Pizza ovens, smokers and beverage fridges make outdoor entertaining that much more enjoyable and efficient.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.