The kitchen is hailed as the heart of every home, and for good reasons: cooking meals with loved ones, discovering your new favorite recipe, the smell of freshly baked food are just a few that come to mind. Winter can be a fleeting season here in Florida, and the average temperature during the summer months usually exceed 85º. You may find that adding the extra heat source from cooking inside isn’t always desirable during this time – and that’s where outdoor kitchens come in!
Outdoor cooking has always been a wildly popular culinary staple in the South, but for Floridians it’s an art form. The long seasons of balmy weather, coupled with our willingness too plan a get-together for virtually any reason means our outdoor entertaining is on a level of its own. A grill and some deck chairs can get the job done, but why not take it up a notch – or several – with a complete outdoor kitchen and patio area? We’ve put together four reasons why we LOVE the growing trend of outdoor kitchens – and why you should too!
1. They make entertaining easy
Hosting a party indoors can be fun, but they can also get a little crowded. Having an outdoor kitchen and entertaining space of your own ensure that your parties will never feel cramped. The bonus: everyone will be free to enjoy the gorgeous Central Florida weather! You’ll also be able to avoid being cooped-up in a hot kitchen while your guests mingle – cooking and entertaining outdoors frees you up to socialize while prepping and serving delicious eats among your guests! Plus, you’ll be able to avoid frequent trips to and from the indoors for seconds, refills, snacks, and cups! If you’re worried about the comfort of your guests, you can add in some outdoor accessories such as patio heaters / fans, furnishings, an outdoor audio system, and more!
2. They’re clean and energy efficient
Baking, frying, roasting – all of these contribute to raising the temperature of your home. Especially in the summer months, when your AC has already been working hard to balance the temperature inside, adding pockets of heat in your home can activate the AC for hours as it tries to balance out the temperature. Using an outdoor cooking source can save you a substantial amount of energy from the air conditioning alone. Add in the energy taken to run several appliances at once vs. using a grill, and you’ll find the savings add up quickly!
Especially in the summer months, opening up a window may not be an option. If you’re experiencing lingering food-smells with no way to effectively air-out your home, a summer kitchen may be just the ticket! If you have a love of more odorous foods (think those of the deep-fried and fishy variety!) but no love for the lingering smell, preparing and cooking food in your very own outdoor kitchen can keep your home smelling like.. well, home! Not to mention you’ll never have to worry about fabrics of couches, stored clothing, curtains, etc. absorbing the smells and holding on to them for days if you’re cooking outdoors!
3. They’re healthier
Not to be confused with barbecue, grilling has long been recognized as a healthier cooking alternative… with some caveats. Because grilled food retains little fat and relies on marinades and rubs for flavor instead of oil, butter, and grease, they’re generally a lot better for your waistline. Picking the perfect protein plays a big part in healthy grilling– we advise trying fish, skinless chicken breasts, and lean ground poultry. These leaner proteins contain good fats, and result in less fat-dripping (which can interact with the high-heat of the coals and produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which was added to the DOH’s official list of carcinogens back in 1981.)
Make sure to grill veggies too, whether alone or in kebabs! Just cut into pieces that will cook quickly and evenly, and brush with oil to prevent sticking. Even dessert can be a fun, grilled dish: we suggest trying sliced apples, pears, pineapples, or even halved bananas, peaches, or plums! The high heat of your grill will caramelize the natural sugars in fruit, giving them an extra sweetness and a new profile of flavor!
4. They add value to your home
Summer Kitchens continue to be a trend in home improvement, as homes with outdoor kitchens are well-known to have a high rate of return on investment. Not only do they give your home’s total living space more mileage and offer you years of rewarding entertaining experiences, but they also make a home more enticing to potential home buyers. Stainless steel appliances are especially desirable due to how easy they are to clean, as well as their ability to handle changing temperatures from season to season. A functional outdoor kitchen can be an investment that you, guests, and any future owners can enjoy for years! Homes with outdoor kitchens can potentially see a return on their investment ranging between 55% to 200%, according to Quicken Loans.
Remember, creating an outdoor kitchen on a budget doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style or functionality. With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can create a beautiful and practical outdoor cooking and dining space that fits your budget and your lifestyle.