The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen Guide (with pictures for inspiration)

It's a gorgeous summer evening, and your outdoor living space is ready for guests:

The guests arrive and settle into your beautiful deck, ready for your delicious food and an enjoyable evening. 

And then, it happens. 

You start running frantically back and forth between the deck and your kitchen, carrying drinks, then appetizers-- oh no! -- extra napkins, grill tools, meat for the grill, sauces, more drinks, then dessert, and the list goes on. 

As the evening comes to a close, you wonder, “What happened to my relaxing evening with friends?” 

If you enjoy hosting or spending time with family on your deck, you know exactly what I’m talking about! 

But hosting doesn’t have to be this way. 

At Keystone Custom Decks, we want you to relax and have a good time with your guests - and we think we might have the secret ingredient: outdoor kitchens!

Ready to learn about how an outdoor kitchen can revolutionize your hosting game? 

Let's get started!

Table of Contents

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    1. What Does An Outdoor Kitchen Include?
  • 2-icons-Blog-images---Blog-images---Keystone---jun-2021
    2. Ten Benefits Of An Outdoor Kitchen
  • 3-icons-Blog-images---Blog-images---Keystone---jun-2021
    3. Getting Started On Your Dream Outdoor Kitchen
  • 4-icons-Blog-images---Blog-images---Keystone---jun-2021
    4. FAQs About Outdoor Kitchens

What Does An Outdoor Kitchen Include?

Close your eyes and imagine your kitchen. You probably see your refrigerator, stove, kitchen sink, cabinets, lighting, and decor that make the kitchen uniquely yours. 

Now imagine all of this transported outside to a beautiful deck. 

That's what an outdoor kitchen is! 

It can include almost anything your regular kitchen does, from cooking stations to kitchen islands and bar counters. 

It's a fully equipped kitchen outdoors! 

At Keystone Custom Decks, we offered fully-equipped outdoor kitchens as well as small space and core outdoor kitchens!

What would your ideal outdoor kitchen include? Here are some ideas to get you started!

Common Features Included In Outdoor Kitchens

1 - Grill and grill stations.

 Your grill is the center of the action (and the food)! From baby-back ribs to shrimp to summer squash, get your party started with a quality grill and grill station!

Let us give a little pro tip here:

Nothing is more important than the food when you are enjoying an evening with friends, right? 

That’s why we encourage spending plenty of time choosing the right high-quality grill for your deck. Sure, the add-ons are neat too, but you have to nail the grill!

Looking for a place to get started? Check out this article on the 10 Best Built-In Gas Grills

grilling stations are the most important part of outdoor kitchens

2 - Charcoal grills 

Many chefs prefer charcoal over gas grills because the smoke from charcoal adds a delicious smoky flavor to your food!

For example: grilling spice-rubbed turkey over charcoal adds a fabulous flavor!

The good news is that you don’t have to settle for just a gas grill or just a charcoal grill. You can literally have both so you can grill on whatever you’re in the mood for! 

3 - BBQ smokers 

To many people, cooking on the grill feels vital to any kind of hangout on the deck. But those that want to take it to the next level know that BBQ smokers can be just as effective.

While your standard grill relies on high heat to cook foods, smokers cook food at lower temperatures for long periods of time and enhance the flavor of your food with smoke. 

Just like grills, there are very easy-to-use smoker options, as well as ones that demand a bit more skill. 

One of the simplest smokers to handle — and one we recommend for beginners — uses wood pellets. 

From hickory to maple to applewood, you can have fun infusing your smoked fish, veggies, cheeses, and meats with a range of different unique flavors. (Applewood smoked bacon, anyone?)

And if you want a griddle that doesn’t use pellets, there are plenty of other options! 

Smokers can be electric, charcoal, gas, or pellet fueled. It’s just a matter of you finding the right kind of smoker for your outdoor space

a bbq smoker allows you to infuse your food with unique tastes

4 - Side Burners and griddle 

As Americans, we love our meat. But we also know that a meal that only includes meat lacks any kind of fun variety. Plus, you probably won’t feel the best after filling up exclusively on steak.

Thankfully, you don’t have to limit yourself to meat on the grill. 

An outdoor kitchen equipped with side burners or a griddle allows you to cook pasta, simmer sauces, or saute vegetables, all while grilling your main course.

