A modular outdoor kitchen: what counts the most?
The modular outdoor kitchen is a very popular solution to fit out outdoor areas, thanks to is great versatility and the relatively low commitment in terms of space and budget.
In our blog, we have already talked about the different ideas for setting up an outdoor kitchen, whether modular or permanent, covered or not.
In this article, we are going to explore the potential of the fitted outdoor kitchen, focusing on the different ways you can combine the various modules for cooking alfresco with a vengeance.
We will start by reviewing the appliances needed in your outdoor kitchen, whether it is the cooking equipment or the other tools.
We will then deal with the subject of the outdoor kitchen layout that must meet some important requirements to get the most out of each different configuration.
We will see how to choose the right tools according to your needs, both in terms of performance (what and how we want to cook) and in terms of fully enjoying your available outdoor space.
Finally, we will conclude by mentioning the possibilities offered by Alfa’s range of outdoor ovens which certainly includes the perfect fit for your needs. Our products not only allow you to bake like a professional chef, but they are easy to use and stylish enough to lavishly decorate your outdoor kitchen.
The components of the modular outdoor kitchen
Let’s begin with the different elements of the modular kitchen. This kind of solution allows you to make your outdoor space more versatile than permanent kitchens by combining independent units according to your needs.
What’s more, it allows you to install an outdoor cooking area for a generally lower initial investment than permanent open-air kitchens, especially if they come with large roofs.
In fact, you can set up your kitchen with just a few essential appliances (a cooking equipment, a sink and a worktop) and then add other components to it as you go along.
As mentioned in the introduction, let’s now describe the main components of the modular outdoor kitchen.
For the sake of convenience, we can divide them into two categories, namely:
- Cooking equipment.
- Other appliances.
Let’s see which components make up the two groups.
Vuoi scoprire qual è il forno più adatto alle tue esigenze?
Vediamo quali sono gli elementi che compongono i due gruppi.
1. Cooking equipment
The first group of components we will focus on is the cooking tools, the key elements of the outdoor kitchen that define which types of cooking you will do in your open-air space.
With regard to the differences between fuels, we have seen that for cooking outdoors, wood-fired ovens are usually better, because of the fewer installation constraints, fewer smoke issues and often also because they are the ones that are sorely lacking in the indoor kitchen.
However, gas-fired ovens are also common for cooking alfresco and they can be quite a great solution as they are easier to use and to clean than wood-burning ones.
The cooking appliances that usually can be part of an outdoor kitchen are:
- The oven
- The grill
- The barbecue
Here are their features
The oven is one of the standard cooking tools in outdoor kitchens, especially if it’s fuelled by firewood (for the reasons given at the beginning of this section).
The wood-fired model is often referred to as the Rolls-Royce of ovens, as it offers great baking performance and extreme capacity to cook any recipe, provided that you develop a certain skill in the manual handling of the fire.
There are many options when it comes to installing a wood-fired oven, the first being to choose between traditional refractory models or innovative stainless-steel ones. Among the latter, we can further opt for permanent or portable ovens or even hybrid models.
Alfa’s hybrid ovens give you the choice of using firewood or gas every time. They work thanks to the hybrid kit, a special cover for the gas burner that makes it possible to operate the oven by lighting a wood fire.
That makes for a more flexible cooking, since we can not only choose the fuel according to its availability and price, but we can also experiment the taste dissimilarities in baking with different fuels.
When you consider the convenience of moving mobile ovens, the dual fuel supply is another plus point that makes Alfa’s products perfect for efficient modular al fresco cooking.
The grill is a staple of outdoor cooking and is an extremely popular accessory for both permanent and mobile ovens. It’s about lighting a wood fire (to which charcoal is often added) and then using the heat of the embers to cook food placed on a metal grill.
It’s easier to use than an oven and needs less time and wood. It’s not suitable to cook large pieces of food which take longer and require more even heat, but it’s absolutely perfect for grilling small cuts such as burgers, chicken breasts, ribs or veg.
The barbecue is a cooking tool that could be roughly described as a grill with a lid and has a number of features that make it very interesting.
In the American tradition, it is used for low and slow cooking of large pieces of meat or whole fish that are often marinated in advance and kept moist during grilling.
The main characteristic of the barbecue is that the lid keeps inside for a long time not only the heat generated by the embers but also the moisture in the food (which will remain juicy and tender) and most of all, the flavour of the wood that is transferred to the meat through the smoke.
If you can only choose one cooking appliance, because you are on a tight budget and have limited space, there’s always the possibility of doing different types of cooking using just the oven. We are talking about the BBQ 500, an Alfa accessory that allows you to turn your wood-fired oven into a barbecue.
Easy to use, it consists of a tray containing the hot embers on which we put the BBQ 500 rotary grill. By placing the food on the grill and then into the oven, we get fast and even cooking due to the combined effort of conduction and convection (direct contact with the grill and the heat circulating around the oven).
