With searches for 'outdoor kitchen ideas' up 60% over the last month, it's clear we're all embracing the shift outwards. And, when it means you can enjoy dinner under the stars, then why ever not?
'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.'
1. It's in the oven
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.
2. Light it up
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.
3. Take cover
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.
4. Portable pizzas
Take the pizza party outside with a clever restaurant-grade outdoor pizza oven that serves up mouthwatering dishes in minutes. We love the Gozney Roccbox for its perfect blend of funky and functional; reaching up to 500C, it can cook up an authentic Neapolitan pizza in just 90 seconds - all while looking super-stylish on your outdoor kitchen worktop.
See Also:50 Stylish Garden Patio Ideas
5. Go modular for a versatile design
If budget isn't a problem, try this modular outdoor kitchen for a really versatile design, which comes in a cool, concrete finish, perfect for industrial-style fans. You can make the kitchen as long as you like by simply adding segments together, which come in three different heights. You can also add accessories like cookers, pizza ovens, fireplaces, wooden storage boxes and even an outdoor sink.
6. Snuggle by the fire
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.
7. Bar work
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.
8. 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.
9. BBQ with bells & whistles
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.
10. Top of the glass
Make sure your glassware game is on-point with some stylish wine glasses to enjoy your favourite tipple with your meal. We love these retro coloured glasses from Graham & Green for a spot of informal retro cool - keep them in your outdoor kitchen cabinets so you don't even have to carry them outside.
11. Egg-cellent equipment
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.
12. Keep cool and carry on
Who wants to run back into the house every time you want a cold drink? And we don't like our wine warm. The answer? Install a fridge into your outdoor kitchen set up for easy access to chilled drinks all the time. Cheers to that.
13. Hang out
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?
14. 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.
15. Shelf life
OK, it may not be the most exciting part about outdoor kitchen ideas, but good storage is key to a smart and practical space. Make sure you have good shelving units or trolleys that can keep your tools and necessities tidy and protected. Ikea and Robert Dyas both have a great selection.
16. Add art
Just as with indoor styling, outdoor art is an excellent way to breathe life into a space, and add your personality to the area. This clever artwork by NZ designer Lisa Turley has been crafted with high-grade brushed stainless steel and Dulux UV-resistant matte white electrocoating. It would add a tropical, contemporary vibe and makes for one of the more unique outdoor kitchen ideas.
17. Clean and contemporary
For a modern Scandi-chic look, pair pale woods with clean lines, rattan chairs, industrial dining table and cool cement-effect porcelain paving. Funky and functional.
18. Stay neutral
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.
Your outdoor kitchen questions answered
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.'