As the days and nights heat up, so does our desire to spend time outdoors. Though air conditioning is nice, there’s nothing like enjoying a night under the stars with good people, good conversation, and good food.
To some, an outdoor kitchen may seem like an unnecessary addition to their backyard space. In actuality, outdoor kitchens add value to your home, encourage healthier eating, lower spending on eating out, and save on energy.
In fact, CNN Money, About.com and Remodeling Magazine support that outdoor kitchens nationally return 100% to 200% of the improvement cost.
For those who love to entertain large parties or have large families, an outdoor kitchen is kind of a no-brainer. But before you begin your outdoor kitchen project, it’s best to know what you need (and don’t) before you jump in.
Here is our list of 9 must-have appliances for any outdoor kitchen.
#1 The Grill
Truly the king of the backyard BBQ, the grill is a no-exceptions, must-have for an outdoor kitchen. Because if there isn’t one, is it really an outdoor kitchen?
Grills are a loaded topic. Every Top Home Chef will have their idea of what the “perfect” grill is. Maybe a hibachi-style grill fits your culinary style better than traditional or you have a certain number of people you need to feed.
Because grills vary dramatically in capability and size, it’s important to know the model or size you want in the appliance before drafts of your design are drawn. After all, it’s the most important piece of the puzzle.
#2 The Fridge
Now, some will argue that a fridge isn’t a “must-have” outdoor kitchen appliance. But for us, it sits at #2 on our list. What’s the point of having an outdoor kitchen if you have to run back and forth to your other kitchen for food and drinks?
Having refrigeration in your outdoor kitchen makes it more functional, keeping the chef involved with guests rather than escaping to get supplies. Chances are, with everything you need at your fingertips, you’ll spend even more time enjoying your investment.
#3 The Storage
Like refrigeration, storage is a must-have in any outdoor kitchen. Unlike the cabinets you have overhead in your indoor kitchen, storage drawers are more convenient outdoors. Keeping cooking utensils, knives, dishes, silverware, and towels at an arm’s reach makes your outdoor kitchen a truly sovereign space.
#4 The Sink
If you’re grilling, chances are you’re handling raw meat. Aside from using it as a handwashing station for guests, a sink in your outdoor kitchen is helpful in keeping you and your workspace clean and healthy.
If you keep a separate set of dishes outdoors, a sink eliminates two trips during every meal: taking dirty dishes indoors and returning clean dishes outdoors.
#5 The Side Burner
Though grilled meats and vegetables are the stars of the show, you never know when culinary inspiration will strike. Grilled chicken pasta or stir-fry may require a burner’s assistance. And no one wants to cook in two kitchens at once.
Many modern grills come with side burners already built-in. Whether you add them separately or together, your outdoor kitchen design will need the room to accommodate both.
#6 The Smoker
There’s no way to guarantee restaurant-quality barbeque from your own backyard without investing in a smoker. Though singular in purpose, a smoker can add robust flavor and to-die-for texture to all of your favorite foods including meats, cheeses, vegetables, mushrooms, and pasta dishes.
If you’re low on space, a smoker doesn’t have to be built in. Many smokers are available on wheels and can roll into your space as needed.
#7 The Warming Cabinet
A warming cabinet is not a luxury many of us have experienced, indoors or out. But when it comes to serving a large group of people burgers, hot dogs, and chicken on the 4th of July, it definitely helps.
Warming cabinets or drawers can help you get back to your guests while you’re waiting on the entire meal to be prepared. They can easily be incorporated in most outdoor kitchen designs.
#8 The Receptacles
Trash bags and plastic bins are unsightly. Sorting through the waste for recyclables is unpleasant. Incorporating designated waste and recycling bins in your outdoor kitchen is better for the guests, the ambiance, and the environment.
#9 The Pizza Oven
If we have to explain why having a pizza oven in your outdoor kitchen is awesome, we give up. The most debateable “must-have” on this list, a pizza oven may not be practical for everyone but we can almost guarantee you love pizza. And being able to make stone fired pizza at home is incredible.
We added the pizza oven to this list because of its dual purpose: adding warmth and ambiance in addition to delivering delicious pies. Plus you can cook more than just pizza. You can bake bread, roast vegetables, cook steak and fish, and a bunch of other stuff in your pizza oven.