Deciding to build an outdoor kitchen was the easy part… now, welcome to the fun part! Should you invest in greater storage? What about more refrigeration (which would go great with all that bar equipment you should pick)? Let’s think technique: expansive griddles and power burners for hotter, hibachi-style heat — or enough smoking firepower to summon rescue helicopters searching for lost hikers? What would fit better in that free spot over there: a ceramic kamado, or a wood-fired pizza oven?
If you’re at a loss, why not check out our free outdoor kitchen checklist! It’s the itinerary of attractions that await you — everything from side burners to patio heaters. Actually, you know what? Go ahead and print off that outdoor kitchen checklist and start marking everything that catches your eye. One of our greatest joys here at Outdoor Kitchen Connection is walking countless clients (just like you!) toward the outdoor hosting space of their wildest fantasies. After much deliberation, these following setups are where our experts recommend to start.
Download Our Outdoor Kitchen Checklist
Core Outdoor Kitchen
Hosting Level: Close Company
All great kitchens begin with the essentials! First things first: choose your star performer. Aiming to flip memorably tender steaks? Consider the classic built-in gas grill. Prefer smoking meats over crackling charcoal? Can’t go wrong with a kamado grill or BBQ smoker. Bring Italian crunch into your space with a pizza oven; you’ll bake flawless pies every time! Our outdoor kitchen checklist expands on these concepts, fitting any purpose. Note that your main attraction influences your safety needs. Still, ventilation is a great start — install an overhead vent hood and island vent panels, and remember that every built-in grill needs an insulated jacket. They protect the grill and island from one another!
More optional add-ons:
- Access Doors
- Side Burner
- Trash Bin
Advanced Outdoor Kitchen
Hosting Level: Friends & Family
Bringing your better backyard life up a notch is easier than you’d think. At this tier, we call the game “Grilling and Chilling!” Enjoy hotter heat (and more sizzling steel to work with), keeping trusty kitchen gear in reach (but of sight), and enough ice to make any penguin jealous (and engineering a cunning plan to steal that ice maker). This level of outdoor kitchen design involves greater capability with a good deal more convenience. Be sure to check out the BBQ kitchen checklist above for more ideas on what to add to your dream outdoor space!
Even more optional add-ons:
- Power Burner
- Outdoor Kitchen Storage
- Wine Cooler
- Beverage Cooler
- Sink & Faucet
- Ice Maker
- Ice Bins & Coolers
- Paper Towel Holder
Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen
Hosting Level: Barbecue Blowout
For those of you who really want the best in outdoor entertainment, you’ve found it. It’s time to pull out all the stops here — we’re talking more cooking, more storage, more refrigeration, and premium seating and ambience to wrap that space with outstanding luxury. When you include a patio heater (one of our favorite additions to any outdoor area), you suddenly squeeze year-round enjoyment out of your investment. Add an outdoor-rated TV to build the place to be for any televised event. Remember: our downloadable outdoor BBQ kitchen checklist features even more equipment to satisfy any host — in any environment!
Even more optional add-ons:
- Secondary Grill, Smoker, or Pizza Oven
- Enclosed Pantry
- Outdoor TV
- Outdoor Fans & Cooling
- Patio Heater
- Patio Furniture
- Fire Pit
Outdoor Kitchen Safety
After careful experimentation (and too many singed eyebrows), our mad science has taught us the following: wrapping a fire with claustrophobic walls and a low ceiling just makes the fire angrier. On an unrelated note, we’ve learned to pat down Chef Tony for lighters when he swings by on his day off. Learn from our due diligence! Respecting kitchen clearances is the first rule in the safety code — mind those gaps and beat the heat!
That’s right: we’ll bang this drum for as long as it takes. Ventilation doesn’t simply keep smoke and odor away from your guests (and you, as you stand over your smoking flames). It also vents away discoloring, streaking fumes, and grease off your kitchen surfaces. Meanwhile, it sucks out scorching heat — incidentally, less chance of a fire hazard. Check with your local property laws, as outdoor kitchen ventilation is often a zoning code necessity.
