How to Plan an Outdoor Kitchen

Originally Published on March 28, 2019. Last Updated on February 29, 2024.

Are you ready to upgrade your lone charcoal grill into a full outdoor kitchen? It’s an excellent idea, and we completely support your alfresco culinary pursuits. 

As you may already know, planning an outdoor kitchen takes more time and effort than most backyard builds. There are many things to consider, from running utility lines to choosing the best weatherproof furniture and appliances. But don’t lose heart. If you follow the steps we’ve laid out for you and do a bit of online research, you’ll have a kitchen plan in place and be cooking in no time.

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Step 1: Assess Your Outdoor Space
Step 2: Define a Budget
Step 3: Select Your Kitchen Design
Step 4: Pick Your Outdoor Kitchen Appliances
Step 5: Choose Kitchen Furniture and Accessories

Step 1: Assess Your Outdoor Space

Map Outdoor Space

Before heading to Pinterest for outdoor kitchen design ideas, use the following factors to inform your planning process.


Measuring your outdoor space gives you an idea of how large your kitchen can be and what appliances and furniture you can add. 

How to Measure Your Outdoor Space


Taking stock of what you already have will prevent extra work and overspending. Here are a few questions to ponder when perusing your space:

  • What’s the location? Perimeter kitchens are built right outside homes on the ground floor. Their close proximity to the house makes them appealing, but there’s a limit to the amount of customization you can do (unless you want to renovate your home’s exterior too). However, many homeowners create beautiful satellite kitchens on their rooftop decks or the back corners of their properties. Though they do require more effort to build, these detached spaces offer plenty of room for creativity.
  • Is the area covered? Do you have a ceiling over your space? It’s not required but does offer shade for your family, extra protection for your appliances, and space to install lights and ceiling fans. 
  • What’s the floor situation? Outdoor kitchens need durable and dry spaces that can hold the weight of heavy appliances, furniture, and regular foot traffic. Concrete or natural stone foundations are ideal for full-service setups, but pea gravel is a popular choice for small projects. 
  • Are utility lines installed? Electrical, gas, water, and drain lines are required to have a full-service kitchen. Electrical lines must be run below ground with specific direct-burial cables or through conduit; gas and water lines need to be laid underground below the frost line (if applicable to your region), and your kitchen drains must connect to your home’s main drain line. 

Permits and Permissions

You’ll need a permit to install plumbing and electrical work, so contact your local officials to find out the steps you need to take to obtain one. If you’re part of an HOA, review the rules to determine whether there are renovation limitations.

Step 2: Define a Budget

Determining a budget will help manage expectations while allowing you to create the kitchen of your dreams. The building costs of an outdoor kitchen vary depending on the following:

  • Scale: Larger setups require more materials, which increases costs.
  • Location: Perimeter kitchens connect to your home’s pre-existing walls and utility lines, which saves money on materials and installation. Satellite kitchens need walls and ceilings built and water, gas, and other lines run to them.
  • Prefab or custom-built: You can purchase a modular kitchen kit, which is less expensive than custom builds. However, you have little room to get creative with a pre-built product.
  • Materials: Higher-end materials like granite and natural stone will increase costs, while concrete and ceramic tiles present more affordable options. 
  • Appliances: You can fill your outdoor kitchen with fun cooking gadgets like a pellet grill, pizza oven, dishwasher, and fire pit table. The only limitations are your budget and the available space.
  • Installation: Costs will increase if you hire professionals to complete the job, but it saves you plenty of time and work. DIY builds are better for your budget, but you’ll be responsible for the labor.

  PRO TIP:  
Laying utility lines is not a project for beginners. We highly recommend hiring professionals unless you’re a highly experienced plumber or electrician.

Step 3: Select Your Kitchen Design

POLYWOOD Braxton 5-Piece Farmhouse Dining Set with Benches in Sand
Featured: Braxton 5-Piece Farmhouse Dining Set with Benches in Sand

Now that you’ve defined your plan’s space and budget parameters, it’s time to consider the design. Ask yourself these questions, and let the answers guide you to the type and layout that meets your needs:

  • How often do I cook outside?
  • What food do I cook regularly?
  • Do I want my outdoor kitchen to double as an entertaining area?

If you only plan to occasionally grill burgers and hot dogs for close family or friends, opt for a small, easy setup. A charcoal grill with built-in storage with an outdoor picnic table is perfect. On the other hand, if you often entertain large groups and are considered quite the culinarian, you should spring for a full kitchen with all the bells and whistles and a substantial dining set.

