Outdoor kitchens can be as simple as a grill-on-wheels affair with a table and chairs or as fully functional as an indoor kitchen, often complete with a dining and living/entertainment spaces. The first option is pretty simple for anyone to set up and can easily be moved or rearranged to your liking, but the more elaborate outdoor kitchens are permanent and require careful planning and attention to detail. Here’s a look at some helpful tips to help you get started designing your outdoor kitchen.
Where to put your outdoor kitchen.
Placement of your of outdoor kitchen requires careful consideration, and where you will put it will depend on several factors. Outdoor cooking often means carrying heavy platters from one place to another, so you might want to consider building near the entrance to your home's indoor kitchen if possible. But you'll also want to consider the general wind pattern in your yard to prevent the grill smoke from entering your house.
If you enjoy a pretty view from your house, you might want to place the outdoor kitchen in a spot that won't cost you visibility to the scenery.
For safety's sake, make sure to consider your yard's traffic flow. Hot grills and children's play areas do not make safe combinations.
Consider hiring a professional outdoor kitchen designer who can offer advice about the best location for your kitchen and how it will work with the other elements of your yard.
What's your cooking style?
Anything you can cook indoors, you can cook outdoors. And some styles of cooking are best suited for the outdoors. If you live in a mild climate, you might do more outdoor cooking than indoors, so plan accordingly.
Think carefully about what types of food you plan to cook in your outdoor kitchen. Aside from a gas or charcoal grill, you might want to consider cooking appliances such as an outdoor oven (wood burning or electric), smoker, fish fryer, a tandoor (a clay oven in which a fire is built), and warming drawers.
Where would you like to prep?
Some cooks are content to prepare the food indoors and schlep it all outside to cook. But if you prefer to do your food prep in your outdoor kitchen, plan for plenty of work surface (aka countertops!). For outdoor food prep, you'll probably want a sink as well. And for total outdoor cooking convenience, be sure to include a refrigerator, too.
What size kitchen do you need?
The number of appliances and the amount of prep you want to do outdoors will determine the amount of space you need for your outdoor kitchen. Consider how all of these appliances will fit within your plan, how much room to allow for them, and how to arrange them so that you are not taking a lot of unnecessary steps (think cooking triangle!).
Select reliable appliances and materials
The old saying "buy once, cry once," is applicable here. Outdoor kitchen appliances and materials receive a lot more abuse than their indoor counterparts because they are exposed to the elements, so keep this in mind when shopping. And don't forget that appliances and surfaces will need to be covered when not in use, so think about the time and effort involved in outdoor kitchen maintenance. Sometimes simpler is better.
Ready for the fun part? Here's a look at some amazing outdoor kitchens to get you started on your outdoor kitchen design dreams!