8 Things to Include in Your Outdoor Kitchen Design
An outdoor kitchen can be the best part of your home if designed correctly. Getting fresh air while enjoying grilled food with close friends and family? Sounds like the ideal summer night! At Sauders Hardscape Supply, we believe that relationships are the key to great landscape and outdoor living design. Outdoor kitchens create the perfect area to strengthen those relationships and create memories that will extend far beyond the kitchen itself.
On the practical side, it’s important to choose quality components for your outdoor kitchen. Make sure the items you include in your outdoor kitchen design will hold up to the test of time and allow you to enjoy occasions with friends and family for years to come. Let’s look at 9 components to consider when creating the ultimate living space in your backyard.
Let’s be honest: grills are the centerpiece of pretty much every outdoor kitchen. From steaks, to grilled veggies to barbecue, a good outdoor kitchen grill can basically do it all. The two key features to consider (besides budget) are:
Size – It’s important to consider how much overall space you have available for your outdoor kitchen and design accordingly. Choosing a grill that’s larger than necessary will increase cost and can decrease available counter space or other important features. For most folks, a grill with 450-500 square inches of surface grilling space will do the job. By way of reference, you can cook about 24 burgers simultaneously on a 500 square inch grill.
Heat Source – There are quite a few options when it comes to choosing a grill type based on the source of heat. The main options include:
*Gas – Gas grills are the most popular type of grill and include both LP (Propane) and natural gas options. The simplest way to choose between LP and natural gas is to just use whatever your home/property is already connected with.
*Charcoal – This is the old faithful of the backyard grill world. Charcoal grills are perfect for purists who love that classic, smoky grill flavor. While they are generally more expensive and time-consuming than gas, they produce results that many folks find irreplaceable.
*Wood/Pellets – Wood fires are the oldest form of cooking known to man. These days, though, it’s a little simpler than building a fire in a cave. With modern wood pellets and grill designs, that delicious wood smoke flavor isn’t too hard to achieve. That being said, wood is possibly the most time-intense method of grilling and is best suited for the serious outdoor kitchen enthusiast.
*Electric – Electric grills are the least common type of outdoor kitchen grill and the most difficult to create that delicious charred flavor with. Generally, they are only selected in very specific scenarios where open flames are an issue due to fire regulations or similar concerns. If you think your situation might require an electric grill, you might want to double-check with a professional before locking yourself into a purchase.
Here at Sauders Hardscape Supply, we offer a wide collection of grills from EP Henry, Fire Magic, Blaze, and Primo. To get a better idea of the size and style grill you might need for your outdoor kitchen, browse our full selection of grills or download a catalog.
Having a fridge in your outdoor kitchen eliminates you from having to run back and forth into the house for food and drinks…and nobody wants to do that. Having all the supplies right next to the grill or oven saves time for the master chef and means we all get to eat that much sooner. Plus, everyone has access to chilled drinks while they wait…always a good thing. And if you run out of space in the house fridge, you’ll always have a backup in your outdoor kitchen. When choosing a refrigerator for your out outdoor kitchen design, there are a few other things to consider:
Cooling technology – The big choice here is cold plate vs. forced-air refrigerators. Unlike most full-size indoor fridges, low-end outdoor models rely on a cold plate cooling system which takes much longer to get down to temperature and cools inconsistently from top to bottom. These work best if you’re just chilling drinks. A forced-air refrigerator will cool much more evenly but will cost somewhat more – a consideration when calculating the cost of your outdoor kitchen design.
Weatherproofing – Refrigerators run with electric. Electric doesn’t do well around water. There’s water outside. Those three facts don’t mean the end of outdoor refrigerators, though. It just means you’ll need to buy a fridge that’s designed in a way that’s more weather resistant than your typical indoor fridge. Look for an outdoor kitchen fridge that has a weather-resistant rating from UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or a similar safety certification organization. Additionally, look for a refrigerator that’s built with high-grade stainless steel or a similar rust-resistant material.
At Sauders Hardscape Supply, we carry numerous outdoor refrigerator designs, from companies such as Fire Magic and Blaze. You can download catalogs for their products here.
There’s an almost endless variety of options when it comes to storage space for your outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchen component manufacturers like Blaze Grills and Fire Magic offer a variety of vertical and horizontal access doors. These can be built directly into your outdoor kitchen at whatever location will be most convenient. There are also a wide variety of drawer/cabinet/access door combos available. By combining these with smaller outdoor kitchen storage accessories like paper towel holders and dry storage, you can create the layout that’s ideal for your needs.
Remember to include a sink (or a double sink) in your outdoor kitchen design. From washing fresh veggies from the garden to rinsing dirty dishes to simply giving access to fresh water as you cook, you won’t regret the addition of a sink. Stainless steel is the most common (and cost-effective) choice for outdoor kitchen sinks, as well as one of the most durable. Remember, though, that stainless steel acts as a mirror in the sun, so depending on the layout of your outdoor kitchen that could be an issue. Other outdoor kitchen sink options include porcelain, concrete, or even hammered copper. Choose the finish for your sink based on the look and feel of the rest of your outdoor kitchen design. We offer sink designs from Fire Magic, among others.
5. Side Burner
While meats and veggies done on the grill can often steal the show, it’s important not to forget the sides (I’m looking at you, mashed potatoes). A side burner gives you the flexibility to prep all your food in your outdoor kitchen. Many large grills designed for outdoor kitchens come with side burners built-in. If not, it might be a good idea to plan one into your outdoor kitchen design. Fire Magic and Blaze both offer side burners to match many of their grill designs.
6. Warming Cabinet/Drawer
There’s nothing quite as bad as letting the first round of burgers cool off while you’re finishing up the grilling and sides. A warming cabinet/warming drawer is a great investment for those who enjoy gathering a large group of friends and family for a barbecue, allowing you to serve fresh and hot food even when made in large doses. Fire Magic is one of several brands that offer excellent warming cabinets.
7. Waste Management
This one’s not that exciting to talk about, so we’ll keep it short. You gotta have a place to put the garbage. Integrate a slide-out trash cabinet into your outdoor kitchen design. It’ll keep clean up simple without being obvious.
8. Pizza Oven
A pizza oven might be the most unique piece to the outdoor kitchen design puzzle. We all know nothing can beat a fresh homemade pizza in a brick oven. Fresh mozzarella over homemade dough and marinara sauce…and did someone say fresh basil from the garden? We’re talking about the ultimate crowd-pleaser here. And remember, a pizza oven in the backyard can serve for more than just pizza; calzones, bread, corn-on-the-cob…even steak is an option!
While there are several types of pizza ovens, including gas- and coal-fired varieties, wood is still the king. From the shores of the Old World to the streets of Brooklyn, wood-fired pizza is the original gold standard. At Sauders Hardscape Supply, we have numerous styles of wood-fired pizza ovens from companies such as EP Henry and Techo-Bloc.
Designing an outdoor kitchen is a large project, but with the right tools, information, and advice you’re more than capable of getting the job done. If you’d like more specific ideas for your outdoor kitchen, we’d be happy to assist you with a free outdoor kitchen design consultation. We also have a network of over 200 landscape and outdoor kitchen contractors; if you contact us, we’d be happy to recommend one near you! Best of luck as you design your outdoor kitchen!