How to Design Your Dream Outdoor Kitchen By Selecting the Best Components

An outdoor kitchen allows you to enjoy cooking and entertaining outdoors. With the right components, you can create the ultimate outdoor living space that fits your needs and style. This comprehensive guide covers all the essential elements to consider when designing and building your ideal outdoor kitchen.

Introduction to Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens have become increasingly popular additions to backyards and patios. They provide an inviting space to grill, dine, and entertain outdoors. Well-designed outdoor kitchens seamlessly blend style and functionality. With the right layout and high-quality components, your outdoor kitchen can become an extension of your indoor living area.

When designing an outdoor kitchen, start by identifying how you plan to utilize the space and what functions are most important to you. Typical components of an outdoor kitchen include:

  • Grill and other cooking appliances
  • Countertops and cabinetry
  • Sink and prep space
  • Refrigeration
  • Seating and dining areas
  • Lighting and electricity
  • Heating elements

Carefully think through the flow of your outdoor kitchen. Allow enough space for multiple people to cook comfortably. Incorporate lighting for evening use. Select durable surfaces and appliances that can withstand weather and heavy use. Attention to detail will ensure your outdoor kitchen is both beautiful and highly functional.

Selecting the Right Grill

The grill is the centerpiece of any outdoor kitchen. Your choice of grilling equipment impacts how and what you can cook. Consider the following factors when selecting your grill:

Grill Type

The main grill types for outdoor kitchens are:

  • Gas grills – Convenient and quick heating with instant temperature control. Popular choices are propane and natural gas.
  • Charcoal grills – Create an authentic smoky barbecue flavor. Need more time to light and clean but are very versatile.
  • Kamado-style ceramic grills – Made from ceramic shells and retain heat well. Can grill, smoke, bake, and roast.
  • Pellet grills – Burns compressed hardwood pellets. Set-it-and-forget-it temperature control. Imparts wood-fired flavor.

Consider your cooking preferences and needs. Do you want the convenience of gas or authenticity of charcoal? Pellet grills combine control of gas with wood-fired cooking.

Size and BTUs

Choose a grill with adequate cooking surface for the amount of food you typically cook. A larger primary cooking area is ideal for entertaining larger gatherings. Consider expanding your grilling capacity with a secondary or side burner.

BTU (British Thermal Unit) indicates the heat output. A higher BTU will heat up faster and accomodate more food. Go for a minimum of 75-100 BTUs per square inch of primary cooking space.


Select a high-quality grill constructed from durable materials like stainless steel or thick cast iron grates. Look for double-walled stainless steel lids and long-lasting burners. Be sure to keep your grill covered and maintained.

Critical Countertop Considerations

The countertops constitute a major part of your outdoor kitchen’s workspace. Assess these factors when choosing countertops:


Popular outdoor kitchen countertop materials:

  • Stainless steel – Durable, easy to clean, heat and stain resistant. Prone to scratches and dents.
  • Tile – Wide variety of styles. Heat and stain resistant if properly sealed. Can crack and chip.
  • Concrete – Durable and heatproof. Sealing required. Can stain and etch.
  • Granite – Withstands heat and scratches. Sealing required. On the expensive side.
  • Limestone or soapstone – Heat-resistant. Requires sealing and can stain.
  • Laminate – Affordable. Many patterns available. Not heat or stain-proof.


Include a 10-15” overhang around countertops for seating space and to prevent sun and rain from hitting vertical surfaces.


Since outdoor counters get wet, select a waterproof and UV-resistant finish. Marine epoxy works well for wood counters. Use a sealant made for granite, tile, concrete, etc.

Proper sealing is crucial for durability and preventing stains and damage.


Avoid highly polished or slippery surfaces. Embrace materials and finishes with some texture for functionality, safety, and visual appeal.

Cabinetry to Complement Your Style

Stock your outdoor kitchen with cabinets carefully selected to meet your storage needs and style preferences:


Use moisture, mold, and mildew-resistant cabinet materials suited for outdoor use:

  • Stainless steel – Durable and easy to clean but expensive.
  • Teak wood – Naturally weather-resistant if properly maintained with oil.
  • Polymer – Won’t crack, peel, or warp. Withstands weather.
  • Concrete – Substantial feel. Allows for custom designs. Needs sealing.

Doors and Drawers

Include cabinets with doors to keep contents clean and dry. Use drawers for utensils and easier access to items. Consider soft-closing hinges and latches.


