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Dimensions for Outdoor Kitchen: The Top 5 Considerations You Need to Know

By James King

September 27, 2022

One of the best things you can do for your backyard is to build a good outdoor living space… Especially an outdoor grill island.

…But whether you have a spacious backyard or a small patio… Planning out the specific dimensions for outdoor kitchen designs can be very difficult!

You’ll have to think about all kinds of details that many homeowners take for granted when they buy a prefabricated outdoor kitchen.

There are so many different things to consider… And there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

But don’t worry! This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to choose the perfect dimensions for outdoor kitchen designs.

Starting off with a broad question… How big should your outdoor kitchen be?

rta outdoor kitchen plans and blueprints on a wooden table

How Big Should Your Outdoor Kitchen Be?

rta outdoor kitchen with a stacked stone finish and granite countertop in nj

We won’t lie… It can be complicated to design your outdoor kitchen plans from scratch.

But it’s much easier to look at the smaller details when you have a ballpark estimate of how large you want the whole structure to be.

You might be wondering what’s normal for a grill island!

Looking at some of the most popular size selections can give you an idea of how big your outdoor kitchen will need to be to hold all the appliances and amenities you’re hoping for.

Standard Outdoor Kitchen Sizes

When people talk about their grill island measurements… The length of the countertops is usually the first thing they’ll mention.

The height and depth of most outdoor kitchen countertops are fairly consistent. While there’s some variance… It’s usually only within a few inches (we’ll get into the specific numbers later).

On the other hand… Your island’s cabinet dimensions can be as long or short as you want!

To get an idea of how big the dimensions for outdoor kitchens should be… Let’s take a quick look at some of the standard dimensions for outdoor kitchens! These will be calculated by length.

1. Small (less than 10 linear feet)

Small outdoor kitchens typically only have room for the necessities. For most people, that will include a cooking appliance, some storage, and a little countertop space. Some people will also opt for a sink if there is room.

2. Essentials (about 13 linear feet)

modern concrete outdoor kitchen by rta for mike pyle

This size will include all of the essentials from a small outside kitchen… Plus one or two extra items. For many people, this will be a fridge or an outdoor kitchen sink. You might also have room for another appliance, like a cooktop! You can also fit in a few bar stools at an island countertop of this size.

3. Medium (about 16 linear feet)

A medium island will have more room for “extras”… Like increased storage space, a fridge and sink, more expansive countertop space, or other cooking appliances like an outdoor flat top grill or side burner.

4. Large (more than 20 linear feet)

u shaped outdoor kitchen under pergola with pizza oven and pellet grill

Large summer kitchens will have room for all kinds of amenities and appliances! This is where you can get much more extravagant with your selections.

With a large outdoor kitchen, the sky’s the limit!

Many people will get a second larger appliance, like an outdoor pizza oven, along with their favorite grill. It’s common for people to invest in a fridge, sink, and maybe an icemaker as well.

You can have much more countertop space… And all the storage you need.

Now that you have a ballpark idea of how big most outside kitchens are and how much they can fit… You can start thinking about what size you want!

Of course… Bigger isn’t always better.

Before you jump to one size or another… You’ll want to ask yourself a few questions to decide how big you really need it.

Outdoor Kitchen designed to size

Use our free 3D design tool to bring the outdoor kitchen of your dreams to reality in just a few minutes.

How to Determine the Best Outdoor Kitchen Dimensions for Your Backyard

An outdoor grill station is something that should last a lifetime… So you don’t want to find out later that you actually need more room or want another appliance…

And you don’t want to spend money unnecessarily and go overboard on features you won’t use!

There are five questions you should ask yourself to decide on the right size.

1) How Much Space Do I Have?

First of all, you want to measure the space where your grill island will sit.

You don’t have to use up all the available space in your backyard! In fact, it’s probably better to be a bit more reserved when you build an outdoor grill island.

You don’t want to run out of room to incorporate other features that you might want in the future.

2) What Will I Use My Outdoor Kitchen For?

The next question to ask yourself is how you plan on using it!

Dining, hosting, cooking, drinks… Or all of the above?

Not only will these considerations determine which appliances you need (which will each take up space)… It can also give you an idea of how much room you’ll need in your backyard.

