Creating or enhancing an outdoor living space includes careful planning, budgeting, selection and placement of amenities to bring an entertainment oasis to fruition. Growing in demand, is the addition of an outdoor kitchen that is proving to add value to the home and increase the homeowner’s investment in their property.
We took a close look at what it takes to elevate a simple BBQ island to a fully functioning outdoor kitchen – one that mirrors the indoor version, eliminates constant trips back into the house and keeps the party where it’s at – deck, patio, backyard or rooftop!
Here are 20 outdoor kitchen must-haves that will have you serving up plenty of fun and lasting memories:
- Cabinetry – The foundation of the outdoor kitchen, cabinetry is available in wood, polymers, high density polyethylene (HDPE) and stainless steel. The latter is often overlooked as a sustainable, and recyclable material that is compatible with many appliances and resistant to bacteria and fungus. The cabinets also provide excellent storage space for the outdoor cooking accessories.
Hailed for its durability, stainless steel cabinets are available in a variety of finishes including powder coating with a specific color or wood grain finish. Along with many other benefits, adding powder coating to the outdoor kitchen finish protects the stainless steel from chips, spills, stains and unsightly finger prints and provides a strong defense against corrosion and environmental conditions.
- Trash Pull-Out Cabinet – Keep trash out of sight yet within reach for easy clean up in the outdoor space. But, be sure to empty it at the end of the night!
- BBQ & Outdoor Grill Hood – If your outdoor kitchen isn’t in open air, consider ventilating it with a grill hood. It’s perfect if you opt to have your outdoor living space as part of a lanais or transitional California/Florida room.
- Float a shelf, or two – If your outdoor kitchen is placed against a back wall, floating shelves will provide additional storage or serve as a decorative element.
- Smokers – Want that authentic barbeque flavor? Consider adding a smoker to complement your grill and use indirect heat to lock in that smoky flavor.
- Sink – Adding a sink will encourage cleaning as you go and makes for easy prepping while eliminating trips indoors.
- Grills – A variety of types of grills to complement cooking preferences await you with one that enables you to cook as much or as little food as you wish in a short amount of time. You can choose from infrared, propane or an electric built-in outdoor grill.
- Pizza Oven – Growing in popularity, a pizza oven provides an additional cooking alternative – homemade pizza never tasted so good!
- Side Burner – It easily accommodates a lobster pot and anything else you use a stove top for including sides like baked beans or sauerkraut.
- Griddle – Serve up breakfast al fresco! Creative recipes include using a griddle vs. a grill, elevating your culinary skills
- Counters – Think about the countertop material for your prep station space and consider creating an outdoor kitchen island layout, providing counter space for the non-cooking appliances such as the sink. Countertops are also important for food prep around the cooking area.
- Seating – Although the tradition is to add guest seating nearby, keeping the cook “within the social circle” while working, today’s outdoor living areas and entertainment spaces feature low-seating areas away from the grill in configurations mirroring indoor living rooms.
- Storage – Add storage around the back side of an island layout with cabinets. Related – Outdoor Kitchen Storage Ideas
- Ice Maker/Ice Storage – Choose an ice maker or ice storage unit to conveniently chill beverages.
- Outdoor Refrigerator – Eliminate constant indoor runs and portable coolers while keeping perishable ingredients safely chilled until cooking time.
- Wine Cooler – A perfect addition to the end of a cabinet run for accommodating guests and allows for self-serving.
- Kegerator – Keep beer cold, readily available and fresh for an extended period of time.
- Glassware Storage – Serve up a tasty beverage with the perfect point-of-use storage area for glasses and stemware.
- Get Shady – Add a roof top or pergola to enhance al fresco dining by providing a bit of shade and protect your outdoor kitchen investment from the elements.
- Fire It Up – Heat stacks, small heaters, chimineas or fire pits will heat things up in your outdoor living space and keep the party going well after the sun goes down.
This list may feel like you have to keep up with the Jones’ but fear not, think of it as a guide to investing in the good life. Good times. Good food. Great memories.
Looking for outdoor kitchen design layout insight? Check out or blog on Spanish outdoor kitchen designs as well as our blog on country and urban outdoor kitchen ideas. We help bring the indoor kitchen to the outdoor space. Contact one of our in-house designers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-626-5625 to bring the indoor dining area to the outdoors.