From cooking a few bangers on the bbq to preparing a full-blown al-fresco feast, there’s something wonderful about cooking outdoors. Firing up the BBQ has always been popular but outdoor cooking is seriously hotting up, mainly due to people spending more time at home in lockdown, a habit which has stayed for many, and the wider availability of impressive outdoor cooking equipment.
Set to be one of the biggest garden trends this year, dedicated outdoor cooking areas are popular and desirable additions to our homes. Stylish, multi-functional cooking spaces allow greater opportunities for socialising, enjoying the great outdoors and of course refining those BBQ cooking skills.
If you’re serious about getting your grill on, get your tongs ready and check out our list of garden BBQ area ideas and tips.
Garden BBQ area ideas: the grill
The most essential component for any barbecue area is, of course, the grill itself. Having a grill that you’re comfortable cooking on and actually enjoy using is going to make a huge difference to your barbecue life.
Key considerations are going to be how much you’re prepared to spend on a new appliance, and where exactly you’re going to position it in your garden. Are you planning to give your barbecue a permanent home on your patio, or will you still be putting it away once the weather gets colder?
Portable vs. in-built BBQ
There is no “right” answer when it comes to choosing between a portable, or freestanding, barbecue and one that’s a permanent fixture in your garden – it’s down to whatever works best for your household.
Portable grills are generally better for small gardens; they have the advantage of being compact and easy to move around if you need the space for something else. However, they don’t come with the same safety features as in-built grills, and you’ll need to be careful not to set it up near anything flammable or heat-sensitive every time you get it going.
On the flip side, in-built grills are usually designed with better safety features that minimise excessive heat. Once they’re safely installed somewhere, you won’t need to worry so much every time you get them going. Plus, they’re typically much bigger than portable grills, so you can cook more food at once – perfect if you generally cook for several people.
Charcoal vs. gas BBQs
If you’ve only ever used portable barbecues before, you’ll now be faced with a choice between cooking with charcoal or gas. Do you know the difference?
Grilling over charcoal is the traditional BBQ technique. Although it takes longer to heat up, lots of cooks like taking that time to prep their food – and charcoal’s smokiness gives everything you eat that classic barbecue flavour.
On the other hand, cooking with gas is perfect for anyone that likes to be able to grill at a moment’s notice. Gas gets up to temperature much faster, and makes it easier to control the heat.
When you plan your garden BBQ area, remember that eating outside should be just as comfortable as eating inside.
You don’t need to go overboard with furnishings; a sturdy table and enough seats for everyone you’re feeding is really all that’s essential. Of course, there are plenty of ways you can go overboard if you feel like it. A comfortable lounge area gives you somewhere to sit while the food is cooking, and an excuse to hang out in your garden all summer long.
Preparing your patio
Splashing out on a new barbecue? Do it some justice by freshening up the space you’re going to put it in first. If you reckon it’s time for a total patio overhaul, take a look at some of our inspiring patio ideas.
At the very least give your patio floor and walls and fences a clean. Soap and warm water is all that’s needed – although a power washer will make the job much quicker if the surfaces are made from something sturdy. I guarantee that a thorough clean will make your patio look a million times better without doing anything else at all!
Fed up of going back and forth between your kitchen and the garden? Having a dedicated outdoor kitchen area lets you have everything you need nearby, perfect for parties and entertaining guests.
While the good stuff gets grilling, you can be more efficiently prepping the extra bits, plus, it’ll be easier to set up an assembly area for people to add their own burger or hot dog toppings. We’ve come up with some ideas to create clever, culinary areas in your outdoor area, no matter what space you have. Ready to start planning? Let’s go!
Garden BBQ area ideas
Get ready to take your garden kitchen ideas to the next level with these inspiring designs:
1. Barbecue with Bar Area
We love this simple and stylish kitchen area. A built-in barbecue sits atop a range of wooden units.
An inbuilt sink adds a practical touch and the bar area is the perfect place to sit and relax while your food is cooking. It’s an elegant, timeless design that will look incredible for years to come.
2. Compact DIY Kitchen
Let’s face it, they look fabulous but few of us will have the budget or the space to build swanky, high-end barbecue areas in our garden.
