10 Party-Ready Specialty Outdoor Kitchen Features

If you’re in the process of adding an outdoor kitchen or looking to update your current setup, take a look at the following specialty features that will make hosting more convenient and enjoyable. Warming ovens, fridges and built-in kegerators can all help cut down on trips back and forth to the kitchen. Specialty cooking features, such as smokers, pizza ovens and two-sided grills, can bring outdoor cooking to the next level and may inspire a theme for an outdoor party. Wood-fired pizzas and Negronis, anyone?

The best time to install many of these outdoor kitchen features is when you initially add an outdoor kitchen or during a remodel, when it’s easier to run gas, water or electricity lines. Don’t have the budget to outfit your kitchen with as many features as you’d like? Leave the design open to accommodate the future appliances and have your contractor run required lines to the future installation spots.

1. Pizza Oven

Wood-fired pizza ovens sit at the top of many outdoor kitchen dream lists. If you too are longing for homemade pizzas, wood-fired breads or roast meats, it may well be worth the splurge of adding one to your backyard. Check local building codes for permitting requirements before getting started. Larger wood-fired ovens take up square footage (and a portion of one’s budget) but are reported to be easier to cook in than smaller ovens, which can easily be overwhelmed by flames. The larger models also allow users to cook multiple dishes or pizzas at once.

Electric and gas-powered pizza ovens heat up faster than wood-burning ovens, take up less square footage and often cost less than their wood-burning counterparts. Choosing a portable pizza oven that can sit on a countertop or rollaway cart can be the most budget-friendly option, as no additional installation is required.

2. Ceramic Grills and Smokers

Big Green Eggs, Komodo Kamados and other kamado-style ceramic grills promise to combine the cooking features of a grill, outdoor oven and smoker into one tidy unit. They’re not cheap, but many cooking enthusiasts would argue that they’re well worth it for the tender, slow-cooked meats and crispy-crust pizzas they can produce.

For clients in Texas, austin outdoor design used a minimalist mounting system for a Big Green Egg. The grill unit floats in a custom-made 14-foot-long stainless steel countertop. This allows for plenty of counter space and room below for bar seats.

3. Double-Sided Grill

A double-sided grill is the outdoor equivalent of upgrading from a 4-burner stove to a 6- or 8-burner model. It gives you more space and more control over cooking multiple dishes at once. Some double-sided grills offer dual options for burning gas or charcoal. Many come with temperature gauges on the lids so you can have the control to cook some items hot and others low and slow. Another practical consideration of a two-sided grill is to keep meat and vegetables separated for vegetarians.

For this outdoor kitchen in Sussex, England, landscape designer Andy Stedman added a full outdoor kitchen, including a brick pizza oven and a double-sided temperature-controlled grill, to give his clients ultimate outdoor cooking flexibility.

4. Warming Drawer

If you’re grilling for a crowd, keeping veggies or buns hot while you finish the burgers can be a challenge.

Enter the warming drawer. Unlike the top warming rack of a grill, a warming drawer has consistent temperature and can keep food piping hot, if so desired, or be set low to keep grilled bread warm without drying it out. The electrically heated stainless drawer can also be used for slow roasting. (Most units offer heat settings from 85 to 215 degrees Fahrenheit.)

5. Side Burner

Side burners that allow you to take traditional stovetop cooking outdoors are becoming increasingly popular add-ons to outdoor kitchen setups. Imagine being able to boil potatoes while you grill a steak, for example. Once again, this is an add-on designed to keep you outside and cut trips back to the house.

“If you have limited counter space and want to add something more than a grill but don’t have space for a kamado or a griddle, power burners are the way to go,” designer Karie Zemlicka of Mom’s Design Build says.

This outdoor kitchen in Minneapolis by Mom’s Design Build was made for large-group entertaining. The kitchen features a grill, side burner, pizza oven, kegerator, outdoor sink and fridge, as well as ample outdoor seating and a TV for watching the game.

Lauren Dunec Hoang

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