The Best Outdoor Kitchens – Design Ideas

Why have outdoor kitchens become so popular? Have you noticed how people always gather in the kitchen of your home? Whether its family time, A casual gathering of friends, or a big party – you can count on folks to gather in the kitchen. Now imagine that kitchen as big as your backyard. Outdoor kitchens allow the gathering to go outside without losing that homey kitchen atmosphere.

Take the oven, the sink, the cook-top, the refrigerator, the cabinets…take it all outside. No more running in and out from the grill to the fridge. No more lugging a cooler out and back in. Everything can now be outside. The great outdoors with all the convenience of a modern kitchen.

Outdoor kitchens are more than just a big grill. Of course, the grill is a necessity, but that’s just the start. Cabinets, warming drawers, tables, bars, wood fired ovens…the list goes on. From basic to exotic, the choices are limited only by your imagination. And of course, your bank account!

There are lots things to consider as you plan your outdoor kitchen. This is a significant step in an overall backyard design. Be sure you will use it enough to justify the expense. After all, the old fashioned way of cooking on a portable grill and walking back inside the house for your needs still works. But if you’re ready to take your backyard design to the next level, an outdoor kitchen may be the perfect choice for you. BBQ islands are a very popular option if you want an upscale outdoor kitchen without paying custom built prices. See the link below for more information.

Things to consider…

What things are you likely to cook? How much and how often?

The options on grills are numerous, and the price tags reflect them – but do you need them? If there are only two of you, and nobody ever comes to visit (that will change with an outdoor kitchen) do you need a huge grill? If you are going to primarily cook burgers, steaks, and pork chops do you need the expensive rotisserie? Would a pizza oven be better suited to your needs? You can get all of these, but there’s no need to spend the money if you aren’t going to use them. Now, having said that – don’t get cheap with the grill. Pick the features you will need, and spend some money on the grill. This is, after all, the part that makes all the rest worth having. The last thing you want is to install a cheap built-in grill in a beautiful stone veneer with custom granite countertops only to have to take it out repair or replace it. So buy quality here. If you can not afford a quality built-in, consider a portable cart style.

Does the rest of your backyard design support the outdoor kitchen?

After you take the steaks and chops off of your big beautiful grill and pass them out to your highly impressed guests, do they have a place to sit? Are there covered seating areas for light rain, or for relief from the sweltering sun? Be careful to keep the seating a reasonable distance from the grill. You want to cook the T-Bone, not Uncle Joe. The effect of great outdoor cooking is lost if everyone goes back inside to eat. The rest of your outdoor living area should support and complement the kitchen. That doesn’t mean you have to spend money on a covered porch or a gazebo (although both are nice) but you should at least have a patio umbrella over a table and chair set.

What other activities will be taking place while the feast is being prepared?

Cooking and eating may be the highlight of the outdoor time, but they’re not the only things happening. Do your guests gather to watch the big game? If so, consider an outdoor television. Otherwise you may be the only one outside, doing the work while everybody else enjoys the Carolina Panthers beating whomever they happen to be playing. (Okay, I’m biased. So sue me.) Do your friends and family tend to just hang out chatting while the meal is being prepared? Then you’ll want some music playing through a nice outdoor sound system. An outdoor refrigerator sure beats running in and out of the house for cold drinks, or lugging a cooler full of ice around. Will you be utilizing the outdoor kitchen in cooler weather? A built-in fireplace or a portable fire pit keep things cozy throughout most of the year.

How much space do you have in your backyard.

If you have a small courtyard behind your town home, you probably won’t have room for a full, deluxe outdoor kitchen. If you put it in anyway, your guests will have to stand in your neighbors yard.

The idea is that you need to think about your needs, not just about what looks cool in the pictures. Buy what you need, within your budget. Speaking of budgeting – that is a real consideration. Outdoor kitchens can cost from $1000 to over $100,000 depending on the options, materials, size, and how exotic you may want to be. If your budget allows you to go hog wild – have at it! If not, do what you can, as you can. Everything does not have to be done at once. Just remember to think out your long term design plan as you go step by step.

Keep in mind – while an outdoor kitchen is a great and fun addition to any backyard, it is not essential. The vast majority of backyards don’t have one, and people have great times there anyway. If it fits your needs, your space, and your budget – go for it! If it doesn’t fit those things, don’t despair. Many, many great times and great memories have been made on a simple patio with a small charcoal grill. What matter most is spending quality time with family and friends, whatever the setting. But since you’re outside anyway – you may as well make a great backyard while you’re at it!

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