You’ll be turning out delicious three-course meals in no time! 

5 - Kitchen Islands and bar counters 

Do you know what the most common complaint about kitchens is?

The answer is insufficient storage. 

Just because you're outside doesn’t mean you won’t need that extra counter space! Think about the counter space you use indoors and plan accordingly. You’ll be glad you did. 

a kitchen island creates enough space for your outdoor kitchen

6 - Outdoor sinks 

If there’s one thing we know about making a delicious meal it’s this: all that scrumptious food doesn’t come without some hard work and a serious mess! 

Thankfully, cooking-related messes are manageable if you can keep on top of them - and an outdoor sink allows you to do that. 

Not only will an outdoor sink make clean-up easier, but it's also an essential part of sanitary food preparation. You can wash your hands before cooking and eating, and wash cutting boards, countertops, and knives after handling raw meat. 

7 - Outdoor refrigerators 

Who wants a room temperature slice of watermelon? While it might do in a pinch, everyone knows watermelon tastes 100% better when it's cold! 

Keeping foods refrigerated not only makes food and drink taste better, but it's also an essential part of food safety. 

Outdoor refrigerators are usually counter-height and built into your kitchen like a dishwasher. It’s convenience at its best!

Plus, you have lots of options so you can choose what fits you perfectly.

Are you a stainless steel person? Perhaps black or white is your preferred color. Whatever you like, you can have. You can also choose from single-door or double-drawer refrigerators.

8 - Decorative and task lighting 

Can you imagine having a romantic moment with bright lights flashing and music blaring? Probably not! 

On the other hand, working out would be difficult in the peaceful atmosphere of soft, flickering, candlelight.

Here’s the point: lighting has a tremendous impact on the atmosphere of a space. Beyond that, we need it to see. That’s why choosing the right lighting for outdoor space and kitchen is critical.

When you’re working in your outdoor kitchen you want plenty of light - so you can avoid nasty gashes or adding the wrong ingredient to a dish. However, when the meal is over, you want to relax in the bliss and peace of soft lighting.

At Keystone Custom Decks you can have both! Our outdoor lighting options allow you to get the exact vibe you are going for. Plus, decorative lights give you an opportunity to express your style and personality in your outdoor kitchen. 

the purpose of outdoor kitchen lighting

9 - Outdoor kegerators 

Level up your hosting game with an outdoor kegerator! 

This may not only save you money but produces less waste. What’s more, you’ll free up fridge space, too! 

Check out five reasons you should get a kegerator here. 

Just be sure to get a kegerator that’s rated for outdoors. 

10 - Bar stations and ice buckets or bins 

Do you want to keep your drinks cold but don’t have funds for an outdoor ice machine or beverage cooler? 

Keep your beverages cold with a simple ice bin, bucket, or cooler. 

Want to add a little more? Try an outdoor bar station.

Your favorite drinks will stay cold and close to your guests and the party! 

Ultimate Features That Take Your Outdoor Kitchen To The Next Level 

1 - Pizza ovens 

Friday night pizza night will never be the same again when making your very own brick-oven pizza

The crust is crisp and flecked with tell-tale charred spots, evidence of being baked in an extremely hot oven. The interior of the dough is soft, elastic, tender, and fragrant, and the toppings are cooked to perfection.

If this doesn’t bring your friends and neighbors running, nothing will. 

The reason brick ovens can achieve such pizza perfection is due to the thermal conductivity of the bricks, or how efficiently they transfer heat into the dough.

See how it's done here

brick ovens make the best pizza because of the thermal conductivity of the bricks

2 - Outdoor ice machines 

What makes being outside during the summer months fun? 

Ice cold drinks, ice creams, and smoothies! 

Nothing’s better than the hot summer sun and an ice-cold refreshing treat! 

On those hot summer days, serve your favorite drinks on the rocks, keep your ice bucket or bin filled, and make homemade ice cream or smoothies conveniently with your outdoor ice machine. 

3 - Outdoor pantry and storage 

Nothing is more frustrating than when your countertops are cluttered with cooking utensils, dishes, cocktail shakers, and cutting boards! 