For example, if you want to use your summer kitchen for some serious cooking… Maybe you need more counter space than the average person!

Or, if you want to use your outdoor kitchen for hosting… You’ll probably want bar seating! That often means a separate island for your guests to sit comfortably.

How much more room you need will depend on how many people you plan to host… Which brings us to our next question.

3) How Many People Am I Hosting?

friends gathering at outdoor kitchen to eat dinner

This question will determine two things: The appliances you need… And how much space you need for your guests.

If you’re planning on hosting large parties… You might want more appliances!

Of course, that will take up more countertop room.

Another thing to keep in mind is how much space you’ll want for your guests!

Will you want the countertops to be longer so you have more seating at the bar?

And do you want your cooking space to be larger so your family can help prepare food?

A small outside kitchen will probably only have enough room for one chef at a time… While a larger kitchen is perfect for several people at the same time!

4) What's My Budget?

It’s not quite as fun to think about your outdoor kitchen budget.

But the larger your outdoor kitchen is… The more it will cost.

It’s always a good idea to decide on a budget before you let your imagination go wild.

If you plan to DIY your outdoor kitchen… The average cost of a grill island can range from $1,200 to $2,000 per linear foot when built from scratch. This includes the base island construction, finish, countertops, grill head, and appliances.

Outdoor kitchen utilities like water and electricity will also add to the cost.

For instance, if you’re deciding between a grill island with only the essentials or one with a sink… You’ll have to factor in how much hiring a plumber will cost.

Since it’s hard to go back and change your grill island later… It’s always recommended to splurge a little to get as much out of it as possible.

Of course, you also don’t want to spend more money than you can afford.

Now you probably have an idea of how many linear feet you want your summer kitchen to be. But that doesn’t mean it has to sit in one straight line!

One great way to get the most out of your space is to optimize your outside kitchen layout.

What Shape Should My Outdoor Kitchen Be?

How are you going to choose all the different outdoor kitchen dimensions?

Let’s start by discussing the overall layout.

Choosing the right layout will help you cook more efficiently… But it can also help you get more while taking up less space in your backyard.

Common Outdoor Kitchen Shapes

Here are a few standard grill island shapes… And some of the benefits of each.

1. Linear

linear outdoor kitchen with built in grill and side burner

Linear outdoor kitchens are great for smaller spaces and budgets. They’re a straightforward way to arrange a grill island.

2. L-Shaped

l shaped outdoor kitchen with combo storage and refrigerator

Lshaped outdoor kitchens are perfect for small and medium-sized spaces. They fit corners very well… And they have a lot of open space for outdoor cooking.

3. U-Shaped

Ushaped outdoor kitchens have an open space in the middle. These are usually large outdoor kitchens… But are a very efficient way to configure your space. It’s easy for you to switch back and forth between counter spaces and appliances… And in the same amount of space longways, you get twice the length of a linear outside kitchen.

4. Galley

In a galley shape… Your islands are situated in parallel lines and are divided by a central walkway. This is similar to a U-shaped kitchen, but you can freely walk all the way through… So it’s a great way to have a large summer kitchen while maximizing your space.

At this point… You know about how big you want your outdoor kitchen dimensions to be… And what shape will suit your size the best.

But there’s more to it than that! Your countertops will have their own set of considerations to think through.

Choose the layout that fits your space

Use our free 3D design tool to bring the outdoor kitchen of your dreams to reality in just a few minutes.

Countertop Considerations

There are all kinds of considerations when it comes to creating your outdoor living area… Including the dimensions for outdoor kitchen countertops.

You’ll want to think about how tall you’d like for them to be… How much countertop space you want between appliances… How to set up your bar seating… And more!

We’ll start with height.

Outdoor Kitchen Countertop Height

Have you ever tried to cook on a countertop that’s too tall or too short for you?

It’s no fun!

Here are a few guidelines to help you plan out the perfect dimensions for outdoor kitchen countertops… For your height!

