As the weather gets better, we are generally tempted to spend as much time outside as possible. Often we are planning outdoor parties in the garden or around the pool with family and friends and it is time to think about preparing and serving food. It is not uncommon for the host to prepare the dinner inside the house and then just serve it outside, however the outdoor kitchen is often the preferred and already established way of doing things "properly". It allows you to spend time with your guests while cooking and enjoy your time outside the house.
No matter if you have opted just for a simple grill and a small prep area or a fully equipped modern kitchen, there are a few factors that you need to consider before constructing your dream outdoor kitchen.
What is outdoor cooking?
If you are a real fan of outdoor cooking, you probably know that it differs substantially from kitchen-based cooking. Traditionally it uses techniques that are associated with nomadic cultures such as the Berbers of North Africa, the Arab Bedouins or the pioneers of North America, which campers and backpackers have significantly modified and developed further.
The cooking methods that are most often used in outdoor cooking include direct heat, boiling, frying, grilling, and roasting. Using simple pods and utensils is also part of the charm. Nowadays, however, especially in the Western world, outdoor cooking has become a fashion, which is much different than the traditional cooking over an open fire. More and more people like cooking outside but utilizing the comfort of the traditional kitchen with all of its appliances and prep and serving areas.
Outdoor kitchen in Erandique, a municipality in the Honduran department of Lempira.
Outdoor cooking using a tagine
Functionality and form of the outdoor kitchen
When you are planning your outdoor kitchen you need to ask yourself a few basic questions and then proceed according to the answers. Do you want a simple cooking area with a grill or a completely functional kitchen equipped with modern appliances that gives you all the conveniences of a traditional indoor kitchen. Once you choose the right functionality for you then you can think of the form, i.e. choose the size and colour of the appliances, think about the counter top and the flooring and whether you would like to have your outdoor kitchen covered in some way. One of the smartest solutions for outdoor cooking areas, no matter if they will be in your garden, on the front porch, patio or rooftop terrace, is to cover the flooring with exterior natural stone tiles. There is a great variety of stones that you can choose from – marble, granite, travertine, limestone or slate, all of which have excellent qualities, aesthetic values and longevity. On top of that most of the stones and especially granite and slate are resistant to adverse weather conditions. All these features are a guarantee of a strong base for the perfect outdoor facility. Your prep and serving areas should also be covered in matching natural stone counter tops, as they are easy to clean and maintain.
It is also a good idea to consider sheltering your outdoor kitchen from rain or heavy sun. Depending on your local weather and your personal preferences you can opt for some pergolas or a wooden shelter. Sometimes, the house itself may offer a roof over the kitchen, depending on its location – if it is built on a covered porch or terrace, for example.
Covered outdoor kitchen
Umbrellas as outdoor kitchen shelter.
If it is far away from the main building it might be challenging to get warm water to it from the main water heater. An easy - and affordable - solution is to install a tankless water heater.
Last but not least, you need to take into account what kind of plates you will be using to serve your family and guests, choose the right glasses and utensils to complement your outdoor kitchen. Some decoration is always a good idea. You can go for natural green plants or some figurines and candles, depending on the atmosphere you would like to create. For colder nights you may consider having a fireplace, fire table or some other form of heating, which will make the outdoor meal more pleasant and cozy.
The best place for an outdoor kitchen
It is very important to choose the right spot for your outdoor kitchen. To a great extent the location depends on the functionality of the kitchen itself. If it is a simple covered BBQ, then you can place it anywhere in the "outdoor party area" you have created so that it can be both handy and not disturb the other fun activities. Or if you are considering a small satellite kitchen in addition to the main indoor kitchen, then it should be located close to the house to save you the trip. Quite often the outdoor kitchen is a simple extension of the room.
In many cases, however, there is a stand alone outdoor kitchen, which is fully fitted with all the necessary appliances, prep and serving areas. Then it is necessary to think where exactly to position it so that it interacts with all the other outdoor facilities, such as a dining area, lounge, pool. You should also think about the existing utility lines and whether you are able to extend them to the desired kitchen spot.
Outdoor kitchen located next to the house.
An outdoor kitchen as part of an external recreational complex.
An outdoor kitchen housed in a separate construction.
Once everything is set all that you have to do is just enjoy lovely time outdoors with your friends and family.