Thankfully, you can keep your counters clear and ready for action with plenty of outdoor cabinets, drawers, or even a pantry. 

Trust us on this one - you’ll enjoy cooking a lot more when you actually have space for it! 

4 - Wine and beverage coolers 

Whether you're hosting an evening dinner party or a weekend pool party, we can all agree that you need to keep your wine and beverages close by AND at ideal temperatures.

And while wine should be stored at room temperature, it won’t stay at room temperature for very long on a warm summer evening.

A wine cooler can keep your beverages at just the right temperature, and keep them close at hand. It’s a win-win!

5 - Hidden trash cans 

Eating out of doors creates all kinds of trash: paperware, cans, bottles, extra napkins, and more. If you’re planning to eat outdoors, you’ll need a plan for the trash, so you’re not left picking up everyone’s paper cups when the fun is over. 

That being said, you don’t want to ruin your sleek, elegant kitchen with unsightly trash cans! 

Built-in trash cans allow for an easy clean-up and don’t detract from your kitchen aesthetic.

keep your outdoor kitchen clean with hidden trash cans

5 - Paper towel holder 

You’re eating and cooking: spills are inevitable. 

Thankfully, it's all outdoors! 

Keep paper towels ready for spills or just cleaning up after grilling with a paper towel holder. 

6 - Patio heaters and fans 

If you’re like us, your favorite place to spend time is the deck! 

What if you could enjoy your deck (and that summer life) longer? 

Whether you’re in the dog days of summer or into the cooler days of autumn, you’ll be able to keep enjoying your outdoor space with cooling systems, fans, and patio heaters. 

7 - Outdoor TV 

Watch a game, your family’s favorite show,  or host a movie marathon with an outdoor TV! 

Add comfy seating, and you’ll have a second living room - outdoors! 

Just be sure to use a weatherized or outdoor TV. 

enjoy nature and technology with an outdoor tv

8 - Luxury seating 

Want to know what takes an outdoor space from good to great? 

Quality seating! 

For a luxurious feel with a cohesive look, you’ll need comfortable, beautiful chairs, tables, and outdoor couches! 

Don’t cheapen your gorgeous space with flimsy furniture. An impressive space needs impressive furniture! 

9 - Fireplace or fire pit 

Memories are made around the campfire. 

Whether it's telling stories, roasting s’mores, or pulling your chair a bit closer to get cozy, fireplaces have been bringing people together since the beginning of time. 

Consider a fire pit, a wood-burning fireplace,  or a gas fireplace in your outdoor living space. This will add a focal point and a place for memories to be made. 

10 - Water features 

Your outdoor space may not be on a lake or oceanfront, but you still can have the peaceful sound of water in your space!

A water feature adds natural beauty and sounds and creates a focal point to your outdoor space. It can even be a place for children to splash and play, depending on the type of water feature you choose (fish ponds are not child-friendly). 

Some beautiful water features include water fountains, water walls, fish ponds, patio spillways, or basalt water fountains. 

You can even have a fire and water combination feature! 

View our custom water features here

water features in an outdoor living space create a peaceful atmosphere

Looking for a Five-Star Feel or Home-style Barbeque Deck?

At Keystone Custom Decks, we’ve created outdoor kitchen designs complete with almost any and every kitchen accessory on the market. Some of our outdoor kitchen ideas boast an elegant, five-star restaurant feel — while others possess a home-style barbecue charm. 

You can design them to fit your outdoor living space needs!

Benefits Of An Outdoor Kitchen

Now we know that the sky's the limit with outdoor kitchens. 

And as you might guess, they are incredibly convenient! 

But is saving some time and energy really worth the investment in an outdoor kitchen? 

Thankfully, spending more time with your guests is just the first in a long list of benefits that come with outdoor kitchens. 

Let's take a look at them!

