Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

InstaGrill: The Art of Spontaneous Grilling

We were out in the woods this weekend last, playing hobo and such, and just enjoying the pleasures of a lovely spring day afield. The sun was warm, but the lakes and ponds still frozen, and patches of snow tarried in the shadows. We hiked along the wooded trails, kicking up leaves from last autumn, and smelling the earth unwrap itself after a long winter’s hiatus. A vintage spring day in Minnesota. The kind we wait for, and pine for. The sort we hold out hope for, that once winter has had its way with us, that it might bequeath us such climatic spoils. And it did. And what better thing to do in all the world on such a day, than to make a camp in the woods, and cook some good food there.


Enter the InstaGrill

Now I’m a tinkerer. My father is a tinkerer. My brothers are tinkerers. Tinkering, you might say, is in my blood. And so when I get to test out another man’s brain thrust, I feel honored. I can appreciate the engineering, the thought, and the time that went in to it. Such was the case this last trip afield, as we tested out the InstaGrill. A cool, little, highly portable BBQ grill sent to us by a fellow tinkerer, named Jonathan, down in Texas.

InstaGrill. That’s what he’s calling it as of now. It’s an idea he had for easy, spontaneous, low-key grilling. He sent us a prototype so we could get a better idea how it works, and maybe share it with you guys. Here is his website also, if you want more details. It’s a pretty nifty little rig, and if you don’t mind, we’ll give you the nickel tour ourselves.


It’s pretty clever at first blush. As you can see, it’s a charcoal grill at its core. That’s what it runs on. You fill it half way up or so like you would a charcoal chimney, and light it from below with crumpled up newspaper or like we did in this case, with a fire starter cube. She lit right up in tremendous fashion, thanks to the built-in chimney effect. In all my years of using portable grills,  I can honestly say, this is the best lighting grill we’ve ever used. No lighter fluid needed. It lights like a charcoal chimney, because, well, it is! This is probably our favorite feature of the grill. But anyways, onto the fun part!


When the coals reach maturity, or grayed over, (about 10 minutes) you simply unlatch the side and open it up. Sort of like them Murphy Beds that fold up into the wall, if you’re familiar with those. Yet another clever idea! Then you rake the coals about a bit to suit your fancy, and install the grate as seen in the photo.


As seen above, you can set the grate to three different levels. We liked that feature too!


We found the grill to be just big enough to meet the needs of about two people, least wise for breakfast out in the hinter regions. The grate size is roughly 10 inches by 10 inches. Large enough for four burgers or two steaks. The other dimensions of the grill are  5″D x 10″W x 12″ H. It weighs about 5 pounds. We found it very portable, and simple to set up and easy to use. No complaints!


Granted it was designed for more traditional grilling fare than corned beef hash and eggs over-easy, but alas when your bush, you work with what you’ve got. Regardless, it was a lot of fun cooking with it. The husky handle at the back made it effortless to transport or move it, even when it was lit, should you ever want to do such things. And to extinguish the coals, you simply close it back up and pour some water on the fire. Disperse in the trash at your nearest convenience.


Overall, it was really a joy to cook on. A well thought-out, and articulate little grilling rig. We liked it’s compactness, and portability, and absolutely loved how it started up a batch of charcoal. We can see it being useful for things like: camping, or  tailgating, or even just out on your deck. It’s low key enough, it won’t draw much attention, and finally, you’ll get a proper meal cooked over a beautiful bed of coals. Such as grilling was always meant to be.


So here’s the other part of the story. If you want to buy one, you’re going to have to get in line and wait a while. This is a prototype, you see.  The ultimate fit & finished product does not exist yet. That’s why the prototype was sent to us, to help Jonathan garner a little exposure. He has also set up a KICKSTARTER Campaign, here,  and when and if it reaches it’s goal, he will then go into production with these grills. So if you think it’s a worthy endeavor, and want to help him get his business going, not to mention secure yourself one of his grills later on down the road, head over to his kickstarter page and help a tinkerer out!

Kickstarter Link




11 responses

  1. That’s a nifty little rig. If I were more of a camper/griller-on-the-go, I would definitely be in the market for such a device. Good luck to Jonathan! Cheers.

    March 12, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    • It is pretty nifty! I got it…Maybe you can pioneer the art of Mosh Pit BBQ with your metal cronies. (outdoor concerts only) Yeah, try that Todd Baker! Cause metal heads need to eat good too.

      March 13, 2017 at 10:15 am

  2. That’s a cool little grill. I’m going to have to do some more research on that one! Where in Minnesota are you?

    March 13, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    • Yeah, it’s a fun little cooker! Hope it takes off for him.

      We’re up in the northern burbs. Took a moment to stroll through your site, and thought it was pretty cool. Capturing Minnesota indeed! Keep it up, mate!

      March 13, 2017 at 7:22 pm

  3. Very cool Jonathan! I could this application also working for RVer’s, beach goers, road trippers… yeah, very cool!

    March 13, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    • Nice Auntiedoni, you are a regular think tank! All matter of good ideas you’ve come up with there. I used to do some RVing once upon a time, and we always had a little charcoal grill on board. This one would have serviced quite well, I think.


      March 13, 2017 at 7:25 pm

  4. Well that’s a really cool contraption! Would be perfect for when David catches, cooks and eats fish down by the river!

    March 14, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    • Yeah what you said! I will probably employ it much the same. Not a bad idea ! There is a place for a small grill in the big outdoors. Or in a van down by the river..

      Hey to David!

      March 14, 2017 at 9:27 pm

  5. Liz

    What fun to test out new toys! Love that you’re still here doing your thing. Woot. Thank you for stopping by food for fun’s first post in forever. What’s new in your neck of the woods?

    March 30, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    • Howdy Liz! So pleased to see you’re still alive! Yup, still here plugging along on this digital real estate. They say to blog what your passionate about, and I suppose you could say it’s the passion, that has kept me in the game thus far. I just like to play with fire, I guess. And write about it. And I don’t take it too seriously either. All for the fun of it.

      Fixin to do a big ham smoke this Easter. Should be fun.

      Great to see you again, Liz! It’s like old times!

      Take care


      March 31, 2017 at 10:31 am

  6. Pingback: Secret Spots: How to Survive in the Woods Like a Boss | Patrons of the Pit

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