This has truly been the year for outdoor kitchen ideas. From new surfaces to pizz ovens, decking to serveware, everyone wants to cook up a slice of al fresco dining style in their own backyard. And, when it means you can enjoy dinner under the stars, then why ever not?
No longer just reserved for larger properties and sunnier climates, these outdoor kitchen ideas are a great way to extend your entertaining space and make the best use of your available square footage all year round. It's no wonder it's one of this year's biggest garden trends.
'Cooking and entertaining outdoors has really taken off in the past year, and we expect this trend to only increase,' says Declan Kingsley Walsh, managing director at Morso UK. 'An outdoor kitchen gives you ample opportunity to cook and eat outdoors, whatever the season, and as outdoor kitchens now come in a multitude of sizes and forms, you have more reason to get outside and make the most of your outdoor space, whether you have a large garden or a smaller patio. Outdoor kitchens can also include dining and relaxing space, perfect for creating a comfortable, fully functional space where you can enjoy cooking, dining and socialising all year round.'
From weatherproof canopies, outdoor kitchen islands, drinks fridges and outdoor kitchen storage to fully integrated Teppanyaki grills and built-in rubbish chutes that keep flies away, get inspired by these 28 outdoor kitchen ideas below...
1. Space no issue? Go for a U-shaped design
The below urban city garden boasts an enviable outdoor kitchen designed by Blakes London. The U-shaped design is super functional, as it packs in an integrated barbecue, a Green Egg, handy storage for plates and glasses, plus it houses a drinks fridge too.
Blakes London chose to use large format Xtone porcelain tiles for the work surface of the kitchen. Xtone is a fabulous low maintenance and highly functional alternative to concrete or renders.
This large-format porcelain tile will maintain it’s colour over time and is both frost and heat resistant. An added benefit being that it is incredibly hygienic so can be used as a food prep surface. Perfect for this family who loves to make their own pizzas in the Ooni wood-fired pizza oven (portable, not pictured below).
Similarly, the outdoor terrace below features a U-shaped kitchen design complete with sink, fridge, pizza oven and barbecue. It's perfect for summer entertaining.
2. Short on space? One wall is all you need for urban gardens
The urban garden below may be compact, but it still manages to incorporate an outdoor kitchen by making the most of an awkward corner. The kitchen is fitted along just one wall, with a small peninsula protruding just enough to create a breakfast bar area.
Gaze Burvill, designers and manufacturers of fine outdoor furniture and kitchens, designed this outdoor kitchen with industrial-style Dekton® Trilium for the weatther-proof worktops.
As for the wall itself, floor your guests with a lively backdrop like this living wall in San Francisco. Created by local firm Heather Hilliard Design, below, the vertical garden pops color and life into an otherwise blank space with plenty of room for growth (let’s call it a grownup backdrop) and fully integrates the plein air kitchen with its surroundings. The all-natural feature balances out more contemporary splashes, like the kitchen’s royal blue cabinetry, and blurs the line between inside and outside.
3. For warmer climates, design the outdoor kitchen how you would an indoor one
For homes in warmer climates where you're guaranteed to spend a lot of time outdoors, approach your outdoor kitchen design as you would your main kitchen.
For example, the below outdoor kitchen features a striking kitchen island, wall-mounted shelves, an integrated pizza oven and a handy tap with spray function.
Let interior finishes set the tone. Tucked away from Texas’ scorching heat, Marie Flanigan Interiors brought indoor vibes to the exterior kitchen below by using the same limestone walls as the home’s interior kitchen—it creates an uninterrupted experience. “When possible, I love using the same materials inside and outside the home,” says Flanigan. She added a statement tiled backsplash and a plaster range hood (both with a weatherproof finish), below, to complement the luxurious appearance of the home’s indoor aesthetic.
In another Texas home designed by Flanigan, you’ll find synergy with one simple step: she cemented a seamless colourstory by painting the exterior brick wall the same tone (an off-white Alabaster by Benjamin Moore) as the home’s interior living space. It makes the relationship between inside and out less extreme—in other words, a perfect match.
4. Live in a UK city? Keep your outdoor kitchen close
If, like many of us, you live in a city in the UK, chances are that you don't spend huge amounts of time outdoors. Take a leaf out of this family home below, who installed their outdoor kitchen directly next to their indoor one. The outdoor kitchen area is covered so that the barbecue can be used year-round, even if the dining takes place indoors.
