Sunshine and warmer temperatures mean outdoor cooking is on the agenda. However, your backyard entertainment area might not be entirely up to the task of hosting your coworkers, your group of close friends, or your book club for a nice dinner.
The last thing anyone wants from their outdoor kitchen and entertaining area is to have an experience that leaves them feeling stressed or unprepared.
To help you get the most from your time preparing meals and enjoying company this summer, we’ve compiled a list of the must-have outdoor entertaining and cooking equipment you’ll need.
For the Cooking Area
What do the best outdoor cooking areas have in common?
They blend functionality with utility and make for an upgraded cooking experience. The equipment they’re outfitted with plays a big role in making that happen. Consider these items for your outdoor kitchen:
Smoker, Grill, Griddle, & Pizza Oven
While some argue outdoor cooking is a year-round venture, it’s an absolute during the warmer months – who wants to prepare a meal in a sweltering indoor kitchen?
There’s nothing like having a cooking apparatus that can handle whatever’s on the menu.
Smokin’ Ugly accessories kits allow you to build a 55-gallon drum smoker that easily adapts to almost anything that you’re preparing. In addition to being a meat smoker, with a few adjustments your drum can also become a grill or griddle. With the addition of our Pizza Oven Kit, you’re ready to create wood-fired pizzas.
Grill Utensil Set
An artist is only as good as their paint brushes.
To that end, a grill master needs the right tools to properly tend to whatever they’re cooking. Investing in a reliable set of grill utensils means you’ll have no trouble flipping burgers or lifting a heavier cut of meat.
In addition, they also upgrade safety, as grilling utensils are designed to keep your hands a safe(r) distance from a heat source.
Hands need to be washed, food needs to be rinsed, and cookware may need to be cleaned at any time. Having an outdoor sink makes it easier to address spills, drops, or issues that arise unexpectedly, saving time and a trip into the house.
For the Bar
Nothing makes a hot day or time spent outside more bearable – or even more enjoyable – than a cool drink.
In outdoor cooking setups, a bar area is a welcomed amenity, no matter the types of drinks you’ll serve. To get the most from your bar area, we recommend having:
Portable Outdoor Beverage Dispenser Cabinet
Bringing an element of semi-permanence to your outdoor bar, a portable outdoor beverage dispenser cabinet lets you create an area to prepare, serve, and enjoy drinks wherever’s best in your outdoor kitchen setup.
Beverage dispensing cabinets typically boast:
- Storage drawers & cabinets
- High countertop
The cabinet’s portability comes in handy when the season’s over and it’s time to winterize. You can move it out of the elements to protect it until next year.
Not all outdoor entertainment areas are the same. In some, space comes in at a premium and mobility matters more.
A bar cart (essentially a scaled-down version of the beverage cabinet) meets both concerns.
Not only is a bar cart small but it’s easily moved. In addition, it can serve double-duty as a storage solution for drink accessories and cookware.
Bar Pass Through or Lift Gate
For those with a built-in bar, a counterbalance system for a flip-up bar or counter allows users to easily move from one side to the other without worry.
The counterbalance system prevents the countertop it’s affixed to from slamming down when lifted. In addition, it literally does the heavy lifting, making even a granite countertop feel light.
Wine can be enjoyed with a meal or while watching the sun go down or a movie projected on a screen in your backyard. A wine cooler is essential to keep the wine handy and at the right temperature at the same time. There are options that fit under the counter, conserving space but getting the job done effectively.
Beyond preparing meals or whipping up/enjoying a refreshing drink, there are a few ancillary items that every outdoor entertaining space needs:
While having a trusty set of grilling utensils is one thing, what good are they if they’re never handy? Running into the house every few minutes for a spatula or plate only disrupts meal prep.
There are many options for utensil storage that fit in well with any outdoor space.
Remember the storage cabinets should be weather-resistant, and stainless steel is a good option for this task. Stainless steel hinges can withstand the weather and repeated use, while providing flexibility in the way the storage cabinet opens as well.
The day can start out warm and end on a cooler note, or the sun can call you outside to find temperatures that don’t match. A patio heater can make all the difference between enjoying the day and retreating inside to a warmer location. In areas with cooler climates, a patio heater can extend enjoying being outdoors by a few weeks when the weather starts to turn.
If propane/gas isn't your speed, the Chiminea offers an environmentally friendly option for heating your patio using standard wood and doesn't require special fuel to operate. This can be customized as well to fit the aesthetics of your outdoor space.
It doesn’t hurt that the Chiminea also can be the place to make the perfect wood-fired steak with the addition of a cooking grate.
Technology is integrated into every part of our lives, and it easily transitions to the backyard just like your cooking talents do.
There are smart-integrated grills/BBQs, which allow you to control the temperature through an app on your phone. There are also wireless meat probe thermometers available that allow you to check the temperature of the meat and ensure that it has been cooked thoroughly without having to disturb the process.
While cool drinks and a good meal do wonders for enjoying time spent outdoors, entertainment technology can help take things in a different direction or complement an evening outside. Consider adding to your outdoor cooking space:
- Bluetooth speakers
- Projectors and screens
- Color-changing LED lights
Table and Seating
Seating for a meal is important, but comfort can be key for lounging. When choosing outdoor furniture, it’s smart to consider how you will be using your outdoor seating arrangements most.
If you want to be able to conserve space for other furniture, a table that can be folded away to save space is important. The picnic table hinge provides just that opportunity. If your backyard also serves as a space for activities or party games, that flexibility will go a long way toward keeping things fun and avoiding injuries.
Start Planning Your Summer Setup
It doesn’t take much to have the perfect summer evening outdoors. With the right outdoor cooking equipment, it’s even easier to make the most of your time preparing a meal or hosting others.