How to build an outdoor kitchen – expert advice for creating a stylish new cooking space

Here's everything you need to know about how to build an outdoor kitchen, with expert advice for when just a barbecue isn't enough

how to build outdoor kitchen
(Image credit: Lundhs / Morten Rakke)

Wondering how to build an outdoor kitchen? Maybe you've decided on creating an alfresco cooking and dining area, but what do you need and where do you start?

As our homes have become our sanctuary more than ever before, we're continually looking for ways to make the most of the space we've got. Creating entertaining spaces in the garden is a fantastic way to increase your home's versatility and give you extra room to enjoy with friends and family. We've asked the experts how to install an outdoor kitchen, so you can get cooking al fresco.

And, don't worry, an outdoor kitchen is not just for summer; by adding warming features like fire pits or patio heaters and layering up with cosy blankets, you can ooze all the hygge vibes and use your outdoor kitchen all year round.

how to build an outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Helen Elks Smith)

HOW TO BUILD AN OUTDOOR KITCHEN

We've teamed up with a host of experts to bring you top tips on the best way to create your outdoor kitchen for a stylish new garden space.

CAN I BUILD AN OUTDOOR KITCHEN WITH WOOD?

The simple answer is yes, but the type of wood is important. 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. The experts at Blakes London suggest 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 surfaces such as the super hardy UV/frost resistant Xtone as an alternative outdoor worktop.

'Your outdoor products may be outside for most of the year, so you’ll need durable materials, like cast iron, which is resilient and long-lasting,' says Declan Kingsley-Walsh, Managing Director at Morsø UK. 'Woods are also tough but will often need treating.'

outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Blakes London)

CAN YOU PUT AN OUTDOOR KITCHEN ON A DECK?

Absolutely. Unlike a fire pit, the heat source will not be directly on the timber, so this is perfectly safe. In fact, many indoor kitchens are build on timber flooring as opposed to solid surfaces like concrete. Building an outdoor kitchen on a deck can actually be beneficial for running services in the cavity underneath from the house to your new entertaining area.

how install outdoor kitchen

Blue Silk outdoor kitchen by Lundhs

(Image credit: Lundhs / Morten Rakke)

WHICH IS BETTER FOR OUTDOOR COOKING, GAS OR COAL

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 when wondering how to build an outdoor kitchen is that the best gas barbecues are ideal 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,' says Annie Ebenston, lead designer at Blakes London. '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.'

Wondering if you can you put an oven outside? Outdoor pizza ovens are also a fantastic idea for easy and quick cooking that will definitely impress your guests. And, of course, you can use them for cooking other things, like fish and vegetables too. It's safe to cook on concrete, as it's a non-combustible material.

how to build an outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Design by The Novogratz)

WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY 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,' says  Annie Ebenston, lead designer at Blakes London. '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?' Annie adds. '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.'

how to build an outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Blakes London)

HOW TO BUILD AN OUTDOOR KITCHEN ON A BUDGET

Be realistic with what you want and what you can afford. Work within your means, you can do less but still do it well. To cut costs, you could try building your own DIY outdoor kitchen with wood or reclaimed bricks; glazed tiles are a nice decorative finishing touch.

It's also a good idea to buy a barbecue that comes with kitchen units as part of the package to create the look instantly, and use outdoor trolleys pushed together to create extra workspace.

BE STORAGE SMART

'When pondering how to build an outdoor kitchen, where space is limited clients sometimes choose to do away with a garden shed and instead incorporate garden storage into the outdoor kitchen area,' says Annie Ebenston, lead designer at Blakes London. 'This allows for more kitchen worktop space and lets the kitchen be the focal point within the garden.'

how to build an outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Blakes London)

CREATE USABLE DINING AREAS

Don't forget, you'll need a sociable and practical space to enjoy that delicious food you're whipping up in your snazzy new outdoor kitchen.

how to build an outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Blakes London)

Choose a spot not too far from the kitchen space so you don't have to carry your food and utensils too far, whether it's a big outdoor dining table for larger areas, a compact bistro set for couples and smaller patios, or a tall bar dining set for slimline areas.

how to build an outdoor kitchen

Blue Silk kitchen by Lundhs

(Image credit: Lundhs / Morten Rakke)