Sometimes, cooking indoors can cramp your style – especially when you’re entertaining guests in a modest living space or unusual layout. If you’re struggling to make room for everyone, then it’s time to consider taking the party outside!
An outdoor kitchen gives you all the features and conveniences of an indoor kitchen, but with some extra perks. Besides having better ventilation and lighting, an outdoor kitchen is perfect for homeowners who love spending time in their garden, enjoy experimenting with different ways of cooking, and want to soak up every possible moment of sunshine.
From dinner parties to family barbecues and everything in between, cooking up a feast in your back garden is great way to gather with neighbours, friends, and family – especially in a time where people are conscious about keeping some social distance.
Ready to experience outdoor living at its finest? Read on for out design and planning tips, as well as our top-20 favourite outdoor kitchen ideas!
Outdoor Kitchen Essentials
Just as every household has different needs and demands, each outdoor kitchen is totally unique. When planning your al fresco cooking space, consider the most important functional features as well as the aesthetic and accessories you want to match your lifestyle. Popular outdoor kitchen ideas typically include:
- Space for food preparation
- Grill area – gas, charcoal or wood
- Small cooking appliances
- Storage shelves or cupboards
- Fridge, freezer or cooler storage
- Drinks bar section
- Dining area
- Lounge seating area
Any outdoor kitchen project will take time, planning, and money, especially in the UK when they’re not the most common garden feature. As with any big home project, it’s a good idea to get an estimate of the space you’re working with and your ideal budget before properly getting started. If you only want a relatively simple outdoor cooking area, you might even want to compare the cost of hiring a contractor against the effort of taking on the job as a DIY project. You can always pay for a professional planner to help you with materials and layout, even if you choose to do the building work yourself.
However you end up actually constructing your outdoor kitchen space, focus on functionality and durability to make sure your investment can be safely and comfortably enjoyed for as long as possible.
Outdoor Kitchen Construction 101
Adding an outdoor kitchen area to your home can be a big investment of time, effort and money. However, if you’re serious about hosting and love to cook in different environments, there’s really no comparison for the perks that an al fresco kitchen can bring. We touched on the most popular outdoor kitchen ideas above, but here’s a more detailed checklist to help you decide the features you want to include.
- Refrigerator or Mini-Fridge – Having easy access to your meat, veggies, and drinks can save you some time walking back and forth to your indoor kitchen for ingredients. It’s also great for making sure you always have a chilled drink on hand.
- Sink – A sink is really an essential for making any outdoor kitchen a functional space. It’s one feature that’s really worth having professionally installed to make sure the plumbing works perfectly.
- Counters and surfaces – As you’ll see from some of the beautiful outdoor kitchen ideas we’ve listed below, counters really are essential. You want room for small appliances as well as space to prepare and serve your food… and maybe somewhere to eat or drink at too.
- Splashback – If your kitchen is going to have walls, make sure to add a splashback as protection from water, food stains, and/or charred wood from the fire pit or grill.
- Cabinets and shelving – Storage space is another pretty crucial feature for any outdoor kitchen. Open shelving is great for showing off decorative cookware and housing plants, but can get dirty very quickly. Cupboards are ideas for storing seasoning, utensils and tableware.
- Flooring – Your kitchen is going to need a solid floor, but think about whether concrete, stone or wood is going to be the best choice in terms of aesthetics, cost and maintenance. This might be affected by the materials of your home, surrounding garden area or whether your kitchen area will be covered or not.
- Roof or ceiling – Talking of coverings – are you going to have a roof on your outdoor kitchen? If you’re going to have outdoor wiring, it will need protection from the rain.
- Dining space – How many people do you expect to host outside? Will casual seating be fine, or do you want a more formal dining area? Tables, benches, booths and bar seating all create different kinds of ambience and offer different perks and drawbacks. Don’t forget that you can add lounge seating for extra comfort.
- Kitchen appliances – You can have a stove, pizza oven, built-in grill, fire pit, or all kinds of other appliances for cooking food in your outdoor kitchen. Focus on the main types of food you picture yourself cooking.
20 Outdoor Kitchen Ideas
All around the world, people love cooking outdoors. It’s not really surprising, therefore, that there’s endless inspiration for outdoor kitchen ideas, that are influenced by global culture, architecture and cooking methods. No matter what kind of aesthetic you prefer, there will be an outdoor kitchen that meets your lifestyle and budget.