Browse Outdoor Kitchen Plans

After selecting your kitchen’s purpose, let its layout take shape.


Many homeowners with traditional square patios or porches opt for L-shaped cook spaces and accompanying islands. 


Square layouts run along three sides of a room and can have bar seating lining the outer ledges. You’ll need plenty of space for this setup, especially if you plan to include seating.

Two-Sided Island

Great for smaller backyards, linear designs with a grill and counter space on one side and a ledge and stools on the other accommodate diners and save room.

Step 4: Pick Your Outdoor Kitchen Appliances

Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Bar Set in Sand
Featured: Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Bar Set in Sand

The appliance options are endless if you run utility lines to your outdoor kitchen. 

  • Gas grill
  • Oven
  • Power burners
  • Sink with garbage disposal
  • Dishwasher
  • Warming drawers
  • Refrigerator
  • Ice maker
  • Keg dispenser

If your outdoor kitchen isn’t fitted for electricity, gas, and water, you can still create an exceptional cooking space by choosing appliances that use alternative energy sources. 

  • Propane-powered fire pit table
  • Pellet smoker 
  • Charcoal grill
  • Wood-fired pizza oven
  • Solar-powered coolers
  • Battery-powered freezers

Step 5: Choose Kitchen Furniture and Accessories

Now come the final touches: furniture and accessories. Here are some ideas to help you complete your dream kitchen.

Adirondack Conversation Set

POLYWOOD Modern Folding Adirondack and Round 37" Conversation Table in Slate Grey
Featured: Modern Folding Adirondack and Round 37″ Conversation Table in Slate Grey

Give your family a fashionable yet relaxing area to sip wine and enjoy quality time while they wait to dine. Wide seats with body-hugging contours surround an eye-catching conversation table that easily holds a tray of tasty apps and a few extra bottles of red.

Large and Charming Dining Set

POLYWOOD Lakeside 7-Piece Farmhouse Dining Set in Teak
Featured: Lakeside 7-Piece Farmhouse Dining Set in Teak

An eight-person dining set is the perfect place to gather your loved ones and celebrate significant milestones or enjoy the best meal of the week: Sunday dinner.

Cozy Bar Set

Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Bar Set in Sand
Featured: Martha Stewart by POLYWOOD Chinoiserie 5-Piece Round Farmhouse Bar Set in Sand

Smaller outdoor kitchens where you want diners and cooks to be side-by-side can benefit from a bar or bistro set. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or an evening drink, bar sets feature compact designs that occupy less square footage than other options while still providing plenty of table space for meals, drinks, and finger foods. 

Kitchen Garden Accessories

Keep fresh herbs and vegetables at the ready by growing them in planters or pots atop accent tables and benches. This not only saves valuable counter space but also backaches too, as the plants are positioned higher than in-ground plots. 

Deep Seating Fire Pit Set

POLYWOOD Vineyard 5-Piece Deep Seating Swivel Conversation Set with Fire Pit Table in Vintage Sahara/Glacier Spa
Featured: Vineyard 5-Piece Deep Seating Swivel Conversation Set with Fire Pit Table in Vintage Sahara/Glacier Spa

Cook dinner in the kitchen and dessert over the fire. After the meal ends, gather the s’mores and pudgy pie ingredients, get a warm fire going with the press of a button, and settle into cushioned deep seating. These fire pit sets are a toasty and tasty treat for your family.


How much does it cost to build a nice outdoor kitchen?

The average cost range homeowners pay to build an outdoor kitchen is between $12,000 and $14,000. The price jumps if you have a large or complicated installation or choose top-of-the-line appliances and materials.  

Do outdoor kitchens increase home value?

Adding an outdoor kitchen can increase your home’s value, whether you’re building a new addition or upgrading the one you have. An alfresco kitchen and dining area extends your home’s usable square footage, allowing you extra entertaining space and more reasons to gather outside.

What is the average size of an outdoor kitchen?

On average, an outdoor kitchen ranges between 100 and 400 square feet, equivalent to a 10-by-10-foot to 20-by-20-foot space

21 thoughts on “How to Plan an Outdoor Kitchen

  1. I’m looking to add something like this to my home. There is plenty of space for it, it just needs to be added on. I’ll probably have to get a professional to help me as I do need to figure out a layout first.

  2. I was thinking of renovating my kitchen but having a second kitchen outdoor sounds like a better plan. Thanks for sharing how to get it done. I will probably start working on it next month and gonna follow your article for it!

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