Picture this: it’s a hot summer Saturday and you’ve worked up an appetite from spending the early afternoon lounging at the beach, reading your favorite book. You get home and start cranking up the tunes, turn on the grill, and pop some rosé.
Now if there’s one thing the pandemic taught me –– it’s how to have a good time in your own backyard and this, for me, is the best way to enjoy doing the otherwise mundane task of cooking dinner.
In our team zoom call last week, Emily and I had a debate on what is actually needed in an outdoor kitchen. I love those “non-essential” cooking gadgets (when they actually work well) to shake up the dinner-making process, so I was trying to convince everyone of the really cool, best ones that can give you and your family endless amounts of fun. So she would rather have a simple outdoor kitchen without fancy built-in pizza ovens or Brazilian charcoal grills (we’ll get to that later).
Now she’s not TOTALLY wrong, but I think all of these gadgets and gizmos can be VERY fun and can get used a lot depending on the person. We both agreed however that if you’re going to build an outdoor kitchen, there really are only 3 really essential items you need and then everything else is just a bonus. We feel like there is a total hole in the market for awesome, better-for-the-earth options since the electric grills aren’t reviewed as well in terms of actual cooking experience… if you know any other grills that are more sustainable or if you have any more insight on this please let us know in the comments — it’s a very important topic and we want everyone to shop smarter and more sustainably.
3-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Black with Built-In Thermometer and Side Burner | 2. Apparently, according to Chris Loves Julia’s IG stories, everyone is head over heels for this Weber grill linked above as #1 (the reviews are basically that it lasts A LONG TIME which is also important when shopping sustainably). Lastly, my boyfriend LOVES to cook at the beach/lake so I got him this HERO portable grill (#3) as a gift and we’re very excited to try it out this summer.
You’re gonna need to put your corn on the cob and burger patties SOMEWHERE…why not make it fashion?? Here are some awesome prep counter/storage cabinets that you can add to your kitchen (for minimal to no renovation costs!!!)
including this one that Emily just got from Pottery Barn for the mountain house that they’re planning to use for both a cooking surface and then also toy/outdoor activity storage underneath. She also wanted me to inform you guys that they had to get metal because wood ––or really any other material–– don’t do great out there because the seasons can be so extreme.
You can store all the meats and veggies and whatnots you’re gonna cook right under your cookin’ station along with some ice cold beers, La Croix (or Spindrift…we have a debate about which one is better going around EHD currently), or just cool refreshing water. Also, note that the fridges below are not all weatherproof, but you could certainly build them into a cabinet or just have them under a covered pergola or something if that’s your thing.
Galanz Retro 3.1 cu ft True Freezer Dual-Door Refrigerator | 3. I personally think it would be AWESOME to have a sink in your outdoor kitchen for washing your hands in between seasoning meat and whatnot.
However, Emily thinks it’s the least essential thing to have in an outdoor bbq area (and they’re not planning to put one outside at the farmhouse).
Her argument is that it basically just becomes a dumping ground for dirty glasses and dishes that all eventually end up getting moved into the kitchen to go into the dishwasher. I totally get this point, and from a guest’s perspective, I also get why they would put their dirty drink glass there, but as the chef, I’d love to have a place to rinse flour off my hands when making pizza or whatnot. Some of them are decently affordable (and portable) and others are like full-on custom built-in situations that cost thousands of dollars that are definitely less attainable… but are fun to dream about.
It’s a low and slow process (like seriously you can cook stuff for like 24 hours) which is perfect for making ultra-tender brisket, ribs, and whatnots. I linked this awesome Traeger pellet smoker because it’s SUPER affordable at only $117. I was once at a family party where they were smoking a brisket that took 18 hours (or longer) to cook and I got swept up into a 3-hour conversation about different smokers, how to use them and what they do.
Traeger is probably the most famous smoker brand (at least according to every country song ever) and apparently, the tale goes that an employee from Traeger was fed up once the company got HUGE and thought their quality of product started to decline, so he started Pit Boss which is another awesome smoker brand that you should check out if you’re in the market.
Also, Carmeon did an awesome brand partnership with Traeger in this post, which honestly made me want one even more: They range in size but can be as small as 12″ and 23 lb (that’s the one we have) which makes it perfect for those who don’t have space or funds for a built-in pizza oven since it can be stored away nicely when you’re not using it.
I bought one for my boyfriend for Christmas last year –– it took 3 months to ship because they’re that in demand… and let me say we’re not disappointed. Our first pizzas weren’t perfect, but once you get past the learning curve these are a lot of fun for summer.
If you want a built-in pizza oven but are not down to pay the cost, you can also build your own from this cool kit on Etsy! For sure this is a splurge, but it’s super awesome because you can use it like a stove and put a pot or pan on it OR you could literally grill stuff up directly on it. It’s a charcoal grill where you can raise and lower your food depending on where you want it to sit on the flame below. This is another splurge and a lot of people do custom builds into their outdoor kitchens like these from Etsy, so if you’re looking for something interesting and fun, try these out:)