What is an Outdoor Kitchen? (Everything You Need to Know)

Outdoor kitchens are a great asset to your home. They vary in size and shape, but usually feature a grill, storage space and maybe a side burner or two. If you have an ideal spot in your yard, you've come to the right place to plan your outdoor kitchen!

Outdoor kitchens have become increasingly popular additions to many homes. They were first found in homes in the late ninety’s and have become a mainstay to many since that time. The appeal of having an outdoor space to cook and entertain is a hot commodity to many.

An outdoor kitchen is an area that can include a grilling area or even a full kitchen set-up outside. There is no reason to go inside to use the kitchen if you have access to an outdoor kitchen area, which makes it ideal for entertaining. 

This article will learn what an outdoor kitchen is and the benefits of adding one to your home.

Why do People Have Outdoor Kitchens?

All homes are equipped with a kitchen area; while some are more well-equipped than others, they all provide an area for making and storing food. This may leave you wondering why someone would go to the trouble of installing a separate kitchen outside. People choose to have outdoor kitchens for many reasons.

Extra Space

Installing an outdoor kitchen can provide extra space when entertaining, and you want to have extra helpers in the kitchen. Because most outdoor kitchens have an open concept, you will not have to worry about getting in the way of each other when cooking or preparing food.

A person grilling bbq.
Most outdoor kitchens have an open concept, you will not have to worry about getting in the way of each other when cooking.

Cost-Effective

If you like to cook and bake a lot, you know how miserable it can make a house feel in the middle of the summer heat. When baking in the summer, you will notice that the air conditioning needs to run to keep the home cool. If you move your baking outside in the summer months, you will eliminate the need for your AC to work overtime, thus cutting your energy bills.

Easy Entertainment

Many people enjoy entertaining others, especially during the summer months and holidays. With the addition of an outdoor kitchen, you provide both a welcoming atmosphere and additional space for more guests.

An outdoor kitchen provides the ideal setting to host picnics and BBQs in the summer months without crowding your home. Many times, people will include a complete kitchen/dining area in their outdoor kitchen. This provides a beautiful place for people to gather and enjoy events together.

People amazed.
You provide both a welcoming atmosphere and additional space for more guests.

If you entertain during the holidays, you know how challenging it can be to get everything baked and cooked in the correct amount of time, especially if you have a house full of guests. An outdoor kitchen, if built correctly, can provide an extra cooking and storage location.

Contain Odors

Have you ever noticed the odor of food you cooked, hanging out in the house, long after the cooking and meal are done? Unfortunately, this comes along with the territory of cooking, and you can not do much to eliminate the odors quickly. Outdoor kitchens are appealing because they allow you to cook foods with a strong odor outside. By doing this, the odors stay outside and will not contaminate your home.

Easy Clean-Up

Cleaning up an outdoor kitchen area is much easier than inside. Because the entire mess has been contained outside, you do not need to worry about carrying dishes and garbage in and out of the house.

As you can see, there are many benefits to having an outdoor kitchen that make it an appealing addition to any home.

Best Place for an Outdoor Kitchen

You may be wondering where the best location is to add an outdoor kitchen to your property. Thankfully, there is not “best” place for an outdoor kitchen. The location of an outdoor kitchen is dependent on your needs as well as the space available. You can choose to have an attached outdoor kitchen or a free-standing outdoor kitchen.

Attached Outdoor Kitchen: Many people choose to build an attached outdoor kitchen because they can use their house to help create some kitchen space. It is also quite easy to extend your home’s roof over an attached outdoor kitchen, which helps protect your appliances and limits the amount of construction you may need to do.

Stand-Alone Outdoor Kitchen: A stand-alone outdoor kitchen is an outdoor kitchen built a distance from your home. Most stand-alone kitchens will have a separate patio and a covering. Typically, you would find this type of outdoor kitchen near a pool or other outdoor entertainment area. This type of outdoor kitchen is typically a larger construction project than others.

An outdoor kitchen in a Patio.
Most stand-alone kitchens will have a separate patio and a covering.

What Should You Include in an Outdoor Kitchen?

Kitchens in homes vary when it comes to the capabilities, size, and appliances included. Outdoor kitchens are much the same. You can make an outdoor kitchen as simple or luxurious as you want. The only things standing in your way are your budget and space. Let us look at the most common outdoor kitchen features.

Cooking area: When you choose the cooking area for your outdoor kitchen, you will find several different options. Depending on your plans for the function and use of your kitchen, you may choose from these options.

  • GrillPizza Oven
  • Stove-top
  • Oven
  • Smoker

As you can see, there are many cooking options. Some people choose one option while others choose multiple. The space and the budget you have for your kitchen will also dictate the cooking option you choose to install.

A outdoor kitchen beside the lake.
The space and the budget you have for your kitchen will also dictate the cooking option.

