Having an outdoor kitchen can transform your backyard into an entertainment oasis. With a well-designed and functional outdoor cooking space, you can easily host parties and gatherings without missing a beat. An outdoor kitchen allows you to cook, socialize, and entertain all in one place. Follow these tips to create an outdoor kitchen area that lets you fully enjoy time with friends and family.

Pick the Right Location

Choosing the right spot is one of the most important decisions when adding an outdoor kitchen. Consider these factors when deciding on a location:

  • Convenience – Pick a spot near the house for easy access to utilities like gas and electricity. Being close to the indoor kitchen makes prepping, cleanup, and grabbing extras a breeze.
  • Traffic flow – The outdoor kitchen shouldn’t bottleneck areas used to access other parts of the yard. Allow enough space around it for people to comfortably pass through.
  • Views – Position it to enjoy appealing views from the yard, whether that’s landscapes or the pool area.
  • Shade – Ensure there are shade structures or trees overhead to protect cooks from direct sunlight.
  • Wind direction – Consider seasonal wind patterns so smoke and fumes blow away from the house.

Design for Entertaining

The design and layout should revolve around entertaining. Include features that make hosting parties easier and more enjoyable.

  • Serving space – Extended countertops provide room for setting up buffets and arranging serving dishes.
  • Seating – Incorporate a bar area with raised counter height and stools for people to sit at while you cook.
  • Lighting – Use lighting to set the mood and illuminate food preparation areas at night. Accent lighting in cabinets or under counters adds flair.
  • Music – Install outdoor speakers linked to the indoor sound system to provide music outside.
  • Sink – A sink allows you to easily wash hands, veggies, dishes, etc. Have it located near the grill.
  • Prep space – Maximize prep space for chopping, seasoning, and arranging food. Include storage for utensils and prep tools.
  • Serving ware – Designate a spot to store serving trays, platters, and utensils for easy access.

Include Grilling Essentials

No outdoor kitchen is complete without an excellent grill. Look for heavy-duty models designed for outdoor use.

  • Grill size – Select a size adequate for the amount of cooking you plan to do. Allow room on both sides for access.
  • Fuel type – Compare gas, charcoal, or smoker grill options. Fuel types differ in cooking methods, flavor, and convenience.
  • Side burners – These are worthwhile for boiling water, sautéing veggies, making sauces, and more.
  • Prep space – Have counters or tables on both sides of the grill to stage food for easy grilling.
  • Ventilation – Ensure proper ventilation above the grill to prevent fumes from collecting.

Plan for Storage Needs

Storage should be optimized for grilling tools, supplies, and accessories. Well-designed storage makes items easily accessible when cooking.

  • Grilling tools – Provide hooks, containers, or drawers to store essential grilling tools within arm’s reach.
  • Seasonings & sauces – Shelving for spices, oils, and sauces near the grill keeps flavorings on hand.
  • Extra supplies – Designate space for paper towels, foil, cleaning brushes, mitts, charcoal, etc.
  • Appliances – Allow room to store electric grills, smokers, griddles if they’ll be used.
  • Fuel – Safely store propane tanks or charcoal bags nearby.
  • Serving ware – Have adequate room for platters, bowls, and utensils used in serving dishes.

Pick Durable, Low-Maintenance Materials

Outdoor kitchens demand materials that can withstand the elements. Choose finishes designed to be weather, rust, mold, and mildew resistant.

  • Countertops – Quartz, granite, or stone offer an upscale look with heavy-duty durability.
  • Cabinets – Stainless steel or powder coated cabinets withstand moisture better than wood.
  • Appliances – Look for exterior grade appliances rated for outdoor use.
  • Surfaces – Use exterior rated paints and finishes that won’t fade or discolor from sun and rain.
  • Metals – Opt for rust-resistant metals like stainless steel for fixtures and hardware.
  • Fabrics – For any upholstered seats, select fade-resistant, water-repellent outdoor fabrics.
  • Tile – Use exterior rated grout and tiles meant for freeze/thaw climates.

Light it Up

Proper lighting transforms an outdoor kitchen from day to night. Lighting serves both form and function.

  • Task lighting – Bright lights above prep areas, grills, and sinks help with meal preparation.
  • Ambient lighting – Softer general lighting sets a relaxed tone for evening entertaining.
  • Accent lighting – LED strips and spotlights highlight architectural or design elements.
  • Durability – Choose fixtures rated for exterior use with weatherproof housings.
  • Placement – Position lighting thoughtfully to prevent glare in seating areas.
  • Controls – Use dimmers, smart technology, and zones so lighting can be adjusted.
  • Power – Ensure adequate electrical capacity and outlets to run lighting, appliances, etc.

Bring the Indoors Out

By mimicking elements of an indoor kitchen, you can enhance form and function.

  • Backsplash – Use outdoor-rated tile for a backsplash around grills, sinks, and counters.
  • Cabinets – Include cabinets for closed storage of supplies and appliances.
  • Refrigerator – An outdoor-rated compact refrigerator keeps cold drinks always accessible.
  • Sinks – Include at least one sink for food prep and washing up during cooking.
  • Serveware – Store plates, utensils, and serving pieces to allow outdoor dining.
  • Appliances – From ice makers to beverage coolers, specialty appliances increase convenience.
  • Television – Add a weatherproof TV for entertainment while grilling or dining.
  • Heating – To extend the seasons, add heating options like fire features, heat lamps, or space heaters.

