In the warmer, brighter months, we love to dine outside and host parties on the balcony, porch, or in our garden. So why not make it easier and cook outside, too? We’re ever admirers of outdoor kitchens, which bring all of the function of an indoor cook space to the patio or poolside, so you can prepare sumptuous meals without having to miss a minute of a get-together (or haul platters from the kitchen to the backyard).

Whether you have a tiny space and budget—enough for basic appliances like a grill, outdoor sink, small counter, and perhaps a mini fridge—or are ready to splash out on something more full-scale, Appliances Connection can help you realize your ideal outdoor kitchen. A one-stop online purveyor of appliances, fixtures, and plumbing essentials, from budget to luxury, they carry more than 300 appliance brands and have over 50,000 items in stock and ready to ship, so you can get your outdoor kitchen up and running asap.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few expert tips for creating an enviable outdoor kitchen—no matter your space or budget.

above: an l shaped “eat in” outdoor kitchen. 10
Above: An L-shaped “eat-in” outdoor kitchen.

1. Evaluate your space.

Planning an outdoor kitchen starts as any remodel does: by considering your existing space. How much room do you have? Is there a level, clear area where your kitchen can go? What layout—single-counter, island, U-shape, L-shape—fits best?

Albert Fouerti, founder and CEO of Appliances Connection, points out that for open-air kitchens in particular, it’s important to ensure a good flow that also is out of the way of other outdoor activities (like backyard games and running kids). You’ll also need to answer a key question: Will this be an extension of your indoor kitchen, working in conjunction with it, or will it serve as a standalone kitchen? The answer likely has to do with how much space you have and how far away your kitchen is from your backyard or patio—it’ll help determine your design and appliances selection.

above: open air kitchens can be petite and simple, yet stylish and functional. 11
Above: Open-air kitchens can be petite and simple, yet stylish and functional.

2. Come up with a budget.

From simple to luxurious, outdoor kitchens can vary greatly. Your budget, as well as space constraints, will determine which is best for you. Here, a breakdown of the possibilities based on budget parameters and average costs for grills, outdoor-safe refrigerators, sinks and faucets, kegerators and more:

$4,000 and under: Grill ($1,700; the Weber Genesis Series 62 Inch Freestanding Natural Gas Grill is $999) + under-counter refrigerator (about $500) + optional sink and faucet (about $800)

$4,000-$10,000: Grill ($1,700) + full-size refrigerator ($1,000) + upgraded sink and faucet ($1,200) + optional add-ons like a pizza oven ($1,800)

$10,000+: Premium grill ($5,000) + sink and faucet ($1,500) + refrigerator ($1,000) + ice maker ($1,800) + pizza oven ($1,800) + ventilation for grills with higher BTUs ($1,500), plus entertaining add-ons like a kegerator ($1,500) or ice maker (the Summit 15-Inch Built-In Ice Maker
is $1,632).

above: weather resistant wood countertops make an excellent prep space. 12
Above: Weather-resistant wood countertops make an excellent prep space.

3. Build your kitchen.

Just like an indoor cooking space, an outdoor kitchen needs a few key components, including fixtures for cooking, refrigeration, and plumbing—all specifically designed for safe use outdoors—and an area for both prep and storage. Retailers offer a wide range of options for each, from budget to luxe, so you can pick and choose the components that work for you (or go with a ready-to-go kitchen package).

above: a grill, under counter fridge, and plenty of counter space makes an effi 13
Above: A grill, under-counter fridge, and plenty of counter space makes an efficient outdoor kitchen.

4. Don’t forget the essentials. 

In addition to appliances, don’t forget practicalities like built-in trash and recycling for easy disposal while cooking (and to keep pests at bay), an ice maker to avoid constantly filling ice trays, and, of course, a sink for prepping produce and cleaning up.

And ask yourself a few questions as you decide on appliances and layout: Will you need to set up plumbing, gas, or electric lines to your outdoor space? What about drainage for rainwater? Remember that construction of permanent structures usually requires permits, footings, and inspection by municipal engineers, advises Fouerti. Check with your local zoning board or city building department before embarking on the project.

above: outdoor cook spaces are particularly charming poolside. 14
Above: Outdoor cook spaces are particularly charming poolside.

5. Wiggle room in the budget? Splurge on an extra (or two).

Once you’ve gotten the essentials in place, if you still have money in your budget, consider adding an accessory that will make your outdoor space that much more usable and enjoyable. Love entertaining for a crowd? Add a pizza oven: Fouerti recommends the popular XO Outdoor 40-Inch Wood-Fired Pizza Oven, ($3,149); if your budget is limited, consider the Forte 14-Inch Portable Pellet Pizza Oven ($224.99). For summer cocktail hours, a wine fridge or kegerator keeps beverages cold and at the ready, separate from the fridge for meats and veggies by the grill.

above: a small scale
 kitchen with optimal functionality. 15
Above: A small-scale kitchen with optimal functionality.

6. Prepare for the weather.

Make sure to choose materials specifically designed for outdoor use: Appliances Connection surveyed a group of designers, who recommend stainless-steel, teak, or cypress cabinets; Dekton or concrete counters; and UV-resistant materials. Anything with a water line (i.e., a sink) will need to be winterized in the colder months. And an expert tip? Figure out where the sun will be in relation to your kitchen and seating, Allie Mann, senior designer for Case Design/Remodeling in Bethesda, MD, told Appliances Connection. You don’t want sun (or wind) in your face; orient a different way, or consider a screen or fabric shade.

above: don’t forget lighting to illuminate cooking surfaces, and set a m 16
Above: Don’t forget lighting to illuminate cooking surfaces, and set a mood.

7. Set the scene. 

Last but not least, add accessories like outdoor lighting, dining furniture, and maybe even a fire pit (like the Safavieh Bangkok Fire Pit) to create an open-air space for cooking (and eating) in all summer long.

To outfit your outdoor kitchen and see more tips, head to Appliances Connection.