Outdoor kitchens are nothing new. People in the Mediterranean have used them for more than a thousand years. Today everyone is catching on to the benefits of cooking outside. Many people's dream homes now include a second kitchen on the patio. This growing trend in cooking and entertaining is taking over patios all around the world.
About Outdoor Kitchens
Outdoor kitchens are fully functional, semi-portable cooking spaces that allow the chef in your family to cook all your meals outdoors without running back and forth to the kitchen. They usually include a grill island, cabinets and eating space. Many also include a small refrigerator and sink, and some may include a bar for seating. Cost can vary, depending on whether you create a basic kitchen or a complete outdoor dream.
Your out-of-doors kitchen can be as simple as a fancy grill or more intricate, including multiple cooking areas, cabinets for storage and a complete living space with an outdoor bar and ice machine. Incorporating a fire pit or fire-powered stove can also be a great addition for people who like pizza and homemade bread.
There are numerous benefits to having an outside kitchen.
- Cooking outdoors in the summer can keep your air conditioning bill down because cooking emits heat which warms the home.
- It keeps both the mess and clean-up outdoors.
- You can begin cooking gourmet meals with a grill flair!
- All your cooking is done in the same space.
When designing your kitchen, keep in mind both the area above and below your grill. Make sure the smoke from the grill has room to blow away. The area underneath the equipment needs to be able to both support your equipment and withstand the heat.Sketch out your complete kitchen before you begin making purchases. Include all the accessories you plan to buy like a mini-fridge, outdoor bar and patio heater.
Some outside kitchens are very large and permanent. Others have grills with wheels so they can be moved around from the patio to the driveway if need be. These can also be taken with you when you move from your current home. If you decide on the built-in grill, include countertops and built-in cabinets, and remember that if you plan to move in the next few years, the kitchen will stay with the house.
Determine your grill size. Look at how many people you normally entertain. If it is just you and your immediate family, save money on a smaller grill. If you host large parties, invest in a grill that can accommodate more food.
Look at how many levels of cooking space you want. If the foods you cook together often have different heat requirements, keep this in mind while comparing grills. Many larger units include side burners.
Adding to Your Kitchen
Accessories can add more benefits to your kitchen. Be sure to look at your lighting situation. If you need more lighting to entertain after dark, add softer lights to help the ambiance. For a fully functioning kitchen, add a refrigerator and sink, as well as some electrical outlets.
Wood fired ovens are growing in popularity. These are designed to reproduce the same heating qualities of ancient ovens and can help provide a great tasting meal.
Other accessories and grill aids that can help complete your setup include:
- Baskets for grilling fish and vegetables
- Exhaust hood
- Meat thermometer
- Outdoor plates, cups and silverware
- Portable ice machine
- Insect control
- Patio heaters or burners
Your outdoor kitchen is complete when you add special flooring. Concrete, brick and natural stone are good flooring options because they do not get slippery when wet.
Protecting Your Grill
Outside kitchens need to be protected against the weather; rain and snow are not good for your new kitchen. Look for covers that are not only weather resistant, but that can be secured on a windy day.
There are many resources online to help you research your kitchen. Check your local retail outlet as well; it can be a valuable source of information.