Outdoor kitchen trends: Top appliance picks for the perfect summer staycation

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Outdoor kitchen trends: Top appliance picks for the perfect summer staycation
This outdoor kitchen features a grill, warming drawer and stovetop. (Photo/AJ Madison)
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By Jessica Petrino

Spending time outside is a healthy way to enjoy the warm weather months. This year, we’ve seen rapid growth in outdoor living renovations, which has been heavily influenced by the pandemic and the new stay-at-home lifestyle.

Travel restrictions are canceling vacations. Camps, daycare, public pools, parks and recreation areas are closed. Instead of spending time away, many homeowners are looking to direct funds toward lingering home improvement projects.

Creating an outdoor living space is an investment. Not just for the resale value of your home, but for your future happiness for years to come. With any home improvement project, it is important to consider how you live your life today and perhaps how you aspire to live in the future. Whether you have a small terrace or sprawling yard, there are many products and solutions for every home.

Creating an outdoor living space is an investment, and there are
plenty of appliances that can bring an outdoor space to the next level, like this built-in fire pit table. (Photo/AJ Madison)

Appliances are the tools that transform ingredients into fabulous meals. Consider your favorite dishes and recipes and choose outdoor cooking appliances that will help you prepare meals to perfection. Whether you’re a seasoned home chef or someone who recently developed a passion for quarantine cooking, there are many outdoor cooking appliances designed to take your home meals to the next level.

First, select a barbecue grill. Gas grills can be freestanding or built into a permanent structure like weatherproof cabinetry or a stone hardscape. Many upscale grills have a rotisserie option and a smoker box to add delicious barbecue flavor. If you like to keep the party going after dark, look for a grill with backlit control knobs and task lighting. Consider a companion product or alternative to a traditional gas grill, like a pellet grill, charcoal grill or a smoker. These grills take longer to cook than a gas grill, but they deliver exceptional flavor.

Not sure what to add besides a grill? Many specialty outdoor cooking appliances are essential for food lovers.

Outdoor pizza ovens are a top choice for foodies and families. Making pizza can be a fun activity the whole family will love. Plus, these outdoor hearth ovens are fantastic for other dishes like baked bread, wild salmon or steak.

Warming drawers keep hot foods ready to serve at a safe temperature for up to three hours without overcooking or drying out your meal. Warming drawers are also a luxurious addition to any poolside area for heated towels.

Many outdoor kitchens include refrigeration. Refrigerator drawers are an excellent addition to any outdoor cooking station or bar area. Fridge drawers provide an easy way to store burgers, condiments, hot dogs and beverages. They keep ready-to-cook items at a safe temperature. Outdoor refrigerators and freezers are a great addition to any outdoor recreation space. Grab cold beverages on-the-go and keep summer treats like popsicles and ice cream right where you enjoy them the most.

Creating an outdoor entertainment space has become a priority, as entertaining alfresco is the safest way to spend time with family and friends. If you like to entertain, you can create a space that is both fun and functional. Whether you’re sipping your favorite summer wine or hosting a neighborhood cocktail extravaganza, you can find the right outdoor appliances that best fit your entertaining needs.

There are so many fabulous specialty appliances that can help you get the party started. Whether you’re entertaining guests on your deck or enjoying a sweet craft cocktail for a romantic date night, consider an outdoor bar.

This outdoor bar makes entertaining easy with a build-in sink, refrigerator and speed rail. (Photo/AJ Madison)

Outdoor bars have a builtin sink that can hold ice for hours at a time. An outdoor bar with a speed rail affords easy access to essentials. Some outdoor bars even come with a built-in blender or icemaker. Whether you’re serving lemonade, soft drinks or signature cocktails, a built-in icemaker renders clear slow-melting ice. 

For beer lovers, adding an outdoor kegerator can be fun. Kegerators preserve kegs of beer at the proper temperature. This way, you’ll enjoy your favorite brews for a few weeks at a time. Adding a wine cooler or beverage center to your outdoor gathering place is a convenient way to store your favorite bottles outside without making extra trips into the house. Plus, several outdoor wine and beverage centers have a lock option to keep your collection safe when you’re away.

In addition to your cooking and entertaining essentials, consider storage and cleaning appliances to make cleanup a breeze. Outdoor faucets are a must-have for rinsing veggies, washing your hands after handling meats and easy cleanup. Just like with your indoor kitchen, having outdoor cabinets and storage will help keep you organized. Add a water-tight sealed pantry to your outdoor island or even below your grill to store paper goods, napkins and cooking tools. Paper towel holders, built-in trash and recycle centers and access doors are all popular additions.

When it comes to outdoor appliances, choose your adventure. There are many different barbecue grills, specialty cooking appliances, refrigerators and entertaining essentials. My best advice is to have fun. You want to make sure your outdoor oasis is a place that you will want to return to, day after day and year after year.

The writer is an educator and appliance expert at AJ Madison, a kitchen appliance retailer with showrooms in Washington D.C. and New York City

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