With the arrival of summer, it’s time to prepare your outdoor space to make the most of it cooking and eating together.

Often, in many houses, the outdoor space is only used to enjoy the dishes prepared inside but sometimes you can cook directly in the open air.

Many people have enough space in the garden or terrace to install their outdoor kitchen as a complement to the indoor one but if you don’t fall into this category there are plenty of viable options to set up an exterior cooking station and avoid walking back and forth to the house with dishes in your hands.

In this article, you will find how to make the most of your outdoor kitchen to fully enjoy alfresco dining by overcoming the difficulties of indoor cooking. First of all, we will compare the main features of indoor and outdoor kitchens, focusing on the various types, from the fully equipped one to the no-frills cooking station through wood-fired ovens, barbecues or grills keeping in mind that you can get great results even when you are baking outside.

Outdoor kitchen: all the secrets to cook like a chef at home. | Alfa Forni
Outdoor kitchen: all the secrets to cook like a chef at home. | Alfa Forni

Indoor and outdoor kitchens: the main differences.

Cooking outside can be challenging and may significantly impact the type of food chosen and how it is baked because you can’t have all the tools and comforts of a well-furnished home kitchen.

Here, we list the main differences between a home kitchen and an outdoor one:

  • Organize your space for an outdoor kitchen.
  • Avoid smoke build-up from the outdoor oven.
  • How to set up an outdoor kitchen in your home.
  • Outdoor kitchen is synonymous with conviviality.

To meet these needs, there are many options to choose from and surely you will find one according to your space and budget.

Organize your space for an outdoor kitchen

The space available is the key element of your outdoor kitchen layout. Basically, there are two possible cases:

  1. Space is in short supply such as in a house with a small balcony.
  2. Space is no object since you have a large garden or terrace.

In the first case, you will need a product not too bulky and easy to handle such as a small barbecue or a compact mobile pizza oven. With these products, you can bake dishes like Neapolitan pizza in a wood-fired oven at really high temperatures. The compact, high-performance ONE oven would be right up your alley.

On the contrary, if you have plenty of space and you want to install a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with all the tools such as sink, gas rings, fridge or dishwasher, make sure to cover them to protect them from bad weather.

Think about one of our traditional masonry ovens or a wheeled steel oven such as the Allegro, the largest of the Alfa range that would hold its own in a pizzeria

Outdoor kitchen: all the secrets to cook like a chef at home. | Alfa Forni

Avoid the smoke build-up from the outdoor oven.

Cooking in the open air means that you can burn firewood without worrying about the smoke problems. The most common home appliances are powered by gas or electricity and they don’t need to be connected to a chimney flue which is necessary for stoves, fireplaces or wood-fired ovens. Outside, a chimney cowl will do to allow smoke to flow out and you won’t even have to fret about the ventilation. Read our blog article to learn more about oven smoke emissions.

Vuoi scoprire qual è il forno più adatto alle tue esigenze?

Outdoor kitchen: all the secrets to cook like a chef at home. | Alfa Forni

How to set up an outdoor kitchen in your home.

Kitchen layouts must take account of your home spatial and structural constraints except in case of major renovations. Available space is often limited, and the necessary appliances are built into the wall. Outdoor kitchens come with a lot of configurations, but they must allow for the position of:

  • water drainpipes
  • electrical sockets
  • gas pipes

You can always choose to install a kitchenette with gas-fired ovens or barbecues that will be connected to the gas supply or to a cylinder or maybe an electric appliance making sure to protect the components from humidity.

Outdoor kitchen is synonymous with conviviality.

Food is a superb way to bring people together, but the cook often has no time to socialise and even more so if they have to shuttle back and forth between the inside and the outside of the house. Cooking in the open air allows you to spend more time with your guests and to showcase special skills such as those of a pizza maker or a pitmaster. The outdoor kitchen is definitely an element that gives a touch of conviviality to your dinners or lunches and can be the centre of attention for staging great cooking shows at home.

Outdoor kitchen: all the secrets to cook like a chef at home. | Alfa Forni

The perfect tools for cooking outdoors.

Let’s focus now on the necessary equipment that must be found in an outdoor kitchen. The most suitable choice is the wood-fired oven that is a fabulous addition to your outdoor living space and burns firewood, a renewable energy source that doesn’t harm the environment and imparts rich flavour to food.

The wood-fired ovens for cooking outdoors.

