Editor’s Note: This is an updated and revised edition for 2018.
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to designing and outdoor kitchen area. Since a lot of people have different needs, budgets, climates, space, etc, I am going to approach this article by offering up some suggestions for outdoor kitchen components that can be bought one at a time to fit into tight budgets and some that can be set up for a season and taken down if needed. At the same time, any of these components could be used in an outdoor kitchen that has some permanent structures like counter tops or rock work.
Sure – there are outdoor kitchen set ups that are all stainless steel, have countertops, fridges, ect all built in and you can sure order one but they will set you back $3,000-$5,000 or more and you have to be able to find a suitable shaped and sized space.
I am glad for the opportunity to write this up because even after cooking outside and in for many years, there is always more to learn and the availability of appliances, tables, ect is better than ever thanks to internet shopping. Let’s start with some basic questions to know before you get to deciding exactly what you need to look for.
How much space do you have?
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If you have a patio or other area in mind then get out a tape measure and see what space you have to dedicated to it. Make sure to leave enough room for movement.
Draw it out
You can use graph paper or if you are savvy enough with computers, a design program. If your kitchen needs to all fit together just so then you need to consider all the measurements to make the most of your space. Can you fit that 4 ft long range in there and still have room for a cart? It may take several drafts to get the layout the way you want.
Consider flow carefully
Some of you may have noticed that I have a really small kitchen when I am doing food related articles. My entire kitchen is slightly larger than 7 feet by 10 feet but since the layout is good, it is not hard to cook in because things are easy to reach. I was lucky that Matt really thought out the flow when we were figuring out how to finish the kitchen.
When planning out your outdoor kitchen, think about the food prep process and how you will be able to move from one station to the next. You can get a lot more done and do it more safely if the flow is good. If you have outdoor kitchen components that can be moved around with ease then you can change up the flow if it is not working for you.
Different components to consider
If you put back a lot of your own food then you need an outdoor kitchen that can help you with processing and keep the rest of your house from being taken over with the messes that go along with that.
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This is essential for hot water bath or pressure canning. You need standard eyes not the giant turkey fryer eyes or anything like that. You can even set these up temporarily if you get the right thing. Easily adjustable gas range tops are nice to have.
Actually, when Matt and I lived in the camper while building our house, we had a little gas stove that we eventually pulled out and set outside and I canned on that. It is not pretty but it works. Sometimes you have to get innovative when roughing it and trying to get things done with any efficiency!
This 2 burner station packs a lot of cooking power and the price is right. Each burner has an output of an amazing 30,000 btus. There is an included windscreen and you can get preseasoned cast iron griddles that fit over each eye so you can have a very large cooking surface.
This unit offers 4 propane burners that have an output of 30,000 btus each and comes with a handy rolling cart. This whole thing folds down for easy storage and transport. Like all Camp Chef products there are a lot of accessories that you can add. Even this can be turned into a giant grill or griddle if you get 4 cast iron grill/griddle
A sink is nice if you can manage water. There is all kinds of reasons to want a sink from washing produce to hands to getting potable water to boil in order to can foods or simply cook with.
BBQ and Smoker
The easiest way to achieve this is to buy a BBQ that is made to be a smoker when needed. The better ones have two sections which is nice if you want to smoke meats and grill up some dinner at the same time. Being able to figure out how to multitask when you are starting out homesteading or farming is a major bonus. These have a built in temperature gauge which is nice to have too.
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Movable stainless steel carts or foldable racks offer inexpensive yet quality solutions to counterspace issues. If you are not going with a build in countertop and cabinets then the stainless steel food prep carts offer a lot of space to set things and they are easier to sanitize. Also stainless is going to hold up to outdoor conditions better than just about anything besides stone.
Good Set Of Grill Tools
You need a good set of tools if you are going to smoke meats or prepare much in the way of food outside. These should be sturdy. Now is not the time to get the cheapest thing in the store. You might look for the same brands that you trust in knives.
I love this company not only for being made in the USA and affordable but for the excellent quality and utilitarian charactaristics that they have. Along with Liberty Tableware, they are one of the few USA manufacturers of small kitchenware out there.
I bought the steak knife set and they are the knives I use the most. With Rada, you can get quality USA made for as low as budget store cutlery.
You will want some tongs, meat forks, spatulas, pizza cutter, bread knife, etc. Part of it really depends on what you plan on using this outdoor kitchen for.
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