Planning An Outdoor Kitchen

Planning Overview

Homeowners have always appreciated the benefits of cooking, dining, and entertaining outdoors. With fresh air and the sounds of nature and nice neighborhoods, people discover that some of life's stresses seem to melt away in the backyard.

Not too many years ago, outdoor cooking meant a tiny grill with little or no working space. This meant many trips to and from the house, a weathered old picnic table, and generally many inconveniences.

Currently, people are taking steps to claim their backyard as an extension of the comforts of their home. Manufacturers of outdoor cooking products have responded with a huge supply of products. Some examples are: large grills that make cooking easier, outdoor pizza ovens, cabinets specifically for the outdoors, and large entertaining areas.

These days, there is something for every budget, and even small upgrades can improve the outdoor cooking experience. Here are some tips to get started planning a small but nice outdoor kitchen:

A modest outdoor kitchen usually consists of a built-in gas or charcoal grill set into 6 foot long counter and a couple of cabinets below the grill. If you are currently used to cooking on a tiny grill with little or no flat surface area, then this will be a major outdoor kitchen upgrade. It will also provide a stable cooking appliance and an area for preparing vegetables and other foods for cooking.

For the easiest installation, buy an all-in-one grill unit. Some units contain a built-in refrigerator and/or overhead lighting. Consider the simplest unit if your backyard space is limited. If you only grill occasionally, a big outdoor cooking system might be a little more than you need. Never pay full price; always look online for deals, like this Sears coupon for barbeques and appliances.

Adding Touches to Your Patio and Outdoor Kitchen

If you would like to take the simple counter and grill a step further, consider some of these options:

-Add a raised counter or outdoor bar, sitting either to the side of or on the opposite side of the grill station. This allows you to bring family members and friends closer to the cook, giving the cookout a better social atmosphere.

-If you install an electric line and an outdoor receptacle near the grill station counter, you will be able to run various electrical appliances, such as a refrigerator, food processor, or electric knife. This is always a better option than just running an extension cord outside.

-If your counter is near the house and close to the indoor kitchen, it might be inexpensive to hook up a sink to the cutting area. This will be very helpful in food preparation and cleanup.

-Think about building a fire pit in the yard. This will add kind of a campfire-like experience to your cookouts. It will also make the outdoor kitchen area appear bigger and more user-friendly.

-Nice looking patio furniture also gives off a more comfortable feel and enhances the setting.

-Low-voltage lighting, for a relatively low price, will create a nice ambience to the whole backyard kitchen setting.

If you live in a climate where you can cook outdoors more often, then by all means, build to suit that lifestyle. If the climate or your lifestyle does not permit outdoor cooking as often, then scale down your outdoor grill area plans to fit those needs. Remember, there really is never any need to create more of an outdoor kitchen than what your budget or your time will allow.

Billy Bristol is the editor and chief bbq pitmaster for TexasBarbeques.com, an outdoor cooking and entertaining website devoted to backyard living. TexasBarbeques.com has been providing barbecue recipes, cooking tips, grilling techniques, and backyard entertainment ideas since 2005.

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