How to build an outdoor kitchen - an in depth look
How to build an outdoor kitchen
- Plan what you want
Have you been day dreaming about building an outdoor kitchen, to cook up some wonderful meals for your family and house guests? Have you been window shopping grills, and kamados, and outdoor refrigerators, and all the cabinets to match? Have you been browsing Pinterest, looking for inspiration, but you are having a hard time nailing down what all would be good to have? This blog post is going to be an attempt to help you plan out your outdoor kitchen, budget what it will all cost you, help with design, and help you execute the project.. Whether it’s a DIY or if you hire a contractor.
Plan What You Want: This seems pretty obvious, but sometimes you start seeing things that could be nice to have, but maybe will go unused, and that budget could be used for something else, that you’ll use a lot. I’m going to list a few things that are essential pieces, in my mind, for an outdoor kitchen. I’ll then list a few things that are nice to have, but not totally necessary.
Built-In Gas Grill - I like brands like Blaze, Summerset, and Napoleon, because they’re super high quality, but they’re not super high price (compared to some). They have a ton of selection when it comes to cabinets, and sinks, and they have a great selection of high quality grills.
Grills that I like:
Access Cabinets - Access cabinets allow you to get into the island or the counter that you are building your kitchen into. It’s essential, because you need to be able to get at your gas supply, and power connection. Most grills require a power connection. Access doors also allow you to get in, and check on other appliances, or drains that you might have setup, for sinks or refrigeration.
Trash Drawer - This might seem like it should fall in the “nice to have” column, but in my opinion, it’s a must. I just can’t stand having a mess around, when I’m cooking. I like it to be clean, and organized. I like to have my meats laid out, and ready to grill, and I don’t want any plastic or foil that has been contaminated, floating around. I also don’t like to trip over stuff in the kitchen, so for me, having a nice drawer where the trash is hidden away, is a must.
Now, I could continue down the list that are “essential” items for an outdoor kitchen, but they’re not really that essential. I suppose it just depends on your budget, and how much space you have. For me, some of the following would be considered essential, and I’ll mark them, but you could certainly get away with not having them in your outdoor kitchen.
Outdoor Refrigeration - (would be in my essential) I just love having a nice beer while it’s BBQ time. That’s why I say it would be essential for me to have outdoor refrigeration, in my outdoor kitchen. That being said, not everyone needs it, and not everyone has the space for it.. So it’s probably not “essential”.. But it’s sure nice to have! If you’re putting an outdoor refrigerator, beverage center, or kegerator in your outdoor kitchen, make sure to get one that is “outdoor rated”, and has the venting exhaust on the front of the fridge. Otherwise you could overheat your fridge, if it’s not made to be built in.
Here are a few outdoor refrigerators that I like.
Kegerator - Now this is truly a “nice” to have.. Not essential, but would be fun to have a cold one on tap. This is probably pretty cool to have, if you have people over all the time, but if you’re not entertaining a lot, it’s not totally needed. That being said.. How cool would it be?!
I like these outdoor kegerators
Wine Refrigeration - This is another “nice” to have… but if you live in a place that has an outdoor space that has nice weather, or you’re covered on your patio area, having a nice wine cellar at your fingertips would be a delight. If I can, I really like a cellar that has at least two zones, so I can keep the white nice and cool, and the reds a little more room temp. That being said.. Outdoor rated refrigeration sometimes comes with a few less bells and whistles.
I like these outdoor rated wine cellars.
Griddle - Are you a cook that likes to make food on the plancha? Do you enjoy making pancakes for your kids? If so, having a griddle would be amazing. It’s not really something you’d use all the time, most likely, but it’s super fun. I contemplated having one at my house, but opted for a griddle plate, that could go on my BBQ, rather than buying a whole griddle. I will say that I sometimes regret not just getting the griddle.. But choices must be lived with.
Griddles that I love.