5. Incorporate plenty of outdoor kitchen storage
Handleless cupboards next to the barbecue slide open to reveal drawers for cutlery and cooking utensils, plus a deeper drawer for larger items.
The units are made from sustainably sourced Iroko timber. This African hardwood is a fantastic alternative to teak, particularly for outdoor furniture, as its naturally high oil content makes it incredibly stable and unlikely to crack as temperatures change. And unlike teak and oak, which tend to bleach and turn silver over time, Iroko starts as the soft yellows you see in these images and darkens to a deep, rich, coppery tone.
If built-in storage isn’t in the budget, don’t shelve the idea entirely. “I find that clients most often use [outdoor kitchens] when they are entertaining, and the last thing you want to do is be running back and forth to grab items you've forgotten,” says California-based designer Caitlin Jones Ghajar. In the alfresco kitchen below, Ghajar opted for a standalone counter with multiple tiers, offering plenty of room for storage baskets—not to mention rustic decor.
6. Use any wall space for hooks
Keep your barbecue tools, tea towels, pots and pans, and pizza peel close by with a little creative hook placements for easy access. You can buy a steel hook to attach to the side of your BBQ, a hook shelf to attach to the wall, or why not pop single hooks on your fence to make a statement yet practical feature?
7. Don't forget the outdoor kitchen sink
Of course it wouldn't be an outdoor kitchen without a tap and kitchen sink – an essential and integral part of any kitchen's design.
8. Add a statement show piece
While the kitchen already incorporates a fully integrated barbecue, the home owner wanted the ability to cook for large groups and also ensure they had all the necessary toys to create restaurant standard fare. Burgers, sausages and delicate fish work fantastically well on the Napoleon integrated gas BBQ. However, for a show-stopping extravaganza, the ceramic Egg BBQ is the hero. It makes a statement feature too – with the worktops recessed to make room for it.
Taking it to the next level, consider a custom grill, a true luxury for any grilling enthusiast. In the leafy Seattle home below designed by Best Practice Architecture, a concrete countertop extends from an exposed retaining wall, incorporating a built-in pit for a custom wood-fired grill. Thoughtfully designed as an outdoor living room, the open-air kitchen has nothing to hide: the counter itself incorporates space underneath for firewood storage in plain sight.
9. Drinks fridge
A double fridge is the finishing touch – one for chilled drinks, and the one on the left for food storage. Perfect for keeping drinks chilled and food fresh.
10. Install a built-in rubbish chute to keep flies at bay
Meanwhile supermodel Tyra Banks chose the below outdoor kitchen design for her Palm Springs home. It features an integrated rubbish chute – the handle lifts up to reveal a large hole through which food scraps can be discarded and stored away from flies.
11. Incorporate a wood fired pizza oven
Picture homemade wood fired pizzas with friends and family in your own garden, under the stars.
Independent British brand DeliVita makes stylish, hand-made wood-fired ovens - and they're perfect not just for cooking pizza but for everything from toad in the hole to tandoori chicken.
Light and portable, the DeliVita oven can sit on any sturdy table, meaning the chef can be right at the heart of the fun. Plus the oven will warm the area too, helping your patio last from spring into summer and right through into the late autumn months.
It's no wonder that pizza oven sales are up again year-on-year, with the Ooni range at John Lewis up +18%, showing that customers were enjoying cooking them outdoors too, either to complement a BBQ or as an alfresco meal on their own.
12. Go all out with a Teppanyaki grill
Love hosting and entertaining? This rustic holiday villa in Italy boasts a stunning terrace for al-fresco dining, complete with Teppanyaki grill and barbecue area.
13. Add a playful touch with a blackboard wall menu
The below outdoor kitchen is uplifting, inviting and fun – we love the slatted fence, the patterned floor tiles and the Green Egg barbecue with shelves cocooning it, but we're also drawn to the tongue-in-cheek menu board, for writing down the day's 'specials'.
14. Pair warm woods with concrete for a modern look
In the home a Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, the outdoor kitchen area features wooden floorboards and warm wood kitchen units against a grey backdrop of smooth concrete walls. Opposite this outdoor kitchen is a generous lounge and al fresco dining area, while stairs lead up to an impressive roof terrace above.
For contrast, poured concrete countertops pair with white wood-slat cabinetry in the sun-drenched kitchen below by California’s Salthouse Collective. Bringing a crisp and coastal aesthetic, it may be a simple kitchen—nothing more than a stainless steel grill and a small refrigerator—but goes big with a large countertop for serving food and crowds alike. Adding even more texture and warmth to the area, an outdoor rug complements the natural finishes and brings an outdoor living room vibe.
