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A small outdoor kitchen is like adding an additional room to your home! It is easy to set up and can be a great addition to any outdoor space for entertaining, relaxing, and dining! 

Our family is going through a small kitchen renovation and needed a space to use while the renovation was happening. We had a wonderful outdoor patio already and decided it would be the perfect space to use. Here is how we set up our small outdoor kitchen space to use and enjoy! 

Outdoor farmhouse dining table with tulips on it.

Benefits of A Small Outdoor Kitchen

Building a small outdoor kitchen is perfect for making the most of your backyard. It lets you cook and dine outside and incorporates a bit of Hygge into your home by spending time outdoors and enjoying nature just a little bit more. 

An outdoor kitchen is great for entertaining friends and family, and it adds a fun, practical element to your outdoor living space. Plus, as an added bonus, it can even boost your home’s value!

How To Set Up An Outdoor Kitchen

1. Location and Design

Before you begin setting up your outdoor kitchen, it is important to consider the location and design so that you end up with a functional outdoor kitchen. Start by measuring the area where you want your outdoor kitchen and thinking about the layout and available space.

Decide what you’ll use the kitchen for, whether it’s grilling, smoking, a dining area, or preparing full meals. Setting a budget is always a great way to keep costs in check and can be crucial as it will guide your choices for materials, appliances, and other components. 

Pick a spot close to your indoor kitchen for convenience but not so close that smoke and odors will enter the house. Ideally, place your outdoor kitchen under a covered area or add an awning or pergola for some protection from the elements.

Just be sure that if your area is covered, it has a high enough ceiling or covered area that smoke won’t be trapped while cooking.

Also, consider the availability of utilities like electricity, gas, and water; you might need to run new lines to the location.

A beautiful farmhouse style small outdoor kitchen set up with a large wooden dining room table.

Once you have the location figured out, you need to think about the main purpose of the space. Include seating for dining and socializing; choose comfortable, weather-resistant outdoor furniture. Will you have a fireplace or fire pit area that can add warmth and ambiance for cooler evenings, making your outdoor kitchen a cozy spot all year round?

Patio Kitchen Essentials

Years ago, we added a large pergola on the back patio and have always enjoyed this dining and entertaining area. Before we could set up our outdoor kitchen, we covered it with a clear corrugated fiberglass product that we had used at our tiny house, too. It worked so well and was quite affordable.

 I had built cabinets around our Tregar smoker using salvaged doors from a heritage home in our neighborhood. I loved that it kept the Victorian home’s character but gave us additional countertops and a prep area for cooking meals on the smoker.  

Our wood-burning outdoor fireplace is right beside the area on the salvaged brick patio, and the hot tub is just off to the side. The whole space feels so cozy and relaxing.

Built in Treager smoker in an outdoor kitchen space.

2. Cooking Appliances

A good quality grill is the heart of a great outdoor cooking space, so choose one that fits your cooking style, whether it’s a built-in gas grill, regular grill, charcoal, or electric. Decide if you want any other types of outdoor cook stoves, smokers, or griddles as well, and make adjustments to the space as needed. 

We usually use our smoker, as I can cook and bake with it, but I do keep a small BBQ grill that can be stored just underneath our smoker and pulled out whenever we choose to use it.  

A crockpot and air fryer are also super handy in our patio kitchen. I have both tucked away in our cabinet storage! Having adequate storage brings me to my next tip.

A DIY outdoor kitchen with a built in smoker.

3. Storage Solutions

Storage space is key; make sure to include plenty of counter space for food prep, storage, and serving. Add space-saving solutions like cabinets or shelving for your utensils, spices, and other essentials, using waterproof or weather-resistant materials to keep everything protected. 

If you don’t have a lot of space to add lower cabinets, think outside the box and try adding open shelving or storage options on the walls or vertical space of the small space. Baskets and buckets look great and work well if you don’t have built-in storage. 

An antique pie cupboard being used for storage in a small outdoor kitchen.

Along with dishware and food, I needed to make sure there was enough storage for a few small appliances that I wanted to keep outdoors, such as a kettle, air fryer, crockpot, and a few other compact appliances. I also wanted to have a prep station, so I used my potting bench, which worked perfectly for our outdoor kitchen design. 

A garden potting table being used for as a counter and storage outside.

4. Outdoor Sink And Wash Station

A sink with running water is super handy for food prep and cleanup. Just make sure you have proper drainage and plumbing. We used an antique washstand, and it is perfect.

I placed a vintage apple basket below the basin that had all of my cleaning supplies and dish soap. We also had the plumber add a hot water tap to the sink, and it has been great! Food preparation and clean-up outside are actually very enjoyable when you have a set-up cooking area!

A wash basin sink that is being used in an outdoor kitchen space.

Need help organizing your kitchen space? Try any of these organizational tips for the kitchen!

5. Refrigerator And Food Storage

A small outdoor-rated fridge is great for keeping drinks and perishables cool. Having some staple food items in the outdoor area makes cooking a breeze. 

We brought our kitchen fridge outside; however, when our renovation is done, we will add a mini fridge or an outdoor refrigerator in its place, as this feature has been wonderful! We also added a storage area for some food items and cooking essentials, such as salt, pepper, cooking oils, and spices.

A fridge with storage baskets on it being used in an outdoor kitchen space.

6. Decorating The Space

This is the fun part. You can make this outdoor kitchen area your own by adding outdoor area rugs, patterned throw pillows, a unique dining table, or even string lights. 

When we first built this patio, I knew I wanted to have a great big farmhouse table to the dining space to host many friends and family gatherings. We added a chandelier above the table to give it a beautiful focal point! 

A beautiful small outdoor kitchen space.

I incorporated as many of my favorite weather-proof antiques as I could. Some of my favorites to give texture and contrast are woven baskets, enamel buckets, and French market baskets. Just make sure that any decor items in the space are made of durable materials.

String lights are one of those design elements that always make a space feel cozy and create a beautiful ambiance. Adding plants, vines, and other natural materials will also enhance the overall aesthetic appeal! I have a few “go-to” patio plants that not only look beautiful all summer long but also smell amazing in the outdoor kitchen.

Tulips in an antique white enamel bucket on a piece of white linen.

Basics like linen kitchen towels, rustic cutting boards, and wooden scrub brushes are practical and make a kitchen feel comfortable and cozy. You can shop similar items in my B Vintage Style Shop or the Garden Market. 

Ironstone soap dish with a wooden scrub brush on top.

7. Enjoy The Small Outdoor Kitchen

Once you have your perfect outdoor kitchen all set up, it is time to start enjoying this functional space. You will never regret turning a small area into an outdoor living experience.

A simple and small outdoor kitchen space.

Outdoor Kitchen Video

Take a tour of our small farmhouse style outdoor kitchen.

I hope this has inspired you to build your own outdoor kitchen! It adds an additional space to your home that is both functional and enjoyable to use! Follow along as I continue to take on our interior kitchen remodel. You can join us on my email list and on Instagram.

What To Cook In An Outdoor Kitchen

I love to cook so many amazing recipes in our outdoor kitchen. Here are a few of our family favorites!

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