Cook outdoors this holiday season

Having an outdoor kitchen can be a real treat, especially during this festive season. Learn the basics of building one

Remember to place your grill in a place where the smoke will not waft back into the house. Photo by Rachel Mabala 

BY Beatrice Nakibuuka


During the festive season, cooking is a must. This, however, becomes tiresome if you have to keep going in and out of the kitchen for a conversation with your guests. Also the fear that your house will be filled with smoke if you use charcoal especially while cooking African dishes will make you opt for an outdoor kitchen.
The cost of an outdoor kitchen depends on its size, the materials you select and the appliances to be installed. Some people may opt for a basic outdoor cooking area with a patio, grill and countertop while others may choose to have a luxury design with all kitchen appliances.

Stephen Ochan, a landscaper at Royal Landscapers, notes that although you may have an indoor kitchen, an outdoor one expands your living space and allows you to cook, eat and entertain guests. If you want to enjoy home-made barbeque, the outdoor kitchen nails it.

Most outdoor kitchens fall into two categories that have a big influence on cost. Understanding the differences can be helpful in early decision making due to the links between location and cost. Keep in mind the costs can be generated by invisible factors such as utilities which are closely tied to the features designed into the layout.

According to John Robert Mukiibi, a kitchen designer, start planning your outdoor kitchen by making a list of must-have items. These may include a grill, sink, an island, gas cooktop, charcoal oven and dining space if you plan to have your meals outdoor.

Depending on what you need, an outdoor kitchen may cost you between Shs1m and Shs5m but you can split your list into necessities and extras and make changes as your design and budget take shape in future.

He says: “While trying to keep the cost reasonable, you may forego the sink, refrigerator and side burner to instead locate the outdoor kitchen near your indoor one so that you can conveniently move between the two.”

Utility costs for an outdoor kitchen can be expensive so it may be better to locate your outdoor kitchen near the indoor one where water and electricity are already available.
“A perimeter kitchen is right outside the house, maybe sharing wall, overhang or patio cover.

Here you need a grill, perhaps a refrigerator, but due to proximity of the indoor kitchen you may not need a sink. However, because you are so close to the house you can add a sink later on because the house utilities are right there, Ochan advises.”

However, if money is not an obstacle there are a variety of upgrades and styles you can make to an outdoor kitchen. First, it is about the upgrade of materials so that instead of ceramic tile counters, opt for granite. You may actually locate it near your swimming pool so you can enjoy the breeze from the pool.

Then the appliances such as grill, warming drawers, a deep fryer or other unique appliances may be installed. Here design is very important because you need to cover all the details in depth as in your indoor kitchen. Remember to place your grill in a place where the smoke will not waft back into the house.

Store, appliances
If the kitchen is a little far from the indoor one, you will a store where to put the utensils, spices and charcoal not only for the festive season but anytime you want to cook traditional foo which may not suit to be cooked on your gas.

“Note however that, to prevent house fires, professionals never recommend operating a grill under eves or decks unless there is a professionally installed ventilation hood. Keep your grill clean to prevent accidental fires,” Mukiibi says.

As for the charcoal oven, you may have a traditionally built one. This is more stylish and modern as you do not have to bend all the time while you cook. It may be raised about a metre from the ground.

The lighting in the kitchen should be sufficient as well. The built-in lights give you the chance to safely cook even when it is dark outside.

“This may be combined with the proper ventilation which is usually brought in by natural lighting. While building an enclosed outdoor kitchen, it is advisable to have large windows which will bring in more air and light as well,” says Ochan.

What you need

Along with a built in gas grill, the most popular items customers are building into their outdoor kitchens are access doors, followed by a side burner, a refrigerator and a trash bin.

A refrigerator is super convenient to have by your grill to keep you from running back in the house to get another beer or cold beverage. Finally, a roll out or tilt out trash bin keeps your trash can handy when you need it and then roll it back inside the island to keep the flies away.

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