15. When in doubt, you can't go wrong with a grey scheme
Opt for cool greys or earthy tones for a timeless look that's also on-trend. You can always add pops of colour with your glassware and accessories.
16. Give your outdoor kitchen a roof for a weather-proof setting
The below outdoor kitchen is covered, making it weatherproof so the outdoor area can be enjoyed year-round, rain or shine.
Because it's a covered space, it's able to also incorporate a comfortable outdoor living area complete with flat screen TV (great for hosting during sporting events or alfresco movie nights).
The outdoor kitchen and barbecue area even comes with bar seating, plus an integrated tap, sink and a dishwasher. A modern wall sculpture breaks up the cedar wall cladding.
Similarly, in this impressive spa-like home, a covered outdoor area packs in a fully integrated outdoor kitchen along with a fireplace, wall-mounted TV as well as comfy sofa seating.
17. Or create a smaller covered structure
The English weather is nothing if reliable (yes, we know there'll always be rain) and getting drenched while you're cooking is no fun. Invest in a cool barbecue shelter or hut to take your garden parties all the way through winter. As well as being a stylish and versatile cooking space, this Morso hut also offers a bar area for family and friends to sit and socialise with you as you show off your cheffing skills.
You can reclaim open space in your backyard with an “outdoor room,” according to the California-based startup Yardzen, the first fully online landscape design service (over 20% of its users requested an outdoor kitchen in 2020). “Pergolas and shade sails are a great way to provide overhead protection from the elements, and they help define a space, such as an alfresco kitchen and dining room,” says the Yardzen Design Team. In the rendering below, dreamed up for a Florida homeowner, their team articulates multiple “rooms” with floating wooden structures
And if you’re outside to be outdoors, why not put a roof over your head that lets nature thrive? In the vacation rental below, located in upstate New York, a basic wooden pergola offers shelter while a canopy of ivy and trailing plants hang overhead. With just enough coverage for shade, natural light and tendrils sneak through its slats, creating a lush cooking space that shines.
18. Consider a retractable canopy
A pergola with a flexible retractable canopy makes this an area that is enjoyed whatever the weather brings.
19. Hang pots and utensils from the wall and up-cycle an old sideboard for a rustic look
In this old engine house in Cornwall, the outdoor kitchen features a rustic look thanks to stone walls, hooks to hang cooking utensils, and an up-cycled sideboard for storage.
Opposite the sideboard is a small seating area with a freestanding pizza oven. When it's not being used for making pizzas, it's being used for barbecuing meat joints or for simply warming the area as a heater.
20. Surrounded by open space? Make the most of the views
The below outdoor kitchen was positioned to not be too far from the main kitchen (handy for carrying food supplies), but to also make the most of the impressive views.
21. Add luxury with natural stone worktops
Outdoor kitchen ideas don't get much more elevated than this stunning real stone for your worktops. As well as being a talking-point piece, the ultra-practical Lundhs Blue stone is made with one of the strongest materials in the world, larvikite. Its UV resistance means the colour won't fade over time, while thermal shock resistance guarantees it won't expand when the temperature drops, ideal for all weather conditions. Thanks to its low porosity, it's also resistant to water and heat as well as scratches and stains, making it the perfect al fresco kitchen prep surface.
22. Add an outdoor bar
Set up a bar and bar stools close to your outdoor kitchen to create a relaxed, informal socialising space for family and friends. This means you can also easily entertain while you cook, too. We love this stylish option from Garden Trading.
23. Invest in a striking oven design
The popularity of smokers continues to rise but, according to Morso, charcoal and grills remain king of the backyard. This trend is highlighted by the Morsø Forno Outdoor Oven, a nifty addition to any outdoor kitchen that will see you be the envy of your friends creating dishes like roast beef, grilled steak, pizza, smoked salmon, tarts, breads, and more. To assist the cooking experience, a huge range of add-ons such as wood chips, meat rubs, novelty barbecue sauces and cooking tools are also available.
24. Splash out on a statement Green Egg
A Big Green Egg in your outdoor kitchen is the last word in cool. Loved by top chefs and food connoisseurs, this nifty little number is a ceramic charcoal grill that's described as a 'flavour machine'. It's basically a pizza oven, smoker and slow-roasting machine in one. And it comes in different sizes to suit your space.
