Are you a beginner at the idea of outdoor cooking?

Here are some highlights of a few of the most popular options as well as questions to ask yourself before adding a cooking feature into your backyard. 

Cooking over an open flame can be a fun, shared activity. We’re not just talking marshmallows and hot dogs either. Anything that can be grilled can also be cooked over an open flame. A grill rack placed over the fire will provide you with the most real estate for cast-iron pans, kabobs, and more. Or you could go with hand-held pie irons, which are usually made of two cast iron plates on a hinge. Pie irons are perfect for sandwiches, pizza pockets, and “hobo pies” consisting of bread, butter, and pie filling. No campfire cooking equipment? No problem! You can wrap foil packets of meats and veggies and cook them right in the hot coals of a campfire. 

Wood fired ovens are not just for pizza. (Side note: But even if they were, wouldn’t that be okay?) You’ll have to cook at a bit of a lower temperature but these ovens are also fantastic for roasting vegetables, baking fish, baking bread, and baking all kinds of desserts including sweet galettes and pies. 

Full outdoor kitchens can provide every convenience you could imagine. Full-sized fridges for food storage, sinks and countertops for prep, gas ranges and grills for cooking, and keg fridges to pour the perfect pint while you watch your outdoor-mounted television. If you really want to take things to the next level, grow your own vegetables and cook them seconds off the vine. Farm-to-table cooking has never been so stylish.

When deciding which style of outdoor cooking is right for you- here are a few questions to ask yourself: 

  • How much time do I want to spend cooking? Wood fired ovens operate at very high temperatures. They cook food quickly, but the largest ones can take up to 2 hours to warm up. An open fire needs about 45 minutes to burn down to ideal cooking temperatures. Gas grills can be preheated in as little as 10 minutes.
  • How much space do I have? 
  • What flavor am I looking for? If a smoky flavor is most important to you, gas grills might not be your best option. 
  • What’s my budget? 
  • How much do I want to think about fuel? If you don’t want to have to remember to purchase propane tanks, charcoal, or wood, a gas grill connected to your main line is a great choice. 
  • Why not both? The truth is, you really don’t have to pick. The best option for outdoor cooking is all of the above.