Tips For Creating Functional Outdoor Kitchens for Foodie Gardeners

One of the biggest joys in life is cooking and eating outdoors.

Your outdoor cooking arrangement may be as simple as a small tabletop grill or as elaborate as a full-blown, state of the art, outdoor chef’s kitchen!

Prefabricated modular stainless steel outdoor kitchen by Viking on Foodie Gardeners
Prefabricated modular stainless steel outdoor kitchen by Viking.

Viking has a line of high-end, ready-made outdoor kitchens like this one.


There are also pre-constructed modular outdoor kitchens that you take out of a box and start using immediately.

If you plan on investing in a functional outdoor kitchen, here are some ideas to consider before beginning your design.


Outdoor dining area near bbq and door to kitchen

This outdoor dining room is near the BBQ area which is very convenient.


Tip #1 Locate your outdoor kitchen near your indoor kitchen

Most outdoor kitchens are not “self-contained” and you will be accessing your indoor pantry and refrigerator for ingredients.

The most functional outdoor kitchens are the ones that have direct access to the kitchen.


Door leading to the outdoor kitchen area foodie gardener

Your outdoor kitchen should have easy access to your house


Constructing an outdoor kitchen near the house also makes it easier to use and modify your electrical needs for use outside.

You may need to add a door from your kitchen to your outdoor kitchen, but it will be money well spent.

The closer your outdoor kitchen is to your indoor kitchen, the more likely you are to use it.


Tip #2 Design an outdoor kitchen that suits your cooking and entertaining style!

Make a list of everything you want to do in your outdoor kitchen.

Grilling, cooking side dishes, blending drinks, making pizza – these all need space, specific appliances and electricity!

Along with allocating space for these activities, allow generous counter space for food preparation and serving.

Allow at least 12 to 14 inches on both sides of appliances to have a place to accommodate a serving platter.


Long outdoor bar with upholstered bar stools by Foodie Gardener Shirley Bovshow

Do you entertain large groups of people? Consider constructing a wide bar.


If you want guests to hang out with you while you grill, consider installing a built-in bar and select your bar stools in advance.

It’s a good idea to decide how many stools you will want beforehand to make the bar the proper length.

Standard bar heights range from 42 inches to 46 inches tall. Make sure to give your guests some elbow room!

Tip #3 Make your outdoor kitchen comfortable!

Outdoor cooking can take place anytime of the day, so plan for shade in the cooking area.

The most desirable shade comes from trees, so if you have the space, plant a tall-growing shade tree that doesn’t drop messy leaves and seeds!


Kitchen garden with grape vine growing on shade structure foodie gardener

The Foodie Gardener’s outdoor kitchen shaded by a grapevine!


Another option is to build a shade structure and cover it with an edible vine or insert umbrella ports into your counter for umbrella use on an “as-needed” basis.


Tip #4 Plant an herb and vegetable garden nearby!

Growing your own fresh food doubles the pleasure that comes from preparing food outdoors.


Shirley in her outdoor kitchen and vegetable garden

The Foodie Gardener fills her raised garden bed with soil before planting her veggies


Install a raised bed vegetable garden in your outdoor kitchen area for easy access to herbs and vegetables.

Get “double duty” function from your raised garden bed by capping it with stone or wood to create built-in seating.

Eighteen inches is the perfect comfortable seat height.


Foodie Gardener raised vegetable garden


Fresh herbs from the garden are “must haves” for Foodie Gardeners!

Your guests can sit amidst sweet basil and keep you company while you cook!


Tip #5 Lights, Counters, Action!

A truly functional outdoor kitchen is one which you can use at night.


Outdoor bbq task spotlight

Plan for task lighting for the grill and side burners as well as for your countertops so you can party all night long.

Select counter material that is easy to clean. I avoid tile because of the extra responsibility of keeping the grout clean.

Polished concrete counters are beautiful and functional (except for areas of extreme cold where the concrete may crack).  Granite or faux granite are ideal as well.

Stainless steel, while very stylish, may absorb too much heat and be uncomfortable to the touch.


Outdoor kitchen countertop made of colored concrete and marbles


I designed a beautiful, custom counter top with colored concrete, “salted” with broken marbles from my son’s marble collection.

We polished the concrete to a nice shine and everyone who sees it asks what kind of stone we used!

No one believes it’s concrete and marbles!


Shirley Bovshow’s Narrow Side Yard Transformation to Outdoor Kitchen Courtyard!


You’ve read about my narrow side yard transformation into an outdoor kitchen courtyard, want to see it now?

Watch this video about my outdoor kitchen that I presented on the Garden Gurus TV show!


Do you have an outdoor kitchen or plan to build one?

Let me know if I can answer any design questions!


Please subscribe to Foodie Gardener for updates about new blog posts.



I'm known as "EdenMaker," as well as a "Foodie Gardener" on the web, but you can call me "Shirley" anytime! When I'm not eating or growing my own food, I'm busy designing gardens and producing garden TV shows! When it's time to cook, I ask my family, "What country do you want to visit tonight?" Thank God for WeightWatchers, most of my fruits and veggies are "0-Points." Some of you know what I'm talking about!

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.