  • The standard height for countertops is 36 inches tall. At times, it is necessary to raise them to 38 inches to accommodate a fridge. The comfortable range for most is 36 to 38 inches.
  • You won’t want the countertops you use for cooking any higher than the bottom of your bent elbow. To plan ahead without looking at countertops in person… Just measure the distance from your bent elbow to the ground. Now you have the max height of the countertop.
  • Bar serve counter height varies from 42 to 46 inches tall. If you plan to use bar stools, select them ahead of time and let the height of the seat dictate your final bar height.
  • The distance between the top of the chair seat and the bottom of the countertop should be between 9 and 13 inches.

The next question to ask yourself is how much countertop space you want for each appliance!

Counter Space Considerations

When you’re trying to decide on how you want to configure your outdoor kitchen cabinets… No one wants to save room for counter space when you could put an appliance there instead.

But while your counter space may seem like an easy thing to cut down on in order to save money or get an extra feature in… It’s actually extremely useful.

Imagine trying to cook in your indoor kitchen without countertops! No thanks.

Here are some considerations for determining the dimensions for outdoor kitchen countertops:

  1. Ideally, your island should have 24 inches of uninterrupted counter space.

This will give you enough workspace room to prep your food.

  1. The recommended minimum depth for a basic countertop is 24 inches.

This should give you enough room to put in any built-in appliances… And to adequately use your cooking space.

  1. Regardless of your grill’s dimensions… It is always ideal to have 12 inches of counter space on each side of every sink and outdoor grill.

This will give you enough space for a basic food prep area around your grill… As well as room to easily set a plate down when you’re ready to load it with food. It will also give you space for placing cups or dishware beside your sink.

  1. It is ideal to have 12 inches of countertop cooking area on one side of your pizza oven… And 24 inches of counter space on the other.

This will help you comfortably plate your food on one side of the oven… And give you plenty of room to roll dough and create your pizzas on the other.

Next up is your bar seating.

Bar Seating Area Considerations

bar seating measurement graphic

It’s always fun to sit at the counter while someone cooks… But how do you determine the dimensions?

Here are a few important considerations:

  1. The minimum depth for a bar top should be 12 inches… With an added 12 to 18 inches if you want an overhang.
  2. A counter that will be used to seat people should have a 12 to 18 inch overhang.
  3. If you want bar stools… You should allow for about 6 inches between each stool. Bar stools that swivel will need about 8 to 11 inches of space between them.

Now you know how to plan out the dimensions for outdoor kitchen designs… But there’s more to the size of a summer kitchen than the islands themselves!

You also have to think about how much space you want to surround the space.

Space Needed for an Outdoor Kitchen

drone shot of patio with multiple surfaces and u shaped rta outdoor kitchen

Your outdoor kitchen dimensions won’t just include the size of your islands… You’ll also have to factor in the space surrounding your islands!

If you’re placing your outdoor kitchen on a patio, for instance, you’ll want to make sure you can still comfortably use your patio!

Here are a few considerations when determining where you will place your summer kitchen… And whether or not that spot has enough room for it!

  • You need at least 5 feet for any walkway… So don’t put your grill island too close to a wall if you want to be able to walk between them.
  • You will need at least 3 feet of space between your galley or U-shaped islands. Since the counters are also at least 2 feet .. Your galley or U-shaped islands will always be a minimum of 7 feet wide. How long it is will be up to you.
  • You want a minimum of 5 feet behind your grill islands for any bar stools to comfortably back out. Another 3.5 feet in addition to this will give guests the opportunity to walk behind the bar stool dining area.
  • You can put your summer kitchen right up against the house to conserve space… But be careful that a builtin grill isn’t going up against a combustible wall material. If your walls are made of combustible materials… Then you’ll need to account for the space between your grill and wall while you’re planning out your dimensions.

As you can see… Even a small grill island can easily take up a lot of your backyard area!

So how do you conserve space?

Tips If You’re Tight on Space

An outside kitchen takes up a lot of space… But if you’re trying to keep your outdoor kitchen dimensions on the smaller side… The best way is simply to pick your outdoor kitchen appliances thoughtfully.

This will allow you to choose smaller overall island dimensions.

There are a few ways to make the decision easy and still get everything you need!

1) Deciding on Your “Must Haves” vs “Nice to Haves”

When you’re needing to cut down on the overall size of your summer kitchen… An easy way to do this is to get fewer appliances. This will ultimately mean that you can decrease the dimensions for your outdoor kitchen layout.

A good way to help yourself organize is to write down a list of everything you want.

