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

By James King

January 22, 2024

One of the best things you can do for your backyard is build a good outdoor living space… Especially one with 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 a challenge.

There are so many 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 when building an outdoor kitchen.

rta outdoor kitchen plans and blueprints on a wooden table

As a custom outdoor kitchen company… We have years of field experience designing outdoor kitchens of all shapes and sizes. So, we’ll use our in-depth knowledge to catch you up to speed on all the important details.

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

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How Big Should Your Outdoor Kitchen Be?

linear grill island with pizza oven on patio in modern stone ash 1

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 an outdoor kitchen layout.

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 have enough space for the appliances and amenities you’re hoping for.

Standard Outdoor Kitchen Dimensions

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

The standard height and depth of outdoor kitchen counters 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 structural/surround dimensions can be as long or as short as you want.

To get an idea of how big your kitchen island should be… Let’s take a quick look at the average size of outdoor kitchens. These will be calculated by length.

1. Small (Less than 10 Linear Feet)

Small, 10 foot outdoor kitchens (or less) typically only have room for the necessities.

For most people, this’ll include a built-in grill, some outdoor kitchen cabinets, and a little countertop space.

2. Essentials (About 13 Linear Feet)

12 foot outdoor kitchens and up include all of the essentials… Plus one or two extras.

For many homeowners, this’ll be an outdoor refrigerator or sink.

You might also have enough room for another outdoor kitchen appliance, like a cooktop.

Additionally, you may be able to fit in a bar seating area and a few bar stools at an island countertop of this size.

3. Medium (About 16 Linear Feet)

A medium island will have even more room for “extras.”

Increased storage space, a fridge and sink, more expansive countertop space and cooking area… Or other appliances to add more functionality (like a pizza oven or side burner).

You’ll also have more available space for an outdoor bar island.

4. Large (More than 20 Linear Feet)

mike pyles u shaped outdoor kitchen with pizza oven refrigerator and two grills

Large summer kitchens will have room for all kinds of accessories.

This is where you can get much more extravagant with your selections… The sky’s the limit!

Many people will get a second larger appliance, like an outdoor pizza oven or another built-in grill. It’s common for people to invest in a fridge, sink, and possibly an ice maker as well.

You’ll have much more counter space… More prep area… All the storage you need… And more dining area should you choose to include an outdoor bar.

Now that you’ve seen some standard outdoor kitchen sizes… You may have a better idea of what size you want.

Of course, bigger isn’t always better.

So before you jump to one size or another… You’ll need to consider how big you really need your outdoor kitchen to be.

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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 certainly don’t want to waste precious real estate on features you won’t even use.

To answer the question, “What is a good size for an outdoor kitchen…” There are four key considerations to keep in mind.

1. How Much Space Do I Have?

Firstly, you should measure the space where your grill island will sit.

You don’t have to use all the available space in your backyard. In fact, it’s better to be a bit more reserved.

You shouldn’t run out of room to incorporate other features in your outdoor living space.

2. What Will I Use my Outdoor Kitchen For?

tamara day cooking breakfast on her coyote griddle built in her rta outdoor kitchen

The next question to ask yourself is how you plan to use your outdoor kitchen.

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

Knowing this will reveal which appliances you need… And will give you an idea of how much backyard space you should spare.

How much more room you need will also 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

If you’re planning to host large parties… You might want more appliances!

Of course, that’ll take up more countertop room.

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

Will you want longer countertops for additional bar seating?

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 space for one chef at a time… While a big outdoor kitchen is perfect for several cooks at once.

4. What’s my Budget?

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 from scratch… The average cost of a grill island can range from $1,200 to $2,000 per linear foot.

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

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

Of course, you don’t want to spend more money than you can afford… But you also shouldn’t skimp on your outdoor kitchen area.

But before you start thinking of specific outdoor kitchen measurements… We also need to address outside kitchen layout.

Outdoor Kitchen Layout: What Shape Should Your Outdoor Kitchen Be?

Before you settle on BBQ island dimensions… Let’s discuss layout.

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

Common Outdoor Kitchen Shapes

Here are some standard grill island layouts… And some benefits of each.

1. Linear

stacked stone linear grill island 1

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

2. L-Shaped

white l shape modular outdoor kitchen on concrete patio pad

L-shaped outdoor kitchen dimensions are perfect for small to medium spaces. They fit corners very well… And have a lot of open workspace for outdoor cooking.

3. U-Shaped

large u shaped outdoor kitchen in plank charcoal on patio with lots of appliances

U-shaped outdoor kitchens have an open space in the middle. These are usually large outdoor kitchens.

