The kitchen is the heart of the home — traditionally, it’s the place where friends and guests meet to mingle with each other. Yet, when the weather’s nice, why limit yourself to be stuck indoors?
By building an outdoor kitchen, you can bring that same energy outside into the sun. While entertaining guests in your kitchen is nice, doing the same thing outside in a luxury outdoor kitchen is even nicer.
Why Now is the Time to Build Your Outdoor Dream Kitchen
People are using the outdoors of their homes more than ever — with some folks spending more money on their outdoor kitchen than their indoor one.
Benefits of an Outdoor Kitchen
Building an outdoor kitchen isn’t just about entertainment value (though that’s certainly a key attraction). It can also increase the value of your home by expanding your living space and providing a definite wow-factor for potential buyers.
Homeowners with outdoor kitchens also find they actually save money on utility bills by doing the cooking outside: they use their air conditioner less because the oven isn’t heating up the house. You might also find yourself saving money in your restaurant budget. You’ll be less inclined to dine-out when you have a luxurious setting in your own backyard with premier outdoor kitchen grills to use.
Designing an outdoor kitchen is an exciting process with lots of options and decisions to make. We know it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Here’s the ultimate guide to building your outdoor dream kitchen.
Step 1: Before You Design Your Outdoor Dream Kitchen
Before we delve into choosing cabinets and selecting which outdoor grill you would like, there are some important details to make sure are in order.
What Will Your Outdoor Kitchen be Used For?
Do you imagine yourself preparing entire meals in your outdoor kitchen, or will parts of the meal still be prepped indoors? How many guests do you see yourself entertaining at a time — are you planning large parties or small intimate gatherings?
Survey the Space
How large of an area do you have for your outdoor kitchen? Is it flat? Will you want a roof structure overhead? Depending on the climate you live in, this may be vital in order to use your outdoor kitchen year-round. It’s also important to know the orientation of the sunset, as this can cause uncomfortable heat and blinding light in certain months of the year.
What is the status of your electricity and plumbing? The configuration of your outdoor kitchen may depend on the location of outlets, gas lines, and plumbing for fresh water. You’ll also want to have enough outlets for proper lighting, a music system, or even a TV.
Do you have a pool? Will you want your outdoor kitchen near the pool or perhaps near the guesthouse? Will you want it adjacent to your home so you can use it in conjunction with your indoor kitchen, or will it be totally self-sufficient?
You will also want to discuss your budget. At the BBQ Depot, we have plenty of high-end options to meet the budgetary needs of your outdoor dream kitchen.
Step 2: Plan the Zones for your Outdoor Kitchen
Like any indoor kitchen, the perfect outdoor kitchen for entertaining is set up in specific zones. These zones include hot (cooking) zone, prep (cold, dry, wet) zone, plating and serving zone, and lastly, the entertaining zone.
Keep in mind, hot and cold zones should never be right next to each other for multiple reasons. The number one reason being safety. Imagine a child reaching into a fridge for a cold drink that is right next to a burning hot grill: it’s simply a disaster waiting to happen. It’s also important to recognize that both hot and cold appliances put off heat. Having the appliances side-by-side can make cooling off internally difficult, which can lead to serious issues and shorten the lifespan of the appliance.
Zone 1: The Hot (Cooking) Zone
The most important feature of any outdoor kitchen is the grill. You will want to choose the best outdoor kitchen grill possible and build around it. Other appliances found in the cooking zone include pizza ovens, cooktops, teppanyaki plates, wok burners, and more. For guidance in how much space each of these outdoor appliance needs, consider the following measurements:
Grills: Keep 24 inches of open counter on one side and 12 inches on the other side.
Cooktops: Maintain 12 inches of open counter on either side. However, if you place a grill and cooktop side-by-side, you may use the recommendations for a grill (24 inches on one side and 12 inches on the other side).
Pizza Ovens: Pizza preparation takes a lot of space, so open counters are especially helpful in this case. Keep 24 inches of open counter on one side and 12 inches on the other.
Zone 2: Prep Zone - Cold, Wet and Dry Areas
The prep zone itself can be separated into different areas.
Cold Area: The cold area is where most of the cold appliances are located. A compact outdoor refrigerator is convenient for storing cold beverages and condiments within easy reach for your guests. Ice makers are ideal for entertaining and a must-have for most clients building an outdoor kitchen.
Dry Area: Open counter space for food preparation, to be kept away from any raw meats. This also includes dry storage such as cabinets.
Wet Area: This includes your sink and worktop surfaces near the sink for raw food handling.
Zone 3: Plating and Serving Zone
The plating and serving zone can be a part of the dry area in your outdoor kitchen, or if you have the space available it can be its own area. Dishes, glasses, and paper towels may be kept in this area. Some homeowners have warming drawers in this zone.
Zone 4: Entertaining Zone
This will be the zone most used by your guests. You will want to keep your kegerator in this zone for easy access. Some hosts enjoy the use of an extra sink to use as a cocktail station. It’s key to keep in mind the layout of your counters. If possible, tiered countertops with barstool seating are ideal to provide both the space to lay out food and still have room for guests to sit and eat.
