Outdoor kitchen ideas – 22 ways to create a chic and functional al fresco cooking space

Be inspired by these outdoor kitchen ideas for stylish entertaining area – from outdoor lighting to countertop materials and pizza ovens

Outdoor kitchen ideas by Charlotte Rowe Garden Design
(Image credit: Charlotte Rowe Garden Design)

After some outdoor kitchen ideas and inspiration? From new surfaces and clever storage to pizza ovens and fire pits, alfresco cooking and dining in your own backyard is something most of us relish. 

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.

From weatherproof canopies, outdoor kitchen islands, storage and built-in garbage chutes that keep flies away, get inspired by these 22 outdoor kitchen ideas below...

22 of the chicest outdoor kitchen ideas

'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. 'An outdoor kitchen gives you ample opportunity to cook and eat outdoors, whatever the season and whether you have a large garden or a smaller patio.'

1. Go for a U-shaped design where space isn't an issue

Blakes London outdoor kitchen idea with wooden base and concrete tops

(Image credit: Blakes London)

The below backyard idea 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.

'We like to make our outdoor kitchen units from sustainably sourced Iroko timber,' says Annie Ebenston, lead designer at Blakes London. '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.'

'For countertops, large-format Xtone porcelain tiles work well,' she adds. 'Xtone is a fabulous low maintenance and highly functional alternative to concrete or renders. This large-format porcelain tile will maintain its color over time and is both frost and heat resistant. An added benefit is that it is incredibly hygienic so can be used as a food prep surface.'

2. Use one wall if you're short on space

one wall outdoor kitchen idea

(Image credit: Clive Nichols)

This urban garden 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. A design like this is the perfect small garden idea.

Gaze Burvill, designers and manufacturers of fine outdoor furniture and kitchens, designed this outdoor kitchen with industrial-style Dekton® Trilium for the weather-proof worktops.

outdoor kitchen ideas with a living wall

Kitchen by Heather Hilliard Design

(Image credit: David Duncan Livingston)

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, the vertical garden pops color and life into an otherwise blank space with plenty of room for growth and fully integrates the 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. Design an outdoor kitchen like an indoor one in warmer climes

outdoor kitchen with tile surround

Kitchen by Marie Flanigan Interiors

(Image credit: Julie Soefer)

If you're wondering how to build an outdoor kitchen, 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.

Let interior finishes set the tone. Tucked away from Texas’ scorching heat, Marie Flanigan Interiorsbrought indoor vibes to the exterior kitchen 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), to complement the luxurious appearance of the home’s indoor aesthetic.

4. Keep your outdoor kitchen close

Outdoor kitchen ideas trekker exterior patio with fire and rug

(Image credit: Trekker)

If you live in the UK, chances are that you don't spend huge amounts of time outdoors. Take a leaf out of this family home's book, installing an 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.

'From a fully functional kitchen to a simple BBQ area, designing your outdoor kitchen will depend on your budget, lifestyle and space,' says  Nick Whiley, Project Director at Trekker Global. 'For a built-in kitchen, it is important to consider how you use the space. Having a proper prep area and worktop is vital, as well as possible storage options to keep items in throughout the year such as cooking utensils.'

'Make sure you choose a weatherproof material, like composite cladding and decking, so it can withstand the weather throughout the year,' he adds. 'Composite cladding looks very similar to wood and blends in well with its surroundings - plus aesthetically it allows for a good flow, from the kitchen cabinets to the floor. It is also very low maintenance in comparison to other materials and will not rot, warp or splinter.'

5. Incorporate plenty of outdoor kitchen storage

Outdoor kitchen ideas by Lundhs Real Stone

(Image credit: Lundhs Real Stone)

There are several things to consider when designing an outdoor kitchen as ppart of your modern garden ideas. Storage is a pretty important one as it makes life that bit easier and helps keeps everything nice and neat.

'As with

 any indoor kitchen space, it’s important to ensure you have enough storage. Make sure  you’re  able to close and lock things away so that they are safe from  the  outdoor elements,' says Hege Lundh, Marketing Director, Lundhs. 'Also, find a nice spot in your outdoor space where you have enough space. The outdoor kitchen  should not be fully exposed to sunlight, and if possible find the least windy area.  And make sure you plan  accordingly  for any water or  electricity  access, as this will play a big part in planning. '

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

6. Use any wall space for hooks

outdoor kitchen ideas with wall storage

(Image credit: Lundhs / Morten Rakke)

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?

This sort of storage may be seasonal, but it can make using your outdoor BBQ much better, keeping essential tools close at hand. 

7. Add a statement show piece

outdoor kitcen

(Image credit: Blakes London)

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.

A Big Green Egg in your outdoor kitchen is the last word in cool and widely regarded as one of the best grills. Loved by top chefs and food connoisseurs, this nifty little number is a ceramic charcoal grill that's described as a 'flavor machine'. It's basically a pizza oven, smoker and slow-roasting machine in one. And it comes in different sizes to suit your space.

8. Install a built-in rubbish chute to keep flies at bay

Outdoor kitchen ideas rubbish chute

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.

9. Incorporate a wood fired pizza oven 

Outdoor kitchen ideas 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.