In this list of my top-20 outdoor kitchen ideas, we look at some simple layouts that prioritise convenience and simplicity, as well as some truly luxurious cooking areas that could have fallen straight out of an episode of Cribs (is that reference too outdated?) We’ve also got some rustic ideas that emphasise the “outdoor” aspect of indoor-outdoor living, as well as some timeless styles and fun, retro designs.
1. Sheltered Outdoor Kitchen Under a Gazebo
This modern patio keeps things simple, walking the line between outdoor kitchen and luxury BBQ area. The indoors is brought outside with pretty shaker-style cabinets and a patio rug, while elements like the planters and wooden fencing remind you that you’re outside. Lighting plays an important part in the design, with fun string lights creating ambience and practical spot lights attached to the fence so you can see what you’re cooking and preparing.
2. Tropical Wood-fired Deck Kitchen
Outdoor kitchens aren’t so common in the UK, so chances are you want to bring in inspiration from abroad. This simple-but-striking set up could be from anywhere, with a neutral-coloured wood-fired oven and thatch roof. Add whatever finishing touches you like and transform your deck area into a Mediterranean cucina, a tropical island cook-out space or a hub for sizzling street food. Take a look at our Moroccan garden ideas and Italian themed garden suggestions for style tips.
3. Wooden Deck In The Backyard
Even small gardens can be transformed into a beautiful and practical outdoor cooking area. As this stylish deck demonstrates, building integrated storage benches is a great way to get the most out of your space. Plus, the visual consistency of the fencing, flooring, seating and surfaces keep the garden from feeling cluttered and claustrophobic.
4. Cosy, U-Shaped Stone Outdoor Kitchen
If space is tight – or you just don’t want your outdoor kitchen area to take over your whole garden – then take inspiration from this cute, u-shaped kitchen. It looks like the grill, sink and prep area are all within arms reach, while there’s still a little bit of room for your guests to keep you company or help out.
5. Patio Pizza Oven
Home pizza-making has been a growing trend in the UK, with wood-fired ovens becoming a rival for barbecues. This gorgeous little brick oven shows why – it looks cosy and rustic, and probably smells amazing. The little counter on the side is perfect for prepping, serving or (as shown), pouring out some bubbly. The garden swing chair is the perfect spot for company while you cook.
6. Greenhouse Outdoor Kitchen
This heavenly greenhouse kitchen is beautifully bright and luxurious. The hanging plants and crawling vines bring an earthy, organic vibe that contrasts beautifully to the industrial metal and concrete of the greenhouse frame and kitchen counters. The muted, neutral colours also help to emphasise the nature outdoors. If you want to create “green curtains” like this, take a look at our post on green roofing. Of course, to make this kind of design more UK-friendly, you could build it with sides or bi-fold doors.
7. A Pop of Colour
I love, love, love this bright little snippet from this outdoor kitchen in Javea, Spain. Of course, Spanish gardens are all about socialising in a comfortable space, so it makes perfect sense that they’d have an outdoor kitchen area! The farmhouse sink and pared-back style make it feel very grown-up and sophisticated, but the quirky cactus sculpture and the bright turquoise of the cupboard doors really bring back the fun. Take a look at more Spanish themed garden ideas.
8. Luxurious Pergola Garden Kitchen
When it comes to outdoor kitchen ideas, it seems this beautiful cooking space has it all. I can’t even guess what all the cupboards and drawers are for, but it looks like a high-end grill setup, a well-stocked mini fridge and plenty of storage and prep space. When you factor in the shelter and the heat lamps, why would you ever host social events inside again?
9. Modular Outdoor Kitchen Ideas
Having a custom-made, in-build outdoor kitchen area looks great, but you can achieve an equally attractive effect for much less money, thanks to modular furniture and a bit of creativity. For example, this combination of KLASEN grill and counters from IKEA. With the right garden lighting ideas and some well-chosen decor, this relatively wallet-friendly setup can look as sleek and stylish as one twice the price.
10. Contemporary Cooking in Stone, Concrete and Teak
I adore this contemporary kitchen area and the beautiful use of materials. In fact, the black and teak colour combination, mixed with clean lines and geometric shapes reminds me of Japanese design (take a look at our post on Japanese garden styles if you’re interested). Aside from the grill and the sink, the design elements are very versatile. For example, the long, narrow counter could be a preparation space, bar or dining table.
