If you’ve been paying attention to any of the trends in the outdoor kitchen world, you’ve probably noticed how elaborate, beautiful, and incredibly functional these exterior cooking areas have become. If you live for food prep and entertaining, you might consider adding one of these areas to your Northern Virginia or Maryland home. Before you get too far into the planning process, though, make sure you think through everything you want to add to this space, including these twelve components of the ultimate outdoor kitchen.
12 Essential Components of a Dream Outdoor Kitchen
When it comes to outdoor kitchens, one of the most popular trends is the emphasis on storage, storage, and more storage! When looking for the cabinetry that’s right for your outdoor cooking area, opt for a brand such as Danver Outdoor Kitchens. Their stainless steel cabinets are durable, aesthetically pleasing, and resistant to the elements. As an added bonus, the quality means they can actually add resale value to your home!
A standalone grill used to be the hallmark of an outdoor kitchen. Today, multiple grills is par for the course. Propane and natural gas are both popular choices. The size of the grill and its capabilities should depend, of course, on the individual needs of the chef. If you’re a particularly adventurous cook, you might even want to incorporate a rotisserie for tender, slow-roasted chicken or shawarma-inspired meals.
(Check out just some of your options here.)
Smokers from brands such as Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg are all majorly popular right now in outdoor kitchens—and with good reason. Kamado-style grills provide even, faster cooking. The smoker gets to temp quickly and maintains a perfectly steady heat, providing fewer unexpected flare-ups. These kinds of smokers also retain heat well, meaning your fuel efficiency is great, and you can cook well into the chilly months without the ambient temperature affecting your meal.
What ultimate outdoor kitchen would be complete without a pizza oven? When you have big gatherings, pizza fresh out of a hot oven is the perfect food to delight and to entertain friends and family. Allowing all your guests to make their own custom pizzas is also a great way to ensure all attendees get exactly what they want for dinner. It’s a win-win!
If you’re planning on making large meals with lots of different dishes and options, standalone burners can be incredibly useful. Many home chefs often find burners outside help limit how often they have to shuttle between the interior and exterior space in order to complete a meal. A standalone burner could be used for anything from boiling ears of corn to parboiling sausages before throwing them on the grill. They’re versatile and a must in any ultimate kitchen.
As any chef knows, an elaborate meal can involve lots of different dishes, and it’s simply not always possible to complete everything at exactly the same time. This often leaves some portions of the meal cold or a little bit stale. It’s not ideal. With a warming drawer, you can solve this problem. Make things like mashed potatoes or garlic bread ahead of time, and then throw them in the warming drawer. When everything else is complete, simply take them out, and they’ll be perfectly at temp with the rest of the meal. A warming drawer also gives you the opportunity to do some dishes ahead of time, meaning there’s less work when guests have actually arrived.
One of the challenges of cooking and entertaining for crowds is that the chef can often get stuck in the kitchen and have fewer opportunities to mingle and to chat with friends and family. If that’s a problem in your interior cooking area, make sure to accommodate for that in the design of your exterior space. One of the most practical (and fun) ways around this issue is by installing a bartender station near the cooking area. Having this space for people to hang out helps ensure the cook is in on all the party fun while still able to put together culinary delights. Go as elaborate or minimalist as you like. Bartender stations can range from fully stocked areas with installed beer on tap to a simple cabinet for cocktail supplies.
Whether you want a wine chiller or a beer cooler (or both!), having chilled alcohol at the ready is a big plus for many home entertainers. These can be incorporated into a bartender station, if you’re going that route, or they can be standalone additions, such as a mini wine fridge.
A refrigerator can truly make an outdoor kitchen go from a place you cook a few times a year to another fully functioning kitchen in your home. One of the most popular trends within outdoor kitchen refrigerators is opting for a fridge with both a freezer and an ice maker. The ice maker can be incredibly handy, especially if you’re opting to install a bartender station, and the freezer makes ice cream and other frozen treats on a hot summer day a breeze.
Sinks and Faucets
Having running water in your outdoor kitchen is another great way to limit how often you have to run between the inside of the house and your outdoor kitchen. Sinks and faucets can be very handy in the cooking process, but they’re also great for practical considerations, such as making an easy way for everyone to wash up before digging into the meal you’ve prepared.
When preparing a big meal, there’s almost invariably a pile of garbage that accumulates. The produce bags holding the asparagus. The Styrofoam tray holding the chicken breasts. The tinfoil you wrapped the steak in while it was resting off the grill. Having a trash bin or two within your outdoor kitchen helps keep the entire area neat and tidy while you’re cooking and throughout the cleanup process.
Installing a dishwasher in your outdoor kitchen takes your cleanup game to the next level. Ferrying dishes inside the house after the meal in order to clean them is a hassle, but it’s also a recipe for dropped and broken dishes or rodent-inviting food bits strewn across your kitchen. With a dishwasher, you can keep the entire process—from food prep to cooking to eating to cleanup—contained within the outdoor kitchen.
Obviously not every outdoor kitchen needs to incorporate all these elements. In fact, the beauty of these kinds of spaces is how custom you can make them. According to what you like to cook, how you like to cook, and how often you entertain, you can personalize your kitchen to include exactly what you want.
Not sure what you want? Not even sure where to start the planning process? Give us a call! We specialize in creating unique, personal outdoor kitchens and would love to help guide you through the creation of yours!