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U Shaped Outdoor Kitchen – 3 Amazing Benefits

By Jayme Muller

July 29, 2022

If you’re reading this, you’re probably researching u shaped outdoor kitchen ideas.

Before we dive into the details, let’s imagine your outdoor living space.

What does it look like now? 

Probably pretty bare, right?

There’s a lot of potential to be had.

Now, imagine your backyard fitted with an outdoor kitchen.

Really picture it.

The sun is shining and there’s a warm breeze permeating the atmosphere.

Mingled with the genial chatter of your friends and family is the sound of burgers sizzling on your new bbq island.

Glassware clinks together with a resounding ‘cheers!’ from your guests gathered around the outdoor kitchen. Chiming laughter echoes through the yard.

You take a moment to soak it all in.

It’s a perfect day, all brought to you by an outdoor kitchen island.

This is what the height of outdoor entertaining looks like.

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Now the problem arises…

How do you actually go about this project?

What layout of outdoor kitchen do you want?

How do you want your outdoor kitchen to be constructed?

And so on, and so forth.

All of these questions are important and deserve a well-researched answer.

For the purposes of this article, we will be discussing layout only.

Specifically, we will be discussing the benefits of a  U Shaped outdoor kitchen layout. (If you want to learn more about L-shaped outdoor kitchens, click here).

Whether you’re considering this layout or not, we believe it’s the ultimate in outdoor cooking.

Here’s why.

A U-Shape for Function & Efficiency

Whether it’s a passion or not, cooking is a practical skill. We all need to eat!

Therefore, it is important to make your cooking area functional and efficient. Food preparation and grilling should be a breeze.

So, what makes this layout functional and efficient?

For starters, it aligns with the concept of a working triangle.

If you’re familiar with the world of kitchen design, you probably already know this concept. 

For the uninitiated, a kitchen working triangle is: “a theory that states a kitchen’s three main work areas should form, you guessed it, a triangle. Specifically, the sink, the refrigerator, and the stove” (source).

The reason a working triangle is efficient is that it creates flow. There’s a rotational movement going from the refrigerator, to the sink, to the stove, etc. Ideally, you should be able to reach everything you need easily without being too crowded together.

The triangle also makes it functional for multiple cooks in the kitchen. Everyone has their own space for food prep and cooking without stepping on one another’s toes. Anything to make the process smoother is a great idea!

So, how does the concept of a working triangle fit into a U-Shape outdoor kitchen layout?

It’s easy.

As stated earlier, the three vertices of the triangle will comprise of the fridge, grill, and sink.

You have three islands with a U Shaped outdoor kitchen. By placing one appliance on each island, you will create a working triangle. Whether you place the outdoor appliances in the center or edges is up to you, there will still be a triangle formed.

You should be able to reach the grill, use the sink, and access the cabinets with ease.

This layout keeps everything you need within arm’s reach.

Doesn’t get more efficient than that!

Efficiency and function are not the only considerations, however. 

Let’s talk about space.

Maximize your Outdoor Living Space

When it comes to cooking, adequate space is essential.

With appliances, utensils, ingredients, etcetera… Space runs out quickly. Especially if you have guests seated at the bar top.

If you’re serious about grilling and outdoor entertaining… You’ll want to strongly consider a U-Shape outdoor kitchen layout.


There’s more space! A U-Shape outdoor kitchen is three islands put together. This maximizes the amount of space you can gain with a kitchen island.

Think about it.

With a straight island, you’re only able to fit a grill, a fridge, and maybe some storage. You’ll get a bit of countertop space on each side… But not enough for a bar top or seating area.

With an L-Shape, you have some more flexibility. You get double the space of a straight kitchen island. More room for appliances, cabinets, sinks, even a bar top.

But with a U-Shape… You get it all. Especially if you are a seasoned chef that requires many specific tools and appliances. This design is also a dream for outdoor entertaining.

Grill, smoker, fridge, sink, storage cabinets, counter space, seating area, you name it. The U Shaped outdoor kitchen has got you covered.

Even better, there’s plenty of space for others to lend a helping hand when it comes to food prep. You can have someone stationed at each island assisting with the cooking process.

When you have many guests, it’s especially useful to have the extra space for help. Many hands make light work.

A U Shaped outdoor kitchen is the ultimate in outdoor cooking.

Not just in outdoor cooking, either.

Cooking outdoors is very much a social experience, and the layout plays a role in this as well.

Don't compromise on your outdoor kitchen

Design it now, with the options you need.

The Ultimate in Outdoor Entertaining

Socialization is at the heart of an outdoor kitchen. 

In fact, it’s nearly the sole reason cooking outdoors has so much draw.

When you spend the day grilling, what do you do? 

Invite your friends and family over.

Outdoor cooking is an event – a reason to invite your loved ones over. To break bread, make moments, and just have a great time.

There’s something about an outdoor kitchen that pulls your community together with ease. Therefore, layout design is a crucial consideration when assessing your needs in a bbq island.

