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What Is Considered an Outdoor Kitchen?

Outdoor Kitchens are used as a space to entertain and cook in. These much-needed outdoor kitchens allow you to dine with guests, have a hot meal after work, or even host an outdoor brunch on the back patio.

An outdoor kitchen is a luxurious addition to a yard’s patio or lounge area. There are many various outdoor cooking setups, anything from an old Webber briquet grill to a fully modernized multi-cooking surface layout. If you’re planning to add cooking space to your outdoor living area, you may be wondering: what is considered an outdoor kitchen?

The term “outdoor kitchen” generally encompasses any outdoor cooking setup that provides space for meal preparation. An outdoor kitchen can be anything from a standard grill to a complete stove, oven, and sink set.

Outdoor kitchens are a popular option for cookouts, holiday meals, and social gatherings. While many yards and patios have some form of dining or cooking accommodation built into them, not all of them can be considered outdoor kitchens. Keep reading to learn what makes up an outdoor kitchen, as well as some additional information about how to make the cooking and dining experience in your yard as luxurious as you’ve always dreamed.

What Components Can Be Included in an Outdoor Kitchen?

It may help to plan your outdoor kitchen by taking a look at your indoor kitchen and figuring out how much you need to cook a full meal outside. There is a great deal of design and forethought that goes into a proper outdoor kitchen, according to This Old House. Each component of the kitchen must be accounted for before the construction begins.

An outdoor kitchen can be as simple or complex as you want. Depending on your budget and the available space in your patio or yard, an outdoor kitchen could be a simple portable grill and stovetop setup or a full-service kitchen with running water and heat lamps.

When planning out your ideal outdoor cooking environment, remember that some elements may require utility installation, such as gas or water lines. This must be taken into account not only in terms of effort and labor but when factoring in the overall price of your outdoor kitchen project.

As outdoor kitchens gain popularity, Architectural Digest has found that there are a number of key components that many homeowners find commonly desirable. The following trendy outdoor cooking, dining, and entertainment elements are what typically make up outdoor kitchens today.

  • Grill – The grill is often the “main event” of the outdoor kitchen. This can be anything from a charcoal grill to a propane-powered multi-burner stovetop. The heating element of an outdoor cooking station is generally the basic starting point and naturally tends to get the most attention.
An outdoor grill.
The grill is often the “main event” of the outdoor kitchen.
  • Refrigerator and Freezer – Many outdoor kitchens will include a small refrigerator and freezer to allow for ingredients to be kept fresh near the cooking station. This also allows the chef and others to enjoy cold beverages while they’re preparing meals or just relaxing on the patio.
  • Sink and faucet – A clean, running faucet that supplies potable water is an excellent addition to outdoor kitchens. This will save users from having to trek back and forth from the indoor kitchen sink for food prep and clean-up.
  • Brick or Stone Pizza Oven – Pizza ovens are a popular option for many, as they allow individuals to bake their own personalized, artisan-quality pizza. This is not only a delicious meal option but a fun social activity as well.
A brick oven.
This is not only a delicious meal option but a fun social activity as well.
  • Cabinets – Every kitchen needs a place to keep the ingredients. Frozen and perishable items can be stored in the refrigerator or cooler, but dry goods demand the presence of cabinets in your outdoor kitchen. This can be used to house all the secret herbs and spices for your favorite barbeque recipes or to provide the shelves behind an outdoor bar.
  • Lighting Fixtures – While not strictly a part of the cooking or dining element of the outdoor kitchen, sufficient lighting is important for the safety of any cooking environment. If the kitchen is truly outdoors, and not protected by sunshades or windscreens, then you may have to install either countertop or ground-level lighting.
Fire pit outdoors.
Sufficient lighting is important for the safety of any cooking environment.
  • Television – Many homeowners include an entertainment element in their outdoor kitchen by adding a television. These can be mounted on the counter or against the wall of the house, depending on the position of the outdoor kitchen in relation to the main residence. Adding a television means you’ll have to include additional wiring and cable connections.
  • Heaters – If you’re hosting an outdoor event in the evening or in the cooler months, heaters can be a pleasant addition to the outdoor kitchen. Patio and restaurant-style gas heaters are popular because they are affordable and portable. However, some homeowners prefer to have more customized heaters installed in the infrastructure of the kitchen.
A fire glass.
Heaters can be a pleasant addition to the outdoor kitchen.
  • Utility Infrastructure – Whenever you’re installing appliances outdoors, it’s critical to account for the infrastructure in the planning process. Refrigerators, grills, facets, and heaters all require power from an outside source. Unless each is fueled by an individual tank or battery, utility infrastructure will be required for every component of an outdoor kitchen.

Common Design Layouts for Outdoor Kitchens

There are a few popular designs that architects are using as basic templates for outdoor kitchens, according to Gaze Burvill. The layout of the outdoor kitchen will depend on the budget and natural properties of the yard. Many homeowners choose to customize their own designs, however, giving their outdoor kitchen a unique and personal flare.

If you’re not customizing your own outdoor kitchen, it may be helpful to choose from a list of basic starting templates. Here are a few of the most common layouts for outdoor kitchens:

  • Parallel Run – This design consists of two countertops lined up parallel to each other, with the cooking, cooling, and water elements dispersed along the countertops to preference. This layout is ideal for maximizing space in a narrow or limited yard.
  • Horseshoe Countertops – A horseshoe or “U” shaped counter surface provides a lot of room to work, although it takes up a lot of yard space in return. The benefit of this layout is the ample workspace allows for multiple tasks to be done at once, lowering the risk of “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
  • Single Straight Line – A single countertop built in a straight line provides limited space for food prep but can be added onto the outside of the house or the perimeter of a patio relatively unobtrusively. Straight-line countertops tend to be easier to clean and maintain as well, given that outdoor counter corners are notorious for collecting dust, food debris, and plant waste.
An outdoor countertop.
Straight-line countertops tend to be easier to clean and maintain as well.
  • Portable Kitchen Setup – The beauty of a portable setup is that it can be tucked away in a shed and brought out for occasions, which allows additional yard space to be used otherwise when you don’t need the kitchen. Portable kitchens are usually on wheels, including a grill, stovetop, mini-counter, and sometimes even a mini-fridge.

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