Side Burner - This could arguably be put in the essential column for everyone. But, it’s not 100% a must have, so I’ll tag this with the “nice” to have label. The reason this is kind of an essential, is that you really can cook outside, when you have a side burner. You can boil corn, while you cook, you keep beans warm.. There’s just a lot you can do, with a side burner. It kinda gives your outdoor kitchen a little stove-top.
Here are some side burner options
Kamado - Do you love to smoke meat? Do you enjoy cooking with wood, from time to time? I think there are a few really cool looking kamodos, that make your outdoor kitchen not only look cool, but add a lot of value, when it comes to smoking brisket or ribs.
Outdoor Sinks and Beverage Stations - This is so nice to have, when you’re cooking. Like I mentioned before, I’m a little bit of a neat freak, when it comes to the kitchen. I like things tidy, clean, and feeling good. Because of this, I like to be able to wash my hands after handling food. I like to be able to set my utensils in the sink, to get them out of the way, so I don’t contaminate any surfaces. I also like to be able to dump out half empty cups or ice in the sink. Just kinda nice to have, ya know? I have to admit, I have a sink in my outdoor kitchen, and it’s nice.
If you’re into entertaining, having a sink is a must. There are options for ice-coolers, that you can put in, and I’ll get to those.. But I would say that a sink that has a little cocktail prep station built into it, is pretty trick.
Below are some that I like a lot.
Drop in Coolers - This is another entertainer’s “nice” to have. They’re cool because you can keep beers and sodas cold, and easily accessible to guests. It’s like having a regular ice chest, but it’s built into your counter top. Pretty cool looking if you ask me.
Design - Now here is where the decision get made. The Design of your outdoor kitchen. Things to think about. Budget, Space, and how much will you really use it. It’s easy to get carried away, and turn this little project into a new car. So be careful here.
I think a great design is one that fits with your home, and doesn’t look out of place. I am a big fan of using a solid surface for an outdoor kitchen. I just feel that building an island on something solid looks better, and more planned. If you’re building on decking, you will end up having to rip your kitchen apart, when you go to replace the decking in however many years you have left. This is why I really think you gotta be on a solid surface.
The shape of your design really depends on how much equipment you’re putting in, and how much space you have.
Common Shapes are a single peninsula, out from the house. An “L” shape, with one counter running along the house, then coming out, to make a peninsula. Then you you have the “U” shape. This is typically two peninsulas coming out from the house OR the reverse “U” which is a bar, with two peninsulas going back toward the house.
Execution - When it comes to the execution of your outdoor kitchen, you have to remember a few things. 1. Are you a builder? 2. What are you making the kitchen out of? Combustible, or non-combustible? 3. How much time will it take you, compared to a builder (if you’re not a builder)
1. Are you a builder? – I ask this, because let’s face it.. Not all of us are great with our hands.. But a lot of us like to try. I am one of those guys.. And sometimes I think it’s better to just spend the money, especially when you’re putting this much into the appliances.
2.) What are you making the kitchen out of? – I ask this, because if you’re making it out of wood, you need to make sure to get yourself the matching insulated jacket for your grill.. Or else you’ll be smoking more than just meats this summer! You might have “smoked casa” on the fire department’s menu. If you’re building with a non-combustible material, you don’t need the insulated jackets. Just something to keep in mind, when purchasing everything.
3.) How much time will it take you? If you’re good with your hands, and want to build your outdoor kitchen, I say you do that! It feels good to build something, and you’ll take pride in the project. If you have kids, you can build it together, and make some memories. BUT, if you’re not super handy, and you think it’s gonna be a project that turns into an unfinished project, I recommend having a carpenter come out and knock it out for you. It’s more expensive, but the job will get done, and you will have a good looking setup. It’s all about your skill level, and how much time you have to put into this project.
That’s about it for outdoor kitchens.. This is a dream build, and something that not everyone gets to do.. So if you’re planning one, you should pat yourself on the back, because this is truly a dream for many people.
If you have any questions about the kitchen you’re planning, please feel free to give us a call. You can ask for me (Marc Bryce), or you can ask for anyone in our design department. We’d love to build a bundle for you, to help you get the outdoor kitchen you’ve been dreaming of!