Step 3: Selecting Your Outdoor Kitchen Appliances
Of course, after spending so much time and effort building an outdoor kitchen, you want it to last for years. We recommend buying American-made appliances that are rated for outdoor use. You will want materials that will withstand the elements and last a long time.
What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor kitchens? The appliances. Appliances found outdoors are often too dangerous to be kept inside a home: pizza ovens and open-fire grills.
Here are the BBQ Depot’s recommendations for building your outdoor kitchen. Most of our recommendations below can be found in our appliance packages and bundles, and are based on years of grilling experience. We take into consideration value, reliability, and durability when recommending appliances for your outdoor kitchen.
Best Grills for Your Outdoor Kitchen
Sedona by Lynx is our top pick for your outdoor kitchen grill. Lynx is legendary for their top-of-the-line, premier quality grills and we promise you will not be disappointed. You can find three different sizes at 30”, 36’, and 42’. Special features of the Sedona by Lynx include:
- Time tested spark ignition with battery backup
- Control illumination with blue LEDs
- Halogen grill surface light
- Temperature gauge
- Lynx Hood Assist Kit
- Ceramic briquettes to facilitate even radiant heat distribution
- Welded construction means there are no gaps where grease and moisture collect
- Stainless steel burners with the option of a ProSear Burner
Twin Eagles is a fantastic brand of grills made in the USA. It is made of the highest quality material and will produce restaurant-quality food. Features of the Twin Eagles grill include:
- 3-14-gauge 304 stainless steel burners
- Ceramic briquettes to provide better heat distribution
- Hexagonal grates
- Zone dividers to regulate temperatures
- Hot surface ignition
- Easy-open hood assist system
- Interior lights with hood activated light switch
FireMagic Echelon is a premier model known to be a great grill for your outdoor kitchen. It is made in the USA and its quality materials truly set it apart from other outdoor kitchen grills. Its features include:
- Hot surface ignition
- Blue LED control panel lights
- Interior lights
- Flavor grids for heat distribution
- Sear Burner
- Diamond sear cooking grates
Best Pizza Ovens for Your Outdoor Kitchen
Lynx Napoli Oven has the ability to reach a temperature of 700 degrees Fahrenheit to give you an authentic Italian experience of stone oven baking.
Artisan (by Alfresco) Outdoor Pizza Oven is constructed of high quality 304 stainless steel and is more than meets the eye! It has flexible temperature control allowing you to roast and bake. It reaches temperatures of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Best Cooktops for Your Outdoor Kitchen
Twin Eagles Teppanyaki Griddle will help you bring the Japanese steak house into the comfort of your own backyard. It is manufactured in the USA and a favorite addition to any outdoor kitchen.
Lynx Built-in Side Burner is a heavy-duty burner that can be installed along with your Lynx gas grill. It can deliver intense high heat or a low simmer, according to your cooking needs. It is welded construction like its grill counterpart and eliminates gaps where grease and moisture typically build up.
Best Refrigerators for Your Outdoor Kitchen
Lynx 24” Professional Outdoor Refrigerator will protect your chilled food by sounding an alarm when the door is left open, or if temperature changes by more than 10 degrees in an hour.
Twin Eagles Single Tap Built-in Beer Keg Dispenser will be the envy of all of your guests. There are two shelves that can be used when a beer keg is not installed.
Lynx 15” Professional Outdoor Ice Machine features audible alerts with programmed cleaning reminders. No more last-minute runs to the store for a bag of ice. This ice maker will save you time and keep your guests’ beverages chilled.
Best Sinks for Your Outdoor Kitchen
Alfresco Built-in Versa Apron Sink is constructed with 304-grade stainless steel and includes a cutting board.
Alfresco Built-in Bartender Sink features an insulated ice compartment with sliding cover bottle wells for keeping beverages cold. This is a must-have feature for any entertainer who enjoys providing cocktails for their guests.
Head to our outdoor kitchen page for our full line of appliances and accessories to help you build your outdoor kitchen.
Step 4: Selecting Materials for Cabinets and Countertops
The most impressive material you can use for countertops when building your outdoor kitchen is granite. It’s easy to clean, heat resistant, and timeless. It never goes out of style.
Porous stones like marble, limestone and bluestone look beautiful after installation, but stain easier than granite.
Concrete is very on-trend today but is prone to cracking. Even when supported with steel and poured with extreme care, concrete countertops have the tendency to crack.
Tile countertops will give you the most options and is typically an affordable option.
Cabinets/Storage for Your Outdoor Kitchen
We highly recommend stainless steel cabinets for your outdoor kitchen, and we keep a variety of brands in stock. Our industrial strength storage cabinets will keep your utensils, pans, pots, and cooking tools safe from the elements and neatly tucked away from sight.
At the BBQ Depot we can help make the dream of building a luxurious outdoor kitchen a reality. We have designed and created thousands of outdoor kitchens across the country and have extensive experience in transforming backyards into an entertainer’s fantasy. We know the best brands and the best materials that will create an outdoor kitchen masterpiece that’s sure to impress any guest who stops by your home. Contact us today to get started on building the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.