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When entertaining, it’s easy to stick to your indoor spaces and forget about the outdoors. However, when you embrace your outdoor areas, you open up the entertainment potential of your home.
The kitchen is the center of any successful house party. Therefore, it makes sense that creating a functional and comfortable outdoor kitchen is key to having a gorgeous entertainment space. As you shape your space, it’s vital to consider everything from overall shape to small details and functionality.
Whether you want to spruce up your outdoor kitchen space for regular weekday family nights or you’re hoping to host elaborate events, here are the best outdoor kitchen ideas to get you inspired.
Take your outdoor space to the next level with a built-in gas grill. Rather than letting your grill stand on its own, this variety can build into outdoor structures, including an outdoor kitchen island.
While a free-standing grill is cheaper and easier to move, a built-in will help you get the outdoor space you want. It’s a good idea to combine a built-in grill with other features, including a sink, countertop, and more for optimal functionality.
As a result, this type of grill allows you to personalize your space. There are several varieties of built-in grills from which to choose. Several brands offer them, and the grills often have between four and six burners.
An outdoor BBQ island is similar to a built-in gas grill based on the look and functionality. The main difference is that the outdoor BBQ island can move around. As a result, the outdoor island can be the better choice if you have multiple entertaining spaces.
This island is a versatile option for many outdoor spaces. It also works better in smaller spaces than the more permanent built-in gas grill. Plus, it’s an affordable option for those building an outdoor kitchen space.
In many ways, this option is a happy medium between a free-standing grill and a built-in grill. Besides the BBQ grill, this island can have other features, including prep space, drawers, built-in trash, and more.
If you love having breakfast on your patio, a built-in griddle is a lovely idea for your outdoor kitchen. Make pancakes, French toast, burgers, hash browns, eggs, and fajitas on your griddle.
While a grill provides your food with a delicious smoky flavor and marked appearance, a griddle lends itself better to certain foods. In many ways, griddles are more versatile than grills. Plus, it’s much easier to clean than other outdoor cooking services.
Built-in griddles come in several shapes and sizes. You can combine a griddle with many other features to suit your needs. When choosing a built-in griddle, make sure you can easily connect it to a gas line or tank.
While many grills use fire to directly heat the grates of a grill, an infrared grill has an infrared element between the fire and grate. This relatively new grill type is increasingly popular amongst those creating an outdoor kitchen. There are a few different types of infrared grills with many materials.
An infrared grill minimizes many issues that lead to an inconsistent cook. Many users find infrared grills provide uniform heat. As a result, food cooks evenly. If you switch from a traditional grill to an infrared grill, remember that there may be somewhat of a learning curve.
Create your pizza parlor in your backyard with a wood-fired pizza oven. Beyond pizza, you can also cook other dishes, including fish, bread, and vegetables. Thanks to the wood, the oven imbues the food with a delightful smoky flavor.
Many different types of wood-fired ovens suit a range of needs. Some ovens are easy to transport, while others become permanent features. Those permanent ovens are a delightful centerpiece for an outdoor event and will provide hours of entertainment, especially if you have children.
Using a wood-fired pizza oven can require somewhat of a learning curve. However, once you get the hang of it, this is a delightful and easy-to-use oven. Before picking a wood-fired pizza oven, be sure it’s designed for outdoor use.
A gas pizza oven is vastly different than a wood-fired pizza oven. The main difference is the ovens may heat at different speeds, the flavor can vary, and there can be different sizes. Both provide good results. However, you may prefer the gas pizza oven if you want an easy-to-use machine.
Gas ovens heat faster, are usually easier to use, and are smaller than wood-fired ovens. Remember that a gas pizza oven lacks the woody flavor of a wood-fired oven.
These ovens can be freestanding and built-in pizza oven models. You can also choose models that are easy to transport or steady fixtures. You can also opt for a sleek design or a colorful option to suit a more eclectic space.
If a grill alone doesn’t meet your needs, make your grill part of a larger outdoor kitchen. An L-shaped outdoor kitchen is a fantastic choice if you have space for a grill and need plenty of counter space.
This idea can work well in several different styles. With dark, sleek materials, this kitchen may seem modern. An outdoor kitchen can also include natural-looking materials that fit seamlessly into your yard.
Plus, you can personalize the kitchen based on your individual needs. For example, in addition to the grill, you can add a small refrigerator, trash, power burners, smoker, and storage.
When placing this kitchen in your space, there are a few different ways to orient it. The L shape fits nicely into the corner of a deck or patio. However, you can also place an arm in the kitchen to use it as seating.
