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One of the great joys of every family is surely being able to eat outdoors when the weather is nice. Whether the occasion is a full-on BBQ and party or simply enjoying a quiet family meal cooked using an outdoor kitchen, it is a real pleasure.
If you wish to create an outdoor kitchen there are many ways it can be done, and the budget required for each of them can also vary greatly. You could spend thousands of dollars and have a contractor come in and build it for you. Less stressful for you, other than when the bill is due to be paid.
However, for many people, their budget is more modest, and therefore ideas for an outdoor kitchen that do not require you to break the bank is what we are going to look at in this article.
We’ll highlight specific outdoor kitchen plans and ideas you can create and also some ideas that can complement them, making the outdoor cooking and eating experience a more enjoyable one.
Plan, Plan, and Then Plan Some More
Regardless of which outdoor kitchen size and design you decide upon is has to be done within an overall plan. Ideally, its location should be as close to your indoor kitchen as possible not just for convenience, but this should give you better access to utilities like gas, electricity, and water if they are needed.
You also want to take account of what seating you are going to have and ensure that it is not too close to where the cooking is going to take place. Not only is this a safety consideration but sitting next to a grill which is giving off smoke and fumes is not the most pleasant of ways to try and relax in the garden for your guests.
The specific areas of your outdoor kitchen need to be decided upon based not only on what you want, but also with regards to the amount of space you have available. While it might be desirable to have lots of preparation countertops, it may not be possible in a smaller area if you want to have a decent-sized grill.
You’ll also want to consider what storage you are going to include in your outdoor kitchen. This will include the storage required for gas bottles as well as pots, pans, utensils. This will also take account of whether there will be other appliances such as a refrigerator.
Portable or Permanent?
One of the most important decisions you must make before going forward with your outdoor kitchen plans is whether your kitchen is going to be permanent or portable. Normally a permanent outdoor kitchen is going to be a greater undertaking and takes more time to create.
Also, you might want to reconsider making it permanent if there is any chance that you might be moving home in the near future as you surely do not want to go through all the cost and effort of creating it, simply to leave it behind in a few months.
With a portable kitchen, the cost is likely to be less and there is also the obvious advantage that if you ever do move, you can’t take it with you. You also might be able to rearrange your outdoor kitchen more easily if you can move the items within it.
Outdoor Kitchen Plans
1. L-Shaped Outdoor Kitchen With Stone Countertops
These are ideal for just about any type of cooking, but they are especially great for BBQs. The reason is that the stone countertops are particularly great for laying out food when it is ready to be served, or for serving up individual plates because the stone does not get hot due to the heat of the plates, which is not the case with every surface.
These types of kitchens also tend to have lots of storage space under the countertops so all your cooking utensils, pots, and pans can all be stored away neatly when you are finished. The cooking grills are normally powered by propane gas bottles which are housed within the units.
2. Outdoor Kitchen Made From A Repurposed Cabinet
This is a great way of giving a second life to one of those large wooden cabinets that often sit in bedrooms, kitchens or bathrooms. They tend to be solidly made so they should last for some time. It may be possible to fit them with a grill by cutting out the appropriate hole in the top and storing gas bottles inside it. Anyone cooking here would certainly have plenty of space either side to work in.
Other likely uses are to have it as a large food preparation area with a sink on one side for washing vegetables and the like. Alternatively, you could have it set up as a serving area where platters of food, drinks, plates, napkins, and cutlery can all be placed.
3. Grill Island
A grill island is one of the most popular outdoor kitchen ideas and although many people are put off because they think they are difficult to create, they are actually easier to build than you may think. They do require detailed plans that go beyond the scope of this article but in summary, you are basically building a frame, which is then built upon with respect to frontage, cladding, and the countertop.
You then need to determine which grill you are going to use within your outdoor kitchen island, and one which gets very high ratings is the Bull Outdoor Products 26038 Liquid Propane Grill. It can also be purchased for use with natural gas if that is how you were planning to fuel your grill.
4. Communal Grill Top
This is one of the most fun ways to create an outdoor kitchen as it means you are present with your guests while cooking and not separated as is normally the case.
The structure is normally octagonal with a large split level grill as the centerpiece. This provides you with a huge cooking area and also means you can cook individual portions if any of your guests have preferences with respect to taste or their dietary needs.
As all your guests are around you, you can talk to them as you cook, and you may even find that they want to join in and help you which is always welcome. Once the food is ready every guest can be seated around the grill and eat their food as the outer part of top section is wide enough for plates, cups, cutlery, and condiments.
5. Undercover Outdoor Kitchen
If your garden is large enough an option might be to have your outdoor kitchen housed within a structure that is open on all sides, but which has a roof. This structure can be made from timber so it should not cost too much to create. You would have all your kitchen equipment inside the structure along with a refrigerator and a table and chair is space allows.
In the summer months, you will still benefit from the sun, but with the roof, it keeps the hot sun’s rays from you while are eating, and especially while you are cooking. When the sun is nowhere to be seen, and it is replaced by rain clouds you can still use the kitchen thanks to the roof.
Another aspect of this is that you can install lighting so that you can still use your outdoor kitchen in darker evenings. A great way to light your undercover outdoor kitchen is with string lights which are very decorative and add a great ambiance while you eat.
An excellent example of these is Brightech Ambience Pro LED Outdoor String Lights which are very economical with regards to power usage.
6. Open a Tiki Bar
Although strictly speaking it is not an outdoor kitchen, an awesome addition if you already have one is to add a homemade tiki bar. It does not need to be elaborate and in fact the simpler they are the closer they are to the real thing that exists near the tropical beaches.
One option could be to purchase a small garden shed and locate it in your garden. You could then fit it with a refrigerator and some shelving and decorate it as you please. One fun addition would be to have a serving hatch that you open with a piece of rope.
An even simpler option would be to simply create a wooden frame and add a countertop to act as the serving area of your tiki bar. You could also decorate it accordingly to make it look and feel more tropical with a grass table skirt being the finishing touch. Believe or not you can actually buy these with one of the most colorful being the Suppromo 9ft Hawaiian Luau Grass Table Skirt.
All that remains is for you decide what drinks you are going to stock your tiki bar with. Unfortunately, that is something we can’t advise you on, not because we don’t want to, but if it were up to us, we would tell you to stock it with everything!