Outdoor Kitchens: Ideas to get you Cooking Outside!

Whether upscale or basic, outdoor kitchens will add enjoyment to cooking and grilling outdoors when summertime rolls in. For many, summer is all year, and outdoor entertaining is a part of life. For others, shorter seasons spent outdoors, means, maximizing outdoor pleasures when temperatures rise. Adding an outdoor kitchen to the backyard, patio, or poolside is growing in popularity. These kitchens are an investment in fun, and in many cases, will add value to your home.

Imagine gathering intimate friends over, for a full meal cooked and served in your backyard kitchen. And you don't have to scrimp. Why? Because included in your cooking area is, an island with built-in grill and additional side burners; a food preparation area, containing countertop and cutting board surface, along with a stainless steel outdoor refrigerator, ice maker and trash disposal. And, if your out-of-door kitchen is beneath a covered structure, such as a gazebo or patio, an exterior ceiling fan will keep guests cool if it's hot and humid.

Explore your options based on budget:

To begin with, if you desire installing or setting up an outdoor kitchen, you should go for it! Here are some ways from fancy to economical.

Three Types of Backyard Cooking Units: (most expensive to least expensive options)

  • 1) Permanent Masonry Islands
  • 2) Prefabricated Island
  • 3) Freestanding Grill

1) Permanent Islands
A permanent backyard kitchen island can add real value to your home. These outdoor cooking structures are typically built on-site, using materials such as brick, masonry and stucco. The cost to building a unit will depend on size and materials, and also, the components chosen and what is desired. Prices add up with each appliance and accessory: drawers, doors, refrigeration, warming drawer, ice maker, side burners, cutting board and more. According to Nic Aucoin of Outdoorkitchensdepot.com, some homeowners with large budgets will spend from $40,000 and up to $100,000 or more, for an outdoor area kitchen. (Note: A builders' permit may be necessary before building a permanent kitchen outdoors. Check with your local Building Department.)

2) Prefabricated Islands
Prefab outdoor islands have become very popular with homeowners. For $1000 and up to $30,000 you can start your search. However, keep in mind that components like a charcoal, electric or gas built-in grill, are additional costs. Typically when choosing your island, you will need to customize it with outdoor cooking equipment and accessories. Island size and shape is another factor. Small kitchen units can be several feet long while a large unit may be 10 ft. Shape choices include; rectangular, half moon, L shaped and elevated with a backsplash. Some brands to consider: Fire Magic, Cal Flame, Lynx, PES, Bull Weber Summit, DCS and Texas Barbeque.

3) Freestanding Grills
A freestanding grill with cart or grill with pedestals has some of the perks of a backyard kitchen without the pricetag. For a few hundred dollars, few bells and whistles are available. However, like the countertop height of the outdoor cooking island, a freestanding grill with cart or pedestal is also at counter height, making it easier to cook. To get more features like side burners, a warming tray, and a side table, in stainless steel it will cost you over $1000 depending on brand.

If you want to create more of a food preparation area on a budget, consider building a counter, and placing a freestanding grill behind it.One suggestion is to buy the Weber Silver Series A, for $300 to $400. This gas grill is a good choice for this design because it has controls on the side so it can be up against the wall of the island/counter, (you stand in front of the counter, the grill is behind it). The island can be made inexpensively out of cinderblocks or brick, (good for the do-it-yourself person). If you like you can add drawers and a sink (cheap).

Where to get ideas for building a kitchen outside?


Great Book: "Sunset Barbecues & Outdoor Kitchens," by Steve Cory. This book Includes step-by-step instructions and detailed illustrations for 16 projects, ranging from simple to sublime. Visit our Bookstore.

There are a lot of ways you can get design ideas for building an exterior cooking area and kitchen. A visit to a local home improvement and design center is one of the best ways to get started. Other ways include:

  • Buying a set of outdoor kitchen plans
  • Buying book called: Building Barbeques and Outdoor Kitchens published by Sunset
  • Browsing online
  • Looking through magazines and newspapers
  • Referrals from others

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