2. Other appliances
The second group of tools that must not be missing in your outdoor kitchen are all those utensils that we don’t use strictly to cook food but are of great help in preparing them. The must-have accessories to set up a comfortable and functional outdoor kitchen are the sink and the worktop.
The sink is a fixture that needs a connection to a water supply line. Installation may therefore require some masonry and plumbing works which are usually not too demanding.
As far as the worktop is concerned, you may use the space provided by modular outdoor kitchen for prepping food or simply repurpose garden tables.
If outdoor space is in short supply, you can choose to avoid installing these appliances outside and instead use the indoor kitchen to make food preparation and then move to the garden for cooking alfresco.
In this case, you will have to renounce the comfort of having the essential tools at hand by going back and forth between the inside and outside of the house.
For greater convenience, you can build an outdoor sink and a worktop and add some portable cooking equipment when needed.
Come organizzare la cucina da esterno componibile
Now that we have seen what tools are essential in our outdoor kitchen, let’s consider two all-important factors for setting up a complete and functional cooking area, designed to perfectly suit your needs.
In another article in our blog, we went over how to make the most of outdoor space to put up a comfortable and versatile open-air kitchen. For modular outdoor kitchens, the two main aspects to factor in are:
- The cooking equipment.
- The planning of the outdoor space.
Vuoi scoprire qual è il forno più adatto alle tue esigenze?
Let’s take a closer look at these two factors to see which solutions best suit your needs.
The cooking equipment
The choice of the equipment depends on various requirements that may relate to the type of fuel, the installation restrictions or the way of cooking.
For instance, amateur pizza makers who want to develop their skills and make authentic Neapolitan pizza can opt for a traditional, refractory wood-burning oven which along with the sink and the worktop will make their outdoor kitchen practical and functional. Other appliances can be added to try out alternative cooking to baking in the oven.
If you are into smoking food, putting a permanent barbecue in your modular outdoor kitchen is a very good option.
This doesn’t prevent you from expanding your culinary horizons, by getting yourself a wood, gas or hybrid stainless-steel oven with wheels to bake as many dishes as you want.
When designing your fitted kitchen, we recommend allocating more money to the appliances that are more important to you. So, avoid buying tools that you will hardly ever use. This will allow you to budget a larger sum for the real deal.
The fuel of the cooking equipment is another factor that comes into play. Bar electric appliances, which are not good for outdoor use, you can choose to cook with gas or wood.
Preferring one over the other may be linked to the availability in your area, the price or the constraints of installation and use (as in the case of neighbours complaining about the smoke).
In another article in our blog, we provided a guide to the choice of the outdoor gas-fired oven stacking it up against the wood-burning one.
Finally, it is worth remembering the highly versatile, hybrid oven, which is an excellent alternative to wood or gas-burning cooking appliances.
The planning of the outdoor space
The sink, the worktop and the cooking equipment are all units of the modular outdoor kitchen but only the first one is a fixture.
In fact, it’s fairly common for the sink to be the only fixture of the outdoor kitchen, often placed so that it shares a wall with the inner kitchen. This is done to have easy access to the water supply and to limit the movements to and from inside the house.
The modular outdoor kitchen is therefore conceived as a mix of fixtures and independent units that can be assembled and reassembled to make the most of your space.
Picking mobile appliances to equip your modular kitchen has the advantage of not taking up permanent space and of changing the cooking area layout whenever you feel like it.
So, once you have decided the type of cooking you prefer doing outdoors, you have to search for the right tools. The choice can vary according to the available space, the kitchen layout you have in mind or the fuel you want to use. If outdoor space is at a premium, you would do better to favour mobile units to fixtures.
The outdoor kitchen should also feature a seating area for guests to enjoy food and company. It should be covered to be protected from the elements and to provide shade for the dining area. Covers such as canopies or pergolas may be permanent or retractable.
Selecting the right tools is a necessary but not sufficient condition; you also need to understand how to arrange them in your outdoor living space so that you can cook like a chef having all that you need at your fingertips.
Make the most of your outdoor space with an Alfa oven
Picking the right cooking equipment is the key to creating a functional outdoor kitchen that suits your tastes and needs and takes full advantage of the outdoor space.
Mobile tools offer us the great advantage of versatility when setting up our open-air kitchen, while hybrid (wood/fire) ovens give us fuel flexibility, another big plus in terms of energy costs and cooking performance.
Alfa’s range of home ovens guarantee excellent cooking due to the great care taken in their design that also makes them decor items that will give your outdoor kitchen a modern, refined and elegant style.
For all this and much more, our products got the nod from Barts Outdoor Kitchen, a Dutch design company specialised in modular concrete kitchens.
Alfa has something for everyone. Our home range offers a wide selection of large and small, wood-fired, gas-fired, electric, hybrid, portable and traditional ovens.
Plan your modular outdoor kitchen around an Alfa oven, a cooking tool that makes your outdoor space outstanding to create an environment in which to fully enjoy your favourite recipes.