Here are more exciting benefits of an outdoor kitchen:

  • More time with your guests (and less time carrying food around)! 
  • Convenient and efficient food prep and service
  • Better tasting food. Serve your food at ideal temperatures - hot off the grill or chilled from the fridge or ice bucket.
  • Host fabulous parties and make memories. Outdoor living spaces with kitchens add luxury and create a beautiful space to make memories. 
  • Increase home value and appeal. Who wouldn’t want a home with an outdoor kitchen?
  • Expand your living space. You’ll no longer have to cram inside your house for birthday or graduation parties.  
  • Lower energy costs. Avoid hot kitchens and an overworked AC by grilling and eating outdoors. 
  • Save money by eating at home. Why eat at a restaurant when you have a beautiful and convenient outdoor kitchen and dining space at home? 
  • Eat healthier. We all know home-cooked meals are healthier than take-out. In addition, grilled foods tend to be healthier (think grilled kebabs vs. take-out pizza). With a convenient outdoor kitchen, you’ll be more likely to cook at home and eat cleaner. 
  • Keep food smells outside. Fish and deep-fried food leave a strong, lingering odor in your house. If you’re outside? The only people it will bother are your jealous neighbors.

 

Want this list in visual form? Read to the end of the article to check out our infographic!

Getting Started On Your Dream Outdoor Kitchen

The benefits of an outdoor kitchen are undeniable. 

But one big question remains: how do I get started with an outdoor kitchen

Here are a few tips to get you on your way! 

  1. Brainstorm. Take a look at the Keystone project gallery or Pinterest. Consider what type of outdoor kitchen would best serve you and your family. Here are ten things to consider when designing an outdoor kitchen.

 

  1. Set your budget. This is not always the most exciting part of a project, but super important. Thankfully, Keystone Custom Decks has designs for extravagant and simple outdoor kitchens!

 

  1. Find a trustworthy contractor. It's your house, yard, and money. The last thing you want is a sloppy, late job, an expensive bill, and an outdoor space that doesn’t look the way you imagined. Go the extra mile and find someone you can trust to deliver on their promises. 

Keystone Custom Decks promises to:

  • Take care of every part of the construction process
  • Deliver on our timeframe and proposal promises

Stand behind our work for life with our lifetime workmanship warranty.

getting started with designing an outdoor kitchen

FAQs About Outdoor Kitchens

By now, you may be just about ready to get an outdoor kitchen! 

However, we understand that each home and family is unique and has distinct needs. There's a good chance you are asking a lot of questions in your mind about how an outdoor kitchen might work at your home. 

We can't answer all of your questions - but we'll do our best at answering some of them here. 

And if you still have more questions, don't hesitate to contact us at Keystone Custom Decks. 

We're always happy to help! 

How should I care for my outdoor kitchen? 

Hot soapy water goes a long way for general cleaning!  Always make sure you know what chemical cleaners are approved for your countertops and appliances. 

We also recommend grabbing a bottle of marine-grade stainless steel polish. This will help keep the shine longer & hold up against mother nature.

clean an outdoor kitchen with soap and water

What deck or patio spacing is recommended as a minimum for an outdoor kitchen? 

There isn’t a definite answer because it depends on what you want out of the space! 

Are you looking for a dine-in or separated feel to the space? 

Do you host larger gatherings, or are you mainly cooking for your family? 

Knowing how you want to use the space will help determine how much area to allot for the kitchen. We have full-scale and small space kitchen options. 

Are there any concerns or negatives with outdoor kitchens? 

Not a single one! Here at Keystone, we might be biased – but a great meal cooked & consumed outdoors is the best!

Does an outdoor kitchen add value to the deck project and overall home value?

Yes, it does! We’ve connected with realtors over the years, and outdoor spaces are increasing the value and appeal of homes. There is an upward trend toward blended indoor and outdoor spaces. 

And remember - like any home project, it's not just about getting your “money out of it.” Consider the memories, increased quality of life, and time you spend enjoying it as part of the return on your investment. 

Conclusion

Whether you love to host large gatherings, occasional dinner parties, or just want a relaxing space for family meals, we have outdoor kitchen designs that will work for your needs and space. 

We also design and build porches, patios, custom decks, masonry features, fire pits and fireplaces, and more! 

And the best part? Working with us is easy!

First, visit the Keystone showroom or browse our project gallery to get some ideas! 

  1. Schedule an estimate by phone or submit an estimate online
  2. Receive your quote and complimentary 3D rendering.
  3. Sign your proposal and watch your dreams become a reality.
  4. Enjoy the space you have to host parties and spend time with family!

Contact Keystone Custom Decks and start your dream outdoor space today!

10 reasons to get an outdoor kitchen