How to Build an Outdoor Kitchen: 8 Simple Steps

Building an outdoor kitchen, are we? Envisioning parties to prepare, cookouts to come, and excitement to ignite? Truly, it’s an experience that can run the full gamut from exhilarating to daunting — too often, it’ll even ping back and forth with blatant disregard to your sanity. This isn’t news to our outdoor living experts, especially after over 20 years spent guiding customers like you to their very own holy grail of grilling. It’s that spirit that drives us here at BBQGuys®, striving hard to give you everything you need to be a barbecue boss from the start... like our Outdoor Kitchen Checklist! (You have looked at that checklist, right?)

Whether you’re preventatively avoiding headaches or already holding a fist to the skies and cursing outdoor kitchens everywhere, we have your back every step of the way. That’s why we’ve called upon those very same outdoor living experts! Here are their 8 best basics to bear in mind while planning any outdoor kitchen.

  • insulated grill jacket
  • 1. Building with Combustible Materials? Get an Insulated Grill Jacket

    Every outdoor kitchen built with combustible materials (treated or not) outright requires an insulated grill jacket installed around the grill. But what does that glamorous metal sheath do for you (and your investment)? For starters, grills love them — they protect their undercarriages from weathering and corrosion, helping them last longer. They halt burning or warping damage to your surrounding BBQ island as a result of those piping-hot temperatures. An insulated grill jacket, frankly, is insurance that lasts many years of cookouts. Note that jackets are proprietary, and not all brands offer one. For more info, check out our Insulated Grill Jacket Buying Guide.

  • insulated grill jacket
  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - closeup of a vent

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchens for Small Spaces

  • 2. Vent Panels Properly Ventilate Your Outdoor Kitchen Investment

    Choosing gas? Great! Use a licensed contractor to ensure that your outdoor kitchen has proper grill vents and outdoor kitchen ventilation. Sure, you may save a few bucks hitting up the black market of noncertified plumbers, but the dangers aren’t worth it — you really don’t want to mess around with avoidable gas leaks and build-ups (read: “explosions just itching to happen”). When it comes to venting, placement is everything. Install those vent panels every 4–6 feet away to dampen build-up. Since natural gas rises, place vent panels as high as possible for those installations; the opposite is true for propane gas, which sinks.

  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - closeup of a vent

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchens for Small Spaces

  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - closeup of outdoor kitchen storage

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchens for Small Spaces

  • 3. Enclosed Storage Components May Not Work Under a Sink or Grill

    Everyone loves stuff. Stuff loves places to live. Logic dictates, then, that everyone loves places for stuff to live (AKA the algebraic “transitive property of equality,” for our grill math-sters reading along). While it’s convenient to install cabinets, doors, and drawers throughout your grilling getaway, first account for the placement of your outdoor kitchen cabinets and storage when deciding whether or not to purchase enclosed cabinets. Many proud outdoor kitchen owners bought enclosed cabinets to install beneath their sink or under a gas grill, only to realize all that pesky plumbing is right in the way. Who needs that headache?

  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - closeup of outdoor kitchen storage

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchens for Small Spaces

  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - closeup of a beverage center

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchen Designs Beyond the Essentials

  • 4. Outdoor-Rated Kitchen Appliances Are Your Best (and Only) Choice

    Putting an indoor appliance outdoors opens up a can of worms labeled “Discoloration, failure, and laughing directly into your warranty’s face”. Outdoor rated appliances are built to weather hardier climates, sudden swings in temperature, and the elements — which means aiming way higher than that spare beverage cooler in your uncle’s den. Learning how to buy outdoor refrigeration guarantees you purchase models rated by the manufacturer for outdoor use; this, in turn, ensures higher appliance safety and longevity. For bonus points, swing for a UL rating while you’re at it — Underwriters Laboratories (est. 1894) is one of the most trusted safety certification companies in the world, with offices in 46 countries.

  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - closeup of a beverage center

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchen Designs Beyond the Essentials

  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - wide view of a kitchen

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchen Designs Beyond the Essentials

  • 5. Never Install Cooking and Cooling Appliances Next to One Another

    Did you know you should plan your zones when designing your outdoor kitchen to separate your cooking and cooling appliances? It’s true! (Refrigerators and grills used to bully physics when they were kids — and physics never forgets). Cooling and cooking units put off a lot of heat; if installed adjacently, keeping their internal mechanisms cool may spiral into premature failure. Is space an issue? Leave at least 1 foot between your refrigeration unit and any grills or side burners, barring them apart within the island structure. This keeps your appliances happy, ensuring that they can properly ventilate and last longer.

  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - wide view of a kitchen

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchen Designs Beyond the Essentials

  • Diagram for built-in grill cutout dimensions
  • 6. Learn, Learn, Learn Those Cutout Dimensions Before You Cut

    “Measure twice, cut once.” If it’s good enough for home improvement maestro Bob Villa, it’s good enough for us! The last thing you want is to prepare for those outdoor kitchen appliances by cutting out the space, only to realize later that they’re off the mark. Seriously: double-check them, even triple-check them! Whenever possible, it’s best to have said appliances on hand (though it helps if you know how to measure the cutout dimensions). If that’s simply not practical, contact the manufacturer or a sales representative (Hey, we have those! Call 1-877-743-2269) before the purchase to ensure a proper fit.

    How to Measure the Cutout for a Built-In Grill
  • Diagram for built-in grill cutout dimensions
  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - view of a u-shaped bbq island

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchen Design for the Cooking Enthusiast

  • 7. “Too Much Counter Space? What Have I Done!” Said Nobody, Ever

    Half the fun of any new outdoor kitchen is stocking it far and wide with crafty new toys (and daydreaming about all the grilling opportunities they’ll bring you). Better pump those brakes — in all the excitement of designing a dream outdoor kitchen, many clients forget the importance of empty counter space. Where else will you prepare and serve food, store overflow trays for grilled grub, or keep favored utensils in reach? While planning that patio paradise, ensure you leave ample counter space for easy and convenient outdoor cooking — biased or not, Future You is already toasting to your eternal wisdom.

  • 3D outdoor kitchen design - view of a u-shaped bbq islan

    Featured in: Outdoor Kitchen Design for the Cooking Enthusiast

8. Do Your Research, But We Can Help (We Have Experts, You Know)

Planning a kitchen is thrilling — but we cannot overstate how simpler it is to change things before you start unboxing that outdoor kitchen like it’s Christmas morning. Wanting great-looking and functional appliances is natural, but being selective is crucial. Choose the perfect ones for your needs by researching your use case. How often will you use them? How many will you entertain at a time? How are they built; will their materials last? Read our expert reviews. Call 1-877-743-2269 and grill our outdoor living specialists. We want your investment to satisfy you for many, many happy cookouts to come.

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