What is included in a basic outdoor kitchen?

Learn what is included in a basic outdoor kitchen by Nest Outdoors landscape design and construction company

Written by Wayne Lamarre · Last Updated February 2nd, 2023

What is included in a basic outdoor kitchen?

Outdoor kitchens are more popular than ever for homeowners because they're a great way to get in some grillin' and chillin' with family and friends in an open outdoor setting. 

As such, this article will cover what is included in a basic outdoor kitchen. Because adding one to your newly landscaped backyard can be life-changing.

Overstated? We think not. 

Key takeaways from this landscape design article from Nest Outdoors:

  1. A gas grill is the backbone of an outdoor kitchen.
  2. Storage cabinets and utensil drawers are essential.
  3. You can add many additional features to level up your outdoor kitchen.
  4. The cost of a basic outdoor kitchen depends on the features added.
  5. Popular finishes include stainless steel and natural stone.

Outdoor kitchen designed by Nest Outdoors of Bedford New Hampshire

Anyone paying attention realizes that making your home more comfortable and functional for extended periods is an intelligent thing to do. 

An upgraded backyard living area that includes an outdoor kitchen provides you with a space where you can be creative with your meal choices, like hosting a sunny brunch with your besties or even dining outdoors on cooler evenings in your comfy clothes with an outdoor heater nearby. With its natural and stylish design features like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances and fixtures, the outdoor kitchens don't just look great but will quickly become the center attraction of your backyard landscape. 

Don't be surprised when friends and neighbors alike suggest hanging out at your house more often. And why not? An outdoor kitchen makes your house number one on the block by using the additional square foot of your backyard space for entertaining excellence.

With this turn towards outdoor living and the growing desire for outdoor kitchens, it makes sense to go over what is included in a basic outdoor kitchen.


But first things first...

Are outdoor kitchens worth the investment?

One of the first things that probably came to mind when you started thinking about adding an outdoor kitchen was, is it worth it? The best way to think about this question is to frame it in the context of your home value and how much you intend to use it. 

Undoubtedly, outdoor kitchens increase property value by enhancing outdoor living spaces, which leads to more enjoyable backyard experiences. However, the installation and costs should be considered before making the investment. You want to make sure you will use it often enough because it does require a significant budget for all the appliances and custom features you can add. 

Factors that affect the cost of an outdoor kitchen:

  • Quality of appliances
  • Number of appliances
  • Materials
  • Construction method (dictated by materials)
  • Overall size


An additional consideration for overall cost is how the outdoor kitchen is integrated into an overall backyard landscape design. For example, a stand-alone, single-unit kitchen and nothing else will come with a lower cost than a kitchen whose design calls for it to be integrated into a plan that includes seating, a large patio, adjacent plantings, and something that requires a much more significant investment like a pavilion. 

Large outdoor kitchen projects can easily exceed six figures but scaled down, basic outdoor kitchens can be significantly less. But ask anyone who had a custom outdoor kitchen designed and installed for them if it was worth it, and they will quickly respond with a resounding YES! 


We are getting more requests for outdoor kitchens in our landscape designs. It's such a useful and beautiful addition to any backyard.

Wayne Lamarre - Owner Nest Outdoors

The three most common elements of an outdoor kitchen

1. Gas Grill - The backbone of every outdoor kitchen

A gas grill is the obvious backbone of any outdoor kitchen.

Grills have always been part of the long-standing tradition of cooking food outdoors, from open-fire to charcoal versions. Like in every other aspect of our time-pressed lives, convenience and speed matter, so gas grills now carry on the outdoor tradition high style to boot. The grill is always the centerpiece of the outdoor kitchen and is a focal point for gatherings and meals. The versatility and convenience of cooking on a gas grill make it a must-have for any outdoor kitchen. A good quality stainless steel grill can last for many years, making it worthwhile to invest in a good one for those who love to cook and entertain outdoors.


If you fancy yourself a real cooking enthusiast, you might want to opt to buy a gas grill with a rotisserie option. While the stakes are sizzling on the grill, you can double the delicious food production with the rotisserie with tasty options like roasted whole chicken and vegetable kebabs.


2. Storage Cabinet

Most basic outdoor kitchens will have at least one storage cabinet.

Why? Because built-in gas grills have gas hookups to them that need to be accessible for maintenance while hidden from view. An open space under the grill is helpful for this. This open space may also be required to house a portable LP tank under the grill if natural gas isn't an option. Slap some sleek stainless steel or rustic wood doors on that open space, and viola! You've got your first storage cabinet.


In general, storage cabinets in an outdoor kitchen are incredibly helpful. They provide a secure and organized space for storing cooking essentials and supplies, such as dishes, glasses, tablecloths, and even small portable appliances. Mudslides anyone?


