamb you've ever eaten. You put the drip pan underneath and cut up potatoes into it, the dripping fat from the meat and the heat from the fire cook the most insane roast potatoes.
                  Asparagus roasted in a dutch oven??? Orgasmic.
                  You barely have to season things, the flavor is so incredible.

                  If I could find enough posters, it would be cool to have a fireplace cooking thread.
                  Is the heat dryer in the fireplace than in an oven?