Position cabinets for an efficient workspace flow. Place near appliances for prep space. Have them overlook seating areas for serving food and drinks.


Match your cabinetry style to your overall aesthetic – contemporary, rustic, industrial, etc. Use coordinating hardware and accessories.


Incorporate lighting above and inside cabinets for visibility and ambiance. Go for waterproof LED lights.

Keep Food Chilled with Refrigeration

To keep ingredients cold and prevent spoilage, include some form of refrigeration:


Choose a high-quality outdoor-rated refrigerator with a compressor and refrigerant designed to operate in hot and cold weather. Stainless steel interiors resist corrosion.

Beverage Centres

These keep drinks chilled while freeing up refrigerator space. Some have taps to pour beer and beverages on tap.

Ice Makers

Dedicated ice makers produce abundant ice for drinks and seafood platters. Look for mold-resistant plastic interiors and stainless exteriors.

Wine Coolers

Freestanding or built-in wine coolers store wine properly. Dual-zone models allow you to set different temperatures.


Insulated drawers keep items like veggies and condiments cooler longer. Some have chill plates you pre-freeze.

Regardless of the style, opt for ENERGY STAR-rated models with ample capacity and good temperature control.

Add a Sink to Your Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen sink simplifies clean-up. Things to factor in when adding a sink:


Install next to food prep areas for convenience but out of high-traffic zones. Allow space for drainpipes.


Choose durable and weather-resistant materials like enamel-coated cast iron, copper, stainless steel or stone composite.


Select a size sufficient to wash produce, utensils, and dishes. Single basin sinks are common for outdoor kitchens.


Use an outdoor-rated faucet that resists rust and hard water buildup. Go for a high arched style with a pull-down sprayer.


Ensure proper drainage pitch and pipe insulation to prevent water backups and freezing.


Include features like an extended drip board, built-in chopping block, or cover to maximize functionality.

Adding a sink greatly improves your outdoor cooking experience.

Create an Ideal Outdoor Kitchen Layout

Carefully mapping out your outdoor kitchen layout is a crucial step. Keep these tips in mind:

Measure the Space

Start by taking detailed measurements of your patio or backyard area. Note any existing structures, utilities, and permanent elements.

Map Appliances and Traffic Flows

Sketch ideas for optimal spot for appliances, cabinets, counters based on space constraints. Design for efficient foot traffic.

Allow Extra Room

Leave ample room around appliances for opening doors and drawers. Allow 36+ inches of landing space by grills.

Incorporate Triangles

Position items to form convenient work triangles between the sink, grill, and prep space.

Consider Sight Lines

Situate appliances and surfaces to allow eye contact with others for conversation.

Leave Open Areas

Avoid cramming the entire area full. Allow open zones for movement and entertaining.

Careful planning of the layout will ensure your outdoor kitchen is tailored to your unique space.

Light it Up: Illuminate Your Outdoor Kitchen Properly

Proper lighting transforms an outdoor kitchen from day to night. Things to know about lighting:

Task Lighting

Bright LED lights under cabinets and over counters illuminate prep areas for safety.

Ambient Lighting

Softer LED path lighting and overhead string lights create inviting ambiance.

Accent Lighting

LED strips and directional lighting highlight architectural features and plants.


Select weatherproof fixture rated for humidity, rain, and temperature extremes.

Switches and Dimmer

Incorporate switches and dimmers to easily control different lighting zones.

Power Source

Wire lighting to a dedicated outdoor circuit with GFCI outlet protection.

Limit Light Pollution

Avoid brightly lighting entire yard. Use shielded fixtures and position carefully.

Create Different Scenes

Design lighting to accommodate different moods for cooking, dining, or lounging.

Enjoy Ambient Heating and Cooling

The right heating and cooling elements allow you to use your outdoor kitchen year-round:

Fire Features

From fire pits to chimineas, contained fires provide warmth and ambiance for cooler weather.

Patio Heaters

Freestanding propane or electric heaters warm a larger area. Position them strategially.

Built-In Heaters

Hardwired overhead infrared heaters, quartz heaters, or elongagated radiant heaters efficiently heat specific zones.


Circulating fans help keep outdoor kitchens comfortably cool in warmer weather. Go for wet-rated models.

Misting Systems

Misting systems release a cooling mist to lower the temperature on hot days.

Weather Protection

Add a retractable awning to provide shade and shelter from sun or rain.