A U-shaped outdoor kitchen is similar to an L-shaped outdoor kitchen. The main difference is the amount of space provided by each shape. A U-shaped kitchen has a full leg more than an L-shaped kitchen.
As a result of the increased space, you can fit many features into this kitchen. Rather than just having a grill, you can include additions such as:
This shape of the kitchen is ideal if you have a big outdoor space in which you want to entertain plenty of guests. Besides providing room to cook for many, a u-shaped kitchen also provides space for people to hang out. These kitchens aren’t usually easy to move, so ensure you like their location.
It may not be glamorous, but outdoor kitchen storage is vital for organization and safety in any kitchen. Having storage within your outdoor kitchen means you don’t have to shuffle cooking tools between the indoors and outdoors.
The amount of storage you have will vary depending on your kitchen size. That storage is usually drawers or cabinets. Hand tools do well in drawers and cabinets can handle larger items.
Most outdoor kitchen storage is in kitchen islands or larger kitchen shapes. However, you can also get stand-alone storage to supplement your kitchen.
If you want more decorative storage, you can display your items on a bar cart or use furniture with built-in storage options, like ottomans or couches.
A freestanding grill range is often the most common type of grill you will find in most outdoor kitchens. These grills seem small compared to the L-shaped and U-shaped grill kitchens. However, they can still cook plenty of food and have as many bells and whistles as you desire.
These freestanding options are easy to move and clean. They can do well in the center of kitchen space or up against a wall. Depending on your needs, choose a range of different burner amounts.
If you’re new to developing a backyard kitchen, have a smaller budget, or don’t know if you will use the kitchen much, a freestanding grill may be the option. If you like your freestanding grill, but want it to look more polished, some brands produce grills that fit into the surrounds.
Refrigeration can be what makes your outdoor kitchen feel like a functional space. A small fridge allows you to keep your ingredients fresh for longer.
Plus, you don’t have to make frequent trips between the indoor and outdoor kitchens. A little fridge can even be useful for simply keeping drinks cold.
There are many different small refrigerators for your outdoor kitchen. However, one with LED lights is a smart move since you can use it at night. Always check to ensure the fridge will work in an outdoor area, as some won’t be able to withstand the elements.
There’s nothing more frustrating than lugging ice all over your house simply to enjoy a refreshing cocktail in your outdoor kitchen. An easy solution is adding an ice maker to your outdoor space.
Several companies produce small and large ice makers that fit nicely under your counter. Most of these ice makers are easy to take care of. These machines have a few different requirements. Some varieties need a space for drainage, while others don’t.
When choosing an outdoor ice machine, remember different machines make different ice shapes. You can choose between crushed, cubed, crescent, and more.
Some wine won’t do well when kept at a non-compatible temperature. Therefore, it’s vital to be strategic about your outdoor wine storage in your outdoor kitchen. Some wines will do best when refrigerated, while others simply need a climate-controlled environment for optimal storage.
A wine cooler is a good idea for your outdoor kitchen because it will protect your wine from heat and UV light. The cooler also maintains appropriate humidity. When purchasing a wine cooler for your outdoor kitchen, make sure it’s meant for the outdoors. These coolers can also have front vents or side vents.
A kegerator is a fun option for your outdoor kitchen if you and your friends love beer or other beverages. This tool is a refrigerator modified to dispense beer from a keg.
The kegerator keeps the beer fresh. So, you can have a fresh beer that will last about 60 days. While beer is the most common drink from a kegerator, you can also use this to dispense kombucha, wine, and cold brew.
While you can buy a pre-made kegerator, you can also convert a refrigerator into a kegerator if you’re up for the project and want to save money.
As you refine what you need to cook outside, you may come across power burners and side burners. Power burners are more powerful, and they produce more heat.
Side burners are very similar to any gas-powered burner you will find in your indoor kitchen. They simply connect to your grill. These burners produce smaller, more targeted heat. These spots can be a good place to cook food in pots, such as polenta or rice.
A kamado grill is an ancient cooking tool that uses ceramic materials to retain heat. The best part about this grill is that it’s easy to use. To cook on the grill, all you need is charcoal and vent adjustments. Many people value this type of grill because it produces food with good moisture content.
This grill can cook several types of food, including meats, vegetables, flatbread, and fish. You can also use the kamado to smoke food or bake. To bake on the grill, you will need a heat deflector plate.
A sink and wash station is a fantastic addition to an outdoor kitchen. This station allows you to wash ingredients and clean up as you go. While it’s possible to pop inside and outside as needed, having the cooking and sink station in one place is a big time saver.
