Custom Built Parrilla *Updated Again*

Ken Barger, a nice gentleman in Panama, emailed me a while back with some questions about building a parrilla-smoker hybrid. Since I had never built a parrilla before, I could only offer a few tips and suggestions from what I have learned over the years in addition to some of the specs from my parrilla. Well, Ken has finally finished his parrilla and, wow, did he do an excellent job at that! As you can see in the photos after the jump, in addition to cooking by means of a typical brick-concrete parrilla design, he can attach a rotisserie bar or a removable smoking box when needed.

Update: Due to some file compatibility issues, I failed to see the text that Ken originally attached to his photos. Issue resolved and the text has been added.

Update 2: Added some drawings.

The fire is usually started and maintained at the right side. When the coals are ready they are spread below the cooking grate at the left, the grilling area. A small amount of coals are kept at the right so that, if needed, extra wood or coals can be added to prepare for later use.

Underneath, the two red 30 gal plastic containers are for storing hard and medium hardness charcoal. To the left is a chimney, and an area for storing dried hardwood for smoking and cooking.

Dimensions of grill:

Total: 86″ height x 66″ width

Grill Surface: 36″ length x 24″ width

Min. Lowered Grate Surface: 2″ from bottom

Max. Raised Grate Surface: 27″ from bottom


Close up view of the cooking grate: As you can see there are two cables, located at the center on each side of the grate. The grate is balanced by 2, 3 inch angle iron guides attached at the center on each side of the grate and run along the sides of the two rectangular beam. A 3 link chain is welded on the grate at the center and is connected to a cable that runs parallel alongside the rectangular beams. At the top, the cables are attached to pulleys. A ½ inch steel bar slides through each pulley and also the rectangular beams.




View from the side:
A lockable hand crank on the outside allows you to adjust the height of the cooking grate.


Lighting and Exhaust:

There are two switches.

One is for the two adjustable overhead lights for evening grilling. Each light can be adjusted to ones liking; one on the cooking grate and the other over the extra wood or coals to the right.

The other switch is for the exhaust fan which is located inside the vent at the top.


Rotisserie Motor:

When using the rotisserie, the cooking grate is moved to the top.

Motor: Stainless steel casing gear rotisserie motor, load weight up to 50 lb test.

Bar: Stainless steel 1/2″ diameter x 4 ft length. The bar is 17″ from the bottom.

Forks: Stainless steel heavy duty, 4-prong meat forks.


Smoking Box:

For smoking or indirect cooking, a metal box is positioned on top of the cooking grate.

Material: 16 gauge steel

Dimensions: 30″ length x 20″ wide x 11″ height.









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37 Comment(s)

  1. Wow! That’s flipping amazing!! I wish I could build one just like it!

    Mari | Oct 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. That is SWEET! My next house once I have a larger yard will be my ticket to building a custom parrilla. My hat goes off to the gentleman that built the one above. Its beautiful, and it looks like its all business!

    Christian | Oct 23, 2009 | Reply

  3. Found out there was supposed to be text along with the images so I’ll update the post with that, hopefully today.

    Asado Argentina | Oct 23, 2009 | Reply

  4. I’m proud to say that the gentleman who built this Parilla is my father-in-law and, like so many of his other projects, this is first rate all the way. I know the new grill brings him satisfaction, but I can also report, from experience, that no matter what he cooks on his BBQ is amazing. He’s taught me that its a combination of experience, a knack for doing things the righ way, and just taking your time.

    Benjamin | Oct 23, 2009 | Reply

  5. Mil gracias desde South Bend, IN

    Adrian | Nov 9, 2009 | Reply

  6. Great job! Did he also build the grate and pulley system or is that something you can buy?

    If you can buy the system do they have a website or phone number. Thank you!

    Josh K. | Nov 13, 2009 | Reply

  7. Josh, everything was designed at home and built. Other than material, you can not buy anything that will fit/work properly. You do not know what the final measurements will be for the cooking grate until you install the rectangular vertival beams.

    If you would like more information contact me. Ken

    Ken | Nov 14, 2009 | Reply

  8. Does anyone know where I can buy the iron grilling system for the parilla. I live in NY.

    Mariana | Dec 5, 2009 | Reply

  9. Mas vale que busques un herrero y te la hagas hacer…

    Adrian | Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

  10. Does anyone yet know where the iron grilling components can be purchased? 903 677 2855

    sam anderson | Jan 11, 2010 | Reply

  11. hermosa parilla

    pat | Jan 28, 2010 | Reply

  12. My parrilla is an ongoing project and I’m having some trouble with the grill guides (the grill does not slide up/down smoothly). Will send some pictures when I’m done. Grilled some nice mollejas yesterday. Had to buy 30 lb to get them here in Panama City, FL but I got them and they’re good!

    Juan | Feb 22, 2010 | Reply

  13. When I welded the 3 inch angle irons on the cooking grate I put a piece of cardboard between it and the vertical beam for spacing. Then be sure the grate is horizontal and the cables are at the same tension. If out of alignment it will bind.

