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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Advice for outdoor kitchens

Reader Prepared Grammy asked the following question:
I’m needing some advice from others who have experience. I am in the process of planning an outdoor kitchen and a screened-in porch, which I will be starting in a few weeks (hopefully). I want an area to relax, read, and enjoy the weather and scenery. I also want an outdoor kitchen, including a wood-fired oven.

Do you or any of your readers have any experience with an outdoor kitchen? What advice would you give me? I want to learn from the experiences and mistakes of others. Harvey and Irma have made me want to start the process soon. Thanks for your help.
I have no experience with outdoor kitchens, but it sure would be nice to get input from others. So please, pitch in with your advice and wisdom, and let's give Prepared Grammy a hand.


  1. I was just looking at examples of outdoor kitchens the other day and saw this on on You Tube..it's pretty nice.
    I would want a little more enclosure in case of rain and wind. Good luck with the project.

    1. I like her kitchen. I agree about more enclosure. I wish she had a wood-fired oven for me to see. I'm wanting that too. There are some great ideas here. I think I want a concrete countertop...maybe.

    2. Wood-fired oven would be great..I watched Jon Townsend of "Jas. Townsend" old timey supplies, build a wood-fired oven..it's on You Tube.. he has lots of great videos about that kind of stuff and lots of old receipts.

  2. A pot filler faucet over or near the cooking surface. Trust me, you'll love it.

    Bamboo or Roman blinds or some sort of thing to keep the sun off on the side it's most likely to come from.

    Tiny lights, either party-type lights or embedded LEDs at any stairs. Around the bottom of them so you see them while looking down. Keeps evening tripping to a minimum.

    A ceiling fan. A bit of breeze helps keep mosquitoes away, and feels nice if you get those breathless still days or nights.

    1. A ceiling fan is on my list. I don't like mosquitoes, but they love me.

    2. I know just what you mean about mosquitoes, I have found since I cook every meal with garlic they love me less.

  3. Please, look at the youtube videos of An American Homestead. They have built an outdoor kitchen that is used every day, all spring, summer and fall. It is utilitarian and practical. It could be a starting point for your plans. Good Luck...DJ

    1. I just watched one. Thanks. That gives me a lot of ideas.

  4. Since we live in FL, my screened & covered outdoor kitchen is used year around. Sure, I do plenty of grilling outside. But I also love the outdoor outlets we included. They let me use the outdoor kitchen for things like dehydrating stinky onions, or using a large hot plate to pressure can outside. I've also used a roaster pan to cook outside when I didn't want to heat up my kitchen.

    I would also agree with another poster about the fan. While my kitchen is screened in and thus I don't have a mosquito issue, it is nice to cool off in the summer and to push away any smoke that might otherwise gather.

  5. While my garage kitchen may not be a true "outdoor" Kitchen, it does serve to keep the house kitchen cool. I have a stove that a neighbor had tossed out during a remodel(it is propane and I rigged it to work on a 20 or 30 pound tank). Another neighbor had tossed our a plastic utility sink which I have rigged to work off my yard hose for washing vegies. I use my turkey cooker for large batches like cob corn, and a wash tub for a cooling off tank. I have found several large cookers at garage sales for under $20. It amazes me that people have no ides what they are for. Its all pretty basic but serves the purpose.

    Carl in the UP

  6. planning, planning, planning. get some graph paper and scale model everything. then arrange and re arrange everything, add new things, drop un needed things, and have fun with the layout until you have something that is functional and confortable. my parents took 3 months planning the kitchen for their cabin remodel...and it was worth every minute when they were finished.

  7. "I’m needing some advice from others who have experience. I am in the process of planning an outdoor kitchen and a screened-in porch, which I will be starting in a few weeks (hopefully). I want an area to relax, read, and enjoy the weather and scenery. I also want an outdoor kitchen, including a wood-fired oven."

    You do not say what your budget is, however I will assume that you do not have a minimum of $20,000.00 or more to spend.

    In my old home in California before I moved to become a hillbilly, I had built a 14 foot X 40 screened in porch. We used this for everything from sleeping in the summer when the AC died to large parties.

    I would start with a fireplace that would act as a wood stove and oven. There are prefab units that can be purchased to save money.

    I would add 2 free standing laundry tubs, no plumbing is needed as the water can be heated at the fireplace and a 5 gallon bucket under the wash tubs for drainage into the garden.

    An electric outlet and stove for canning.

    A minimum of 4 6 foot long folding tables for food prep and eating. These folding tables would also work well for canning prep and holding the canned jars until they cool.

    I would add some heavy duty hooks to hold folding chairs to keep them out of the way when not needed.

    I would also add some kind of weather proof cabinet to hold dishes, cooking utensils, dish towels, cloth napkins, table cloths, dishes, knives, forks and spoons.

    If you have a charcoal bbq consider adding a layer or 2 of fire brick it will make the bbq last longer.

    If you have the additional funds and electrical outlets a small dorm style refrigerator to hold drinks.

    The sets of extra dishes, cooking utensils, eating utensils, can be purchased a a local goodwill for little money, so you are not moving from the screened in porch to the kitchen and back again over and over.

  8. Hi from Australia! Off-grid with Doug and Stacy built one, they have a YouTube channel, I would search off-grid with Doug and Stacy outdoor kitchen. Their videos are usually informative and helpful. I hope you enjoy your outdoor kitchen! :)

  9. Happy birthday Patrice! Enjoy!

  10. I have thought about this for a bit and have come to the conclusion that three cooking surfaces is a minimum for an outdoor "kitchen". One flat top as a grill for eggs, pancakes. Another one for direct heating; like a Weber style grill. Another one for indirect; like a smoker.


  11. Look for old propane/gas appliances, the ones that are built like tanks. You can get them cheap from salvage stores. Worth the money to have some appliance-tech (that you trust) check them over. Clean them real well, inside and out.

    Then, before refinishing them (touch up on enamel/paint or re-oiling cast iron if you are lucky) look for all open places that mice and reptiles can get in. Especially around the gas supply lines. Seal these areas off with metal screening or stainless pot scrubbers.

    Make sure all appliances are jacked up off the floor by at least an inch. You can usually replace the little feet that come on appliances with heavier and longer bolts like a carriage bolt (head on the floor.) And make sure you can move them once you get them in place, as you will want to clean behind and under them on a relatively common basis.

    Stopping vermin from getting into your appliances is paramount to running a good outdoor kitchen.

    If you only need a small to midsize range, try an RV dealership, especially one with a junkyard. RV stoves/ovens tend to be pretty rugged.

  12. I don't know if you have seen this, but this woman took apart an old wood cookstove and made it into a wood-fired cook top and separate oven. It is kind of neat. http://frugalhomesteads.blogspot.com/2010/01/mondays-mountain-musings.html

  13. Our family was partial to a 4' below ground building, with windows on nearly all the walls. We had running water, a propane range like you use in a normal kitchen, plenty of shelving for storage and countertops for work surfaces. To let out the heat from canning, they would lower the top windows by 3 or 4 inches, to keep breezes from affecting the flames and also to keep them from hitting the jars fresh from the canners. Also the heat would filter out that way. Being a bit below ground level helped keep the kitchen a bit cooler, too. The building was about 8x16, and we kids got to use it as a playhouse when it wasn't in use, weather never affected us, and the grownups were more than happy to have the noise outside instead of in the house. I dream of having one of my own someday. Good luck on whatever design you choose.