The big issue to note when it comes to adding a wash station is that you will need to connect the station to water, and some plumbing will be needed to get the sink to run. It’s also vital to have a space to dry the dishes. In terms of style, you can choose a sink that fits your overall aesthetic.
Often, the grill is the center of the outdoor kitchen. However, it’s also fun to create spaces dedicated to other elements of entertainment. Having a cocktail station in your outdoor kitchen makes it easy to make your favorite drinks whenever you want.
The exact elements of your cocktail station will depend on your preferences and needs. The first step is deciding if you want a wet bar or a dry bar. The main difference is the wet bar has a sink, and the dry bar does not. Besides the sink, you will also need space to store ingredients, cocktail tools, and glasses.
As for design, your cocktail station can follow the rest of your bar area and overall outdoor kitchen. However, you can also try a different style. For example, a tiki bar provides classic and fun flair.
Alternatively, you can opt for a stand-alone bar cart. This item is the more aesthetic choice as it’s functional while being a statement piece. Get creative with the glasses, decorations, and alcohol bottles to create a cohesive display.
Bar seating is a delightful option that allows your guests to hang out with you while you cook. This type of seating involves bar chairs being placed along the side of your outdoor kitchen island. If you don’t have a kitchen island, you can add a bar area with seating.
In some cases, a bar seating area can help emphasize a view or complement a garden area. Depending on your set-up, you can create:
When adding a stand-alone bar area separate from the kitchen island, you have the opportunity to be strategic about the bar seating placement. Consider the shape of your outdoor space and see what areas a bar may emphasize.
There’s nothing quite like planning an elaborate outdoor evening dinner only to realize that there’s no way for anyone to see their food or each other. That’s why it’s vital to have good lighting in your outdoor kitchen area.
You can light your outdoor area in several ways, and it’s always a good idea to have one backup light source. Try candles, string lights, tiki torches, tea lights, and lighting fixtures.
The amount of light you need will depend on the size of your space and other needs. While cooking outside, it’s important to see what you’re doing, especially if you use sharp objects or fire.
When designing your outdoor kitchen, there are many different directions you can go in terms of the overall aesthetic. The finishes for flooring and the kitchen can determine that aesthetic. For a classic look, you may opt for brick or stone. To achieve a Mediterranean look, you may use stucco and natural materials.
For a modern aesthetic, there are many finishes you may gravitate towards. Concrete, stainless steel, and polymers are all stunning options. Balance these finishes with natural elements, such as wood and greenery.
Compliment your modern finishes with other elements that evoke a modern aesthetic. In general, clean lines, strategic use of color, and refined finishes are all hallmarks of the modern style.
There are several different stone finishes you can use in your outdoor kitchen. A stacked stone finish looks polished and homey. When done correctly, this finish can also look organic within your natural landscape.
Stacked stone has many benefits, including strength and ease of maintenance. The only real drawback to this type of finish is it’s a more expensive material.
Many different types of stones can affect the cost. Processed stones are often more affordable. Meanwhile, natural stones are more expensive and require professional installation.
If you can’t decide which material you want to use in your outdoor kitchen, don’t worry. Finish your L or U-shaped outdoor kitchen with a mix of different materials. This design choice breaks up the monotony and adds some dimension to your space.
There are many materials you can mix to achieve a mixed material finish. Besides the aforementioned stacked stone and modern finishes, there are also:
Have some fun deciding which materials to combine to achieve your desired aesthetic. It may also be a good idea to consult a professional since some materials are more compatible with others.
The outdoors can be a chaotic place. However, pairing your outdoor area with a minimalist design can bring order to the chaos.
To employ a minimalist design in the outdoor kitchen, stick to a simple color scheme that mostly consists of neutrals or monochromatic elements. There may also be a few strategic pops of color. Aim for simple shapes with right angles and circles. In general, your design shouldn’t include too much variety or decor.
Stick with minimalism when selecting furniture, cooking materials, floors, plants, and other elements. As for finishes, concrete and metal are popular minimalist choices.
When cooking outside in your garden, it’s nice to experience plenty of nature. A great way to do that is to consider the plants in or near your outdoor kitchen. Some plants can be useful when cooking, while others may simply be beautiful.
Look at which vegetables and herbs you use frequently and research what you need to grow those plants. Many common herbs are robust growers under the right conditions. If you’re new to gardening, start small and build up to more as you gain confidence.
A few areas to understand include your area’s hardiness zone, the difference between annuals and perennials, required sun, watering, fertilization, nitrogen-fixing, companion planting, and how to recognize unsafe plants.
