Gone are the days when an outdoor kitchen consisted of just a grill, sink, and at most, also including a refrigerator. These days, outdoor kitchens are more elaborate and customized than ever before.
We believe that Outdoor kitchen plans should be personalized for you and your specific lifestyle whether it’s how you like to entertain or what your family regularly enjoys your backyard oasis.
For instance, we had one client who loved to entertain every week with family and friends each bringing crockpots of soups, sides, and chilli to share. That’s why we designed a long countertop with enough outlets to plug them all in. They called it “crockpot alley.” We had another client who wanted to be able to swim right up to their bar, from their nearby pool. We designed a swim-up bar area just like you might see at a tropical resort.
When it comes to your outdoor kitchen in Lancaster or Reading, PA dream BIG. Jot down anything that comes to mind and don’t assume that it can’t be done. During the brainstorming phase, your imagination is your only limit.
As you dream up some big outdoor kitchen ideas, here are 10 to consider:
1. Make it an Outdoor Kitchen Entertainment Destination
The amenities that you incorporate into your outdoor kitchen can help make it easier and more enjoyable to entertain. Whether it’s that countertop with enough outlets to plug-in a bunch of crockpots or incorporating drop-in trays to fill with ice for your salads and perishable foods, these are just two of the ways you can create food serving areas for entertaining. Plus, if you’re planning on having a lot of your kids’ teenage friends hanging out, don’t forget enough electrical outlets for them to charge their phones too!
But your outdoor kitchen can be even more of an entertainment destination with the addition of a bar area, an outdoor television and audio system, seating areas, and so much more. Put some thought into how you like to entertain and how your outdoor kitchen plans can make it even more enjoyable.
2. Consider Options for Refrigeration and Freezing
Drawers can be really convenient for storing beverages and frozen goods in your outdoor kitchen. You might have refrigerated items in a top drawer and frozen items in a bottom drawer. If you like the idea of glass side-by-side doors, you can also display your beverages that way.
Whether it’s your kids grabbing a freeze pop while playing outside on a hot day or guests being able to help themselves to a cold beverage without having to dig through a cooler, outdoor refrigeration and freezers are a great outdoor kitchen upgrade.
3. Add a Sink to your Outdoor Kitchen
A basic sink would just run cold water and be just large enough to rinse utensils. But you can upgrade to something larger that would you allow you to wash dishes.
A small, self-contained water heater will also allow you to have both hot and cold water. This is a nice amenity that helps you keep your outdoor kitchen as a self-contained unit. By being able to wash dishes outside you can also store them outside rather than having to travel back and forth from your home.
4. Install an Outdoor Pizza Oven
If you’re building a large outdoor kitchen which you plan to use for entertaining or time with your family, something like an outdoor pizza oven can turn your time outdoors into an event. These outdoor pizza ovens mimic the original wood-fired pizza ovens like you'd find in an authentic Italian eatery.
It takes a while for the fire to heat up in these large outdoor ovens but during that time your family or friends can be rolling the dough and making up their personal pizzas.
It puts a whole new twist on a pizza party. Chopping up ingredients, and creating culinary works of art can make preparing a meal a group or family experience or even competition. After all, almost everyone loves pizza!
5. Incorporate Ample Storage
Storage space is so important to your outdoor kitchen plans so that you and your guests don’t have to be going in and out bringing things from your indoor kitchen.
If you’re going to be storing any valuable or liquor in your outdoor kitchen, you should also consider locks. You might also want to use a cabinet as your “control center” where you can hide away audio visual equipment and keep it both safe and waterproofed.
6. Upgrade your Outdoor Kitchen Grill
Today, grills come in all shapes and sizes. You can quickly fill a grill with 20 hamburgers or hotdogs, so make sure your grill can easily accommodate a larger crowd if you intend on inviting larger groups.
Keep in mind grills can also be used as outdoor ovens, great for cooking your gourmet potatoes and secret baked beans recipe. You may even want a grill with upgraded features like a rotisserie or one with a view window.
An upgraded grill isn’t just about added features, but about improved cooking results and a variety of cooking options.There’s even a grill out there that is half gas-powered, half charcoal, so that everyone’s cooking styles and preferences can be accommodated! There is truly something for everyone when it comes to grills nowadays.
7. Add a Smoker
Prefer the taste of smoked meat to grilled? Products like the Big Green Egg produce a unique smoky flavor that many people say they prefer.
While it takes longer to prepare smoked meat, when it comes time to eat, you’ll find it was worth the wait. Incorporating a smoker into your outdoor kitchen design is a delicious investment that gives you alternative ways to cook for your family and friends.
8. Make Life Easier with a Roll-Out Serving Cart
If you love entertaining, a roll-out serving cart is a great way to take prepared food to another area of your outdoor living space. Whether it’s making and delivering delicious beverages for guests swimming in the pool or taking all of the grilled items over to the eating area, a roll-out cart will make it easy to go from prep time to party time.
Even if you’re just eating dinner with your immediate family, it makes serving simple. And when it’s built right into the countertop, it’s easy to put away and store.
9. Consider a Power Burner for your Outdoor Kitchen
Power burners are a popular addition to outdoor kitchen plans because they make cooking even more efficient.
Imagine quickly boiling a huge pot of corn on a burner that is not only built right into your countertop, but is recessed and at the perfect height to keep an eye on the cooking.
Power burners are also incredibly handy if cooking something smelly. Instead of stinking up the house with your famous fish chowder recipe, you can cook it outside on the power burner.
These specialized, commercial-grade burners are far superior to those self-contained in free-standing grills you'd buy at the local hardware store. These side burners pack a whallop with plenty of BTUs to get your food cooking at the ideal temperatures.
10. Light it all Up
There’s no question that you want to enjoy your outdoor kitchen to its fullest. Lighting should be an essential part of your outdoor kitchen design ideas. Well-planned lighting will allow you to use the space even after the sun goes down. With the right lighting you won’t have to be fumbling around to see if your steaks are cooked just right or to find something in a cabinet.
Lighting can even be installed on the cabinet interiors when they open to make things easy to find. In addition, landscape lighting can also add a tremendous amount of aesthetic appeal. You can add uplighting to highlight stone at the base of your countertops, install pendant lighting that hang over your bar area, or even add color-changing LED lighting to set a mood or decorate for a party. Today’s high-end lighting offers endless possibilities.
Let us Help You with your Outdoor Kitchen Ideas
At Earth, Turf & Wood, we have done all of these ideas and then some!
We love it when our clients dream big and come up with ideas that they know will make their outdoor kitchen even more enjoyable for their family and friends.
While a lot of these ideas are big, we work with clients on projects of all sizes. Whether it’s a small outdoor kitchen with the basic necessities or a large project with all the amenities, we have the expertise and the experience to bring those ideas to life.
If you’re dreaming about outdoor kitchen ideas, check out our outdoor kitchen gallery for more inspiration. You can also schedule a free consultation or call us at (717) 276-9447 so we can talk more about your ideas.