What are Outdoor Kitchens?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Grills may be part of an outdoor kitchen.
Grills may be part of an outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor kitchens are areas in a backyard or common area that are outfitted with the equipment necessary to cook meals entirely outdoors. Such an area may include a grill, a wood-fired oven, a sink, a bar, and other features common in cooking and dining areas. Outdoor kitchens can be built in backyards as long as proper precautions are taken to ensure ovens, stoves, or grills are a safe distance away from permanent structures. The size and shape of outdoor kitchens depends entirely on the builder's preference; some kitchens can be quite large and elaborate, featuring seating for guests, and others can be quite small and feature only a grill and a few other kitchen necessities.

People who grill on a regular basis may want to consider a built-in backyard barbecue.
People who grill on a regular basis may want to consider a built-in backyard barbecue.

All kitchen utilities installed or otherwise used in outdoor kitchens are commonly made from stainless steel, since these items — whether permanent fixtures or removable items — are likely to be exposed to moisture at some point. Stainless steel is resistant to rusting and corrosion, making it a good choice for outdoor cookwear. Most of the structures of outdoor kitchens, such as tables, countertops, and drawer units, are made from brick or stone for both aesthetic appeal and strength. Wood fired ovens are very often made from brick or stone as well, since these materials tend to conduct heat and make the ovens more efficient.

Not all outdoor kitchens are permanent structures. Barbecue islands are portable structures, often placed on casters for easy moving, that can be kept on a patio or deck. These islands often feature drawers and even refrigerator units for foods, as well as counter space, a slot for a grill, a stove unit, and sometimes even a sink. These units come with a wide range of features depending on the buyer's needs, and they can be made from wood, stainless steel, stone, synthetic materials, or a combination of two or more.

More elaborate outdoor kitchens may be built into an open-air structure that protects the kitchen area from the elements. Such areas are often combined with a dining area or a bar area to complete the look and functionality of the kitchen. If the kitchen is built adjacent to a home, electricity and plumbing can be run to the kitchen fairly easily, allowing appliances to be used in the space as well. Smaller kitchens may only feature a grill or outdoor oven with counter space and seating, while others may feature full kitchen capabilities for serving large groups of people.

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Discussion Comments


We live in an area where having an outdoor kitchen is possible, and have been slowly adding appliances to our outdoor area over the years.

We find that the more we add, the more time we spend outside. It really does make it convenient when you are entertaining and have friends and family over. For some reason it seems so much easier to clean up and keeps the inside of your house from getting so messy.

I spend time looking at several outdoor kitchen plans so I have an idea of what I want to do. We don't have the money to do it all at once, so just add more as we go along.


I am always interested in the outdoor kitchens I see advertised in magazines. I love looking at all the different outdoor kitchen designs and think about how nice it would be to have one.

We enjoy doing a lot of outside entertaining in the summer, and having an outdoor kitchen like that with everything right there at my fingertips would be so nice. My outdoor kitchen pretty much consists of a grill right now. We live in an area of the country that would not be a very good climate for something like that year round, but is still fun to imagine what it would be like.

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    • Grills may be part of an outdoor kitchen.
      By: Elenathewise
      Grills may be part of an outdoor kitchen.
    • People who grill on a regular basis may want to consider a built-in backyard barbecue.
      By: Monkey Business
      People who grill on a regular basis may want to consider a built-in backyard barbecue.