25. Add some whimsical festoon lights
Up the ambience levels with strings of festoon lights for a cosy and stylish outdoor feast. Drape string lights above your outdoor kitchen or on a canopy or in trees near your dining area for that soft-focus glow. Lights4Fun has a good selection, as does Cox & Cox.
26. Accessorise with a fire pit
Extend al fresco feasts into the evening by snuggling around a cosy fire pit. Remember some fire pits are not suited to sit on timber decking, and a patio or concrete floor is best.
See Also: 50 Stylish Garden Patio Ideas
27. Create a nearby herb station
Have some herbs on-hand so you can get fresh flavourings with a quick snip of the secateurs, without having to run back into the house.
28. Snap up an affordable option from IKEA
If your budget is slightly more slimline, opt for a barbecue that comes with a kitchen cabinet, work space and storage included. This instant outdoor kitchen from Ikea looks more expensive than its price tag, and can be made larger with separate cabinets and trolleys.
See Also: The Top Garden Trends This Year
What is a good size for an outdoor kitchen?
Whether you have a large expansive patio or a smaller terrace, an outdoor kitchen can be incorporated in the form of an elaborate, permanent structure or a multifunctional barbecue and table set-up that can be moved around your outdoor space.
What do you put in an outdoor kitchen?
More households are now branching out from the traditional BBQ, and are looking at more versatile and aesthetically-pleasing products like outdoor ovens, which are great for traditional barbecue food as well as allowing you to cook your very own pizza creations, or simply to act as a heat generator on a cold evening.
Outdoor fire pits are also always a crowd pleaser and excellent for creating an inviting ambience at a get-together. Adding seating to the outdoor cooking area provides you with somewhere to dine, socialise and relax. Your outdoor products may be outside for most of the year, so you’ll need durable materials, like cast iron, which is resilient and can withstand all weathers.
Does an outdoor kitchen add value to your home?
For many people, it's also important to know if installing an outdoor kitchen will add value to your home; that the time and effort will reap financial rewards. Tom Parker, Consumer Spokesperson at Zoopla says: 'For those willing to make the investment, adding an outdoor kitchen to a home can have many benefits - both in terms of having another area to socialise in and creating much sought after indoor/outdoor living space.
'In terms of adding value, factors have to be considered such as the quality of the craftsmanship and appliances. Having a covered outdoor kitchen suitable for all weathers, with heating and a seating area is also likely to add more value than a more simple version that can only be used in summer months.'
What materials are good for outdoor kitchens?
Make sure that you choose materials that will stand up to the climates that it is intended for use in. Too often people start off with the best of intentions for maintaining their outdoor kitchens but enthusiasm quickly wanes. Choosing hardwood timbers such as Iroko, a lower-cost alternative to teak, means that you won't be revarnishing your kitchen at the start of every season. Similarly, renders and poured concretes don't tend to do as well in damp cold northern European climates. Consider tiled surfaced such as the super hardy UV/frost resistant Xtone as an alternative outdoor worktop.
Should you use a gas or coal BBQ for your outdoor kitchen?
Not everyone is lucky enough to have the budget or space for both gas and coal BBQs so, for most, it will be a choice between gas or coal. The common view is that gas is for those who want low fuss, convenient everyday cooking. Coal is for back to basics enthusiasts with more patience to build a fire and wait for it to heat up, they tend to be rewarded in the flavour stakes.
An alternative option could be to invest in a gas BBQ and have a smaller fire pit that can be used with logs and a grill tray for overflow cooking space when entertaining. Either way, it's important to know which type of heat source you wish to use at the outset as this will influence where you position your kitchen and the space you need to allow.
Where in the garden is best to place an outdoor kitchen?
Think about how you wish to use your kitchen and the orientation of your garden. Consider what times of day you imagine using the kitchen most and where the position of the sun will be at that time.
Some gardens may only have specific areas of the garden that gets sun at certain times of day, you probably want to have soft seating in this area and keep the kitchen out of this prime real estate. Perhaps it's a party kitchen intended for use mainly at night? If so, you may wish to place it at the end of the garden away from bedrooms. In this scenario it may be an idea to build a pergola around it and hang ambient lighting and heating, perhaps include a wine fridge so it's not a long walk back to the indoor kitchen fridge. If your kitchen sits on a patio directly outside your main kitchen then perhaps an outdoor wine fridge is less necessary.
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