How to build a masonry outdoor kitchen island for a Santa Maria or Argentine Style Grill Drop in Frame?

Building an outdoor kitchen island can be built on your lawn or on patio. Rectangular cinder blocks come in various size making is easy to adjust the layout to a size that works well for your design.

Santa Maria BBQ Grill Drop in frame inserts are the proper style of grill for this style of BBQ island.

Caution: Before beginning and excavations, call 811 to check for underground utilities. Also check local building codes, ordinances, and homeowners’ associations guideline to make sure that wood fire grills are allowed. When choosing a location make sure to pick a spot located away from your house, low hanging limbs, or anything else that could catch fire. When using tools make sure to wear proper protective equipment.

Total time: 5 days


  • Cinder Block
  • Fire Brick
  • Portland Cement and Fire Clay
  • Veneer
  • Countertop materials
  • Rebar
  • Santa Maria Grill frame Or Argentine Grill Frame


  • Trowel
  • Tamper
  • Squares
  • Trowel
  • Tape Measure
  • Leveler
  • Shovel
  • Grinder and metal cut off wheel for rebar
  • Wet Saw and circular saw with concrete blade
  • Personal Protective Equipment

1. Measurements:

Take your own measurements measurements below are just examples.

  • Take the size of the Argentinian grill and add half inch to width and length. ex. 36 in. x 24 in. is 36.5 in. x 24.5 in
  • Measure the width and length of cinder blocks ex. 16 in. x 8 in. x 8 in.
  • Measure thickness of firebrick ex. 9 in. x 4.5 in. x 2.5 in
  • Also take into account mortar behind and on sides of blocks. ex. 3/8 in.

example math for length: 36.5 in. + 8 in. + 2.5 in. + 3/8 in. 47.375 outer dimensions. Do the same for width.

2. Cinder Walls & Footer

Choose area in backyard for Outdoor kitchen Island. We will not go into. How to lay cinder block. in this how to.

  1. After stacking cinder block to desired height width and length. Fill all cinder block cavities with cement.
    1. Use scrap rebar to push cement into all cracks of cavities.

Veneer Outside:

  • Veneer outside of island with non flammable material.
    • Stucco
    • Natural Rock
    • Corten
    • Ceramic Tile

Add Fire Brick:

  1. Fill interior firebox cavity up with paver gravel
    1. 5 inches at a time, wet and tamper making sure its relatively level.
    2. continue until you have 18″ of space from the top of the counter.
  2. Poor 2″ of refractory cement over paver gravel.
    1. Trowel flat making sure surface is level.
    2. Wait for refractory cement to cure.
  3. Once fully cured, mortar full firebrick to the firebox floor use a wet saw to cut firebrick.
    1. Use a small leveler to make sure firebrick is level when cutting.
    2. Make sure to wear proper safety equipment.
  4. Now mortar the 4 sides of the firebox with fire brick.
    1. Careful not to add more mortar than accounted for in STEP 1.


For best appearance make sure that the countertop covers half the exposed firebrick on top of firebox. The Drop in frame lips will cover the rest of the gap.

There are several types of countertops that can be used such as:

  • Granite
  • Cement
  • Ceramic Tile
  • Metal
  • Rock

Note: Seal countertops to stop oils from staining.

Caution: Do not use flammable materials as a backer to he countertop.

Install Grill:

Place Santa Maria Grill or Argentine Grill inside the opening.

Aug 05, 2022 JD