Barbeque islands, also commonly referred to as outdoor kitchens, are units that, in their most basic design, consist of a grill over a gas or charcoal flame. Depending on your needs and your budget, you can build or buy barbeque islands that include a number of other features, including:
- custom countertops
- fire pits
- flat-screen TVs
- grilling hoods
- mini refrigerators
- ovens (some with convection features)
- spice racks
- storage cabinets
- warming drawers.
With so many choices out there, you may be overwhelmed and confused as you start looking at different types of barbeque islands.
How to Choose the Right Barbeque Island
The first thing to think about as you consider various barbeque island designs is how much you can afford to spend on your outdoor kitchen. Set a realistic budget that includes the cost of installation, shipping and/or other accessories (such as BBQ tongs, outdoor flatware, etc.) you need to get started.
Once you have a workable budget, consider these other factors as you shop around for barbeque islands:
- How you will use the barbeque island will give you an idea of what features to look for on your outdoor kitchen. For example, if you plan on hosting parties in which you cook the entire meal outdoors, then you will want a more complete barbeque island that includes an oven, a refrigerator and a spice rack. If, however, you plan on occasionally grilling for yourself, then a simpler model will do.
- Your geographic location can influence your choice of barbeque islands. For example, if you live in an area that has cold, snowy winters, you may want a more portable barbeque island that you can move indoors as the winter approaches. Alternately, those who live in sunnier regions will have the flexibility to get larger, immobile barbeque islands.
Charcoal versus Gas Grills
Another big decision you will have to make as you choose between different barbeque islands is whether you want a gas or charcoal grill. Each choice has its own associated pros and cons, listed in the table below:
|Charcoal||? adds more flavor to foods ? costs less than its gas counterpart ? has more of a ritual of cooking that gives it a more “authentic ” outdoor cooking experience.||? cooks food less evenly than gas grills ? takes longer to generate heat, making cooking time longer.|
|Gas||? cooks food more evenly because of the even heat source ? more convenient because instant heat comes with the push of a button.||? significantly more expensive than charcoal grills ? lacks the flavor and experiential “authenticity ” that charcoal grills have.|
If you are still unsure of whether a charcoal or gas grill will better suit your needs, consider getting a model that interchanges between both cooking styles. Because many people are torn by the gas versus charcoal grill debate, many manufacturers are now making barbeque islands that have grills you can easily convert to gas or charcoal, depending on your immediate preference.
DIY: How to Build a Barbeque Island
If you are a more hands-on kind of person looking for a new hobby, you may consider building your own barbeque island. Keep in mind, however, that building your own barbeque island will be a time consuming process that takes a lot of hard work and patience. As a result, those who are best suited for building a barbeque island are those who:
- are patient
- don ”t need their barbeque island ready immediately
- have had experience building or working on more involved home repair projects.
If you fit into each of these categories, then you are ready to set a budget for supplies, look at plans and get started building your own backyard barbeque island.
In general, the easiest place to start is at your local hardware or home improvement store (i.e. Home Depot, Lowes, etc.). These stores will have a number of outdoor kitchen design plans from which you can choose. Similarly, by talking to the experts at the store, you can figure out which sets of plans are easier or more challenging to execute. If you are building your first barbeque island, opt for one of the more simple design plans.
Once you choose the set of plans for your barbeque island, you are ready to start getting supplies. Typically, most plans for building outdoor kitchens will include a list of necessary supplies you should get. If you should choose plans that don ”t include a supply list, consider getting a different set of plans, as the former set was likely meant for more advanced builders.
Along with a supply list, your plans will also include step-by-step instructions on how to get started and finish building your barbeque island. If you have any questions or stumble across any problems, go back to your home improvement store and talk to experts. In some cases, you may need to hire a contractor for help.
Kirkland, Vanessa (n.d.). Gas Vs. Charcoal Grills: Who Wins the “Great Barbeque Debate? “ Retrieved January 17, 2008, from the Natural Handyman Web site: http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infgasgrill/
Lowe ”s (n.d.). BarbequeIslandfor a Portable Grill. Retrieved January 17, 2008, from the Lowe ”s Web site: http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=howTo&p=LawnGarden/BarbecueIsland.html.