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Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station: What It Is, Best Options, and 4 Inspiring Ideas

By James King

January 5, 2024

There’s so much to love about cooking outdoors.

You get to enjoy the fresh air, the birds chirping, and the feeling of tranquility brought on by being outside.

The last thing you’d want is to have your outdoor cooking interrupted because you keep having to run back and forth from your grill to your indoor kitchen.

Fortunately, there’s a way to prevent this!

Instead of relying on your indoor kitchen as your prep station… Why not create a space with everything you need to prep food outside, right beside your BBQ grill?

woman at outdoor kitchen prep station

With a fully functional outdoor kitchen prep station, your time outside would never have to be broken up again!

We’ll talk about how you can make this a reality… But first, let’s discuss what an outdoor kitchen prep station actually is. 

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What is an Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station?

linear outdoor kitchen with sink and storage

Exactly as it sounds, an outdoor kitchen prep station is a setup in your backyard that will allow you to do all of your food prep outside.

Depending on how functional you want your outdoor kitchen prep station to be, there’s really no limit on what you can include.

You may simply want a work table for basic food prep… Or you could choose to include storage for grilling accessories and cutting boards, a refrigerator or cooler for keeping ingredients and condiments cool… A sink for washing your hands and cleaning up… And so much more.

Now, when people think of outdoor kitchen prep stations, there are a few common interpretations.

For some, an outdoor prep station entails a freestanding grill (or other appliance, like a propane griddle) with a nearby work table.

Others may picture a full grill station with built in appliances, countertops, and cabinets for storage.

To help you decide which will best suit your needs, let’s go into a bit more detail on both types of outdoor prep stations.

We’ll start with the freestanding grill and outdoor kitchen work table setup.

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Outdoor Prep Station with Grill Table

If you have a freestanding appliance and are looking for a way to boost outdoor cooking functionality… An easy way to achieve this would be by adding an outdoor kitchen prep table to your backyard.

Outdoor kitchen prep tables (also commonly known as grill tables) come in different shapes and sizes, and serve a variety of purposes.

There are plain and simple work tables for providing additional counter room… Prep tables with storage for holding utensils or dry goods… And even prep tables with sinks!

We’d like to point out that though it’s incredibly easy and inexpensive to add a prep table to your backyard… It’s not exactly a long term investment.

It’s quite challenging to find an outdoor prep table made with high quality, durable materials (like 304 stainless steel, for instance).

So, though a prep table may increase outdoor cooking functionality for a short time… It likely won’t last for more than a few years.

But even so, if you’re looking for a cheap and simple option to get a few years of use out of… Let’s take a look at a few popular grill table brands.

Outdoor Prep Table Brands

For those looking for an easy, impermanent solution to make outdoor cooking more convenient… Let’s discuss a few outdoor grill table options.

Outdoor Keter Unity XL Prep Table for Outdoor Kitchen

keter outdoor table
Product Details

Price: $226.80

Size: 22”

Cooking Surface: 380 Square Inches

No. of Burners: 2

Total BTUs: 30,000

First on our list is the Keter Unity XL outdoor kitchen cart.

This outdoor table or bar cart has a large, sealed storage space enclosed by two lockable doors for keeping dry goods secure.

On the exterior of this prep table, you’ll find a paper towel holder, four utensil hooks, a bottle opener, and a spice rack.

The 52.7” x 20.5” tabletop provides sufficient space for food preparation, and the lower shelf offers a bit more storage room.

This all sounds good so far! Let’s turn our attention to materials.

The frame is resin plastic… Which should hold up to the elements reasonably well!

Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for the table… Which has a 201 stainless steel top.

201 stainless steel isn’t a super durable material for outdoor use! The tabletop will be susceptible to rust and corrosion, especially if exposed to moisture (as any outdoor table inevitably will be).

The Keter BBQ table is covered by a short, limited two year warranty.

Price wise, it costs $227.00.

