Building Your Perfect Outdoor Kitchen
Outdoor kitchens are more popular than ever before, people are shifting to a more permanent solution for outdoor cooking. Transforming your lanai/patio into an elegant outdoor kitchen area takes precise planning and design experience. Implementing our knowledge and insight, we have put together a useful outdoor kitchen design guide to avoid the most frequent mistakes that can save you money and time down the road. These inside tips are very helpful and will help lead you through the project.
Area Analysis Of The Outdoor Kitchen Site
- Does it have convenient access to home utilities; water and gas?
- Is it close to the indoor kitchen?
- Is there overhead covering smoke could build-up under?
- Is it protected from the outdoor elements?
- Is your area planned a level surface?
Be sure to verify whether or not a permit is required before beginning your outdoor kitchen project. Also, be aware of local codes, including access, penetrable surface requirements, water regulations, and height limitations.
The location of where your gas, water, and electric supply – may dictate the best areas for your kitchen and the total cost for your project.
- Make sure you have accessible electric outlets. We recommend applying independent circuits for the outdoor kitchen with GFI breakers in the electrical panel instead of at each outlet.
- Deciding if you want hot and cold water, or just cold. You can cut down on the cost of utilities by running one individual, cold water line to the outdoor kitchen. A cost-effective solution if you still want hot water is by adding filtration and an on-demand water heater under the sink.
- If you need a gas line run make sure that use a local licensed gas professional.
Areas of the Outdoor Kitchen
- Grills, side burners, pizza ovens, surrounding prep space Dry Areas
- Counter space to prepare food, with the addition of cabinetry and storage space Wet Areas
- The sink, worktop surface and any storage space that’s needed for the sink Cold Zones
- Refrigeration, freezers, and other cold storage
Make sure there is adequate room for all four areas, as well as sufficient worktop space while cooking, prepping, or serving. Be mindful to each operable zone and consider how they will function together for preparation, cooking, serving, and clean up activity. These are the essentials of designing an outdoor kitchen that will be ideal for outdoor cooking and entertaining!
Supporting Countertop Space Areas
Each area in the outdoor kitchen should have counter space planned. It is an essential part of designing and planning your outdoor kitchen! The Outdoor Appliance Store has prepared supporting countertop space area suggestions for different areas of the kitchen.
- Grill: 12” on one side and 12” on the other side for a total of 24” of countertop space next to the grill
- Sink: 12” on each side
- Refrigerators: 8” inches next to or above each appliance
- Sideburner: 12” on each side
- Pizza oven: 12” on each side
What is your favorite type of cooking and how many people will you be cooking for? The answer to this question will help you decide which type of grill and the size you’ll most likely want to go with. Here are some examples of the many options available to you:
- Grills: Gas Grills offer luxury and convenience. Charcoal grills offer tons of great flavor and more traditional cooking experience. Hybrid Fire Grills are the most versatile, combining gas, wood, and charcoal cooking, on one grill!
- Pizza Ovens: Wood-fire pizza ovens are more traditional, while gas-fired ovens are the modern day choice and very convenient. These can be built in or framed with stone, stucco, etc. More convenient, cost-effective options are the counter-top ovens or pizza ovens on a freestanding, mobile cart.
- Refrigeration: Select from standard refrigerators and refrigerated drawers, freezers & freezer drawers, wine coolers, beverage centers, and ice makers. Useful tip: You can figure out a lot about the quality of an outdoor refrigerator by looking at the manufacturer’s recommendations for heat in the summer, and winter storage. If it is recommended that it should be unplugged when temperatures surpass 90°F, it probably isn’t the best option for your kitchen. Some fridges are made to endure very hot summer weather and still function at optimal performance. Likewise, if the fridge is constructed to be left outdoors during the winter and turned off for the extremely cold months, it is most likely better constructed/designed than a fridge that needs to be stored indoors for the winter.
- Smokers: For the barbecue lover who takes satisfaction in the slow cooking that has been long established in American barbecue – a charcoal grill smoker is essential! Smokers come in different shapes and sizes, implement different technologies, which include: counterbalance “stick burners”, upright “water smokers”, kamado-style standing smokers, gravity fed (the moving of a liquid without the use of a pump) charcoal smokers, and electric pellet smokers are just a few of many smoker options available.
- Outdoor Stoves: Outdoor stoves are another option compared to a “side burners” which are either attached the grill itself or built-in to a structure next to the grill or other appliances. Single, double, and quadruple cook-tops are now available on the market to compete with the top indoor cooktops. “Wok Burners” are very powerful and another great option for the kitchen. These can accommodate anything from small saucepans for simmering delicate sauces and up to a 100-quart stock pot for boiling large batches of chili or seafood.
- Specialty Appliances: Specialty appliances can be utilized in the outdoor kitchen as well. Ovens/Stoves, bar drop-ins, teppanyaki style cooking cook-tops, and many more options are now available to be used in outdoor kitchens.
It is a good idea to take into consideration more than just the width of each seat. Additional knee room will change depending on the height of the seat, and the correct amount of clearance at the rear of each seat should also be accounted for.
- Traditional seating width is 12” wide per person.
- Easily accessible seating width is 24” wide per person.
- Bar height seating with the knee wall set at 42″ high, needs a 12-18″ counter overhang for comfortable knee space.
- Counter height seating with the counter set at 36″ high, should have a 12-15″ overhang.
- Table height seating with the counter or table 30″ high, should have at least a 16-18″ overhang for knee space.
- Accessible seating with the counter or table 30″ high, requires an 18-20″ minimum overhang.
Clearance need for people coming and going:
- Allow for at least 24” between the counter edge and the nearest barrier to make plenty of room for seating.
- Allow for 32-36” for people to walk behind seats
- For plenty of open space, allow 42-48”
Outdoor Kitchen Safety Precautions
Precautions are an important part of designing your outdoor kitchen. We recommend you take the following safety measures:
- Make sure whatever material your patio is made out of has good traction. Avoiding slip and falls is just as important in an outdoor kitchen as it is around a pool.
- Keep at least 9-12” between any hot appliances such as grills, ovens or cooktops. This is recommended to keep the heat away from any nearby combustible materials and especially people.
- Make sure when installing your grill there isn’t anything combustible above it. Every grill manufacturer has guidelines for how far away you should be from anything combustible and it’s very important to follow these!
- The gas shutoff valve should be in a location that’s easily accessible (we recommend being at least a few feet away from any appliance using gas).
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- It’s best to have the countertop edges rounded to avoid bumping into a corner (especially if kids are around)
- Make sure the entire kitchen is well lit if you plan on doing any nighttime grilling.