Outdoor Kitchen Must-haves for cooking al fresco

In the last few years, there has been a significant rise in the popularity of outdoor living spaces. These spaces provide a way for you and your loved ones to spend quality time together while connecting with nature and breathing in the fresh air. A great way to transform your backyard into a refreshing area to cook and entertain is by creating an outdoor kitchen and dining area.

Outdoor kitchens provide the perfect opportunity to use the open area that our backyards provide while appreciating the aroma of fresh food in natural surroundings. These kitchens make the task of cooking for yourself, or cooking for gatherings of family and friends, into a much more fun, relaxing, and engaging experience.

When planning or designing your outdoor kitchen, it is important to note that everything that you could possibly want for your indoor kitchen can be found for your outdoor kitchen, once it is weather resistant. To get you started on creating this inviting space, here are a few outdoor kitchen must-haves that you may want to consider:

A Grill or Grill station

When we think of entertaining in our backyard or a nice family meal together, nothing draws people in like the smell of freshly charred meats or vegetables on a grill. A grill is a focal point in an outdoor kitchen as it allows us to socialize and come together through our shared love for food. Depending on the meals you want to cook and the flavors you want to create, some of your options include a barbeque (BBQ) grill, smoker, built-in gas grill, flat top griddle, charcoal grill and power burner. Besides the type of grill, it is also important to think about how many guests you want to entertain when choosing a small or large grill.

Grill stations such as the one in the picture below, are all-inclusive and can make planning your outdoor kitchen in small or large areas, much easier. These stations can include your standard grill as well as a sink, storage cabinets, a fridge, trash area, and meal-prep counter space.

Outdoor kitchen must haves: stainless steel grill station with refrigerator

Source: Distinctive Appliances

Cabinetry and Storage 

Unless you want to be going indoors every few minutes, having enough storage space is an essential element of every outdoor kitchen. Cabinets and drawers could be placed appropriately so that you have easy access to grilling accessories, utensils or cookware. Besides the items you will need for cooking, extra storage space can also hold snacks, soft drinks, paper towels, plastic cups and anything else you will need for entertaining guests.

These storage amenities must also be designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and damage from the elements. For example, marine-grade polymers, wood and stainless steel are great options for materials to use.


Though this isn’t absolutely essential, it’s nice to have a cold beer or a fresh salad straight from your outdoor kitchen. If you are grilling burgers and hotdogs, you might want condiments such as ketchup, mustard and mayo to stay cool and be easily accessible.

Depending on how many meals you plan to cook outdoors or how many fresh ingredients you will need at a time, you can choose whether to have an under-counter, door, or drawer fridge. Having extra fridge space in your home, whether it’s indoors or outdoors can be a huge benefit and can be very useful when planning outdoor meals.

Island or prep surface 

When incorporating an island into your outdoor kitchen, consider the location and size for prep-surface areas and countertops. These spaces accommodate your grilling, cooking and meal-prep needs so that you don’t have to use the dining area for meal-prep. It is also very important to use materials that are mold-resistant and weatherproof for your countertops. Some viable options are natural stone, concrete or stainless steel, depending on the style and


Whether you are cooking for your family or planning a fancy dinner party, having proper lighting is important for your outdoor kitchen. This lighting needs to be appropriately placed with dimmer switches to control the right level of brightness for you and your guest’s convenience. Ensuring that cooking and grilling areas are well lit is crucial as you don’t want to end up undercooking your food!

The lights in your outdoor kitchen can also be adjusted to set the mood and ambiance for the area you are entertaining in. Entertaining is all about the experience and feelings your guests are having and you will need the atmosphere to reflect the delicious foods you will be serving them.

Sink and Dishwasher

Every kitchen needs a sink and outdoor kitchens are no exception. This essential element will make your life so much easier. It will make your kitchen hygienic and make clean-up and meal-prep more convenient when you cook outside.

Though you can use your sink to wash the dishes, another appliance you can consider having outdoors is a dishwasher. Loading a dishwasher right after your meal with friends is a lot quicker than hand-washing and it will leave you more time to spend with your guests. The time you save can also be used enjoying the outdoors, making this appliance another worthy addition to any outdoor kitchen.

Water Resistance

One of the most important things to consider when choosing products for your outdoor kitchen is ensuring that everything can withstand damage from the elements. Insulated jackets may be used to protect your grill and other appliances from varying temperatures. Besides weather-resistant products, there are a few design elements that can help protect your outdoor kitchen from changing weather conditions. Building a single wall can be used as a windbreaker to shield your appliances and a covered patio can shelter you and your kitchen from the harsh summer sun.

To keep you warm on colder days, you can consider adding a fire pit or patio heaters that will provide a warm area for you and your loved ones to sit around when enjoying each other’s company.

Beverage Storage

No entertaining or cooking experience would be complete without a refreshing drink to complement your meal. Some appliances you can consider to ensure that your family and guests keep cool on a hot summer’s day are a wine cooler, an ice maker and or a kegerator. There’s nothing like a cold beer or a glass of lemonade to combat the sun’s rays and anyone using your outdoor space will be grateful for the ease of accessibility to these beverages.

Outdoor kitchen must haves: mobile drink cooler cart

Distinctive Appliances – Mobi Cart

This list of kitchen must-haves is not exhaustive by any means, but it is a good way to start the process of planning your outdoor kitchen and dining area. If you need help designing your outdoor space, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help:

Email: kimaya@kimayadesigns.com

Phone Number: (289) 814-0850

Also, check out our other article on the types of food you can make with cool appliances for your outdoor kitchen!

wp_kimayaOutdoor Kitchen Must-haves for cooking al fresco