Cuisinart Deluxe Outdoor Kitchen Prep Table

cuisinart prep table
Product Details

Price: $226.80

Size: 22”

Cooking Surface: 380 Square Inches

No. of Burners: 2

Total BTUs: 30,000

Next, let’s look at an outdoor kitchen prep table from Cuisinart.

This portable cart table on casters features two storage shelves, a paper towel or trash bag holder, as well as a sink and faucet!

The sink is designed to be connected to a garden hose, and has a drain pipe attachment to direct run-off away from your grill.

Next to the sink, there’s a small spot for additional prep space on the 36” x 22” tabletop.

Concerning materials… There’s not much we can say! Cuisinart doesn’t provide any information on the frame material, and the grade of stainless steel used for the sink and tabletop isn’t specified.

If you’re interested in this table, you should check these details with Cuisinart.

There’s a one year limited warranty for this outdoor kitchen prep cart, which you can get for $220.00.

Leisure Season Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station

Product Details

Price: $226.80

Size: 22”

Cooking Surface: 380 Square Inches

No. of Burners: 2

Total BTUs: 30,000

Let’s have a look at Leisure Season’s outdoor kitchen prep table with storage.

The 42” x 24” x 67” prep table features two cabinets, two drawers, as well as a raised back shelf with additional drawers and storage space.

The tabletop provides ample room for food prep… Though it doesn’t include any tool hooks, a bottle opener, or other special add-ons.

As for material, the frame is constructed with an unknown type of wood.

Now, wood isn’t exactly the best material for long term outdoor use!

When exposed to moisture, wood will swell, warp, and rot.

Plus, wooden furniture outdoors may invite termites, which certainly wouldn’t be ideal.

The tabletop is the only non-wooden component… It’s made with stainless steel construction, though the grade is not specified. It’s hard to say how this will fare, but if it’s not 304 stainless steel, it won’t hold up for long!

This table is covered by a one year warranty.

At $875.69… It’s by far the most expensive option on our list!

Suncast Outdoor Grill Table

Product Details

Price: $226.80

Size: 22”

Cooking Surface: 380 Square Inches

No. of Burners: 2

Total BTUs: 30,000

Last up is Suncast’s outdoor prep table.

This 19.5” x 44.25” x 31.75” portable prep station has a raised back shelf, a small surface for food preparation, and two doors which open to a large storage cabinet with an adjustable shelf.

Also included are a bottle opener and tool hooks.

The table is made with full plastic construction, which Suncast claims is long lasting and easy to maintain.

Ironically, Suncast also states that the weather resistant construction will only hold up to water and UV exposure for up to five years… Which is how long this prep table is warrantied.

Concerning price… You can currently purchase it for $339.00.

Alright, that concludes our list of outdoor prep tables.

As you can see… There are a few common themes here.

All of these prep tables are either constructed with low quality materials… Or the materials used simply aren’t specified at all.

As well as this, none of the tables listed have impressive warranties.

It seems clear that most outdoor prep tables aren’t intended to last more than a few years, max.

And on another note, many prep tables have limited functionality. For instance, if you want an outdoor prep station with both a sink and ample storage… You may have to purchase two separate tables to achieve this!

Similarly, prep tables don’t tend to be very large… So if you want ample counter space, a singular table may not cut it. 

But as we stated earlier… If you’re looking for a simple, inexpensive, and short term solution to make cooking at a freestanding appliance a bit more convenient, any of these tables may suit your needs!

But truthfully, if you’re serious about outdoor cooking… There’s an undeniably better, more functional, and more permanent option for your outdoor kitchen prep station.

Let’s discuss.

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Outdoor Kitchen Grill Station

small outdoor kitchen with mini bar

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to increase functionality in your outdoor space… You should consider investing in an outdoor grill station!

While adding an outdoor kitchen to your backyard design is a more involved project… It will also make your outdoor prep station much more enjoyable to use.

As well as having the option to include ample storage room and counter space… You can also choose to factor in a sink, refrigerator, or any other accessories that would make outdoor food preparation more convenient!