Many outdoor kitchen islands are built with combustible materials and feature a powerful grill. Those of you who remember a few science classes might already notice the problem here. Enter the humble insulated jacket — these stainless steel buffers restrain the roaring heat from the rest of your kitchen investment. They also protect your grill undercarriage from corrosion and weathering! Treated or not, any island even partly built with flammable materials requires an appropriate insulated jacket.
Popular Outdoor Kitchen Add-Ons
For further flavor, incorporating a culinary specialty or cultural swing does wonders for spicing up your investment. Consider incorporating specialty BBQ kitchen equipment — we find it a great way to seriously bring out your outdoor kitchen’s inherent individuality. If you need some inspiration, here are some popular expansions singled out by our experts. In case you needed a friendly reminder: our downloadable outdoor kitchen checklist carries all these components and more!
For Low & Slow Cooking
Specialty: Smokin’ Steakhouse
We’re hard-pressed to find a BBQ lover who doesn’t appreciate delicious low and slow smoked meats. For mouthwateringly tender meat that rivals half the steakhouses in town, add these components to your kitchen.
- Charcoal Grill or Kamado Grill
- BBQ Smoker
- BBQ Griddle
- Rotisserie Kit
Provide a Patio Pizzeria
Specialty: Mediterranean Maestro
Ah, the satisfying crunch of a toasted pizza crust. Boiling pots of linguini, ready for roasted eggplant and drizzled garlic sauce. Shaved chicken shawarmas, inegol kofte meatball sausages, and endless tapas dishes bring a sliver of Italy, Spain, Turkey, and more straight home!
- Pizza Oven
- BBQ Griddle
- Rotisserie Kit
- Wine Cooler
East-West Fusion BBQ
Specialty: High-Heat Suite
Sizzling surfaces are key to this hot and steamy grilling style. Whether your weeks always wind down with Stir Fryday — or you’re eagerly working on your shrimp-flip game — few cooking styles match the showmanship of Asian griddle cuisine. Wok are you waiting for?
- Teppanyaki Grill or Flat-Top Grill
- BBQ Griddles
- Power Burners
- Ice Bin with Condiment Tray
Be a Homegating Hero
Specialty: Game Day
If you’ve built a BBQ kitchen most homeowners would drool over and that’s just not enough, rewrite the backyard party playbook with that age-old tradition: the game! Bust out bar chairs and tapped beers under the best ambience: roaring fans and thrilling feats of teamwork!
- Outdoor TV
- Outdoor Speakers
- Outdoor Bar Furniture
- Kegerator & Beverage Cooler
Ventilation and Safety are Key
Any time you want to incorporate high temperatures into your property, your thoughts should go straight towards careful implementation and operation. While your local jurisdiction and building codes will be more specific than we can ever be, installing a vent hood and building island vents into your outdoor kitchen are a great first step. They won’t just make hosting (and being hosted) that much more pleasant — they’ll mitigate the potential of disaster that’s a factor every time fire happens somewhere. Don’t burn down your investment!
Check Out Our Outdoor Kitchen Checklist
We keep bringing it up because it stays relevant. We designed it with a wealth of input from our most experienced outdoor professionals who, for countless years, have tirelessly designed magnificent outdoor kitchens for every budget. They’re a fountain of knowledge for hosting everything from intimate dinners to showstopper celebrations! Not only is this downloadable BBQ kitchen checklist a great way to keep track of your backyard entertaining options, but it’s a fantastic way to compile what you need for our outdoor kitchen design team. Speaking of them…
Outdoor Kitchen Design Team is Ready to Help
Those experts aren’t just at our disposal — they’re at yours! Our fantastic team of outdoor kitchen designers have worked with hardworking contractors and satisfied clients for years to build BBQ spaces that satisfy any taste. Offering everything from countertop materials advice to their free 3D outdoor kitchen design service using professional rendering software, our fine folks are happy to help, navigating you through choppy waters toward your fantasy outdoor space!