Cabinets keep the outdoor kitchen tidy and can prevent items from getting lost or damaged. A storage cabinet can also be used to store seasonal items that are not needed on a daily basis, freeing up valuable counter space for better uses. Having a storage cabinet also allows for easy access to items, reducing the need to run back and forth between the indoor kitchen and the outdoor cooking area, so you don't need to miss out on any of the get-together fun.


3. A Utensil Drawer

It's great to have the storage cabinet, but who wants to crouch down when you need to grab the spatula?

A utensil drawer in an outdoor kitchen is a must-have because you need to properly store all your outdoor cooking tools as a renowned BBQ guru. Need a spatula, tongs, or serving spoons? No problem, they will all be within arms reach. The wonderful thing about drawers is that they make all kitchen activities more efficient, keep the cooking area organized and clutter-free, and make it easier to keep surfaces clear as a good chef should.

Having all the necessary cooking tools stored in one place also ensures that they are protected from the elements, prolonging their lifespan. Bonus!


Rustic outdoor kitchen with natural stone veneer in Bow New Hampshire designed by Nest Outdoors

It's so nice to take daily dining or entertaining experiences outdoors.

Nest Outdoors

What do you add to your outdoor kitchen if you want to go beyond the basics?

So now that you know the three most essential items for even the most basic of outdoor kitchens, let's talk about some more features to add if you really want to up your backyard entertaining game. 


Next-level outdoor kitchen features:


  1. Refrigerator: It could be argued that this is a basic necessity for keeping drinks and ingredients cool, making it a must-have. And you'd get no argument from us. 
  2. Sink & Faucet: For cleaning, food preparation, and filling water balloons at your kiddo's next birthday party.
  3. Side burners: For additional yummy cooking options.
  4. Trash and recycling receptacles: We design them to fit into a dedicated cabinet to keep them hidden but easily roll out needed. 
  5. Smoker or rotisserie: We talked about this one already for worth mentioning again for slow-cooking deliciousness.


Next, NEXT level outdoor kitchen features:


  1. Beverage refrigerator: Who wants to sift through leftover casseroles and burgers in tinfoil when you need an adult beverage?
  2. Landscape lighting: Nighttime is always the right time for outdoor kitchen use.
  3. Pizza oven: For gourmet pizzas or a fun way to get the kids involved in the meal prep.
  4. Bar area: For drinks and seating and to keep the chef company while they do their thing.
  5. Ice bin: On the rocks, please!
  6. Shade structure or canopy: To keep the cook, the countertops, and the atmosphere cool, happy, and protected from the elements. No rain on this BBQ parade!
  7. Fireplace or fire gas fire pit: Now, this is really a next-level feature that you won't be sorry you included
  8. Outdoor heaters: Permanently installed or portable, a little heat is tough to beat on those crispy fall days.
  9. Sound system: Set the mood or rock the house. Your choice.

A few more outdoor kitchen considerations

Consider doubling up on storage cabinets and drawers

A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, add more storage. 

Adding extra storage cabinets and drawers to an outdoor kitchen ensures that essentials like utensils and necessities like spices & seasonings are always close by. You also want a bit more room for tableware or table covers and extra cups that come in handy to keep the party flowing. Additional drawers mean you can store everything you want close by when cooking, like grilling tools such as tongs, spatulas, brushes, basting brushes, forks, thermometers, and more. 

Having a designated place to keep everything organized makes it easier to find items quickly without having to search through the cupboards or drawers inside the house. 

The importance of counter space

Having enough counter space in an outdoor kitchen is important because it provides ample room for food prep, serving, and storage, allowing for more efficient and comfortable cooking and dining.

It also enables multiple people to work in the kitchen simultaneously without feeling cramped or cluttered.

Extra counter space can also be used for additional dining space or even just a little more safe square footage to set down a drink.

Naturally, the more appliances and features you add to your outdoor kitchen, the more countertop you'll gain to fit it all in. What's the most popular countertop material for outdoor kitchens in New Hampshire? Granite, of course. 


Popular finishes for outdoor kitchens

Stainless steel

Look at any outdoor kitchen online or stop by your friend's house with a great landscape design and outdoor kitchen, and you'll confirm that the most popular finish for appliances is stainless steel. The great thing about stainless steel, and undoubtedly a big reason it is so popular, is its durability. It can come in a few colors and finishes, but all are easy to clean and resistant to weather and corrosion. It's our top choice as well. 