U-shaped layouts are an efficient way to configure your space. It’s easy to switch back and forth between counter space and appliances.

4. Galley

patio with galley style outdoor kitchen with bar island

In a galley layout… Your islands are situated parallel to one another with a central walkway.

This is similar to a U-shaped outdoor kitchen, but you can freely walk all the way through… So it’s a great way to have a big outdoor 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 you best.

But there’s still more to it. Your countertops have their own considerations to think through, too.

Let’s discuss.

CHOOSE THE LAYOUT THAT FITS YOUR SPACE.

Give our free online design tool a whirl to bring the outdoor kitchen of your dreams to reality.

Outdoor Kitchen Counter Dimensions: Key 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 countertop height… How much counter space to reserve between appliances… Whether or not you need outdoor kitchen overhang for bar seating… And more.

We’ll start with the height of outdoor kitchen counters.

Outdoor Kitchen Countertop Height

outdoor kitchen countertop height

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

It’s not fun.

Here are a few guidelines to help you plan the perfect outdoor kitchen countertop dimensions for you.

  • The standard outdoor kitchen height is 36 inches. At times, it’s necessary to raise this to 38 inches to accommodate a fridge.
  • You won’t want the countertops you use for cooking any higher than the bottom of your bent elbow. Measure the distance from your bent elbow to the ground to get the max outdoor kitchen counter height that’s right for you.
  • Bar top counter height varies from 42 to 46 inches. If you plan to use bar stools, select them ahead of time to ensure they’ll fit your final outdoor kitchen bar height.
  • The distance between the top of the chair seat and bottom of the countertop should be between 9 and 14 inches.

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

Counter Space for Appliances

Counter space may seem like an easy thing to cut down on to squeeze an extra appliance in.. But it’s actually extremely useful to keep as much as possible in your design.

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. Your island should have 24 inches of uninterrupted counter space. This will give you enough workspace for food prep.
  2. The recommended minimum outdoor kitchen countertop depth is 24 inches. This should give you enough room for any built-in appliances.
  3. Regardless of your outdoor grill dimensions… It’s always ideal to have 12 inches of counter space on each of your grill and other appliances. This’ll give you enough space for basic food prep around your grill.
  4. It’s ideal to have 12 inches of countertop cooking area beside a pizza oven… And 24 inches on the other. This’ll give you enough space to comfortably plate hot food on one side… And prep pizzas on the other.

Considerations for Outdoor Kitchen Bar Dimensions

outdoor kitchen bar seating with spacing measurements displayed

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

Here are a few important considerations:

  1. The minimum outdoor kitchen counter 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 for bar seating should have a 12 to 18 inch overhang.
  3. If you want bar stools… You should allow for about 6 inches between each. Swivel bar stools will need 8 to 11 inches of space between them.

Now you know how to plan 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 room you want to surround the space.

Space Needed for an Outdoor Kitchen

The dimensions of outdoor kitchens 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 that area.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when determining placement for your outside kitchen:

  1. You need at least 5 feet for any walkway. Don’t put your grill island too close to a wall… Or you won’t be able to get through.
  2. You will need at least 3 feet of space between your galley or U-shaped islands. Since the outdoor kitchen depth is at least 2 feet… Your galley or U-shaped outdoor kitchen dimensions will always be a minimum of 7 feet wide. The length is up to you.
  3. You want a minimum of 5 feet behind your grill islands for any bar stools to comfortably back out. An additional 3.5 feet will give guests the opportunity to walk behind the bar stool dining area.
  4. You can put your summer kitchen right up against the house to conserve space… But be careful that a built-in grill isn’t going up against a combustible material.
    If your walls are combustible… Then you’ll need to account for the correct clearance between your grill and that wall when planning the dimensions for outdoor grill kitchens. (Same goes for clearance from outdoor kitchen roofs, pergolas, and other shade structures.)

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 island dimensions on the smaller side, the best way is to simply pick your 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”

a simple small outdoor kitchen design installed on a patio

When you need 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 have a separate fridge and ice maker.

And if you want a sink… You can conserve space by getting a sink cover to turn the area into additional counter 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

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 exactly what outdoor BBQ dimensions you want… Putting them into a blueprint can be difficult on your own.

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.

So 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 you want your custom outdoor kitchen to look like. It takes a stressful project and makes it quick and easy.

Your rendering will then 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 might have.

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

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

We look forward to seeing your design!

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our Design Experts to get the ball rolling on your custom outdoor kitchen.

FAQ

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 outdoor 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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