5 Tips For Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen

Designing the perfect outdoor kitchen is a lot like designing the perfect indoor kitchen, with just a few additional considerations.

The following post, “5 Tips For Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen,” was written for SABER Infrared Grills by Larry Gaian, author of the Embers & Flame blog.

Designing the perfect outdoor kitchen is a lot like designing the perfect indoor kitchen.  There are, however, a few additional thoughts that need to be considered before the putting your design into construction.


Where is the smoke going to go?

Saber Grills, as with most grills today, vent out the back of the grill when the lid is closed.  Not all grilling is done with the lid closed, but enough is done that it is important to consider the placement of the grill.  In what direction does the wind blow?  This just might be one of the most overlooked variables in outdoor kitchen designs by both professional and DIYers.  Try to figure out which direction the wind blows, most often, to avoid having your guests move because they are being smoked out.  Or, will the smoke from the grill blow towards open windows in your house?  You cannot always avoid the smoke, but with a little careful consideration you can limit the discomfort the smoke can cause.  Also, if your outdoor kitchen is under a patio roof or other solid cover do your best to push the back of the grill as close as possible to the edge of the roof line to allow the smoke to escape.

One alternative is an outdoor kitchen venting or hood system.  If your design just will not allow for the best case grill placement, there are great outdoor venting systems, just as there are in your house, to help make the smoke go away.

Side Burners

The side burner just might be one of the most under-utilized appliances in your outdoor kitchen.  Choosing the right side burner for your outdoor kitchen will make your outdoor cooking experience even more enjoyable than it already is.  When deciding if a side burner is a necessary addition to your outdoor kitchen, don’t just think about what you’ve cooked on the side burner in the past, instead think about what you can cook on it that you don’t.  A good side burner will allow you stir-fry your veggies in a wok, or how about some fajitas on a cast iron griddle?
The side burner isn’t just for warming up the beans or cooking ears of corn.  How about breakfast outdoors?  The side burner is perfect for cooking bacon, eggs and pancakes outside.  During the summer months, why not take more meal preparation outside?  The side-burner will allow you to do that.  Or the next time you’re planning fried chicken or catfish, do the smelly frying outside in your outdoor kitchen and save everyone from knowing what your cooked two days earlier.


When deciding if a built-in refrigerator is necessary in your outdoor kitchen think about what, exactly, you are planning to use it for.  If you are planning on keeping a few drinks for both kids and adults as its main use, maybe using a decorative patio ice cooler makes more sense.  A slide out insulated drawer is an option, as is a counter top ice cooler.  If the plan is to use the refrigerator to store perishable foods or side dishes before serving, then the refrigerator makes sense.

Outdoor kitchen refrigerators can vary in price from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.  The purpose of having an outdoor kitchen refrigerator needs to be one of the major considerations when thinking about outdoor kitchen design.  Pay close attention to whether your refrigerator is outdoor rated.

Stay Out Of My Space

Bigger isn’t always better. But when designing your outdoor kitchen, the amount of space needed to keep the guests, host/hostess and most importantly, the grill master, comfortable and happy is critical.  Where you place the outdoor cooking appliances will make all the difference in the world.

For example, as discussed above, why you included an outdoor refrigerator to your kitchen is an important consideration.  If the main purpose is to hold drinks for your guests, then make sure the refrigerator is placed towards the ends of the island and not directly next to the grill.  Not having the refrigerator near the grill will help keep the active hands of children away from the hot grill.  Proper placement of the appliances will also help to keep the grill master in control of his/her space.

Trash and Recycling

Consider a slide out for both trash and recyclables. Having built-in containers makes for a cleaner look and keeps stand-alone trash cans from cluttering up walk ways and the space inside the kitchen.

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