5 Tips for Building Your Outdoor Kitchen for Cold Climates

Your kitchen is the heart of your home, and it can be used to cook dishes that warm you not only physically, but emotionally. The comfort of a warm meal at the end of a long, cold day is one thing few think about until they no longer have an outdoor kitchen. Here are 5 tips on how to build an outdoor kitchen for cooler climates.

You’re ready to create the outdoor kitchen of your dreams, but you live in a cold climate. The cold fall and winter months can bring a lot of joy and entertainment, especially as the biggest holidays roll around, but it also brings a whole set of challenges to your outdoor kitchen space that people who live in warmer climates don’t have to factor into their kitchen construction. But, don’t let that stop you! There are many ways to build an outdoor kitchen that is functional, beautiful, and cold-resistant. 

Whether you need help with insulation or want to know how to choose the right materials for your outdoor kitchen, this article has all the information you need. Keep reading for five great tips on building an awesome outdoor cooking area that will last through the chilly fall and winter conditions season after season!

Use Weather-Resistant Materials for All Appliances and Features

Building an outdoor kitchen somewhere that has consistently cold climates means the materials you use to construct your kitchen are going to be constantly subjected to harsh conditions, potentially for months on end, which could cause expensive and irreversible damage if not chosen carefully. Therefore, the first step of your planning process with an outdoor kitchen should be your materials of choice. 

It is imperative that any outdoor kitchen that will be subject to cold climates is made of weather and cold-resistant materials that are guaranteed to last. This goes for everything, from your appliances to your frame to your cabinets and so on. 

For your frame, countertops, and floors (if applicable), we highly recommend utilizing some sort of strong natural stone, such as sealed granite, or opting for equally durable materials, like brick, stucco, or concrete. All of these options are resilient to significantly high and low temperatures and are weather and age-proof as long as they are properly maintained. 

An outdoor granite countertop.
We highly recommend utilizing some sort of strong natural stone, such as sealed granite.

Another popular option for your countertops, as well as the preferred material for appliances, is stainless steel. This is the most popular and reliable material for outdoor kitchens in cold regions by far.

Stainless steel has a refined, modern look but is also waterproof and easy to clean. You won’t have to worry about your stainless steel features cracking or tarnishing when exposed outdoors, giving outdoor kitchen owners peace of mind. This is why many people will extend their use of stainless steel all the way to their kitchen cabinets to ensure their longevity. 

Treat Your Stainless Steel and Natural Materials

Now that we’ve discussed the best materials to use in your outdoor kitchen to make it as resilient to cold climates as possible, it’s time to talk about treating these materials for maximum protection and longevity. 

Stainless steel, granite, and concrete are all exceptional materials for an outdoor kitchen, but their integrity is more easily assured if you have them cured and/or treated prior to installation and even as regular maintenance over the years. 

Treating or curing these materials will help them withstand any challenges cold climates can pose, from drastically low temperatures to high winds to an abundance of snow. Starting with stainless steel, we recommend treating this material with a powder coat to make it more resistant to corrosion. A pigmented powder coat is also a fantastic way to add an extra layer of protection to your stainless steel while also painting them a more aesthetically pleasing color.

A natural mineral pigment powder.
A pigmented powder coat is also a fantastic way to add an extra layer of protection to your stainless steel.

Apart from stainless steel, concrete should be cured and sealed before it is installed in your outdoor kitchen, so it isn’t as rough or absorbent. Granite should also be sealed to prevent it from absorbing water, and this should be done every 1-3 years along with any concrete in your kitchen. 

Insulate All Plumbing

If your kitchen has a functioning outdoor sink or other features that require plumbing, you’ll want to pay extra attention to what materials you use for these pipes as well. 

All plumbing used for an outdoor kitchen in cold climates must be made of cold-resistant materials, such as PEX, and sufficiently insulated to prevent pipes from cracking, freezing, or bursting. 

Water pipe insulation.
Another way to guarantee your pipes are safe in cold conditions is to empty them of all water.

The last thing you want is to go out and intend to use your outdoor kitchen on a nice sunny day and find that a pipe has burst during a particularly cold night. Replacing plumbing piping, even in the smallest of sections, can cost anywhere from $356 and $1,875, which is a hefty sum you can avoid by using the right materials. 

Another way to guarantee your pipes are safe in cold conditions is to empty them of all water and shut off their water supply when temperatures are going to reach below freezing.  

Provide Sources of Cover From the Elements

Let’s finally move away from material necessities and talk about what features you can install in your outdoor kitchen to help provide additional protection and even warmth and comfort in cold climates. 

Sources of coverage can go a long way in ensuring your outdoor kitchen is safe and comfortable for the chef, family members, and guests and keeping all culinary tools, ingredients, appliances, and features protected. 

Some simple sources of coverage you can acquire for your outdoor kitchen area countertop and oven covers to place on top of these features when they aren’t in use. This will protect them from weather conditions, such as rain and snow, as well as pests and source of physical abrasion that might scratch their surfaces. 

Outdoor covering.
Oven covers to place on top of these features when they aren’t in use.

Of course, these are the only ways to cover parts of your kitchen, but what about the chef and everyone who wants to gather in this social location? For this, we recommend installing some sort of roof on your outdoor kitchen. We highly recommend louvered roofs or gazebos to block chilly winds and precipitation, but pergolas are another favored alternative, particularly when paired with some sort of tapestry for additional coverage. 

These roofs will help your outdoor kitchen look like a complete space while also giving you, and your kitchen features some more comfort and protection from the harsh conditions of cold climates. 

Don’t Forget Sources of Heat for the Chef and Guests

While you’ll want to build an outdoor kitchen that can withstand the challenges of cold climates, you also want to prioritize creating a space that is enjoyable for family and friends. After all, a chilly fall day doesn’t mean the outdoor kitchen has to be closed completely! You can still use this space to the fullest, but comfort will be key here. 

The best way to make an outdoor kitchen comfortable and suitable for cooking and socializing in cold climates is to install sources of heat. Popular options for this are electric outdoor patio heaters you can either install on your outdoor kitchen’s roof or freestanding tubes or towers. 

A fire glass.
Provide ample sources of heat for both groups. 

Installing heaters will vastly increase how often you can cook and eat in your outdoor kitchen year-round. When installing heaters, remember that you want your chef to be just as comfortable as the guests lounging in the eating area, so provide ample sources of heat for both groups. 

Another alternative to electric outdoor heaters is fire pits, chimineas, or fireplaces where family members and guests can gather around and socialize. These are also fantastic aesthetic pieces that make your outdoor space feel homier. 

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