Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Outdoor Kitchen
An outdoor kitchen will make your home the life of the party. Use our design ideas to help create the perfect space for your outdoor kitchen appliances.

Preliminary Planning

As you plan, it is best to keep the outside kitchen reasonably close to an entrance to the inside kitchen. This will simplify preparing meals for large gatherings, which often require many trips between the two kitchens during cooking and cleanup.

Because outdoor kitchens have become so popular, the choices in appliances for outside use has been expanding in recent years. Assume that you will want a full line of appliances installed once you build. Align your utility services accordingly.

It is also important to plan seating and elements of your outdoor entertainment area at this time. Will your outdoor kitchen have stairs or different levels? Do you need to make extra accommodations for children or persons needing assistance with stairs? Determine placement of a deck, shelter, fire ring or fireplace, audio speakers, and maybe even an outdoor television center for late-night summer movies. Give yourself plenty of space to work, serve, and accommodate guests. Maybe you can even figure out how to build part now and expand later.

Choose Resilient Materials

Outdoor kitchen cabinets and surfaces must be able to withstand your climate's weather conditions. Select durable materials such as stainless steel, shown here, and stone, slate, tile, or stucco, Make sure all countertop surfaces and hardware are recommended for exterior use. If you want to install a kitchen on an existing deck, verify that it structurally can support the kitchen's additional weight before you build.

Don't Miss the Basics

An outdoor kitchen layout is as important to plan as an interior one. Along with picking the right grill and countertop, plan for storage and organizational necessities, such as pullout trash and recycling bins, and baskets to hold napkins, glasses, and cleaning supplies. This outdoor kitchen island safely stores all that you need and doubles as a place for your guests to sit and chat as you cook. 

Outdoor Pizza Oven

Bring your summer parties to the next level with an outdoor pizza oven on your patio. This fun feature may take up a bit of space, but once you try fresh, homemade pizza, you'll know it was worth the investment. An extra-long pizza paddle looks rustic and cool leaning up against the oven and it also keeps you at a safe distance from the heat as you cook. Get ready to host a lot more guests when pizza is on the menu!

Put Ingredients Within Reach

Cooking in an outdoor kitchen is a great way to take advantage of the sunshine, fresh air, and your homegrown vegetables and herbs. If you don't have a full-fledged patio kitchen garden, you can still take advantage of the growing season: Place a few pots of often-used herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and more near your cooking prep space for ready-to-pick ingredients.

Plan for Light & Air

To maximize the hours you can spend using—and enjoying—your outdoor kitchen, you'll need to plan for varying l asevels of light. Overhead lights are key to making the most of your grilling and eating spaces. They are also UL-rated Wet, to withstand the weather. An outdoor ceiling fan helps to keep air moving and increase the comfort level in a semi-closed outdoor kitchen space.

Protect Your Investments

Before you build your outdoor kitchen, consider the types of cooking surfaces you will want to use, such as a stand-alone range or a smoking grill. Then design your kitchen with those elements in mind. Here a built-in niche provides a convenient place to tuck a smoking grill when it's not in use and shields it from the rain and snow, extending its life. A built-in BBQ grill should come with weather-proofing accessories such as a plastic custom-fit cover. 

Embrace Mini Appliances

Most small outdoor kitchens don't have to hold enough food and beverages to feed a crowd for a week—just a meal. That makes it easy to select affordable, small-space appliances that use less energy and take up a fraction of the square footage. If space permits, consider storing basic condiments in your outdoor kitchen so you don't need to haul ingredients from inside for every occasion. 

Make Flooring Easy to Clean

Meal cleanup outside shouldn't require more work than inside. In an outdoor kitchen, choose an easy-to-clean floor, such as this resilient tile, that is easy to sweep up and withstands outdoor messes such as cut grass and garden debris. Resilient tile should also stand up to metal furniture being moved and pushed around. 

Include Outlets

If your kitchen will be freestanding, electricity is essential to power items such as lights and outdoor kitchen appliances. Placing an outlet near the main cooking area will expand the ways you can use the space into the night. Add extra outets near the seating area for the option to bring music or a television screen out to the party. 

Furnish Overhead Shelter

Rain, wind, even extra-sunny days can hamper your use—and enjoyment—of an outdoor kitchen. Make the most of your grilling-and-dining area by covering your kitchen or seating space overhead. A full roof, as used here, is one option; other ideas include a partial roof, a pergola, or an outdoor umbrella.

Provide Storage

Working in an outdoor kitchen can be a challenge if you lack spots to stash everyday necessities. Think through what you want to have on hand to determine what kind of storage you need. If you're not close to your interior kitchen, make sure to include cabinets or a cart to store grilling tools, utensils, plates, and serving pieces. Will you have a fire pit? Then including a place to keep your woodpile dry is key. The handier it is to cook and entertain in your outdoor kitchen, the more you will take advantage of it.

Go for Built-Ins

Even the smallest of outdoor kitchens benefit from amenities to accommodate prep and cleanup. Three appliances sit adjacent to each other in a row. The dishwasher sits next to the grill to provide some much-needed countertop space for prep work. A quaint table with space for two makes this cozy alleyway the perfect at-home date night destination. 

Look into a Vent

A vent hood is a good option to consider for an outdoor kitchen that's located on an attached or covered patio or deck where good air circulation can be an issue.Be sure to invest in one that will stand up to the elements, and a strong storm could do some damage. 

Keep Utensils Close By

Keep forks and spatulas off the countertop with a drawer—or a simple metal bar with hooks hung above or next to the cooking prep area is convenient for easy access to large, frequently used outdoor kitchen items. You'll appreciate the extra storage space and a matching set of spatulas can double as fun wall decor. 

Supply a Water Source

There are few things more tiresome than having to traipse back inside from an outdoor kitchen in order to wash your hands or meal items. Try to include even a small bar-size sink, next to the grill. Include a trashcan under the sink to quickly toss veggie scraps or empty bottles. 

Allow for Built-In Seating

Particularly for space-challenged outdoor kitchens, clever inclusion of seating can increase countertop space and encourage convivial gatherings. Here, a bar-height space neatly dovetails with the cooking spot and has enough space for a few stools.

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