Natural stone

Natural stone is tough to beat for its durability and beauty. For most outdoor kitchens in New Hampshire, natural stone veneer is the finish of choice. It gives the kitchen a solid, timeless feel and perfectly matches the native scenery of the granite state. There are lots of sizes and styles to choose from, some more rustic, some a bit sleeker. The right natural stone veneer works with the architecture and adjacent surfaces like the patios or decks. 

What are typical floor options for outdoor kitchens?

Flooring, or "flat work" as we refer to it in the industry, is generally what would be used for a typical patio surface. The most popular choices would be concrete pavers which come in numerous colors and textures, clay pavers like Pine Hall or Boston City Hall pavers, blue stone, or granite. View three popular choices here.

If your outdoor kitchen is part of a deck, then you would consider deck finishes like natural wood with redwood or cedar popular. Alternatively, composite materials like Trex or Timber Tech come in a wide variety of looks and colors.

How much does a basic outdoor kitchen cost?

As of the writing of this article, the stainless steel features alone cost:

  • Gas grill $2300-$7600+
  • Storage cabinet doors $215 - $800+
  • Single drawer $350+
  • Cabinet/Drawer combo unit $375+

This brings the total for just units of a basic outdoor kitchen in the range of $2856 to over $8750, depending on the choices made. 

Add in the materials and labor to create built-in appliances surrounded by natural stone veneer and a granite countertop (Typical for New Hampshire), and that basic but beautiful outdoor kitchen will come to require a multiple 5-figure investment. 

Note: Numerous variables go into a custom-designed outdoor kitchen design for your home. Contact us, and we can discuss your needs and develop a budget for your project. I want to discuss my outdoor kitchen.


Wrapping it all up


Having an outdoor kitchen not only increases the convenience of entertaining family and friends but it also creates an enjoyable environment while enhancing one's lifestyle. You can create a cozy ambiance with comfy seating arrangements around alfresco dining tables, accentuate the area with beautiful plants or get creative with decorative lighting designs– all designed to give you a magical experience outdoors all year round!


Get your outdoor kitchen designed for you


Building an outdoor kitchen requires careful planning starting with developing the right design and budget, then thoughtfully integrating your kitchen design into an overall backyard landscape design. 

Nest Outdoors of Bedford, New Hampshire, specializes in professional landscape design services. 

Our design process efficiently arrives at a custom combination of appliances and features for your outdoor kitchen. We'll guide you with material options that are perfect for you, your family, and your property. As experienced landscape contractors, we are well-versed in construction methods and building techniques and build every project with craftsmanship and an artistic eye that you'll want to tell all your friends about (or invite them over to see for themselves). 

Contact us to make this summer sizzle with a new outdoor kitchen and experience some outdoor happiness designed just for you. 

Concrete or clay pavers or natural stones like bluestone or granite are standard options for durable, low-maintenance flooring in outdoor kitchen areas in New Hampshire.

It depends on the weather conditions and other aspects of the total project. Some outdoor kitchens are part of a pavilion design that can be covered and heated in colder weather to allow construction to continue. Generally, it's best to install outdoor kitchens during warmer months.

Like most things home-related, regular cleaning and upkeep of the appliances and surfaces are necessary to maintain the outdoor kitchen's functionality and appearance. The frequency of maintenance will depend on how much you use it and the weather conditions.

LED lights are energy-efficient and durable options for outdoor kitchens. They can be located just under the countertop overhang, which looks beautiful when they cast light down and across natural stone veneer surfaces. Generally, the lights used in and around your outdoor kitchen will be a part of an overall outdoor lighting plan to create ambiance, safety, and security at night while minimizing disruption to the nighttime ecology.

While outdoor kitchen components are designed to be weather-resistant, minimizing all appliances' exposure to rainfall is recommended. However, if you add a shade structure over the kitchen, it does double duty by offering protection from the rain as well. This makes the kitchen usable in almost any weather conditions as it keeps appliances covered and protects cooking surfaces from rain to prolong their lifespan.

Wayne Lamarre is the owner of the Bedford landscaping and design company Nest Outdoors

About the author of this article

Wayne Lamarre

Wayne founded Nest Outdoors to expand great home-living experiences to your backyard. He combines his formal art, landscaping, and design education with over 25 years of project construction experience.

Learn more about Wayne

It's time for better outdoor living!

Contact Nest Outdoors for your landscape design

Outdoor kitchen design with pavilion and fireplace in Bedford NH from landscape designer Nest Outdoors

Outdoor kitchen concept for a landscape design client in Bedford, New Hampshire, from Nest Outdoors. This concept includes a gas grill, sink with faucet, refrigerator, storage cabinets, utensil drawers, and gas fireplace housed in a shade pavilion.

Bedford landscape designer Nest Outdoors

Nest Outdoors

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