How to Make an Underground Oven (Dirt Oven DIY)


We are now prepared for the coming Zombie Apocalypse. And if the Mayans ever get it right, we’re ready for them, too. We wouldn’t have been back in 2012, but NOW we can be secure in the knowledge that we are going to survive. No, we haven’t stockpiled weapons, but we DO have a really cool underground oven! Yep, we can cook in the dirt. It’s no microwave, but it makes for very tender pork ribs, that’s
how to make an underground oven dirt oven diy, how to, outdoor living
First we (and by we, I actually mean the men in the family) dug a hole in the ground wide enough to accommodate the grill racks. Ours was 5′ by 1½’ and 2½’ deep. They used bricks to lift the racks off the ground and leave room for the hot coals. Then the sides were built up with cinder blocks so it was completely lined all the way around. I’m more of a visual learner, so here you go:
how to make an underground oven dirt oven diy, how to, outdoor living
The next step before putting the food on the racks and closing up the oven is to build a roaring wood fire in the pit. Let it burn high and hot (continually) for 2 hours and then rake out the coals until there’s no flame and it’s just coals and ashes under the racks. While the fire is burning, it’s time to prepare the meat! Just look at that beautiful rack of pork spare ribs! Make a tasty dry rub and massage it into those babies! Then wrap the racks tightly in at least 3 layers of foil, making sure there is no meat exposed. When the fire is out, place the meat on the racks. Be careful- it is REALLY hot in there!
how to make an underground oven dirt oven diy, how to, outdoor living
how to make an underground oven dirt oven diy, how to, outdoor living
So now that your fire is burned out and you put your foil-wrapped ribs in on the grates, it’s time to commit. There’s no going back after this point, so be sure everything is ready and in there! (We should have done our corn on the cob and beans in here, too. Next year.) Place a sheet of tin over the oven and then grab a shovel- it’s time to bury it all! Cover the whole thing in 4″ of dirt.
how to make an underground oven dirt oven diy, how to, outdoor living
Now, walk away and enjoy some family time for 2½ hours. Then send down the manly men to go dig up meat from the ground. This is very cool to them and they are happy to do it. Just like they are happy to play with fire. (Don’t tell them, but next year when we roast the corn and put the beans in Dutch ovens to cook, they will actually be taking care of the whole meal.)
how to make an underground oven dirt oven diy, how to, outdoor living
For more details, photos and an update, please visit my blog post link below!
Nicole Burkholder

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Barbara Milan
    on Jun 30, 2017

    Let it burn high and hot (continually) for 2 hours and then rake out the coals until there’s no flame and it’s just coals and ashes under the racks.
    Do you "rake out" all the coals; or, do you just remove those that are burning? I don't understand what you mean by your above statement. I've never grilled before, so treat this ? as a sincere one.

  • Valerie Mitchell Heron
    on Aug 12, 2017

    This is Interesting ! Question, why cook underground instead of useing a slow cooker. Is it the taste? What is the advantage if it

  • Karen Lee Fetterolf
    on Aug 26, 2017

    When you chose your site, how did you make certain that the fire would not be able to spread underground or would not damage under- or above-ground things?

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