8 outdoor kitchen ideas for your backyard

Outdoor kitchens are taking over social media – spurring lots of outdoor kitchen ideas so you can create the look at home.

New research from an Atlas Ceramics study has crowned outdoor kitchens as the most in-demand kitchen trend in 2022, with over 2 million annual Google searches, 71 million views on TikTok and more than 475,000 Instagram hashtags.

Outdoor kitchens also top the American Institute of Architects’ project trends list.

From outdoor enhancements like weatherproof outdoor TVs and Wi-Fi enabled smokers to having your basic grill and eating around it too, kitchens can run a wide range in price and extravagance.

To get the scoop on the best outdoor kitchen ideas, we went straight to home design experts.

“Your setup doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, as long as it provides easy cooking, fresh air and fun. From large stone pizza ovens to solo ovens, outdoor cooking spaces need only provide a place to enjoy the combination of cooking and nature,” says Annie Elliott, product/design manager for New Again Houses, a company that transforms old houses into modern homes.

Here are eight outdoor kitchen ideas to keep in mind.

1. Plan for enough preparation space

Credit: Keter Store / reviewed

Keep a clean space by using storage options.

Even if it’s just for s’mores or hot dogs, outdoor kitchens need a sturdy prep area and plenty of airflow, according to Elliott.

“Having a clean place to put things and food down is essential to making your space not feel chaotic or like rough camping,” she says. “Fresh air helps your cook stay cool, and the space feels like the outdoors rather than your dining room.”

Try a portable storage cabinet, like this one from Keter, to keep all your tools and supplies clean and organized.

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2. Choose the right outdoor appliances

Small refrigerator in stainless steel against white background.

Credit: Danby / Reviewed

Choose an appliance that is rated for outdoor use.

While you don’t need any actual appliances to enjoy your DIY kitchen, adding some (think an ice cream maker, blender, mini fridge, or pizza oven) will make the experience far more enjoyable.

If your appliances are going to be permanent in your kitchen space, such as a dishwasher or wine fridge, be sure to choose ones that are rated for outdoor use like this outdoor mini fridge or an outdoor pizza oven.

When bad weather takes hold or when you just want a clean surface, store smaller plug-ins in a nearby shed or your garage to protect it from the elements and make them within easy reach to pull out for a party.

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3. Make sure you have power to connect

Close-up of a Yeti solar generator.

Credit: Yeti / Reviewed

You can easily bring these solar panels to different places.

Although equipping your kitchen with its own electrical source would be an expensive endeavor based on your outdoor kitchen’s layout and location from the home. Enter the portable solar power station, like this one from Yeti.

Easily moved from location to location, these panels can chase the sun during the day and give you an excellent way to power large and small appliances based on the size of the charge.

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4. Add plenty of seating options

An outdoor kitchen with two bar stools.

Credit: Getty Images / Martina Birnbaum / Reviewed

Keep things casual and conversational with outdoor table stools.

Good seating as outdoor garden furniture is a way to ensure that both chef and guests relax and enjoy the kitchen space.

“We all know that crowds tend to gather around indoor kitchens, and the same can be true if you’re cooking outside. Add seating to draw the crowd outside,” says Audrey Scheck, founder of Audrey Scheck Design in Austin, Texas.

If the area allows, have a place for people to relax or eat near the outdoor kitchen, like this set of two wicker outdoor bar stools by Christopher Knight.

“Outdoor dining tends to be more relaxed and we often find that lounge furniture can double as a patio dining area,” she continues. “Keep it simple and focus on making the space comfortable for everyone to enjoy, whether they’re eating or not.”

For optimal durability, choose metal or teak furniture, which offer the best options in all weathers.

Or for an intimate and relaxed open kitchen atmosphere, place outdoor table stools along your cooking area to keep the chef in the spotlight of conversation.

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5. Don’t forget an outdoor kitchen sink

Close-up of a stainless steel sink in an outdoor kitchen.

Credit: Getty Images / ozgurcoskun / Reviewed

You will thank yourself for installing an outdoor sink.

If you’re able to run plumbing for your outdoor kitchen, Scheck definitely recommends including a sink, like this one from Ruvati.

“Having a sink nearby is always handy when you’re cooking outside in the summer months, and it’ll be just as useful in the winter when you need a place to clean snow and rain gear,” she adds.

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6. Use outdoor lighting to create focal points

An outdoor kitchen with a row of lighted sconces.

Credit: Getty Images / JR-stock / Reviewed

Stay up all night outside with adequate lighting.

As the sun dips below the horizon, avoid keeping your chef in the dark with stunning outdoor lighting to spice up your landscape.

According to Caroline Danielson, director of showrooms, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery, when it comes to outdoor kitchen lighting, Dark Sky is the perfect choice. This light classification reduces glare and visual discomfort by using warmer light, allowing guests to gather and talk while enjoying watching a meal being prepared al fresco.

Homeowners can also draw attention to their favorite outdoor fixture by creatively lighting it with a Dark Sky-rated light like this one from Lowe’s. Dark Sky lighting reduces light pollution by using bulbs that point downwards, creating visual interest.

“The homeowner who loves to grill can make the grill the focal point of the outdoor kitchen,” says Danielson. “Or for those who love a bit of flair, they can highlight their electric pizza oven.”

For a little extra special touch around dark corners, turn to the ever-useful twinkle or outdoor chic string lights like these from Hampton Bay.

“You can’t go wrong with stationary string lights,” adds Elliott. “They easily create a magical outdoor oasis that is both relaxed and classic. They provide enough soft light to cool as well as to relax.”

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7. Stay cool with an outdoor fan

Close-up of a rotating fan against a white background.

Credit: iLiving / reviewed

Stay cool all summer long.

Being outside does not guarantee a constant cool breeze, as much as it is welcome while cooking on hot and humid days.

Scheck suggests installing a fan to keep the air flowing. Not only do they keep guests and the cook comfortable in the heat, they also tend to keep bugs away, like this option from iLiving.

“When purchasing outdoor fans for patio ceilings, be sure to order a down rod length long enough to position the fan at least 96 inches above the floor,” she explains. “We also like to order fans with the largest possible blade diameter. To do this, give yourself at least 24 inches from the tip of the blade to the nearest wall on all sides.”

If you don’t have room for a ceiling fan, consider a wall-mounted or free-standing fan that can sit on the countertop.

To add an extra element, choose a ceiling fan without a light fixture, then install a few thoughtfully placed Dark Sky rated lights to illuminate the cooking area.

A dimmer is also a nice touch that adjusts the amount of light in your outdoor kitchen when you’re done cooking for that extra ambiance.

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8. Go for a simple layout

A person is barbecuing outside on a terrace.

Credit: Amazon / reviewed

Choose a layout that suits the entertaining you would like to do in your backyard.

When it comes to your outdoor kitchen, don’t overthink it. Often the simplest and most instinctive layout makes the most sense. A design-it-yourself kit like this outdoor kitchen collection from West Elm is a great way to build a custom space.

“Ensuring that the chef is not isolated from their relaxing guests and that there is plenty of seating with good lighting should be the focus and the rest will fall into place,” says Elliott.

Lauren Lerner, founder and lead designer of Arizona-based Living with Lolo, agrees that outdoor kitchen layouts don’t have to be complicated to be functional, noting that “one kitchen doesn’t fit all.”

“That [can be] a great place to cook and entertain and provide a space that resembles an island in a kitchen for guests to gather around,” she said. Lerner recommends starting with a simple plan to determine the best way to design your outdoor kitchen.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.

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