Give It Personality

Infuse style and personality into your outdoor kitchen so it reflects your tastes.

  • Eclectic decor – For a playful vibe, accessorize with colorful accent pieces and décor.
  • Tropical touches – Plants, rattan or bamboo furnishings, bright cushions give a tropical feel.
  • Vintage accents – Add old-fashioned kitchen signs, containers, or plate racks.
  • Nautical theme – Rope, boats, fish nets, and blue hues lend a nautical vibe.
  • Farmhouse chic – Galvanized metal, butcher block, and chalkboard menus evoke farmhouse style.
  • Modern minimalism – For sleek modernism, use concrete, chrome, and clean lines.
  • Cozy custom – Show off your style with custom carved corbels, hand-painted tiles, or monogrammed dish towels.

Prioritize Safety

From flames to electricity near water, safety considerations are paramount for outdoor cook spaces.

  • Fire safety – Have fire extinguishers and smothering blankets on hand in case of grill flare ups.
  • Appliance placement – Ensure adequate clearance from combustibles around grills, smokers, and other heat producing appliances.
  • Ventilation – Proper ventilation carries heat, smoke, and fumes away from the structure.
  • Utilities – Use GFCI electrical outlets. Have gas lines installed by qualified professionals.
  • Weather protection – Anchor freestanding elements so they don’t blow around in wind storms.
  • Gates – If young children will be present, use gates to keep them away from hot surfaces.
  • Fire pit safety – Position fire pits away from structures. Supervise them when burning. Have fire extinguishing materials close by.

Make It Multi-Functional

Expand beyond just food preparation to get even more use from the space.

  • Dining – Include a dining table, counter, or casual seating area for meals.
  • Lounging – Add comfy chairs or sofas arranged in conversation areas.
  • Entertaining – Center the layout around tables and seating to host gatherings.
  • Relaxing – Create a sanctuary with soothing water features or cozy fire pits.
  • Productive – Use part of the space as a multi-functional outdoor office for working.
  • Creative – Add a potting bench and tool storage to support gardening hobbies.
  • Fitness – Use open areas for yoga, exercise classes, or workout stations.

Maintain the Space

Proper maintenance preserves the beauty and function of outdoor living spaces.

  • Cleanliness – Wipe spills promptly and wash down surfaces to prevent stains.
  • Cracks – Seal any cracks that develop in grout, caulking, or concrete.
  • Rust spots – Treat rust spots on metal fixtures quickly to prevent spreading.
  • Drainage – Ensure sinks, appliances, and seating areas drain properly to prevent water pooling.
  • Landscaping – Neatly trim back encroaching tree limbs, weeds, or plants.
  • Pest control – Routinely check for signs of insect or rodent activity. Address quickly to prevent damage.
  • Winterization – Properly winterize appliances, plumbing lines, and fixtures depending on climate.
  • Furnishings – Store or cover furnishings in harsh weather to prevent excessive wear. Get Inspired

Browse images of outdoor kitchens to gather ideas that match your taste. Some common favorites include:

  • Rustic brick or stone designs
  • Modern styles with sleek cabinets and stainless steel
  • Ultra-organized spaces maximizing prep space
  • Elegant kitchens with marble counters and tile backsplashes
  • Family-friendly layouts focused around play areas
  • Gourmet chef’s kitchens with top-of-the-line grills and appliances
  • Bars with seating, beverage refrigerators, and drink stations
  • Budget-friendly kitchens using DIY and thrifted items

There are endless possibilities! The key is choosing a look that blends functionality to support entertaining with aesthetic design to match your home and lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about creating an outdoor kitchen:

How much does an outdoor kitchen cost?

Outdoor kitchens range dramatically in cost from $2,000 – $50,000 or more depending on the size, materials, appliances and features included. The national average is around $10,000 – $15,000.

What is the most important thing when designing an outdoor kitchen?

Functionality for entertaining, cooking, and socializing should be the priority. All design choices should revolve around supporting the activities you want to enjoy in the space.

What are essential features to include?

A grill, sink, food prep space, seating, lighting, and storage are generally considered essentials. Include appliances and amenities that suit how you’ll use the kitchen.

What’s the best material for countertops?

Granite, stone, stainless steel, and high quality composite materials are top choices for durability and weather-resistance. Avoid natural wood that can warp.

Should cabinets be custom built or prefabricated?

Prefabricated cabinets designed for outdoor use are the most budget-friendly option. Custom cabinets let you customize sizes and design but come at a higher cost.

How can I add personality to the space?

accessorize with fun decorative touches like colorful dishware, novelty signs, distinctive lighting fixtures, patterned throw pillows, or potted plants. Incorporate features tailored specifically for how your family entertains.


The right outdoor kitchen design can let you get the most from your home’s exterior living space. Pay special attention to how you intend to use the area for entertaining. Choose durable, low-maintenance materials suited for outdoor exposure. Don’t forget about aesthetics by adding decorative touches and attention to design details. With good planning and smart design, your outdoor kitchen can become a go-to spot for parties, family dinners, and casual gatherings for years to come.