In many ways, charcoal grills are some of the most basic ways to cook outside. Some of these grills are affordable and tiny, and others are large, with more accessories.
People love gas and electric grills for their reliability and predictability. On the other hand, there is a lot of love for charcoal grills because they provide that distinct fiery flavor. That’s not to say charcoal grills aren’t reliable; they just take a bit of a learning curve.
While charcoal grills are often standalone, there are some that you can build into your outdoor kitchen.
A pergola is a beautiful way to add shade and pull a space together. This option is a large structure that provides many benefits to a patio. Depending on the type, you can add shade by growing vines and creepers.
Pergolas are usually made out of wood. However, there are also versions made from plastic and other materials. When choosing a pergola, it’s important to find one that will stand up nicely to your local elements.
The great thing about this type of structure is it comes in many colors and sizes. You don’t need a giant patio and yard to get benefits from a pergola.
Sitting outside with a glass of ice-cold lemonade and shrimp on the grill is an ideal way to spend a weekend afternoon. However, it can be tough to hang out outside if you can’t escape the sun. You want that shrimp getting roasted-not you!
There are many ways you can add shade to your garden. It’s best to have a few shade sources. Before adding shade sources, assess your yard for a few days to see when you get the most sun, and add shade to those areas.
Trees are a great way to add shade and personality to your patio. Plant them directly in the soil or containers. If you can’t plant a tree, you may want to opt for a pergola, retractable awning, or umbrellas. Outdoor curtains can also create an ethereal look.
Ventilation is vital in indoor and outdoor kitchens alike. Many outside grills can’t be used in indoor areas due to heat, smoke, and fumes. Even when you use these grills outside, it’s vital to understand ventilation needs.
The vent you need will depend on the gas you use and your overall grill setup. If you use propane in your grill, vents should be close to the floor and about five feet apart. Vents for a grill that uses natural gas should be near the top of a countertop and also about five feet apart.
Certain setups may benefit from a vent hood. This ventilation option requires overhead mounting. It needs to be about six feet over the cooking surface and should extend over the edges of the cooking surface.
Grilling may get a lot of attention when it comes to cooking outside. However, preparing the food you want to grill is vital. For good prep, you need a place to chop, plan, and divide ingredients.
Certain types of outdoor kitchens have specific spaces for prep work. However, smaller kitchens may require you to get creative when creating a prep station.
If you have a smaller space for your outdoor kitchen, it may be necessary to do your prep work inside. However, it’s a good idea to do your prep work near your heat source if possible.
If the bar is the main element of your outdoor hosting space, you’ll also want to ensure there’s space to craft cocktails.
A trash drawer is a simple way to collect trash as you cook and host outside. These drawers work similarly to other storage drawers, as they simply have a trash bin in there. You can also combine a trash component in the drawer with a recycling bin and a compost bin.
Generally, a trash drawer does best in a larger outdoor kitchen. If you need a trash bin and you have a smaller space, a standalone trash bin may be a good move. Take care to prevent pest interest by covering the bins.
Being able to process trash as you go can make a big dent in your clean-up needs. In addition to the more basic trash drawers, your outdoor kitchen may also benefit from a trash chute.
While trash drawers pull out like other drawers, a trash chute is a hole in the counter that trash goes into. Trash chutes have a few benefits over a drawer. They often look more elegant. Plus, they can conveniently keep your food scraps away from prying pests.
A fun part about a trash chute is you can often pair them with a sliding cutting board. This trick allows you to easily collect food scraps as needed. Trash chutes also have lids.
If you have a small outdoor area, you may think you can’t have an outdoor kitchen. However, with a little strategizing, you can get a stunning and functional kitchen.
Since most kitchens revolve around a heat source, start by deciding what heat source you want and see what will fit in your space. For example, a small freestanding grill will work well in smaller areas.
You will also need to determine what you want to prioritize with the rest of your space. If a grill and some seating are all you need, work hard to create the best version of that for your space. Also, prioritize the overall aesthetic of your space by providing lighting and useful plants.
It’s also a good idea to consider solutions to storage and prepping needs in a small space. Consider a small cabinet for storage with space on top for prepping.
Creating the perfect outdoor kitchen requires attention to all elements of the space. Always start by considering what your space will facilitate and your outdoor culinary needs. To create your ideal outdoor kitchen, you’ll need to consider everything from lighting, grills, decor, plants, and seating.
With the above ideas, you can have the outdoor kitchen of your dreams in no time.
Questions? Get in touch with one of our experts!