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Elements of an Outdoor Kitchen

Man bringing pan full of vegetables towards outdoor grill



If you love to cook and entertain "al fresco," you have likely dreamed of building an outdoor kitchen one day. Outdoor kitchens are the perfect way to spend more time outdoors, expand your living space, extend patio season, and increase the value of your property.


The best part about outdoor kitchens is that you can design and build them however you like! There is an abundance of options for outdoor kitchens in terms of size, layout, complexity, and finishes. This fact can be very exciting or overwhelming for homeowners thinking about adding an outdoor kitchen to their deck or patio space.


If you are still determining if an outdoor kitchen is the right choice for you and your family, start with our blog post on the Considerations for Planning and Designing an Outdoor Kitchen. Then come back to this post to learn more about the elements of an outdoor kitchen.


Below, we highlight just some of the most common features of outdoor kitchens to help spark some inspiration and aid you in the planning process.



Components of Outdoor Kitchens

In our post about considerations for planning and designing an outdoor kitchen, we briefly covered the four functional zones that are part of every highly functional kitchen, which include:

  • Hot zones for cooking.
  • Dry zones for storage and meal prep.
  • Wet zones for bartending and washing.
  • Cold zones for refrigeration.

Keeping these four functional zones in mind throughout your planning and designing processes are critical, as you will want your kitchen to flow and function optimally based on your family’s unique needs.


However, you do not need to include them all.


Which zones you choose to incorporate or exclude is up to you! How large you make each zone is also a matter of personal preference. The larger and more complex you go, the more budget you will need and the less space you will have for other things on your deck or in your yard – so be honest about what you want and what you will use most often.


Once you have a sense of what is most important to you, it is time for the fun part – the planning and designing stages! In these stages you will explore your options and make decisions on cooking appliances, counters and storage, sinks and wet bars, refrigeration, finishes, and entertainment-related touches. We explore some of these elements below.



Cooking Appliances – Hot Zone

Everyone loves a good old-fashioned barbeque with family and friends, but some homeowners like to take cooking outdoors to the next level by going beyond a standard BBQ/grill.



Pizza oven in outdoor kitchen


Of course, you really can’t go wrong with a trusty and versatile grill, but there are also many other options you may not have considered before, including:

  • Pizza ovens
  • Rotisserie kits
  • Side burners
  • Flat top griddles
  • Learn more about each below!

Pizza ovens are a fun addition to every outdoor kitchen design.


Make pizza (and fun family memories) with your kids, plan a romantic pizza date night with your spouse, or invite friends over for a “make your own pizza” night. Pizza ovens for outdoor kitchens range in size, style, colour, and cost. They are available as stand-alone or countertop models and can be wood- or gas-fired. Some models come with added features like warming drawers. You are sure to find a style that works for you!


Rotisserie kits are another add-on that may not have come to mind immediately, but you will wonder how you ever lived without one once you incorporate it into your outdoor kitchen!


Rotisserie kits are perfect if you love your meat cooked evenly and beautifully basted in its own juices - without you having to babysit it! Rotisserie-style cooking also reduces fat and grease, makes it easy to cook large quantities of meat at once, and gives you even browning and a crispy crust. Simply purchase a rotisserie kit and add it to your BBQ – it’s that easy!


Side burners are another convenient and practical addition that you’ll be happy you didn’t pass up.


Side burners are propane or natural gas burners that allow you to boil large pots of water or stir fry ingredients while you grill your protein. They are perfect for corn boils, seafood cookouts, pasta nights, or simply when you want to make multiple dishes with ease. If you are used to cooking for a crowd, opt for double or oversized side burners to better accommodate your needs.     


If you love preparing delicious breakfasts for your loved ones or like to cook your meals on a large, flat surface with plenty of room, then a flat-top griddle is a must-have in your outdoor kitchen!


Flat-top griddles offer you a solid cooking surface with uniform heating that is ideal for pancakes, eggs, bacon, stir-fried dishes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and so much more!


The options are unlimited for flat-top griddles, and you’ll have so much fun cooking up a storm or inviting friends over for an evening of Korean BBQ or hibachi. They are easy to clean, and if you like to steam-cook, bake, or roast your dishes, you can add a dome cover to trap heat and moisture. 


Last but certainly not least are outdoor grills which are typically the most popular cooking appliance – and the star of the show - in all outdoor kitchens.


Outdoor grills can be stand-alone, but they are usually built into a countertop in an outdoor kitchen, as built-ins create a more elevated aesthetic.


Opt for natural gas, propane, charcoal, or pellet grills depending on the utilities available at your home and your preferences for fuel type. Some models allow multiple fuel types and can accommodate different add-ons to customize your grilling experience, such as a smoker, side burner, or rotisserie kit.


