If your favorite activity is cooking outdoors, you might want to invest in a fully equipped outdoor kitchen. Not only will you be able to relax and entertain in the warmer seasons, but you can also design your outdoor kitchen for year-round use.
An outdoor kitchen should have everything at your fingertips so you’re not making trips indoors for food preparation or ice. Here are some essential kitchen appliances you’ll need to create your total backyard cooking space:
When choosing a grill, the two most popular choices are gas and charcoal. Gas grills ignite with the push of a button, heat up quickly, allow for excellent temperature control with adjustable knobs, and are easy to clean. A propane tank or natural gas line provides the fuel.
Charcoal grills take more time to heat up and cool down, and require briquettes, lump charcoal, or cooking wood for fuel. The fire has to be stoked and brought to the right temperature for cooking, then tended to maintain heat across the grill. When you’re finished cooking, there’s more of a cleanup because ashes need to be cleaned out of the grill.
Charcoal heats up to extremely hot temperatures (500-800°F) that allow you to sear meat. There’s also a natural, smoky flavor imparted to the meat because of the drippings on the charcoal, which a gas grill can’t exactly match. Using cooking wood rather than charcoal provides an even better flavor.
To enjoy the best of both worlds, two-sided grills are available with a charcoal/wood grill on one side, and a gas grill on the other. These give you almost unlimited options, depending on how you want to cook your food.
A single or two-sided built-in gas grill is an ideal choice for an outdoor kitchen. As a permanent part of a counter or island, it can easily be connected to a dedicated gas line. Choose a premium gas grill for extra features, such as searing or infrared burners, and high-quality stainless steel that can withstand the elements.
Although many grills have one or two side burners, installing separate gas side burners allows you to multi-task and prepare a broader range of dishes in your outdoor kitchen. The burners can be placed further away from the grill, depending on how you want your setup.
Extra burners can be used for making side dishes, boiling water, warming up sauces, or cooking with woks. For faster cooking times, opt for high-quality power burners with an extended temperature range, or infrared searing burners
Different burner configurations are available — single, double, and double with a side griddle. You can even buy griddles to fit on top of burners. Griddles are convenient for cooking fish, grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes, eggs, and many items at one time if you’re serving a big outdoor crowd.
Warming drawers possess many features that surpass those of warming racks on grills. When cooking large quantities, they’re ideal for keeping different foods warm at the right temperature until it’s time to serve. A wide temperature range allows you to warm buns and bread or keep meat piping hot. Crisp and moist settings also help preserve the texture of the food.
Many warming drawers have stainless steel pans and lids to keep food separate, which also makes it easy for people to serve themselves rather than crowd around the grill. Late arrivals can always find a warm meal waiting for them that still tastes fresh.
Outdoor Kitchen Fridges
Outdoor kitchen refrigerators are smaller than indoor ones, and can either be freestanding or built in. They’re specially designed with thicker insulation, and weatherproof exteriors and electronics. Some models include built-in freezers and ice makers.
Two fridges are practical for an outdoor kitchen. The first one can go underneath the grill or countertop nearby, so that meats, veggies, salads, condiments, and other foods on the menu are close at hand. A second fridge can store cold drinks, and be within easy reach of guests.
Generally, fridges are too cold for storing beer and wine. If you’re planning to serve them on a regular basis, replace your second fridge with an outdoor beverage cooler. It can store carbonated drinks as well.
An ice maker can either be an additional feature on an outdoor fridge, or a separate unit. It cancels the need to make trips to the store for bags of ice, which are then stored in a portable cooler. Separate ice makers produce more ice than fridge ice makers and are handy when entertaining large groups. Options for separate units include: undercounter, freestanding, and countertop ice makers that are portable.
The type of ice you prefer will determine your choice of ice maker. Each machine makes only one of four types of ice: cube, crescent, nugget, or gourmet (top-hat). Cube and gourmet ice makers produce clearer, harder, ice that’s denser, but take longer to produce it than nugget and crescent machines.
You’ll also need a drain for the ice maker — only a few select models don’t need drainage. The type of drain required depends on the location of your floor drain or where you can connect to plumbing. If you have a sink in your outdoor kitchen, you can choose an ice maker with a gravity drain. For outdoor spaces without a drain, pump-drained ice makers are available.
Outdoor Range Hoods
Outdoor range hoods extract smoke, odors, grease, toxins, and heat away from your cooking space to keep it cleaner and more comfortable. In an enclosed or semi-enclosed space this is especially important.
The hood needs to be rated for outdoors. An outdoor range hood is larger and more powerful than an indoor one. Look for a hood with a quiet motor so you don’t have to raise your voice or turn up the music. And if you want to see what you’re cooking on the grill after dark, get a model with built-in lights.
If you’d rather enjoy spending time with family and guests rather than hand-washing dishes in an outdoor sink, consider getting an outdoor dishwasher. Used grilling utensils, glasses, plates, bowls, and cookware can be loaded into the dishwasher, leaving the counter space uncluttered and free for other tasks. There’s even a special wash cycle for items that are hard to clean. You can finish a load and have a fresh set of dishes for the next items on the menu.
For your outdoor kitchen, be sure to get a dishwasher that’s outdoor-rated, and specifically designed for all weather conditions.
Call C&W Appliance Service at (855) 358-1496 for all your appliance repair and maintenance needs or submit our online service request form for prompt, reliable service.