Garbage Can Pizza Oven – Is It Possible?

You only have to look at the awesome photos on Pinterest to find out the answer to this question. You can indeed make a garbage can pizza oven and it seems to be a popular project in the US.

This article is one for those who have dreamed of having a pizza oven but money didn’t allow it. Why spend all that money when you have the resources you need at home already? Even if you have to buy a fit-for-purpose trash can, you’ll still save lots of money.

Let’s get straight into how to turn a boring old garbage can into an all-singing, all-dancing pizza oven.

Garbage cans can be repurposed as pizza ovens with a few simple steps. This can be a great way of keeping costs down. You just need to take sensible precautions when using it. Also, do not use trash cans that are galvanized as the high temperatures can cause the zinc to release a harmful gas.

How to Make a Wood-Fired Garbage Can Pizza Oven. Our Step-by-Step Guide

All you need for making your pizza oven is listed below. Some, if not all, of these materials you will have in or around your home already.

The project will cost around $40 all in (cheaper if you have a trash can already).

You will need:

  • A trash can, old or new
  • A drill
  • 2 cooking grates
  • 8 brackets

Our 10-step guide to building your own grill using a trash can:

1.    Find or buy a trash can

If you are using an existing trash can then simply give it a good clean before you begin your project. We should point out at this stage that for safety reasons you should avoid galvanized cans.

2.    Drill ventilation holes

In the lid, drill two small ventilation holes for when you are smoking meat and the lid is on. Also, drill two ventilation holes near the base of the garbage can.

3.    Secure your first 4 brackets

The first 4 brackets are to hold the bottom grill in place for the coal or wood to burn on. So you need to work out how low down you want this to be. There should be adequate airflow between the two shelves and under the fuel.

4.    Slide the lower shelf in

Position the lower grill plate into the trash can on the bottom 4 brackets. Check you are happy that it is level and secure, capable of holding the weight of coal or wood chips.

5.    Position the next 4 brackets

Your second lot of brackets are for the cooking grill plate and can be used for either smoking or grilling. These should be placed with enough space between the two plates so that the food cooks properly. About a 12” gap will suffice between levels.

6.    Slide the top shelf in

You can now test that everything is correct by placing the top shelf into the can. This should be solid with no movement or rocking. If adjustments need to be made then do these now. You can cover your plate in foil for cooking purposes.

7.    Your Garbage Can is ready to burn

You can now add the fuel of your choice onto the lowest shelf. If you choose coal, let it burn until the coal is nice and gray as this indicates it has burnt all the way through. You can read more about this in our sister article; Does Lump Charcoal Turn Gray?  

8.   Add your food to the grill

Your grill is now ready for your food to be added so go ahead and place it on the shelf. Enjoy the wonderful grilling smells while you enjoy a well-deserved cold drink.

9.    Check your food regularly

It is a bit of a skill, this grilling malarkey, especially when you are using a DIY grill. So be sure not to undercook or overcook your meat. You may need to bring the temperature back up or take the food off until the temperature lowers.

10.   Enjoy your food

The only thing left to do now is to enjoy your dinner. It is very pleasing when something as simple as a trash container can become something as complex as a grill. Just make sure the fire is out when you come away from the yard.

As a side note, you can also cut a hole to add a temperature gauge too. This is particularly useful for smoking meats.

This video is a great visual guide to creating your own garbage can pizza oven:

For a slightly superior version of a trash can pizza oven, watch the below Youtube video. This one comes complete with a locking door and temperature gauge:

Is it Dangerous to Make a Pizza Oven from a Trash Can?

Like with everything in life, health and safety are paramount. This is particularly the case when you are dealing with a fire in an enclosed situation. Let’s share some of our tips to help remain safe when using a trash can as a pizza oven.

Safety Precautions

  • Stay away from galvanized cans when planning your pizza oven model. When a temperature reaches extreme heights, the zinc can omit a lethal gas.
  • Choose days when there is very little wind when using your trash can oven. You want the fire to stay put.
  • Keep the lit trash can well away from anything flammable.
  • Position the can at least 10 feet away from the house or other buildings.
  • Regularly clean the inside of the garbage can.
  • Keep a pair of protective gloves on while in proximity to the fire.
  • Never be tempted to burn plastic as this can release dangerous toxins into the air.
  • Ensure the can is on an even surface with no risk of falling over.

Garbage Can Recipe Ideas

We know we can cook the perfect pizza now in a garbage can so what other delights can be enjoyed? When you tell your neighbors you are cooking with garbage they may be confused. However, when they smell what is coming from your yard, they will soon want in on your secrets!  Let’s take a look at some of our firm favorite garbage can recipes.

Garbage Can Dinner

Yep, this is a thing so let’s go with it. This involves using whatever vegetables take your fancy. Some of the commonly used ones include corn-on-the-cob, onions, potatoes, and cabbage. This can all go in at the same time and then you can also add either ham or sausages too.

Trash Can Turkey

In 2 hours of cooking time, your trash can is capable of producing a cooked-to-perfection turkey. You need to prepare a large square of foil on the ground, with bricks securing each corner down. Then you should hammer a wooden stake into the center of the foil. The turkey will cook happily on the stake with coal in the lid above and also around the base of the can.

Garlic Bread Hot Dogs

These are oh-so-simple to prepare and are nothing short of genius. Simply slice open some store-bought garlic bread baguettes down the top. Place frankfurters in them and add a load of grated mozzarella. Pop it in the garbage can and cook until the cheese melts. Yum!

Ideas for Repurposing Garbage Cans

It is amazing how many ways trash cans can be used when it is no longer required for the garbage. We share our top 10 ideas for your old trash can below, once it has been cleaned obviously!

  • Create a planter, it will look unique and a great way to brighten the yard.
  • Use yours for a compost bin, this works very well.
  • Ones with a lid can be used as storage, we are thinking of wellies, gardening tools, or plant pots.
  • Turn yours into a water butt, simple yet so effective.
  • Store pet food in yours if the lid is secured.

Why not take a look through some of our sister articles that will give you other uses for your pizza oven and maybe even inspire you to try them. Can You Turn A Fireplace Into A Pizza Oven and Can A Pizza Oven Be Used As A Kiln? will both give you some great ideas of doubling up if you dont have lots of space.