Outdoor Kitchen


Whether you’re looking to create the perfect outdoor kitchen to entertain your family and friends, have an enjoyable outdoor space for preparing and enjoying an intimate meal, or simply combine your love for cooking and being outside, there is a lot of appeal to building the outdoor kitchen of your dreams right in your own yard.

What Do I Need to Know Before Building an Outdoor Kitchen?

Maybe the most important aspect of putting together your outdoor kitchen is planning it all out. Will you have a theme? What are you trying to get out of it? How much space do you want to commit to building your outdoor kitchen? Perhaps you’re considering something wide-open that can double as a communal gathering space, or maybe you’d prefer to maximize your outdoor kitchen for efficiency, with lots of handy storage available. All of these considerations should factor into your vision of your outdoor kitchen.

For many, the focal point of the outdoor kitchen is the grilling station–it makes sense, given how naturally grilling and outdoor dining fit together! If warm-weather get-togethers are what you are after with your outdoor kitchen, consider making the grill, stove, or range the star of your kitchen. You might consider something like an island station in the middle of your space, with your grill central to the area. Or, you can opt to maximize your counter space in your outdoor kitchen by putting your cooking appliances in the corner. Wherever you decide your cooking location is going to be, most people build around this area with a wood or stone counter area that serves as the “centerpiece” of the outdoor kitchen, and then build off of that.

The grill (or maybe even a pizza oven!) isn’t the only appliance you should consider. Will your outdoor kitchen have a refrigerator, or even a freezer? What about a sink–and will it have a garbage disposal? Asking these questions will help you determine whether you need to configure plumbing solutions first. You may need to set up your water lines and disposal pipes well before you start building anything. In any event, the first step is to consider the appliances that will feature in your outdoor kitchen, and then plan accordingly.

You should also consider the elements that come into play when cooking outside. Unlike cooking indoors, you will have a much better-ventilated grilling area, but you and your guests will also be much more exposed to the heat, sun, wind, insects, and other variables. How comfortable your outdoor diners will be depends on how much shade, seating space, and shielding from the elements–smoke from your grill included–you can provide. You may be limited by what your outdoor space has to offer, too. If you are building your outdoor kitchen under a gazebo or on a deck, you should work to the strengths of your area. Another point to consider is how much you’ll use your outdoor kitchen–if it will get heavy usage, it is well worth your effort and investment to build some outdoor kitchen cabinets for storage. Rather than having to run in and out to your indoor kitchen to grab supplies and dishes, having a specific outdoor set of cooking equipment can be extremely handy, and a set of quality outdoor cabinets is the perfect place for it all. Place settings, canned goods, grilling equipment, cleaning supplies, and more are all prime candidates for storage in your outdoor kitchen cabinets, since they’re all items you’ll want to have handy, but not necessarily out in the open at all times.

Lastly, you’ll want to consider materials. Simply put, some materials don’t weather as well as others. Outdoor porcelain and ceramic tile are timeless, sturdy choices that can create a wide range of looks from rustic and classic to more modern and chic. Granite countertops are incredibly durable, as are marble countertops, and both can stand up to the weather admirably. Concrete or brick options are also popular for outdoor kitchens, but they do tend to limit the range of aesthetic options you have available. Your countertops will be the most visible element to most of your guests in your outdoor kitchen, so most of the character your space gives off will come from your decisions here.

What Are Good Style Ideas for an Outdoor Kitchen?

Outdoor kitchen ideas will start to come to you as you envision what you want to achieve with your new cooking spot.
Will you go with a rich, dark look that creates a vibe befitting an evening soiree? Dark-painted cabinets and countertops will achieve that feel. Or perhaps you will choose to focus on an elegant theme, with whites and grays highlighting the area? Then maybe a classy marble or granite countertop choice is the right decision. One of the best ways to decide which way to go with your outdoor kitchen is to imagine how it will be used. For you, maybe that means envisioning yourself and several good friends enjoying wine and kabobs from the comfort of some stools at your outdoor countertops. Or, maybe you have designs on cooking for large family gatherings, where your outdoor kitchen is always considered the go-to destination. If you have a pool in your yard as well, the kitchen could become an easy place to dry off, graze on snacks, and mingle on deck chairs.

What is a Good Size For an Outdoor Kitchen?

At a minimum, an outdoor kitchen should be about 10 linear feet long. This is enough space to accommodate the basics of most outdoor kitchens, including counter space and essential appliances. How wide your outdoor kitchen should be will depend on your available yard space and how you want to configure your kitchen within the confines of your property. Unless you are setting up an island-style kitchen, you usually will build it close to your house, garage, or other structure to maximize available space.
More moderate outdoor kitchens should be 12-14 linear feet long, which would allow for more usable countertop space and perhaps some extra storage, too. Significantly large outdoor kitchens–ones that stand out as a big-time feature in your yard–are about 20 linear feet long, and can accommodate several large appliances like a fridge, a grilling station, and maybe even a smoker, in addition to creating tons more countertop space for your guests.

Can You Put a Gas Grill on a Covered Porch?

Because all grills, gas or charcoal, give off smoke, you will want to make sure to account for enough clearance space not just around your grill itself, but the kitchen area where smoke might get trapped. If your porch is covered or screened in, it is not an ideal or safe place to feature a grill as part of your outdoor kitchen. Ideally your grill should be at least 5 feet away from any structures (like houses, sheds, or garages), with at least 9 feet of vertical clearance over it. This is why island-style grill setups are an increasingly popular feature of outdoor kitchens.

How Do I Build an
Outdoor Kitchen?

Putting together your dream outdoor kitchen is a lot of work as a DIY project, but it is a rewarding endeavor if you build it according to the vision you create. The basic process involves building a series of wooden frames, securing the material of your choice to the outside using mortar or other similar materials, adding cabinet space and doors, and securing the countertops of your choice, all before finally adding in and hooking up your outdoor kitchen’s appliances. It is an involved process that is best done with multiple people–just like enjoying the end result will be!

By committing to the experience you want to get from your outdoor kitchen, you can plan and build accordingly to create the ideal setting for entertaining your family and friends.