Barbecuing in an apartment complex has its own unique rules and regulations.
We’ll explain your options for apartment grilling and help you stay out of trouble with any local laws and regulations.
If you don’t live in an apartment but have very limited space, we also explain all the best options. In this article, we are going to discuss the ultimate guide to grilling with your kamado grill in your apartment.
Things to Consider When Grilling in an Apartment
There are a few things to look out for when grilling with your kamado grill in an apartment. The type of regulations may vary from place to place, but there are some “best practices” you can adopt so you don’t break any rules.
1. Know your building rules and local laws
There are two main types of restrictions you need to be aware of when grilling in your apartment:
•Rules specific to your specific complex or building
The rules for your particular complex or building should be detailed in the lease agreement you signed when you acquired the apartment. You can also consult an office or administrative contact.
Then there are local regulations. Different cities and towns have different regulations about what types of grills can be used and where. Electric grills can generally be used as you please, almost universally.
Propane and charcoal grills, on the other hand, are often restricted, if not outright banned.
For example, New York City does not allow standard propane grills in apartment buildings. There are regulations for using a one-pound propane bottle on the roof for short periods of time, and the city allows you to use a natural gas grill, but it must be installed by a licensed plumber.
As another example, the city of Omaha, Nebraska, restricts any open flame device, regardless of fuel source, to within 10 feet of apartment balconies made of flammable materials or within 10 feet of any flammable building.
Otherwise, the Omaha fire code allows you to use any grill you want.
These two examples show that rules vary from place to place. So – it’s always important to check the rules for your particular location.
2. What type of grill do you want?
Once you figure out what local codes and your apartment lease allow you to use, you can decide what kind of grill you want.
•Electric – These grills don’t use a flame at all. They switched to an electric heating element, like an electric oven, that heats the griddle to close to the grill marks. While they don’t give off as much flavor as other grills, they’ve gotten a lot better in recent years.
•Propane – If you’re lucky enough to have lenient rules, you’ll be able to grill with propane and enjoy better flavor and amazing char marks.
•Charcoal – Not recommended for most apartment situations. Even if you allow charcoal to grill, it’s a hassle, and removing charcoal ash can be a pain in the back.
We’ve broken down a more detailed breakdown of our favorite small grills for apartment users.
3. How much space do you have?
Apartments are notorious for valuing space. The same goes for the outside grilling space. When figuring out what size grill you can have, you’ll want to keep local codes and regulations in your apartment lease in mind. How much space do you need to keep the grill at a minimum distance from the building?
We believe you should choose the largest grill you can accommodate. When you figure this out, make sure to take side tables into account. Does the side table fold away, or is it permanently attached?
4. Do you need portable or fixed?
If you want to keep your outdoor space tidy when you’re not grilling, you might want to look into a portable grill. The HJMK Mini kamado grill with foldable trolley could be the perfect choice because when you’re done grilling, you can fold it up and store it in a cupboard or in your car for day trips or camping trips.
If you’re not too concerned about saving space and can keep your grill outside (properly protected from the weather!), the HJ-13inch mini kamado grill is a great choice.
It packs a large cooking space into a small footprint. You can cook a hearty meal for your family without taking up every inch of your backyard.
5. How safe is it when grilling in an apartment?
When you’re living in an apartment and grilling, safety is paramount. There are many more things to be aware of when living in a complex. You must be aware of any balconies overhead or people moving around in any shared outdoor spaces.
So how do you care about your own safety and the safety of those around you?
Safety begins with risk prevention. This means cleaning your grill regularly because the last thing you want is grease burning or burning. Grease fires can be devastating when there are additional flammable materials nearby.
Take the time to clean your grill. It takes less time than cleaning from a fire.
When it comes to fire safety, keeping a fire extinguisher within reach while grilling can help prevent a lot of heartbreak. It doesn’t matter if it’s required by law or not. Many serious problems can be avoided by responding quickly with a fire extinguisher.
Also, don’t leave your grill unattended when you fire it up. If you must go in to get supplies, make sure there are other people around. A moment of neglect could spell disaster.
Part of being close to the grill is to keep others from accidentally bumping into it. So make sure if your grill lights up, anyone in the area knows so they can stay away. That means keeping kids and pets away from it.
For your own safety, you should also make sure to use quality tools and gloves to prevent injury. You should also read your grill’s manual first and make sure it’s operating correctly.
Best option if you can't grill in your apartment
Unfortunately, you may find out after doing your research that you don’t have a charcoal or gas grill in your apartment.
However, that doesn’t mean you’re no longer looking for great food. An electric grill may not be the same as a charcoal or gas grill, but it’s better than no grill.
If you want your steak or burger to sear, you should consider getting a cast iron skillet or frying pan.
They hold and distribute heat well and are perfect for a seared crust. The best part is they can be used on your apartment stove, grill or open fire. Everyone should own a quality cast iron skillet.
If you want to experience cooking with charcoal or propane, you may need to travel. Some apartment complexes may have dedicated barbecue areas, so check to see if this is the case. If they do, it’s the perfect way to grill without having to pack up and drive somewhere.
If this is not the case, check your local parks. Some parks will have charcoal park grills for your use; just grab a small bag of charcoal and you’re good to go. Just make sure you bring good tools, especially grill brushes. You won’t know how long it’s been since you cleaned those grills!
If you have a car, you can also opt for a portable grill like we mentioned earlier. Then you can take it to the park or camp and experience BBQ.