11. Slimline Cooking Spot
This cute garden cooking area takes up barely any space. With a compact kamado-style cooker and counterspace for food prep and serving, it’s the perfect hosting station when you have people over. The shelves give you plenty of room for storing utensils and fuel for your grill or bbq, as you can see. If you’re pushed for space, adding some fold-out garden furniture would be perfect. Try some of these small garden ideas and tips.
12. The Ultimate Garden Hangout
Garden entertaining isn’t just about serving food and chilling drinks. Why ask your guests to keep you company on bar stools or a garden bench, when you could offer them a seat in your hot tub? This colour-coordinated hot tub and garden kitchen area looks super swanky. Whether it’s a cosy night in with the family or a big summer party with friends, this would make sure you’d be in your garden all night long.
13. Urban Cement Outdoor Kitchen
Cement is just such an underrated building material for functional outdoor spaces. The neutral colour makes it the perfect backdrop for putting a stamp of personality onto, plus it’s durable, weatherproof and inexpensive. This simple outdoor cooking spot is perfect for a modern home
14. Dutch Oven Over a Fire Pit
Most of these outdoor kitchen ideas are about building a modern cooking area that can be as practical as the one inside your home. That doesn’t have to be the case though, especially if you like experimenting with different styles of cooking. Building a fire pit and using it to cook is a wonderful way to make rustic meals and add rich flavour. Try using a pot stand to hang a Dutch oven, or having a way to rest a grill tray above the flames.
15. Bar and Kitchen Shack
With beloved pubs being forced to close their doors this summer, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of home pubs and garden bars popping up. Even as pubs reopen, having a cosy private bar at home will always be a fun way to socialise with your friends and show off your bartending skills. Adding a kitchen into the mix makes it a whole lot easier to cook up your favourite bar snacks while you crack open a beer and hang out.
16. Connected Indoor & Outdoor Kitchens
This beautiful house from Electric Bowery has found the perfect way to create an outdoor cooking space with just a modest garden square-footage. With the outdoor counter perfectly lined up with the sliding window to the indoor kitchen, both areas get a boost in practicality. Prep food inside and pass it outside to be grilled, or cook up delicious grilled food to enjoy indoors.
17. Garden Shed Kitchen
One of the main reasons outdoor cooking isn’t a more serious thing in the UK is the weather. If you’re keen to get grilling in the garden, having any kind of shed or outbuilding for shelter is a good idea. This gorgeous white cabin is probably about the same size as the average terrace garden, but you could work with a smaller, summer-house type cabin for a similar effect. Choose a cabin that opens right up onto your patio or deck, and just make sure it’s up to code for electrical safety, fire safety and ventilation. Learn how to build a low-maintenance deck.
18. Elegant Covered Outdoor Kitchen
If you’re planning to invest in your outdoor cooking area, this incredibly elegant kitchen space shows you how much bang you can get for those bucks. The seamless counter is absolute perfection, and the sleek woodwork is stunning. It looks like it’s covered by a solid roof, which makes it all the more practical for cooking outside in the UK. Squeeze some seating under there too and you may never cook inside again!
18. Rural Outdoor Kitchen Wooden Shed
This semi-sheltered outdoor kitchen area mixes raw timber and aged wood counters to create a laid-back vibe, perfect for a farmhouse or beach aesthetic. It would be a great spot to relax in the shade in between spots of sunbathing, or for installing a suspended swing seat. The small touches of colour and rough ceramic pots are just the right finishing touches for a fun yet rustic look.
20. Modern Monochrome Patio Grill
Last but by no means least, there’s this compact kitchen area in a patio nook. The white counter looks great in contrast with the grey brickwork, and the little round sink has a slightly retro vibe that I’m loving. The little natural elements – like the wooden chair, wicker vase and pops of green plant add a warmer touch. Pretty!
Building an outdoor kitchen is no easy feat, but you can get the job done properly if you plan ahead! There are plenty of ways to get creative with cooking spaces in your garden, whether you’re keeping it simple of going all-out. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right design for your lifestyle.
Now that you’ve seen our favourite outdoor kitchen ideas, take a look at our tips for garden BBQ areas, home bar ideas and suggestions for gorgeous, glamorous patio styling to create your perfect garden space at home.