What are your favorite outdoor kitchen components?
Cooking outdoors is made easier with an outdoor kitchen, and that is the main motivation for having one. The natural, open environment, combined with fire’s age-old attraction, makes for an ideal environment for social enjoyment as well as great dining.
The type of entertaining you do will determine which of the many outdoor kitchen components which are available commercially you will want to include when planning your outdoor cooking space.
We asked the best host and hostess we know about their favorite outdoor kitchen components. Having just finished a redesign of their outdoor lanai to include an outdoor kitchen and al fresco entertaining space, their outside kitchen is the epitome of function and simple, beautiful design. Their priority was to create a space where it was comfortable to cook and entertain and where outdoor grilling wouldn’t fill the covered area with smoke.
In their outdoor kitchen they prioritized a grill, outdoor refrigerator, wine cooler, sink, hood, and a seating and prep island.
Their choice was a 36″ stainless steel built in bbq grill. The menus they typically choose to entertain with are simple: an entree and vegetables. For that, they needed a large builtin grill that could accommodate the steaks or chops while cooking vegetables at a lower heat setting with separate grilling controls on a second burner.
For special occasions, they use the built in rotisserie for roasts. The grill unit has an infrared burner for rotisserie cooking and this is a great set up when they cook a prime rib or duck.
Their typical guest list is 6-8 people and 36″ is plenty of grilling space to accommodate this size group.
Kitchen Cabinets and Outdoor Countertops
On the right side of the grill, there is three feet of landing space. The countertops are honed granite, easily able to handle large carving trays and anything hot which lands on the countertop.
The same countertop material is used in the two level island which is situated directly across from the grill. The lower level is used for staging and prepping. The upper level is for serving. The family also has breakfast on this counter when weather permits.
The cabinets are powder coated stainless steel. On the grill side, there are two drawers for utensils. Below each of the drawers are two base cabinets used for storing trays and other serving ware. There is a cabinet under the sink which also provides storage space.
Two base cabinets with one drawer and one door are centered on the island. On either side of these cabinets are the undercounter refrigerator for cold beverage storage, two wine refrigerators and ice maker. The location of these appliances makes serving drinks to friends who like to hang out near the grill. There is a place to perch and plenty of room around the island for those who prefer to stand.
A favorite feature of the island is the glass tile which is installed under the countertop overhang. This tile breaks up a long run of cabinets and adds some sparkle which is repeated in the backsplash behind the grill.
To the left of the grill is the sink. Because this run of cabinetry is situated next to an interior wall with a bath on the other side, plumbing lines were easily run for hot and cold water as well as drainage. The sink is an enameled cast iron model that closely matches the granite countertops in color for a seamless appearance and is easy to clean. As the indoor kitchen is fairly close, the sink is smaller and used only for quick jobs and hand washing.
The sink faucet has a pull down sprayer and is finished in oil-rubbed bronze. That finish was chosen to better coordinate with the color of the cabinetry and the finish on the counter stools.
The Grill Hood
The alcove in this covered porch provided the perfect spot to nestle in a grill cabinet. And because it is a covered area, a hood fan was necessary to keep the grill smoke from accumulating in the space which might interfere with the guests’ enjoyment of the space.
The grill space is contiguous to indoor living spaces, so power for the hood was readily available. The hood exhaust is routed through the roof over the alcove.
Food items that are prepared indoors are stored in the outdoor refrigerator located on the island until serving time. This might include appetizers or salads that were prepared indoors ahead of time. Even though the indoor kitchen is accessible through the door next to the grill, keeping them close to the other prep areas of the outdoor kitchen saves on trips in and out of the indoor kitchen.
Two outdoor wine refrigerators also installed in the island which also serves as an outdoor bar. All refrigeration appliances have ventilation at the bottom kick plate so no ventilation is needed out the back or side of the island itself.
The wine refrigerators are especially handy for before dinner drinks and casual entertaining.
Other Components Which Make for Easy Outdoor Living
The grill space and the island are both outfitted with GFCI outlets which come in handy when a kitchen appliance is used out of doors. There is plenty of counter space to set up an electric outdoor pizza oven for casual family dinners or a blender for margaritas.
On either side of the grill are decorative wall lights which serve as outdoor lighting for the countertops on either side of the grill and any kitchen appliance which might be plugged in that location. The grill hood has a downlight which lights the surface of the grill while cooking.
Near the island is an outdoor dining table and chairs which is spacious enough to seat eight people or hold food items for buffet style serving.
Future Plans for Outdoor Living
On the drawing board is an outdoor entertainment area with an outdoor fireplace and television. The patio and deck outdoor space also has enough room for adding an outdoor casual seating area for before dinner conversation. There are even plans for a brick outdoor pizza oven for family movie nights.