outdoor kitchen appliances

What Are the Most Used and Needed Appliances for an Outdoor Kitchen?

Which Outdoor Appliance is Preferred Above All Others?


The debate about what type of outdoor bbq grill you should have in your outdoor kitchen will go on for decades to come. But when it comes to other outdoor appliances, which are the appliances cherished most by outdoor cooking enthusiasts?

In an informal online poll, it seems that the most valued outdoor appliance isn’t technically an appliance at all. To be precise, it is a plumbing fixture.

Not surprising, the most used and needed outdoor kitchen “appliance” is a sink and this also mirrors the most used “appliance” in indoor kitchens. People use their sinks more than any other fixture in the kitchen – indoors or out. Technically speaking, a sink is a plumbing fixture whose definition is ‘a device or receptacle which is connected to a supply of water and/or discharges to some kind of drainage system’.

Plumbing appliances would be a dishwasher or washing machine that use energy to run motors so it can perform its specific function.

Having running water at your disposal while cooking outdoors helps with efficient clean up, provides a source of water for drinks and offers easy water access for cooking. An outdoor sink and sink faucet saves steps and time running back and forth between your indoor kitchen and outdoor cooking stations.

But we digress. In our informal online poll with 92 responses, the most used and needed appliances for outdoor kitchens were:

Poll results show that people really value their outdoor sink.  The hangup with outdoor sinks is that they need to drain somewhere and that is usually the sticking point for most people who are building their outdoor kitchen.  The solutions, tapping into the sewer system, french drains, a bucket under the sink, may not be appealing or practical for most folks.  So they skip an outdoor sink altogether in their planning.

Some of the other surprising results are because, quite frankly, people entertain differently out of doors.  Pizza ovens and bottle openers indicate those who entertain casually with a limited menu.  A backyard chef might value his or her knives above all other tools when preparing their culinary delights.  Those that chose ice makers or an ice bin most likely place a lot of emphasis on the beverage portion of their menu, or need to keep relishes and salads on ice in hot weather.   Either way, having outdoor refrigeration of some kind places highly in the preferences of our informal poll.


What’s Missing?

What’s even more surprising about this poll is what wasn’t mentioned as “must-have” in an outdoor kitchen.

Wine Cooler: Almost every outdoor kitchen and bar you see pictured online has a wine cooler prominently positioned. True, they are one of the most attractive and impressive looking of all outdoor appliances. They carry a lot of cache both indoors and outdoors. But apparently, people can live without them if they are outside and the wine bottles will have to stay inside for the time being.

Vent Hood: Although not technically necessary at least as far as building codes go, a vent hood helps with air quality in covered outdoor kitchen cook stations where there isn’t a steady breeze you can count on to get rid of smoke and cooking odors. Especially with kitchens and cooking appliances that abut the house on one or two sides a vent hood can be a must have. Outdoor kitchen design should take this into consideration.

Coffee Systems: Is there a kitchen in America that doesn’t have an appliance to make coffee? There might be one, or two, somewhere, but we’ve never seen one. The fact that no one in our poll mentioned a coffee machine or Keurig is telling. Likewise, no one mentioned beverage centers which are creeping into every master bedroom in the country at the moment. When people want their coffee, they want it right away. But not outdoors it seems.


Where to Start

As with most outdoor kitchens, homeowners typically start with grills, whether charcoal grilling, pellet grill, or gas fueled. It’s usually the grills and smokers that get the juices flowing (pun intended)  to build an outdoor kitchen or other outdoor space for entertaining. And from there, thoughts turn to building counters and cabinetry and outdoor bars.

After that comes the outdoor fireplace or outdoor fire pit to provide focal points for all this cooking and entertaining activity. And, technically, these aren’t exactly appliances, but when it comes to outdoor entertaining, it is all part of the package.

When it comes to outdoor kitchen design, consider the way you entertain when selecting outdoor appliances.  As this unscientific poll shows, outdoor kitchen appliances are very personal and chefs are very particular about the ones they absolutely have to have.  The nice thing about having an outside entertaining and cooking space is that most of the time, you have more than enough space to add more features as time goes on and you see how you use your spaces.

Outdoor kitchen appliances are similar to indoor appliances in that they have standardized measurements. So if you buy a 24″ refrigerator when you are building your outdoor kitchen, and you decide you want to upgrade to a refrigerator/freezer combo at a later date, know that you will not have to reconfigure or tear apart your counter tops to make the switch. And if you decide that you’d rather have a 24″ wine cooler instead of a stack of 24″ drawers, you should have no issue with the switch in terms of space.

This poll, while not technically scientific, should point you in the direction of appliance options you should consider for your unique cooking and entertaining style. If other grill masters and outdoor chefs can’t live without them, they might just deserve a place in your space, too.