Introduction to Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens come in all shapes, sizes, and styles these days.  The variety of options can almost be daunting especially when you begin trying to come up with an outdoor kitchen plan.  From small outdoor kitchens to the grandiose, these days there is a solution for almost anyone and any budget.

From a movable grill cart with prep space to custom designed units with multiple Outdoor-Kitchen-Ideascooking elements you should have no trouble finding something suitable for your space. When my Wife and I built our outdoor kitchen was one of the best home improvement projects we’ve done, hopefully, the following will help get you started on yours.  Consider the following a quick overview as you begin your research.


An obvious but critical consideration is the square footage you want to dedicate to your kitchen. When considering a design start to think of your space and whether an L shape might work best vs. a counter / cooking element against a fence.

 Set a Budget

Set a realistic budget and if you’re considering using a contractor or landscape professional budget in at least 5% for overages but realistically  dedicate 10%.
Based on your budget you can start to think about what type of installation is right for you.
Entry level ideas

Pre-fab Straight and L-Shaped Kitchens

There is a variety of pre-fabricated designs on the Outdoor-Kitchen-Ideasmarket ranging in price from around $2,000 to $9,000.  Most models can be customized but in a basic model you should expect the following:

  • Stainless steel 30″ or 36″ grill (7,500 to 9,000 BTU)
  • Stainless steel storage doors
  • Stainless steel refrigerator
  • Towel Rack
  • Stucko Side with a variety of finishes
  • Tile counter top

Read More On Entry Level Prefab Outdoor Kitchens

Custom Kitchens

If you are considering a custom outdoor kitchen – planning obviously becomes much more complicated and critical.

After you’ve considered the amount of space you intend to dedicate to your kitchen your next step is to think about the zones within the kitchen.

Ideally you’ll have the following:

  • Prep Zone – refrigerator, cutting surface area, sink
  • Cook Zone – grill, smoker, side burner
  • Serve Zone – warming drawer, storage
  • Entertainment Zone – fire pit, gas fire table

Depending on your layout, consider raising the entertaining zone or serve zone to pub height creating depth in your space.There a myriad of things to consider when planning a custom outdoor kitchen.  Below is a checklist of things you’ll like to begin thinking about.

There a myriad of things to consider when planning a custom outdoor kitchen.  Below is a checklist of things you’ll like to begin thinking about.

  • How often do you grill?
  • What types of cooking do you enjoy?  Smoking?  Grilling? Etc.
  • What shape works for you and your space?
  • How often do you entertain and how many friends do you want to be able to handle around the kitchen?
  • Will you be running new electricity?
  • Will you be running new plumbing?
  • Will you choose a prefabricated body type?
  • What materials might you like on the body?
    • Stone
    • Stucko
    • Concrete
    • Brick
    • Wood
    • Tile
  • What heating source will you be using?
    • Natural gas? (requires plumbing)
    • Propane?
    • Charcoal
    • Wood / pellets
  • What components would you like to add?Outdoor-Kitchen-Ideas
    • Gas Grill – 30″ – 60″
      • How many BTU’s?
    • Smoker
    • Kamado / Ceramic cooker
    • Pizza oven
    • Side Burner
    • Refridgerator
    • Sink (requires plumbing)
    • Warming drawer
    • Stainless steel storage
    • Fire pit
    • Gas fire table

Contractors – Things to Consider

The last thing I want to touch on in our introduction article is contractors and landscape designers.

Both contractors and landscape designers will generally be able to build your outdoor kitchen. Make sure to gauge the experience level of both in terms of building your kitchen.
Outdoor kitchens are a relatively recent phenomenon with the advent of HGTV and DIY network featuring them all the time.  So many tradesmen might know “how” to build your kitchen but make sure you get pictures and references to see that they’ve actually built them.
If you are in an urban setting then it is probably safe to say that gaining access to your outdoor space might not be as easy as loading materials from the driveway to the backyard.
Make sure to have a detailed conversation as to how materials and workers will gain access to the space beforehand and expect to pay a little more if access is limited.  In my opinion, it is worth paying a bit more as there is a bit more piece of mind knowing your contractor is going to take measures to do the job right.
Have questions or suggestions?  Leave a comment.  Or post your outdoor kitchen photos here
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