This fantastic mini-kitchen has been lovingly created to house outdoor cooking essentials including a pizza oven and fryer and we love the cleverly installed knife rack, sauce bottle holder and handy container.
Set your BBQ up next to it and use the handy workspace for prepping and plating up. The back of the kitchen is home to pots of herbs.
It’s a clever and stylish design that’s perfect for small spaces. If you have children, you could build them a mini play kitchen to match.
3. Pergola BBQ Kitchen
If you have a pergola or gazebo, it’ll provide the perfect location for an outdoor kitchen.
If not, you may want to consider putting one up and building your kitchen underneath. It’s perfect for shade and shelter.
This DIY kitchen looks incredible. The rustic, poured concrete worktops will easily withstand whatever the weather can throw at them.
4. Outdoor Pizza Kitchen
Pizza ovens are incredible BBQ alternatives. This gorgeous kitchen has been styled around the central pizza oven.
There’s plenty of open storage for wood and utensils and a feature tiled splashback and carefully chosen, colourful accessories add personality.
5. Space-saving BBQ Area
Small space? No problem! Outdoor kitchens don’t have to take up much space as this clever design proves.
It’s neatly fitted against the house so takes up minimal floor space, yet still manages to contain plenty of storage and worktop space. The wooden panels and slate worktop add a beautifully simple, rustic finish.
6. Minimalist Wooden Outdoor BBQ Kitchen
We love the clean lines and elegant style of this outdoor kitchen.
Made entirely from wood, with an integrated sink, built-in barbecue and plenty of wall and under-counter storage space, this design would slot neatly into a corner of your garden.
7. Hideaway BBQ pod
This amazingly ingenious design manages to include everything you could possibly need in an outdoor kitchen, and best of all, you can simply close the hatch once you’re finished!
You can even order different-sized pods to suit your space so it’s not necessary to have a huge garden. The pod includes a gas grill, a kamado grill, fridge, sink, extractor fans and lights.
You also won’t need to worry about the kitchen filling full of leaves and getting damaged by rain over the winter as you can shut it away from the elements. This one is definitely going on my wish list!
8. Small space BBQ stand
This fantastic outdoor kitchen proves that you don’t need acres of space or lots of expensive building materials to create an attractive and functional cooking space.
Here, concrete posts and wooden panels have been used for the back of the kitchen whilst shelving has been attached to the front to hold the barbecue and accessories.
Add a few hooks for essential BBQ tools and a lick of paint and your kitchen is good to go.
Equip your kitchen
Once you’ve planned your barbecue area, you’ll need to source some cooking equipment! Here’s our pick of the best:
For beautiful stainless steel pizza ovens, firepit grills, kamado grills and masonry BBQs try Harbour Lifestyle.
Keen Gardener stocks an extensive range of gas BBQs, both freestanding and built-in.
For mini pizza ovens and a good choice of BBQs and accessories, try Thompson and Morgan.
Tips for cleaning a BBQ
Keeping your grill clean will both make it more pleasant to use and extend its life considerably. Unfortunately, between the grease, oils and burned-on food, that’s not always the easiest task.
For the best results, you want to use a damp sponge and a specific BBQ cleaning solution. Try and start wiping it down while the parts are still warm – the heat helps the grease and burned-on bits slide off (you can always soak it if it’s cooled down by the time you start cleaning).
A couple of ways to make your job easier:
- Oil your grill rack before you cook and keep it oiled as you go. This should prevent food from getting stuck to it (and will give your food those grill marks you always see in adverts).
- Noticing some rust spots on your grill? You can use a wire brush to scrub off the rust patches so you can start cooking again.
- A more unconventional hack is to slice an onion in half and rub it over the grill rack while it’s still warm to dissolve and dislodge stuck-on food.
- Apparently, pouring beer over the grill rack and using newspaper to scrub it clean is another good method. Personally, I would rather drink the beer!
- Take the time to properly dry your grill after you clean it to prevent rust from developing between uses.
Looking for more ways to use your garden? We’ve got fun ideas for the whole family! Take a look at ways to make your garden more dog-friendly, how to set up a garden cinema, or tips for creating the ultimate sunbathing space.
You might also like: 18 DIY Garden Bar Ideas