By incorporating heating and cooling features, your outdoor kitchen can be used year-round in nearly any climate.

Pick Durable and Stylish Surfaces

The right patio surfaces can unify your entire outdoor living space. Things to consider:


Natural stone, concrete, pavers, tile, crushed stones, and wood are common patio surface materials, each with pros and cons.


Ensure surfaces slope away from home and structures. Incorporate drainage channels if needed.


The surface must withstand foot traffic, furniture legs, and spillage from the kitchen. Be mindful of smooth vs. rough textures.


Select surfaces that complement your landscape design and home exterior styling.


Balance your budget with the scale of the project and longevity of surfaces. Some last longer than others.


Surfaces should be level and slip-resistant, especially when wet. Incorporate adequate lighting.

Choosing patio materials that are functional, tailored to your climate, and design-forward can tie your whole outdoor space together.

Choose Seating and Dining Areas

A well-designed outdoor kitchen has spaces styled for comfortable seating and dining:


Barstool seating at countertop overhangs is great for casual meals. Select durable metal or wooden stools.

Patio Dining Set

A patio dining table with plush chairs accommodates family dinners and entertaining. Get furniture covers.

Sofas and Chaises

Comfortable sofas, sectionals, daybeds, and chaises invite lounging with cocktails by the fire.

Weather-Resistant Textiles

Fabrics should withstand sun, rain, and humidity. Look for performance fabrics like Sunbrella.


Match your furnishings to your desired aesthetic – elegant, rustic, modern, etc.

Shade Elements

Incorporate umbrellas, pergolas, or retractable awnings to shade seating areas from sun.

Stylish, durable, and comfortable furniture completes the inviting atmosphere of your outdoor living space.

Fun Extras to Include

Optional extras add convenience and personality to your outdoor kitchen:

Sound System

Set the mood with exterior-rated speakers and audio components. Hide wires neatly.

TV and Media

Mount weatherproof TVs and screens for watching the big game or movie under the stars.

Plants and Greenery

Strategically place potted plants, flower boxes, vertical gardens to liven the space.

Decor Pieces

Select functional accents that reflect your taste, like wall art, pendant lighting, sculpture pieces.

Storage and Organization

Incorporate weatherproof cabinets, utility carts, or shelving for stowing essentials neatly.

Firewood Storage

Keep firewood neatly stacked nearby in a stylish woodshed box or bin.

Kitchen Accessories

Include hooks, paper towel holders, trays, and other accessories for convenience.

Personalizing your outdoor kitchen really makes it feel like your own custom oasis. Get creative with fun additions to take it to the next level!

FAQs about Designing Outdoor Kitchens

What are the most popular outdoor kitchen layouts?

Common layouts are L-shaped, U-shaped, and linear designs. Each has pros and cons based on your space. L-shaped layouts utilize corner space efficiently while allowing multiple cooks.

What should the floor be made of in an outdoor kitchen?

Good outdoor kitchen flooring options are tile, stone, concrete, pavers, peastone, crushed shells, wood planks, and heavy-duty composite decking. Ensure proper drainage.

What is the most durable material for outdoor kitchen counters?

Stainless steel, granite, and tile are very durable and withstand weather well. Concrete can also be long-lasting if properly sealed and cared for.

How much does an average outdoor kitchen cost?

Outdoor kitchens range widely in price from $2,000 – $50,000+. Simple DIY builds come in under $5,000. Professionally-designed kitchens with high-end finishes run $15,000 – $50,000+.

What are essential items to keep in an outdoor kitchen?

Handy items to store include cooking utensils and tools, cutlery, plates and drinkware, potholders and oven mitts, grilling accessories, barbecue sauce and spices, foil and plastic wrap, and cleaning supplies.

Should you put a roof over an outdoor kitchen?

It’s smart to install a waterproof roof or overhead structure. Provide shade from sun and rain but allow for airflow. Options are pergolas, retractable awnings, gazebos, and built-in covers.


Creating your dream outdoor kitchen oasis is an exciting project. By careful planning and selection of high-quality components tailored to your needs, you can construct a space for grilling, dining, and lounging in comfort. Pay special attention to sturdy structures, durable surfaces, weather-resistant appliances and finishes, zoned lighting, and decor that reflects your personal style. With the right touches, your outdoor kitchen can provide a beautiful gathering spot to enjoy cooking, conversation, and relaxation for years to come.