And with an outdoor grill station, everything will be all in one place! There’ll be no need to buy multiple prep tables to boost functionality, which will keep your cooking station cohesive and confined to one set area of your backyard. 

As for longevity… High quality outdoor kitchens will be made with heavy-duty, durable materials, and should last a lifetime! If you plan your outdoor kitchen project carefully, you won’t have to worry about replacing it in just a few short years.

When it comes to building a permanent outdoor kitchen prep station… There are a few ways to do so. Let’s see what they are.

Types of Permanent Outdoor Kitchen Prep Stations

Depending on the type of outdoor kitchen prep station you choose, the skill cap required to build varies.

Let’s break down the different methods. 

Built From Scratch Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station

a diy outdoor kitchen project that needs electrical utilities ran

If you want an outdoor kitchen that’s fully customizable… You may consider having it built from scratch! 

Now, having an outdoor kitchen built from scratch is quite an involved project… It requires a super high skill level to complete, so it’s definitely something that you’d want to hire a contractor for.

It may also leave your backyard disturbed for a long period of time, depending on the scope of the project.

So if you’re looking for an easier solution, you may consider a prefab or ready to finish kitchen island!

Prefab or Ready to Finish Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station

Prefab outdoor kitchens come fully finished and assembled… So there’s really no skill required on your part!

All you have to do is get a prefab kitchen into your backyard (which may pose a unique set of challenges, if you don’t have a clear path to your outdoor living space). 

A prefab kitchen will also have aesthetic limitations… You really won’t have any room for customization with this method. 

If you want more creative freedom, you may consider a ready to finish (RTF) kitchen island. These are mostly assembled for you, but it’s up to you to apply a finish (such as brick, tile, stucco, stone, or any other veneer of your choosing).

Though less involved than building from scratch, RTF kitchens still require a relatively high skill level to complete! Unless you’re an experienced professional, applying a finish yourself may be a daunting task… And might take longer than you’d expect. 

Both prefab and ready to finish kitchen islands are generally made using metal frames wrapped with cement board.

This is where the issue lies… 

Frequent exposure to moisture and freeze/thaw cycles will negatively affect the metal frame, and ultimately invite rust and corrosion to the structure.

So, both prefab and ready to finish kitchens aren’t really cut out to hold up to the elements. 

What about a modular outdoor kitchen? 

Modular Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station

stainless steel modular outdoor kitchen

Modular outdoor kitchens are arguably the easiest solution…

They’re made of freestanding cabinets, which you can arrange however you’d like to form a makeshift outdoor kitchen setup.

However, these are akin to outdoor prep tables and prefab kitchens in the sense that they’re not usually long term solutions.

They’re typically made with low quality materials, which truthfully won’t last outdoors for more than a few years, at most. 

Ready to Assemble Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station

rta outdoor kitchen islands with storage and sink

Lastly, for a more durable option that’s just as easy… There’s ready to assemble (RTA) kitchens.

These are made using heavy duty, high performance structural concrete panels.

To assemble the frame, all you need to do is bolt these panels together, slide your appliances into place, and place the countertop.

This is an incredibly simple DIY solution! There’s no technical skill required to complete, and within just a few hours, your grill station will be set up and ready to use!

Alright, now that you know what your options are for including a permanent outdoor kitchen prep station… Let’s take a look at some examples!

Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station Ideas

Let’s see how a permanent outdoor kitchen can serve as an all in one backyard prep station.

Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station with Sink and Storage

rta l shape outdoor kitchen with plank bright finish on patio

First up is this L-shaped grill prep station.

Not only is this setup super stunning… It’s also undeniably functional!

On one side of the island is a cooking area, which features a Coyote side burner and a built in grill… And on the other is an expansive countertop for food prep (which can double as a bar table for outdoor dining), a refrigerator for keeping ingredients cool, and a pull out cabinet for trash cans or recycling.

There’s also a sink tucked into the corner of the layout… Conveniently located right in the center of it all for easy clean up!