The wood-fired oven is simply top for cooking and, in the past, it had a place of choice in the house as the only baking tool for feeding large families. Today things have changed, and wood-burning ovens are scarce in homes due to structural and regulatory constraints and to competition from more practical fuels such as gas or electricity. However, they can always be installed in outdoor spaces and all the more so that very energy-efficient models that heat up in no time are now available on the market. Innovation is Alfa’s strong point and by developing the Forninox Technology™ we have managed to produce efficient, ready-for-use, high-performing wood-fired ovens. This technology allows to combine the traditional refractory wood-burning oven with a stainless-steel dome that improves thermal efficiency and lightens the weight of the appliance. By attaching a set of castors, you can move them in any direction for baking outdoors and put them away after use.

Outdoor cooking with the grill or the barbecue.

In addition to the oven, the outdoor kitchen can have a grill or a barbecue, tools that although similar, come with distinct features.

Grilling is cooking food quickly over direct heat at very high temperatures and is perfect for small cuts of meat, fish and veg.

Barbecuing means cooking food over very low heat for a very long time using an appliance with a lid that better retains the heat, the steam and the smoky flavour of embers. It is used for larger cuts of meat (ribs, whole chickens, piglets..) often marinated in advance.

Not just firewood: cook outdoors with gas-fired or electric ovens!

Ovens, barbecues or grills are all great wood-powered tools for baking al fresco but these appliances are also running on gas or dual fuels (gas and firewood) in their hybrid versions. Gas is a rather cheap and easy-to-move fuel as it can be used by hooking the appliances up to the supply or to a cylinder and it provides performances not far from those of the wood-burning ovens.

Vuoi scoprire qual è il forno più adatto alle tue esigenze?

Outdoor kitchen: all the secrets to cook like a chef at home. | Alfa Forni

Explore here all the options for setting up the perfect outdoor kitchen!

How to get the most out of your outdoor kitchen.

Here, we give you some advice on how to make the most of outdoor space in your kitchen layout.

  • Zone the outdoor space for your kitchen.
  • Learn how to cook over fire.
  • Bake the first course, the main and the bread at once.
  • Create synergy between indoor and outdoor kitchen.
  • Kick your feet up and relax in your outdoor kitchen.
  • Wow your guests with our designer outdoor ovens.

1. Zone the outdoor space for your kitchen

If outdoor space is at a premium, you can opt for a small-sized appliance suitable for preparing dishes that can’t be made in the home kitchen, for instance a mobile outdoor oven where you can cook a couple of pizzas simultaneously. If you have got plenty of space and money is no object, you can set up a fully loaded outdoor kitchen that can be a valid alternative to the indoor one. Or you can add mobile appliances for dinner parties taking advantage of pre-existing fixtures like sinks or fireplaces.

2. Learn how to cook over fire

If you choose appliances that burn firewood, you have to learn to cook with the first controllable source of heat and light discovered by man. To light, to build and to control a fire takes time and may be a little daunting but bit by bit you will discover that there’s nothing better than cooking with flames and coals to give a special taste to your dishes.

3. Bake the first course, the main and the bread at once.

To make the most out of our outdoor ovens, you have to learn how to maximise the curve of oven temperature to cook multiple dishes. So, you can check them all as they bake and cut down your energy consumption at the same time. For example, in a large outdoor oven, you can start by baking a pasta casserole at 100-200 °C (200-400 °F), then you add some logs to raise the temperature up to 400 °C (750 °F) to cook a Neapolitan pizza and finally you take full advantage of the falling curve of temperature to bake bread or reheat main courses or side dishes.

4. Create synergy between indoor and outdoor kitchen.

The outdoor kitchen can be exploited to the max in a synergy with the indoor one that can be very productive. You could easily make a meal by alternating preparations on the two kitchens, for instance, cooking a starter in the home kitchen and cook a roast on the grill in the other one.

5. Kick your feet up and relax in your outdoor kitchen.

Having an outdoor kitchen allow you not to spend too much time away of your guests while preparing the dishes, because they surely came as much to eat your food as to be with you. It can also be a great idea to show your skills as a pizza chef or cook, to organize food tasting events or themed dinners. A case in point is the so-called “giro pizza” where pizzas with different toppings are passed around among the guests and feedback is collected.

6. Wow your guests with our designer outdoor ovens.

L’ultimo consiglio per sfruttare al massimo la postazione di cottura all’aperto è quello di scegliere soluzioni che rendono più confortevole l’ambiente, grazie a design particolarmente curati che arricchiscono i nostri spazi.

Outdoor kitchen: all the secrets to cook like a chef at home. | Alfa Forni

Cook outdoors like a real chef

After all, cooking in the open air in good weather can be very satisfying. We can certainly work more freely and using cooking tools more suitable for outdoor use such as grills, barbecues or Alfa home ovens.

Explore our full range of outdoor kitchen ovens.