Having friends and family over for a backyard barbeque is one of life’s greatest pleasures. After all, who doesn’t love grilled foods served with a side of fresh air? But these days, homeowners are using much more than their outdoor grills to prepare their meals. Fully equipped outdoor kitchens are now the hottest amenity being built and used for outdoor entertaining in backyards across America.
Before you get cooking, get together all the ingredients you’ll need with these outdoor kitchen ideas. Entertaining a crowd takes a bit more effort than plopping down a table and a few plastic chairs. With an outdoor kitchen, you can prepare meals and be around your guests with minimal time spent running back inside for plates, beverages and food.
Ingredients for Outdoor Entertaining
Building outdoor kitchens close to the house, and especially to your indoor kitchen, is crucial. No matter how elaborate you decide to make it, your outdoor kitchen will have to work in tandem with your indoor kitchen. The less distance you have to walk with arms full of food and dishes, the happier you’ll be.
How you prepare your meals outdoors will help you determine which appliances are best for you. Would a simple gas grill be enough to cook your food, or would an open flame, brick oven also be good for your cooking style? Depending on how elaborate you want your kitchen to be, your options are endless. Most people do well with a large gas grill, sink and refrigerator.
Creative design and clever repurposing can transform small outdoor spaces into a comfortable—and affordable—area for outdoor entertaining. Outdoor kitchen layouts are typically similar to indoor kitchen configurations. Your yard, the amount of space you have to work with, your cooking style, and your budget will determine your selections. A few options include:
Straight Line Kitchen – Similar to an indoor “kitchenette,” this kitchen is installed against a wall. It’s ideal for smaller, more budget-friendly spaces where only one cook will work at a time. Keep in mind that if you go with this layout, you’ll have to choose noncombustible materials to protect your house’s siding.
U-Shape Kitchens – If you’re planning a larger, freestanding kitchen and looking at grills, refrigerators, dishwashers and outdoor bars, this shape may be for you. This design mimics most indoor kitchens and becomes the ultimate backyard focal point.
Outdoor Kitchen Island – Probably the most common of all outdoor kitchens, an outdoor kitchen island layout, clusters the grill and all appliances in one central unit. It’s cost-effective and great for creating an outdoor entertaining hub.
Whether it’s extending short summers or delaying the onset of a chilly night, you can extend your time outdoors by turning up the heat. Outdoor fireplaces offer a cozy natural gathering place where friends and family can roast marshmallows, drink nightcaps or simply gaze at the flames in peace. An outdoor fireplace can be built at the edge of your patio or next to the wall of your house—anywhere on the property that will accommodate a large hardscape feature with a chimney. Whether you’re looking for a traditional wood-burning fireplace or a more eco-friendly gas-burning unit, your outdoor fireplace can be made of stone, brick, stucco or concrete, even prefabricated for lower budgets.
By extending your home into the outdoors, you can now prep, cook and eat surrounded by the calm of nature without the worry of leaving the sliding glass door open. Stress-free outdoor entertaining is now in reach with outdoor kitchen ideas including everything from refrigerators and sinks to storage and even kegerators! The possibilities are endless. But keep in mind that the style of outdoor kitchens is influenced by the architecture of the home and the natural elements of the backyard. You’re best served working to with a professional.