Then, start to group the appliances into two categories… Your “must haves” and your “nice to haves.”

That way, it’s easier to see what you absolutely need… And then maybe you can just pick a few of the “nice to haves.”

2) Combo Options

straight outdoor kitchen island with combo storage on deck

Another way to cut down on the space your grill island takes up is to make your appliances multifunctional… So you don’t have to purchase as many individual features!

You’ll be able to enjoy more… While taking up less room!

The easiest way to do this is with your outdoor kitchen storage.

Storage doors are usually pretty small… But the inches add up quickly when you factor in the space you’ll need to put between them.

If you need lots of storage… You could try combo storage doors!

For example… You’ll find options for drawers and access doors.

Another idea is to get an outdoor kitchen refrigerator that comes with a built-in freezer… Rather than having a separate fridge and ice maker.

And if you want a sink… One way to conserve space is to get a sink cover that can turn that area into additional countertop space!

You just have to think creatively!

Or, you could look for an even easier solution to getting perfectly-configured dimensions for outdoor kitchens…

An Easier Solution to DIY Outdoor Kitchen Dimensions

l shaped outdoor kitchen with power burner and refrigerator in a florida room

Now you’re an expert on choosing the best outdoor kitchen dimensions!

…But building an outdoor kitchen still isn’t an easy process!

Even when you know what you want… Figuring out the right dimensions and putting them into a blueprint can be difficult.

On top of that… It’s not easy to construct your own summer kitchen. And finding an experienced contractor to build your outdoor kitchen can be even more difficult.

Unless you’re already an expert in outside kitchen construction… This will be a challenge any way you cut it.

If you want a simpler way to get a custom outdoor kitchen that’s made by hand… Consider RTA!

Instead of making your own blueprint… You can start off with our easy-to-use free Design Tool!

This will give you a 3D model of exactly what your outside kitchen could look like… And transform your project from stressful into fun!

Your design will be sent to one of our Design Experts to assess and create a unique proposal. They will get back to you and answer any questions you may have.

All of your needs will be listened to… And we’ll take care of creating the blueprints so you don’t have to.

You’ll still be in the driver’s seat of the design process… But without all of the stress.

We look forward to seeing your design!

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.

Q&A

A good size for a summer kitchen can range from a small, 10 foot long island with a grill, storage, and countertop space… All the way to something that rivals even the largest of indoor kitchens at 20 or more feet long! It all depends on what you want for your space.

You’ll want the bar to have a depth of about 24 inches. This will give you plenty of space to mix drinks or make food. Then, you’ll want about three feet of space per barstool (or 6 inches between each barstool). Bar stools that swivel may need a few extra inches. That means that if you want to seat three people, you should make your bar at least nine feet long.

You’ll probably want a minimum of 10×10 feet (100 square feet) for your outdoor kitchen area. This will give you enough room for the necessities like a grill, some storage, and maybe even a sink. However, you can also go larger. It is not uncommon for people to use a space that is 20x 20 feet… Or 400 square feet.

Typical outside kitchen dimensions are about 36 inches tall, 24 inch depth, and at least 10 feet long… But your outdoor kitchen can be any size you want! Many people go very large to fit more appliances.

An overhang should be no more than 1/3rd of the countertop depth. An outside kitchen counter that will be used to seat people should probably have an overhang of about 12″–18″. This will make eating at the bar countertop easier!

Depending on how big your space is, your culinary needs, and your budget… An outside kitchen can range in size from about 10 feet long to as large as you would like. Smaller options will just hold the essentials, and larger options will be able to accommodate multiple chefs at once! Most people use a space that’s between 100 and 400 square feet… Or 10×10 to 20×20 feet.

Your BBQ island can be as wide as you would like… But there are a few factors to consider when you determine how wide it’ll need to be to fit your appliances. You’ll want 12 inches of countertop space on each side of every sink and grill. This will give you room for basic food prep. You’ll also want 24 inches of uninterrupted countertop space somewhere on your island!

The typical outside kitchen is between 100 and 400 square feet (or 10×10 to 20×20 feet)… But you shouldn’t worry about sticking to the average. Your possibilities are limitless, so create a BBQ kitchen that suits your needs and fits in the space you have!

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