Storage: You want to make sure you have storage options when it comes to your outdoor kitchen. Remember, the goal is to make this area both functional and time-saving. Constant trips into the house will not only waste time but will become frustrating, especially if you are entertaining. When it comes to storage, the sky is the limit. It would be best if you determined your needs before installing storage options. Here are some options you may want to add.

  • Cabinets
  • Pantry
  • Seating with storage options
  • Storage bins

No matter which option you go with, you want to make sure it is functional and secure. If the house does not protect your kitchen area, you will want to ensure the storage areas cannot get water into them or critters cannot work their way into the storage. Both things could become costly mistakes.

Fire Pit: Many people choose to include an outdoor fire pit in their outdoor kitchen. You can choose to use a mobile fire pit or have one built right into the foundation of your outdoor kitchen. When you choose to include a fire pit, make sure you place it safely from all items so it does not become a fire hazard.

A firepit with marshmallows.
Make sure you place it safely from all items so it does not become a fire hazard.

Outdoor Heaters: In an attempt to use an outdoor kitchen space year-round, you may resort to including patio heaters. You have seen these in outdoor restaurants. They can be very large and emit a high level of heat. While these can be great additions, you need to ensure you have the proper size and correct ventilation before using them.

Furniture: To make an outdoor kitchen area more comfortable and inviting, you will want to include furniture. If you plan to use this area as an alternate living and gathering space, you will want to invest in quality outdoor furniture.

Water: People often will include a small sink or even a dishwasher in their outdoor kitchen area. Not only does this help make it easier to prepare food and entertain, but it also allows for easy clean-up of the location.

Entertainment: Outdoor kitchen areas are a wonderful place to entertain crowds at almost any time of year. If you plan to host large gatherings, you will want to look at entertainment options that can be placed in the kitchen area. Some entertainment ideas are:

  • Television
  • Pool table
  • Shuffleboard table
  • Ping Pong
  • Poker Table

The options are endless when it comes to outfitting your outdoor kitchen area with entertainment. The only limitations you will have are budget, space, and weather. Suppose you do not have proper weather protection in the outdoor kitchen; you will want to consider any additions you make to the area carefully.

Can You DIY an Outdoor Kitchen?

When you begin thinking about an outdoor kitchen, you begin thinking about the cost of such a project. This includes the cost of an outside contractor to complete the task for you. If you are able and have the proper tools and knowledge, you can complete most of your outdoor kitchen project on your own, which will cut the cost significantly.

As with any DIY project, you want to make sure you know your limitations and areas of expertise. If you are planning to add electrical or gas components to your outdoor kitchen, you must seek the help of a trained professional.

A covered outdoor kitchen.
You want to make sure you know your limitations and areas of expertise.

Anytime you are doing electrical work, you want to make sure an insured and licensed person completes the job. If you complete the job and a fire results, your insurance may not cover the damage because you were not a trained professional. This may not be the case for all areas, but it is common in many locations.

Cost of an Outdoor Kitchen

The cost of an outdoor kitchen is truly in your hands and control. If you want a large and luxurious space for your outdoor kitchen, you will pay a significant amount to get the job done. This also means that you will need to hire professionals to complete some of the major construction components.

When you build your outdoor kitchen area, you may also be required to obtain building permits to complete the job. There is a fee associated with building permits depending on the area and size of the build. If you choose not to get a permit, you can expect to pay a hefty fine.

The overall cost of your outdoor kitchen will depend on the features you choose to include and the quality of the appliances and materials. The average cost can be between $2,000 and $100,000 to complete the project.

Can You Use an Outdoor Kitchen Year-Round?

Using your outdoor kitchen year-round will depend on the location you live in. If you live in a warm climate, you can likely use your outdoor kitchen year-round without a problem. However, if you live in a location that has sub-zero temperatures and harsh winter conditions, you may have a more challenging time using an outdoor kitchen all year.

If you cannot use your outdoor kitchen space year-round, you will want to make sure you take the proper precautions to winterize the area. If you have water running to the area, you will want to make sure the pipes are properly insulated or water is disconnected to avoid broken pipes and damages.

Does an Outdoor Kitchen Add Value to Your Home?

The number one question that may come to mind is an outdoor kitchen’s value to your home. Most people like to know that their improvements add a dollar value to their home, not just curb appeal. You will be happy to know that adding an outdoor kitchen to your home can add significant value to your property.

It is important to know that the addition of an outdoor kitchen will add value to your home, but it is highly unlikely that you will recoup the total value of your build when selling. On average, it is estimated that most people will see a return of 55% when selling a home with an outdoor kitchen. While this is an average, several factors can influence the return you will see.

  • Housing market
  • Demand
  • Price Point

Most of these factors are outside your circle of control but will determine how much of a return you see for your investment.

Final Thoughts

An outdoor kitchen is an amazing way to add both functionalities as well as curb appeal to your home. Not only will it increase your living space, but it will also provide you with an area in which to entertain your guests without feeling crowded. Adding an outdoor kitchen can be a DIY project, but the more complex the build, the more support you need. Adding an outdoor kitchen can provide a high rate of return.

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