What Should I Know About Outdoor Kitchens?

An outdoor kitchen is not only a way to extend your liveable space and enjoy the outdoors, but it’s also an investment into your property. But, if you are just starting out, you might be wondering, “What should I know about outdoor kitchens?” In this article, we’ll cover three factors that you need to bear in mind when planning your outdoor kitchen. 

The aim of having an outdoor kitchen is to provide an outside living space for cooking, entertaining, and creating great memories. And, a well-planned outdoor kitchen is key to achieving this goal. 

Before you even start planning, consider the following:

  • Location
  • Cooking preferences
  • Safety

All of these factors can make all the difference in your outdoor cooking experience. Let’s take a closer look.

What Should I Know About Outdoor Kitchens? Location, Location, Location 

Sometimes the most scenic area on your property might not be the ideal space for an outdoor kitchen. The whole point of having an outdoor cooking area is to make it enjoyable for those who are cooking and those who are being entertained. Consider the following when choosing your location:

1. Shade, shelter, and warmth 

Nobody enjoys grilling in the hot sun and no guest enjoys trying to have a conversation with the sun shining directly in their eyes. 

Shade is an important factor to consider when it comes to where you’ll locate your outdoor kitchen. Look for a spot that has natural shade in the afternoon or early evening (if you enjoy afternoon barbeques) or shade in the morning (if you enjoy brunch or breakfast).

Of course, if there isn’t natural shade available, you might want to consider investing in a pergola or incorporating some form of shaded structure into your design. You can also use patio umbrellas for seating areas. (Though we wouldn’t recommend an umbrella over the grill because of safety issues.) 

Another factor to consider is the predominant wind direction. If you live in an area where it’s windy most days in summer or even year-round, if you want to avoid grilling with smoke in your eyes or sandy food, look for a location that offers some form of protection from the wind. 

An outdoor kitchen can also be enjoyed on cooler days or evenings. And, if you live in an area that has mild winters, you might want to use your outdoor kitchen all year. Keep warmth in mind for those colder nights. You might want to build a fire pit if you have space or you can even purchase a few outdoor patio heaters to keep the area cozy and the conversation going.

2. Proximity to the house

 If you want to avoid long trips back and forth to the house, it’s best to choose a location that’s fairly close. Although it’s great to feel like one is “getting away,” if it’s a long trek inside, it could be an obstacle to using your outdoor kitchen frequently. 

We want you to get the most out of your investment, so when looking for the ideal location, look for a spot that’s near the house. It also makes it easier to access amenities like gas, water, and electricity safely which will impact the grill you choose and what appliances you have in your outdoor kitchen. 

Of course, there are ways to minimize trips inside by planning the appliances that you will include in your outdoor kitchen. For example, you might want to consider an outdoor refrigerator or beverage refrigerator so that you don’t have to head inside every time you need to top off a drink. Or you could consider adding under-counter storage cabinets and draws to store cooking utensils, plates, and crockery. 

3. How much space do you have to work with?

How much space do you have in your ideal location? Make sure that what you are picturing can actually fit and work in the space you have.

A useful tip is to chalk out your plan on the ground in the area. This is one way to get a visual idea of what your plan will look like and if it will actually work. It will also allow you to determine if you have enough space between the counters and enough space to access the grill and cooking appliances safely. Keep in mind that you’ll also need open counter space for preparing and serving food, so make sure you take into account sufficient counter space in your design.

Cooking Preferences - What Type of Grill or BBQ Do You Prefer?

Some people prefer a simple grill that’s easy to operate and cooks for intimate gatherings. Others prefer all the bells and whistles and love entertaining the masses.

There are endless types of grills and the one you choose will depend on your personal preference and cooking style. If you prefer cooking for big gatherings, then a larger grill is a good option. Remember, you can always turn off a burner to reduce the cooking surface area but you can’t increase the cooking surface area on a smaller grill. 

The type of grill you choose also depends on the utilities that are available. For example, if you have natural gas in your home, then a natural gas barbeque is a great option especially if you are installing a built-in grill. Or you might prefer to invest in a freestanding propane grill so that you can be more flexible in where you grill. 

As the grill is the most important part of your outdoor kitchen, take time to research the one that will be most suited to you and your outdoor kitchen area. Also, spend time considering if you will add to the cooking appliances in your kitchen such as a pizza oven or a Kamado grill. If so, where will you plan to install them?

Whether you choose a simple grill or one with all the bells and whistles, we do recommend that you consider a good-quality, high-end grill that’s built to last and won’t rust outside.

Safety First - Leave Installations To the Professionals

Safety is one of the most important aspects of planning and building an outdoor kitchen.

It can be tempting to use your DIY skills to install natural gas, water, and electricity in your outdoor kitchen yourself. However, if you don’t have the skill to do so, it’s very important that you find a licensed contractor to do the installation correctly. 

This is especially the case when it comes to gas. Properly installed gas, grill vents, and outdoor kitchen ventilation will give you peace of mind and will avoid potential gas leaks and build-ups. 

Gas vents should be installed every 4-6 feet to prevent gas build up. If you are using propane gas, make sure that the vents are down low because propane sinks. On the other hand, natural gas rises so you will want to install the vents as high as possible. 

Also, if you are installing a built-in grill, make sure that you invest in an insulated grill jacket especially if you are building with materials that are combustible. The last thing you want is your outdoor kitchen to go up in flames. Even if you are building in non-combustible material, buying an insulated grill jacket is a good idea because it will also protect your grill. 

The Bottom Grill

As the saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” And, when it comes to outdoor kitchens, this saying is very true. Before you cast your plan in stone, take the above factors into consideration so that you can make the most out of your investment.