Important: Many homeowners opt to build their outdoor kitchen in a sheltered space, usually under a roof or awning.


If you choose to build a covered kitchen too, it is highly recommended that you integrate a vented hood into your design. Vented hoods help vent smoke and steam, reduce grease build-up, and prevent discolouration of your home's exterior and your appliances. They are available in a wide range of sizes, materials, and styles, so you are sure to find an option that suits your space. 



Counters and Storage – Dry Zone

An outdoor kitchen would not be complete without counter space for meal preparation, serving stations, added dining space, and decorative accents.


Of course, you will also want to plan organization solutions into your outdoor kitchen design to maximize functionality and reduce clutter. Therefore, access drawers, outdoor cabinetry, and kitchen islands are must-haves! You will also have some decisions to make about your outdoor kitchen countertops!


Access drawers are a perfect way to tuck away cooking tools, herbs and spices, place settings, linens, cleaning supplies, and whatever else you need easy access to in your outdoor kitchen.


Larger access drawers can also accommodate propane tanks and trash cans to give your space an elegant and tidy look.


The options for size and style are unlimited, but access drawers are typically simplistic and constructed of highly durable and weather-resistant materials. The best material for outdoor drawers is stainless steel because it is hardy and pest resistant.


Outdoor cabinetry is another must-have for every stunning outdoor kitchen.


Just like indoors, cabinets for outdoor kitchens give you space to store glasses, mugs, and dining sets. They are also perfect for storing beverage items like cocktail mixes, alcohol, and bar tools. While outdoor cabinets are designed to seal more tightly than indoor cabinetry, you will still need to be careful about storing dry goods. Keep them in an airtight container; otherwise, rodents or the neighbourhood raccoon may try to stop by for dinner.


Outdoor cabinets must be weather and pest resistant, so opt for stainless steel, powder-coated aluminum, or PVC/resin that looks like wood cabinetry. Ask your outdoor kitchen designer to show you the versatility of cabinet designs with the different materials. You’ll be impressed by all the options that exist for styles and finishes! 


Kitchen islands are a great feature if you would like additional seating, dining, or meal prep space in your outdoor kitchen.


Islands are freestanding and feature a countertop in addition to cabinet space or drawers. They usually match or complement the rest of the outdoor kitchen design and require weather-resistant and durable materials.  


Once you know how much counter and storage space you would like, you can pick your countertops!


Granite is a top choice because of the diversity of colours and the fact that the material is highly durable even when exposed to the elements. Soapstone and concrete (when installed correctly) are also great options in cold climates. However, avoid tile and quartz as they do not do well with humidity and freezing and thawing cycles.



Sinks and Wet Bars – Wet Zone

If you love to entertain and enjoy having access to the same amenities in your indoor kitchen space, then you likely want to work an outdoor sink and wet bar into your design!



Sink in outdoor kitchen accompanied by a bbq


Outdoor sinks maximize convenience and efficiency by offering space for sanitizing your hands, cleaning your produce, and washing your pots and pans as you go.


You can also add an outdoor pot filler to save yourself time and reduce the chances of trips and spills. An outdoor sink is also a must-have if you love the convenience of a wet bar in your cocktail area!


The options for outdoor sinks are quite numerous, as sinks are naturally designed to be waterproof and durable. However, you can't go wrong with a stainless steel sink that complements your cabinets, access drawers, and appliances. Opt for either over-mount or under-mount designs with single or double basins.



Refrigeration – Cold Zone

No party is complete without cold beer and ice for champagne or cocktails!


For this reason, even a small fridge, freezer, and ice maker can significantly elevate your outdoor kitchen.


Having refrigeration space outdoors is also nice for storing salads, charcuterie, crudités, dips, and other cold appetizers.


You can also save yourself some trips to your indoor kitchen during meal prep if you have space to store temperature-sensitive ingredients like meat.


Ask your outdoor kitchen builder about outdoor refrigeration options that will suit your design and layout. They can recommend compact solutions suitable for outdoor applications and will know tips and tricks for either concealing the appearance of appliances or making them stand out in an expertly designed way.



Make Your Dream a Reality with Decks by Premier!

Are you ready to build your dream outdoor kitchen? Then Decks by Premier is here to help get you started!


We have a highly skilled team of expert designers and construction professionals who will help walk you through every stage of the outdoor kitchen build process.


Decks by Premier is proud to be a local business serving Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, and the surrounding areas for over 90 years! We have the knowledge, skills, and experience to bring your vision for your outdoor kitchen to life – on time and on budget!    


Reach out to us today to get the conversation started and to request a no-obligation on-site consultation.




Steve Livock at 9:00 AM
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