Are you ready to transform your space into the ultimate entertainment destination? Building your dream backyard barbecue island is an exciting journey, and we're here to guide you every step of the way. Say goodbye to the hassle of navigating through countless options and endless decisions. Our outdoor kitchen checklist has been expertly crafted by seasoned professionals who understand your needs and desires. Whether you're aiming for intimate gatherings or extravagant celebrations, our checklist has got you covered.

Core Outdoor Kitchen

All great kitchens begin with the essentials! First things first: choose your must-haves by thinking about what you like to cook. Do you love smoking meat over crackling charcoal? You’ll want to have a kamado grill or barbecue smoker. If perfectly baked pies are what you crave, a pizza oven is a must. For well-rounded cooks who like a little bit of everything, a built-in gas grill. Add functionality with access doors, side burners, and refrigeration options. With our expert recommendations, you'll create a space that makes hosting gatherings easier than ever.

Advanced Outdoor Kitchen

Making your backyard better than ever is easier than you think. Enjoy hotter heat from your grill and plenty of ice in your ice maker to keep drinks cold all night. This level of outdoor kitchen design involves greater capability with more convenience. Explore options like griddles, power burners, and outdoor kitchen storage to take your culinary adventures to new heights. Keep your wine and beer chilled with a wine cooler or kegerator, so your friends and family are always treated to the finest refreshments.

Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

For those of you who want the best of the best in outdoor entertainment, this is it. More cooking, more storage, more refrigeration, plus premium seating, and ambience to wrap that space with outstanding luxury. When you include a patio heater you unlock year-round enjoyment in your backyard. Plus, with an outdoor TV, you’ve got the place to be for any televised event.

Outdoor Kitchen Safety

When you’re building an outdoor kitchen, safety is crucial. Local rules and codes are very specific in their requirements, so you’ll need to install a vent hood and island vents in your outdoor kitchen. These aren't just to make hosting (and being a guest) more enjoyable—they also help cut down on the risk of fires. So, protect your investment by taking these safety steps and keep the good times going in your outdoor space!

Outdoor kitchen set up with appropriate clearances for all parts


Clearances play an important role in the safety and functionality of your barbecue island, particularly in three key instances. First, cooking appliances such as grills and side burners require clearance from combustible materials to prevent the risk of fire. Cooling equipment like refrigerators and ice makers need clearance to allow for proper ventilation. Since refrigerators release heat while running, it’s important to leave enough space around the unit to prevent overheating and potential breakdowns. Additionally, make sure there's enough room for doors, and grill hoods to open smoothly without hitting nearby structures. This prevents damage and makes it easier to use. Lastly, keep patio heaters a safe distance from combustible materials to reduce fire hazards. Following these clearance guidelines ensures a safe and efficient cooking space for outdoor kitchen enthusiasts.

Outdoor kitchen set up with a vent hood above the grill


Proper ventilation is important for the safety of your outdoor kitchen. While local building codes provide specific guidelines, installing a vent hood and island vents will be the first step. These systems don't just make hosting easier—they also help lower the risk of fires. Taking care of ventilation early on helps keep your outdoor kitchen safe for you and your guests. To learn more about picking the best vents for your setup, take a look at our Outdoor Kitchen Island Vents & Hoods Buying Guide.

Blaze grill installed with an insulated jacket in an outdoor bar

Insulated Jackets

When it comes to outdoor kitchen islands built with combustible materials, safety is extremely important. That's where insulated jackets come in. Whether your island is partially or entirely built with flammable materials, these essential stainless steel buffers play a big role in keeping the heat from your grill away from your island, ensuring safety and longevity. Learn more about the importance of insulated grill jackets and how they protect your outdoor kitchen in our comprehensive guide.

Popular Outdoor Kitchen Add-Ons

Looking to add some zest to your backyard cooking space? Consider adding specialty barbecue kitchen equipment to enhance your outdoor kitchen's unique charm. Our experts have created a list of popular expansions to inspire you.

For Low & Slow Cooking

Various meats on a grill being smoked

Specialty: Smokin' Steakhouse

Who doesn't love delicious low and slow smoked meats? For mouthwatering, tender results better than your town's steakhouse, add these to your kitchen.

  • Charcoal and kamado grills are great for infusing flavor and have excellent heat retention.
  • A smoker provides authentic smoky taste and allows for low-and-slow cooking to achieve tender, juicy results.
  • Griddles give you the versatility to cook breakfast or stir-fry and sear steaks to perfection.
  • Rotisserie kits ensure even cooking and juiciness by rotating meats slowly over indirect heat.

Create Your Own Backyard Pizzeria

Slice of pizza with steak and herbs

Specialty: Mediterranean Delights

Nothing beats the crunch of a crisp pizza crust. Pizza ovens, wine coolers, and rotisserie kits will bring the tastes of to your home. Treat yourself to perfectly chilled drinks and make your own rotisserie chicken for shawarma night or pizza toppings.

  • Pizza ovens let you craft authentic, wood-fired pizzas right in your backyard.
  • Griddles will expand your cooking possibilities for pizzas and more.
  • Rotisserie kits add flair to your pizza creations with perfectly cooked rotisserie meats.
  • Wine coolers keep your favorite beverages chilled and easily accessible for alfresco dining.

Explore Global Cuisine

Seared tuna with a slaw next to it on a plate

Specialty: High-Heat

Sizzling surfaces are key to this hot and steamy grilling style. Whether your weeks always wind down with stir fry or you’re eagerly working on your pancake game, few cooking styles match the versatility of a griddle.

Create Your Own Backyard Pizzeria

Glasses with a cocktail inside and a lemon on the rim

Specialty: Game Day

If you’ve built a barbecue kitchen most homeowners would dream of and you still want more, rewrite the backyard party playbook with that age-old tradition: the game! Grab your bar chairs and beers on tap and you have the best gameday ever.

Outdoor Kitchen Design Team is Ready to Help

Ready to create the outdoor kitchen of your dreams? Our expert design team has crafted a handy checklist with input from our most experienced outdoor professionals. They have designed magnificent outdoor kitchens for every budget. Whether you're planning intimate dinners or showstopper celebrations, our checklist serves as a valuable resource to track your backyard entertainment options and compile your needs for yourself or our design team. Dive into the world of outdoor cooking with confidence, knowing that it’s never been easier to bring your vision to life.

Transforming your outdoor space into the ultimate entertainment hub is simpler than you think with our expert outdoor kitchen designers. With years of experience collaborating with contractors and clients, our Free Outdoor Kitchen 3D Design Service will help bring your vision to life.