You want to ensure you have enough living space to entertain your family and friends.

If you have a smaller family or don’t plan to entertain, a straight or L-Shaped island is likely enough capacity for your needs. Especially if you don’t want a bar top or have a seating area already.

For larger gatherings, the increased capacity of a U-Shape layout comes especially in handy. In most cases, you can easily sit 6-8 people if you have a bar island on each side. 

Even if you plan to have more than 6-8 people over, the extra entertaining space is a useful addition to make sure everyone is accommodated.

I’d like to make one more plug for a bar top.

While it is absolutely not necessary for your outdoor kitchen design, there are strong reasons to consider it.

There’s something special about everyone being seated at the bar and watching their food being cooked right before them.

It’s like the hibachi experience.

I don’t know about you, but going to a hibachi restaurant vs a regular eatery adds another level to the experience for me.

You actually get to become fully engaged with the experience – you interact with the chef and the food as it’s being cooked. It’s so much more connected than being seated or standing away from the action.

The same applies to bar seating in your kitchen. Your guests will be fully engaged with you and the food in real time. It’s much more rewarding and memorable. 

Just throwing some outdoor kitchen ideas out there!

Getting back to the layout, a U-Shape will provide you the most bang for your buck in this category. It’s the ultimate in outdoor kitchen design. You can seat more guests at the bar, which allows for more direct engagement in the cooking process.

Now, what are some of the considerations in selecting a U-Shape for your outdoor kitchen layout?

u shaped bbq island under pergola at night

Considerations for the Kitchen Design

I know we’ve talked a lot about space… But it is so important for your U-shape outdoor kitchen island design.

We’ve already elaborated on the physical counter space and bar top seating you gain with a U-Shape. What we haven’t discussed is how much yard space you’ll actually need.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you the exact amount of space you’ll want to block off for your u shaped outdoor kitchen. Everyone’s outdoor living space is a bit different.

What we can do, however, is give you a ballpark estimate. If you want a U-Shape outdoor kitchen with bar seating, you’ll want to block off at least 10’ x 16’ of space

You may be thinking…

Oh, we have plenty of space!

But you might want to grab some measuring tape, go into your backyard and actually measure first

While your yard may appear to be an endless expanse of space, reality may dictate otherwise. It’s an unfortunate truth.

Yet, no need to despair! Even if you don’t have the space for all your ideas, your hopes don’t have to be dashed.

If you have an area either attached to your house or another structure, you may be able to fit a U-Shape that hugs 2-3 sides of the surface perimeter.

You could cozily fit a U-Shape into the corner of your home or a pergola, which may leave space for a bar island on one side.

Once you’ve got your outdoor kitchen ideas and designs settled… It’s time to peruse your options for building your u shaped outdoor kitchen!

How to Build a U Shaped Outdoor Kitchen

Alright. We’ve talked about all the various considerations for a U Shaped outdoor kitchen, and you’re sold.

Now, we have to talk through the options for actually building it.

There’s been a definite shift in recent years in our buying habits. More and more, we have trusted the online marketplace and are making larger purchases from web stores.

This includes outdoor kitchens.

Currently, there are few options to purchase a U-Shaped outdoor kitchen online. Until the past few years, hiring a local contractor to build was customary. These custom builds cost anywhere from $30,000 – $50,000 or more.

Custom builds from a contractor are still a viable option. However, this process requires you to invest much more time and money than you may be willing to put forth.

Thankfully, you still have an online option for a custom U-Shape outdoor kitchen.

Enter RTA Outdoor Living.

As the leading custom outdoor kitchen kit manufacturer, we help homeowners design and build  U Shaped bbq islands all over the U.S. 

We have a unique and frustration-free process to make your outdoor kitchen island project achievable. We’ll talk more about this process later, but just to give you a taste:

Your u shaped custom outdoor kitchen can be designed online in minutes with our design tool. Our design experts will review and discuss all your design ideas with you. Once designs are confirmed, your kitchen island is shipped straight to your door. All you have to do is assemble.

Pretty amazing, right?

Let’s look at a few customer examples.

U Shaped Outdoor Kitchen Layouts from Our Customers

This backyard is what dreams are made of.

Full outdoor kitchen with bar seating, a jet ski, and all with a glistening ocean view.

Sounds like fun!

This U Shaped outdoor kitchen is fully stocked with a Coyote outdoor grill, fridge, storage drawers, access drawers, and a power burner.

After a day of jet skiing or fishing, the whole party can continue by grilling the day’s catch or a burger to feed voracious appetites. The power burner in particular is useful for a lobster or crab boil. 

And with 8 seats at the bar top, there’s a spot for everyone.

Sounds good to us.

Let’s take a peek at our next customer example.

Yet another stunner.

This U Shaped outdoor kitchen is highly customized. As you can see, it does not follow the traditional layout.