    Thinking the grate may bind along the vertical rectangular beams, I gave the beams a good coat of lard and it went up and down very smooth. Ken

    Ken | Feb 28, 2010 | Reply

  14. You’re making me hungry! Now I want to make my own parilla here in Australia! I haven’t been to Argentina for ages, and I love the steak there! It’s the best I’ve ever had! I even wrote a piece about the steak there called ‘Don’t Cry For Meat Argentina’.

    Hmm, feeling like a does of South America again!

    The Travel Tart | Mar 5, 2010 | Reply

  15. Yep, that’s flippin amazing. I’ve been saying for years that someone in the States needs to start making these or the more portable Argentinean grills. I think you’re the person to do it. They’re so fantastic. Thanks for the details. So thorough!

    Angela | Apr 3, 2010 | Reply

  16. Hi, Benjamin, I’m wondering where in Panama your father in law lives or how I could get in touch with him. My husband and I have a house in Buenaventura (Rio Hato) and are just starting the process of building a barbeque. It would be great if we could get in touch with Ken as a resource.
    Any information would be appreciated.

    Cathy | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  17. Hi Ken, I actually sent an email to your son-in-law just now then saw your post. Where in Panama are you?
    My husband and I have a house in Beuenaventura (Rio Hato) and we are just in the planning stages of building a barbeque. Did you find the materials for yours easy to obtain there.
    Any information would be appreciated. You can email me directly –

    Cathy | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  18. I sent Ken a heads up mail to see if I can send you his email address if he doesn’t post it here.

    Asado Argentina | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  19. Thanks, I’m totally inept at blogging or whatever it is that we are now doing.

    Cathy | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  20. Yep, that’s flippin amazing. I’ve been saying for years that someone in the States needs to start making these or the more portable Argentinean grills. I think you’re the person to do it. They’re so fantastic. Thanks for the details. So thorough!

    Amy | Jun 4, 2010 | Reply

  21. Question for Ken -
    What are the dimensions for the grate angle iron, and the gap distance between each piece?

    From your provided grill surface dimensions and pictures, it appears to be 1-inch square angle iron, with approximately 1/8-inch or larger gaps…

    And, if you had to do it again, would you use the same material with the same gap size, or change it…?

    Thank you in advance,

    Oakland, California

    Tyler | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  22. Hi, where can I find a lockable hand crank for my Grill.? Thanks

    nick | Jul 10, 2011 | Reply

  23. looking for a builder to build a custum parrilla in ny..845 985 2996 thanks

    john | Jul 13, 2011 | Reply

  24. Hi there,

    Do you know any company that makes Argentine still grills or parillas in the UK? I live in London and have been searching for some time.


    Andrew | Jul 19, 2011 | Reply

  25. How did you build the inside of the grill such that smoke will flow up and out of the chimney rather than come out front of grill? In other words, we need it to draw up? Just curious if this was of concern to you when building?

    Val | Sep 30, 2011 | Reply


    Tony Hickman | Jan 10, 2012 | Reply

  27. Tony, im from Sydney and im currently designing a parrilla. I was going to make it out of hebel but im struggling trying to work out the roof. Would you come to Sydney to build one, do you have photos.
    Thanks Steve

    Steve | Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

  28. You can buy the Argentine grate, drip pan, side rails, crank, locking mechanism, and cables from NorCalOvenworks at

    Their phone number is 916-794-0707

    Gary Knackstedt | Mar 16, 2012 | Reply

  29. Do you have a contact on east coast? I like one like this but with the parrilla for chorizo.

    Will | Sep 16, 2012 | Reply

  30. estamos interesados en comprar una parrila argentina estubimos viendo su pag pero no encontramos telefono para comunicarnos con ustes,si es tan amable y nos puede mandar su telefono y direccion para ir.muchas gracias mario

    mario | Jan 6, 2013 | Reply

  31. Can you tell mie the type of brick you used on the floor and sides of the grill.

    John flentje | Mar 20, 2013 | Reply

  32. Did you ever find out where to get one in the UK? I am based near Oxford and im currently searching for one!


    Tom Booker | Jun 27, 2013 | Reply

  33. Hi Andrew I know someone called Levon who works for The Clay Oven Company that makes these types of grills. Their website is check them out I am sure they could help you out.

    Haig | Dec 16, 2013 | Reply

  34. Hi Tom – saw your comment and also looking for a Parilla after reading the book ‘Steak’! I live in Oxford and was wondering if you’d made any progress on your quest to source one of these? Interested to hear. Cheers! Alex.

    Alex Cox | Dec 21, 2013 | Reply

  35. Hey Tom,
    I was wondering what thickness of angle iron you used on the V-grill grate (cooking surface) is it 1x1x1/8 or what variation of that?

    Thanks so much!

    Marco | Apr 17, 2014 | Reply

  36. Also what type of iron did you use?

    Marco | Apr 18, 2014 | Reply

  37. I have designed and hand built a prallia including the grill in the UK if anyone is interested pls contact me.

    Andy | Jun 24, 2014 | Reply

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