Deciding Between an Outdoor Kitchen and a Stand-alone Grill

May 28, 2015


When you are remodeling or building out your outdoor entertainment space, you will eventually come to a dilemma. Should you get a stand-alone grill or build an entire outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, counter tops, fridge, and maybe even a sink? If budget is not an issue, there are a few pros and cons you should consider before making a decision. After installing outdoor kitchens and selling grills in Maryland for many years, here are some factors we advise our customers to look at and compare.


The great thing about stand-alone grills is that they can be easily rolled anywhere you want. Most homeowners have their grills on the deck close to the kitchen entrance. This way it’s easy to bring the food in and out, and with sliding doors you barely have to touch anything with marinade-covered hands.

An outdoor kitchen, on the other hand, takes up much more room and is usually set up on a patio. If your patio is nowhere close to the kitchen, it may take a bit of walking back and forth to get the grilling done. It is, however, not a problem if your outdoor kitchen is stocked with all the spices, utensils and other supplies that make it fully independent. Access to running water is also a big factor.

Think of how independent your outdoor kitchen is going to be and then decide whether it will be more convenient in terms of location.

Family Size

Don’t get us wrong, if you are a bachelor who loves to grill, you can certainly do so in your outdoor kitchen. But you will also be fine with a free-standing grill if you are mostly cooking for one. On the other hand, if you grill for a family of five and have people over every other day, you need a lot more prep and cooking space than a stand-alone grill can offer.

An outdoor kitchen will have enough room for several people to help with the cooking. You can also include a warming drawer that will allow you to prepare extras and keep them warm for guests who are late to the party.

Think about the volume of cooking your grill needs to keep up with. If it’s a lot of grilling on a regular basis throughout the year, than an outdoor kitchen may be a better choice.


There isn’t much entertaining about a stand-alone grill. An outdoor kitchen, on the other hand, is all about entertaining. You can add bar counters and mini-fridges and have your family or guests enjoy a drink while you are grilling. This makes cooking more social and helps the chef interact with others and be a part of what’s happening instead of slaving over the grill.

If you don’t know yet how your outdoor space is going to be used, start with a small, inexpensive stand-alone grill to evaluate your needs. This way you’ll be able to tell whether you actually do a lot of grilling and entertaining and need a full-service outdoor kitchen.

The Compromise

If you still can’t decide between the two options, there is a compromise that will allow you to enjoy the outdoor kitchen while having a mobile grill. An experienced Maryland outdoor kitchen contractor can create a design that will make your stand-alone grill look like it was built in, yet you’ll be able to move it as you please whenever you need to.

Want to learn more about different grill and outdoor kitchen options? Visit our Ellicott City showroom; we have a fully equipped patio to help you envision the potential of your outdoor space.