We have a bar top to the left, connected to a grill island, which is then connected to the corner pizza oven stand. This pizza oven stand is then connected to a grill island, and another bar top to finish the shape. 

Aside from looking absolutely gorgeous, this U Shaped outdoor kitchen is equipped to feed an army.

Two Coyote grills, (one charcoal, one gas), a pizza oven, a large fridge, and storage cabinets/drawers to fit anything and everything. 

The variety in appliances allows this family to cook anything and everything too! This bbq island provides so much versatility, it’s practically endless. Any outdoor entertaining enthusiast would be thrilled to have a complete station to fuel their culinary creativity.

You can see how this kitchen island completes the outdoor living space.

You’ve got the lovely landscaped yard, spacious pool, picnic-style table, and now an outdoor kitchen island to tie it all together.

After a dip in the pool, there are few things better than throwing a couple burgers or steaks on the grill to enjoy. 

It completes the idyllic summer day. 

You’ve got everything you need. Fun, great food, and great company.

Outdoor living doesn’t get better than that.

Now, we’d like to show you one more customer’s design from a rather notable person – Brian Mazza.

Why Brian Mazza Chose RTA for his U Shaped Outdoor Kitchen

For those who don’t know, Brain Mazza is an entrepreneur from New York. He co-founded The Ainsworth restaurant in 2009 and created the Windsor Custom clothing company in 2010.

Currently, Brian works with high-performers of all kinds to help them harness their full potential. He’s created a specific program for this, called High Performance Lifestyle Training.

Sadly, in 2018 Mazza’s house burned down. 

As they rebuilt, he and his wife Chloe thought a lot about their home. While tragic, the fire provided the Mazza’s with a blank slate. They were able to execute on design ideas they didn’t have the opportunity to previously.

A huge consideration when rebuilding was the backyard. The Mazza’s have a growing family, and wanted to use the yard for entertaining.

Did they want a pergola? A fire pit? An outdoor kitchen island?

An outdoor kitchen island fit the bill, and Brian decided to work with RTA for this project.

Take a look at Brian’s kitchen. This custom u shaped outdoor kitchen fits perfectly in his backyard space. Like it was meant to be!

For this setup, Brian chose to opt for a sink, storage cabinets/drawers, a fridge, and a Coyote built in grill. There’s also a bar top on the right side, perfect for the family.

It’s a high-performance outdoor kitchen to fit the high-performance lifestyle.

To top it off, they have a great view outside while they’re cooking a delicious meal. 

It’s a beautiful thing.

Alright. You’ve seen a handful of examples of what RTA is capable of. If our product has piqued your interest, you’re likely wondering how to get started.

Well, let me answer your question!

Working with RTA for your U-Shaped Outdoor Kitchen

Like I mentioned earlier, RTA is the frustration-free solution to your outdoor kitchen project.

When pursuing a u shaped outdoor kitchen, you’ll want to play around with design ideas.

We have just the thing!

RTA has created a free online design tool that allows you to try all your outdoor kitchen ideas. You’ll have a fully designed u-shaped outdoor kitchen in just a few clicks.

Once your beautiful design is finished, our design experts take a look. You’ll receive a free quote and be prompted to set up a call with your personal design expert.

Your design expert will work with you to ensure your design ideas can be made reality. Whatever your dream for an outdoor kitchen, we can make it happen.

Like you, compromise makes us cringe.

Once your design ideas are confirmed, blueprints are made.

Your u-shaped outdoor kitchen blueprint is sent off to our manufacturing facility. All our outdoor kitchens are handmade in Indiana.

Then, your outdoor kitchen is packaged into crates and shipped to your door in pallets. Appliances from Coyote are also direct-shipped to you.

All you have left to do is open and assemble!

If you’re handy, you and a friend can assemble the outdoor kitchen in a couple hours. If you’re not comfortable with assembling yourself, don’t worry. We have a nation-wide network of certified contractors who can assemble for you.

From start to finish, this process takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks (more for custom or during peak season).

Considering most other options disturb your backyard for weeks or even months, this is a huge benefit!

And what about quality?

Like I said, we don’t like compromises!

Our outdoor kitchens are incredibly durable. They have no issues with harsh climates. Be it snow, ice, saltwater, or otherwise… Our outdoor kitchens won’t degrade.

In fact, we are so confident in quality… we have a limited lifetime warranty.

We use a special type of concrete for our countertops and surrounds that will last you for decades.

But forgive me, I am rambling!

We are just so passionate about outdoor kitchens and outdoor living. It is difficult not to write a novel!

Point is, we saw there was a need to improve the process of acquiring an outdoor kitchen.

The traditional method is frustrating. It also requires a huge investment of both time and money.

Getting an outdoor kitchen shouldn’t be frustrating. It should be exciting!

That’s why we created this system.

It’s no sweat.

Get started creating your outdoor kitchen here.

We can’t wait to work with you!

Don't compromise on your outdoor kitchen

Design it now, with the options you need.

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