What makes a great outdoor kitchen?

Written by

11 April 2021


4 min read

Achieving a great outdoor kitchen result starts with having one specially designed for your needs. Whether you’re looking to augment your indoor kitchen or wanting the total package, a specialist retailer can help create your perfect outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor kitchens have become a hot-ticket item as more and more people look to create that holiday feeling in their own backyard. Since COVID-19 struck, enquiries from people wanting built-in gas, electric and charcoal barbecues, pizza ovens, smokers and outdoor heaters has skyrocketed, says James Higgins from Outdoor Concepts, a business that has specialised in premium outdoor living products for 20 years.

“Usually, they don’t just want one cooker,” he adds, “they now want multiples. Manufacturers simply can’t keep up with the demand at the moment.”

Outdoor Kitchens are definitely a fun thing to have, he says. “But what makes a really great one when it’s customised to your own specific needs and how you want to use it.”

If you’re really serious about cooking outdoors, the quality of the appliances is key and you’re going to want appliances that will last the distance. With that in mind, says James, consider the gauge of the materials they’re built from and how well they’re built.

“You can have a stainless steel barbecue that looks shiny and flash, but cooking on it isn’t enjoyable because it has cold spots or it doesn’t get hot enough. Maybe it’s not set up well internally. We refer to that as the cooking dynamic. When you have a great cooking dynamic combined with quality construction, you’re onto a winner.

“To ensure quality, select reputable brands such as Weber, Beefeater and DCS which specialise in barbecues and other outdoor appliances. They’ve invested heavily in research and development. So they know how to create appliances that work well—and they just keep getting better and better. Brand longevity is also a good indication that they provide quality.”

Your outdoor dining experience need not be limited to a simple bbq in the corner. Elevate your entertaining options by getting advice from a specialist.
Your outdoor dining experience need not be limited to a simple bbq in the corner. Elevate your entertaining options by getting advice from a specialist.

Outdoor Concepts: specialists in outdoor living

Consumer ratings are also an important indicator. Check the reviews and look for the sticker on the packaging that gives a tick of approval. Products with these high ratings are better because they’ve been tested and certified.

Just as he recommends choosing specialist brands, James advises those who want a great outdoor kitchen to buy from a specialist retailer. “We specialise in outdoor heating and cooking. Some of the big retailers have lots of products but they don’t have the specialist knowledge that we have. Getting the right advice to set up your new outdoor kitchen is really important.

“When people come to us, it’s all about exploring their specific needs. We don’t push them into anything. We ask lots of questions and look at what they like to use, how they like to use it, if they want to try something new and so on. Everyone is different.”

Then there are all the other considerations—the sink, the fridge and the rubbish bins—that tie it all together. A seemingly endless variety of accessories is available, right down to the chopping board.

However, some people don’t require all these extras as their outdoor kitchen is adjacent to their indoor kitchen.

Incorporate a refrigerator, bbq and smoker into your outdoor kitchen for a full culinary experience.
Incorporate a refrigerator, bbq and smoker into your outdoor kitchen for a full culinary experience.

Outdoor Concepts: off the wall not off the shelf

Outdoor Concepts’ kitchens can be designed in any style. They don’t do ‘out of the box’ kitchens. Instead, they work closely with the manufacturers to create a very personalised, bespoke look that is as individual as you are.

“More often than not we give customers an idea of what can be done and we talk about the materials and products and how they’ll work in that kitchen. Most of the time, they’ll opt for a classic shape—like a long bench with appliances sunk into it or sitting on it. But there are lots of aspects to consider. The units in our showroom are like the building blocks. We use them as our starting point in the conversation.”

As far as prices go, the sky's the limit. With several cookers and an outdoor fire, they might cost around $30,000 but a simple, basic design could be as little as $5000. James says you can spend a reasonable amount and get a really good set up.

“When you have multiple things going on, it takes a bit of skill to integrate them for a seamless look.

“A lot of people want something but have no idea where to start. We can create a kitchen that will work for you. It doesn’t have to be a built-in kitchen. It might just be a fantastic freestanding cooker. There are so many facets to consider for an outdoor kitchen. We can help you get creative with all sorts of solutions.”

Outdoor Concepts has two showrooms, one in Parnell, Auckland and one at The Landing in Queenstown. Both are open weekdays from 9.30–5.30 and on the weekend.

Learn more about incorporating an outdoor kitchen into your next project.