11. Add a playful touch with a blackboard wall menu 

garden ideas with tiled floor

(Image credit: AMMA BATCHELOR)

This outdoor kitchen is uplifting, inviting and fun – we love the slatted garden fencing, 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'.

This interactive element can make a BBQ much more of an event, and doubles up as something to keep the kids entertained. 

11. Pair warm woods with concrete for a modern look

outdoor kitchen to a penthouse apartment

(Image credit: Zeke Ruelas)

In the home of 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.

12. Keep it classic with a grey scheme

outdoor kitchen in poured concrete

Kitchen by Salthouse Collective

(Image credit: Salthouse Collective)

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. 

Opt for cool greys or earthy tones for a timeless look that's also on-trend. You can always add pops of color with your glassware and accessories.

13. Give your outdoor kitchen a roof for a weather-proof setting

Wooden outdoor kitchen with roof by Outdoor Kitchen Expert.

(Image credit: Outdoor Kitchen Expert.)

This outdoor kitchen is covered, making it weatherproof so that the kitchen and any outdoor seating can be enjoyed year-round, rain or shine.

'A roof structure to keep the heat in during winter and provide shelter from the rain but still allow sunlight into the space in summer will be a key part of the design,' says says Duncan Aird, founder of Outdoor Kitchen Expert. 'Pergolas, awnings, marquees and retractable canopies are all worthy of consideration here,' he adds. 'When it comes to materials, it’s important to plan the style that you’re looking for from an early stage, as this will impact the kitchen’s design.'

'Are you after an ultra-modern outdoor kitchen or something that blends in with the natural landscape of the garden? The kitchen’s location will also impact decisions around materials. If it’s in an exposed location, render or tile is an excellent choice, while a more sheltered location could be clad with timber. This also raises the question of maintenance, as materials such as timber will require periodic work to keep them looking tip-top. As such, planning an outdoor kitchen needs to factor in some thought around how much work the owner is happy to put in ongoing.'

14. Or create a smaller covered structure

outdoor kitchen

Kitchen rendering by Yardzen

(Image credit: Yardzen)

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. 

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 this rendering, dreamed up for a Florida homeowner, their team articulates multiple “rooms” with floating wooden structures.

15. Consider a retractable canopy

patio garden with cement floor

(Image credit: Future)

A pergola with a flexible retractable canopy makes this an area that is enjoyed whatever the weather brings.

With a retractable cover and the right outdoor heating ideas, you can make your outdoor kitchen and dining space work year round. 

16. Add luxury with natural stone worktops

outdoor kitchen ideas with stone worktops

(Image credit: Lundhs / Morten Rakke)

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.

'Opt for a material that is easy to clean and is maintenance-free,' says Hege Lundh, marketing director at Lundhs .'The key to this is choosing a material that is 100% natural. A completely natural stone will be used to the elements and notoriously only require very little maintenance - a simple wipe with a damp cloth will suffice! '

17. Add an outdoor bar

Blakes London outdoor kitchen idea with wooden base and concrete tops

(Image credit: Blakes London)

Set up a garden bar idea 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. 

From a trolley you wheel out on occasion to a full on built-in bar designed by the experts, a garden bar will add fun to your space and keep friends and family well watered.

18. Invest in a striking oven design

outdoor kitchen with logs

(Image credit: Future)

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.

19. Add some whimsical festoon lights

outdoor kitchen with alfresco dining area

(Image credit: Kristy Noble)

Up the ambience levels with strings of festoon lights for a cozy 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. 

You can also factor in garden lighting ideas as part of your landscaping project, ensuring that it best serves your outdoor kitchen and dining space. The best outdoor lighting will not only make your space functional in the evening, but look great from your kitchen window. 

20. Accessorize with a fire pit

outdoor kitchen ideas with firepit

(Image credit: Future)

Extend al fresco feasts into the evening by snuggling around a cozy fire pit. Fire pit ideas continue to pique our interest year after year, from solid built-in designs to simpler temporary options. If you're seeking modern garden ideas for your outside space this summer, then a fire pit is certainly going to create a talking point. Remember some fire pits are not suited to sit on timber decking, and a patio or concrete floor is best.

21. Create a nearby herb station

outdoor kitchen ideas with vegetable and herb garden

(Image credit: Future)

Have some herbs on-hand so you can get fresh flavorings with a quick snip of the secateurs, without having to run back into the house. Herb gardens are easy to incorporate through container gardening, whether they're countertop pots, raised beds or even a nearby window box. 

22. Snap up an affordable option from Ikea

outdoor kitchen ideas with integrated bbq area

(Image credit: 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. 

There are plenty of ways you can approach IKEA garden hacks to make an outdoor kitchen, but ensure the materials you choose are weatherproof and will survive in your garden. 

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, socialize 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.

Brandon Architecture

(Image credit: Brandon Architecture)

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.

Keith Flanagan is a New York based journalist specialising in design, food and travel. He has written been an editor at Time Out New York, and has written for such publications as Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveller, Food 52 and USA Today. He regularly contributes to Livingetc, reporting on design trends and offering insight from the biggest names in the US. His intelligent approach to interiors also sees him as an expert in explaining the different disciplines in design.