And you can’t miss the storage cabinets strategically placed throughout the design… There’s two below the side burner, two beside the fridge… And even more storage space below the grill itself!

With everything you could ever need in one spot… This outdoor BBQ island would certainly make food prep easier!

Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station with Lots of Counter Space

outdoor bar lighting chandelier

For an outdoor kitchen prep station with ample counter space… Take a look at this homeowner’s setup.

There’s a built in grill, power burner, and Coyote Asado smoker to round out the outdoor cooking station…

An outdoor kitchen sink and refrigerator…

Plenty of kitchen cabinets for holding your BBQ tools…

And even still, there’s more than enough counter space left for food preparation!

Plus, that outdoor bar height countertop can double as a seating area when you’re not using it for prep space.

We can’t see a reason why you’d ever have to rely on your indoor kitchen!

U-Shaped  Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station

u shaped outdoor kitchen with vent hood and stone backsplash

If you prefer a different layout… Perhaps this U-shaped kitchen setup in an indoor outdoor space will spark some ideas!

Two spacious countertops surround a built in Coyote grill and side burner… Providing plenty of room for food prep.

There’s a fridge on one side… A sink on the other… And more than enough storage space throughout for dry goods and grilling accessories! 

Plus, the bar seating means this prep station isn’t only functional… It’s also interactive! You can easily chat with guests as you whip up delicious recipes. 

Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station for a Small Space

Even if you only have space for a small outdoor kitchen… You can still have a functional outdoor prep station!

From spacious countertops, to the refrigerator, to cabinets for storage space… This linear kitchen island has all the necessities for outdoor food prep!

I mean, when you can cook alongside a stunning outdoor garden… Why would you ever want to go inside for anything?

Alright, now that we’ve looked at a few ideas… You may be eager to get started on your own outdoor kitchen prep station!

So, what’s the next step?

The Most Convenient Outdoor Kitchen Prep Station Solution

l shaped outdoor kitchen next to house with combo storage and a refrigerator

Now that you have a better idea of what’s possible with a permanent outdoor kitchen prep station… You may be wondering what the best way to add your very own BBQ island to your backyard is.

We touched on this earlier… But with a ready to assemble (RTA) outdoor kitchen, adding a permanent prep station to your backyard couldn’t be any easier!

To get started, you’ll simply use our free online design tool to quickly and easily create a digital rendition of your outdoor prep station.

Here, you’ll factor everything you need for outdoor food prep into your design.

From dimensions, layout, counter space, and additional storage… To an outdoor refrigerator or sink… To whichever outdoor cooking appliances your heart desires… The options for customization are virtually endless!

Once that’s squared away, one of our Design Experts will reach out to help you get your project rolling.

We’ll build your outdoor kitchen island to perfectly match your specifications… And then ship it straight to you, 95% complete.

In just a few short hours, and with a few sets of hands, your prep station will be up and running!

And the end result will be so much more rewarding than your old freestanding grill and table setup.

Not to mention… It’ll be more reliable! Our kitchens are made with high performance concrete, rated for 100 years and backed by a lifetime warranty… You’ll never have to worry about replacing it!

That means you’ll have years of worry-free outdoor cooking! You’ll never have to make the back and forth trek to your indoor kitchen ever again.

To get started on your outdoor kitchen prep station plans, you can check out our Learning Hub for everything you need to know.

And when you’re ready to make it happen, we’ll be here to help.

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.

FAQ

An outdoor kitchen prep station will allow you to do all of your cooking outside.

With everything you need for food prep right in your backyard, you won’t have to constantly run back and forth between your grill and your indoor kitchen!

Outdoor kitchen prep tables tend to be made with cheaper, low quality materials that will not hold up to the elements long term.

On the other hand, high quality, permanent outdoor kitchen prep stations are made with materials that will aptly hold up outside, no matter where you live, for years to come.

Concrete is a great example of a high quality outdoor kitchen material! It’s highly durable, not susceptible to rust, corrosion, or rotting, and will withstand the test of time.

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