Clink your beverage glass with three of your backyard barbecue guests, and you will know that there is no place like home for hosting a party or savoring a good meal. Outdoor kitchens are surging in popularity and making their way up the wish lists of prospective home buyers. One outdoor kitchen design does not fit all, however. For maximum enjoyment, plan your outdoor kitchen to accommodate your unique cooking skills and your dining and entertaining preferences.
Thrills Beyond the Grill
Naturally, the grill takes center stage in the outdoor kitchen arena. From marinated steaks to ribs slathered in zesty sauce to burgers draped in melted cheesy goodness, traditional barbecue fare is conjured on the grill. Once you find peace with your preference of charcoal or gas, it is time to move on and expand on your outdoor kitchen layout.
Passing up a mesquite-smoked turkey or pulled pork sandwich is tough to do. If you loved smoked meats, you may opt to incorporate a smoker into your outdoor kitchen. If you subscribe to the notion that pizza is the food of kings, you should not forgo the inclusion of an authentic pizza oven. If you thrive on French fries or onion rings with your steak, consider a deep fryer as part of your grilling and cooking range. Think about the foods that you savor the most and design the outdoor cooking appliances to fit your menu needs.
No backyard barbecue is complete without beverages. Whether you enjoy dabbling in mixology, sampling the latest local craft brew with your friends or mixing a pitcher of frozen margaritas to pair with those grilled southwestern fajitas, a bar provides the ideal spot for preparing and serving these libations and for friends to socialize. Consider the bar an extended wing of your outdoor kitchen layout, and situate it in between the kitchen and the conversational seating area to avoid crowding around the grill master at work.
Everything But the Walls, Including the Kitchen Sink
The whole point of an outdoor kitchen is to spend more time outdoors. The days of preparing foods and mixing side dishes inside before heading out to throw the food on a small, rollaway grill are long past. If it exists in your indoor kitchen, today’s contractors can make it happen in your outdoor kitchen. When planning your outdoor kitchen, remember to include enough counter space for all of your food preparation needs, and a range top for simmering sauces or boiling water. This arrangement will enable you to chop the onions and celery, boil potatoes and eggs, whisk together a dressing and mix the final potato salad while the barbecue chicken cooks on the grill only a few steps away.
Be sure to have electrical power and plumbing installed in your outdoor kitchen. A sink will be helpful for filling pots, draining the boiled potatoes, rinsing fresh vegetables before they meet the grill and washing off that cooking utensil that you accidentally dropped. Electrical wiring will allow you to have functional and ambient lighting after the sun goes down and to utilize a food processor or blender in your kitchen. Electricity will also power a small refrigerator that fits under a counter to store perishable ingredients, extra beers for the duration and prepared cold side dishes until dinner is served.
Your expansive kitchen will require far more storage than a few utensil hooks by the grill. You will appreciate having enough drawers and cabinets for extra measuring cups, mixing bowls, knives, food preparation gadgets and nonperishable foods and ingredients when it prevents you from constantly retreating indoors to fetch a forgotten wooden spoon, spice jar or bottle opener.
Bring the Inside Out
Once your have determined the layout and necessities that reflect your culinary identity, choose the materials that will make the kitchen as attractive as it is functional. Weather-resistant stainless steel cabinetry, wood deck flooring, granite or concrete counter tops and a natural stone masonry back-splash with decorative light fixtures will mimic the most luxurious indoor kitchen, but allow you to carry out your epicurean projects from start to finish in the great outdoors without missing a beat of your guest’s conversation.
Planning a conversational seating area that connects with the outdoor kitchen and the outdoor dining table maximizes your time spent outdoors. After dinner drinks and desserts can be enjoyed comfortably around a blazing fire pit long after dark, and leisurely Sunday breakfasts can be prepared and enjoyed outdoors. If the outdoor kitchen itself is not enclosed, consider adding a roof or patio cover overhead in case a summer thundershower suddenly rains down midway through cooking. The roof will also provide shade so that the chef can focus on cooking the food instead of himself by shielding out the sun’s hot rays.
For centuries, the kitchen has been the heart of the home. It is where tasty meals are created and families and friends conglomerate. With the growing interest in cooking, dining and entertaining at home, more and more households are moving their kitchens and living rooms outdoors to get the most out of nature’s warming sunlight and fresh air breezes. By considering the above details, you will create the outdoor kitchen of your dreams that will reflect your cooking and grilling passions and welcome guests for years to come. That nice little luxury is worth raising your glass and your spatula in celebration of the not so humble grill.