What exactly is an outdoor kitchen? Well, there’s no real mystery here! An outdoor kitchen is–as you might suspect–just a dedicated place to cook or prepare a meal outside, rather than doing so cooped up inside the house. Cooking and dining alfresco, aka plein air dining, moves your kitchen functionality to the deck, patio, rooftop or balcony.
An outdoor kitchen is kitted out like a mini-kitchen and typically includes:
- Heating elements (stove, cooktop, grill, BBQ, pizza oven)
- Fridges (or refrigerated drawers)
- Sinks with hot and cold taps, and
- Weatherproof counters and benchtops.
The heating element should be high quality, such as a 3-4 burner gas grill. You can then add specialty equipment, such as a pizza oven or a portable charcoal smoker/grill to allow you to explore new cooking methods and flavours. And ideally, your outdoor kitchen incorporates a bar or full dining set up close by.
Why have an outdoor kitchen at all?
Eating alfresco is an essential part of the Australian way of life and involves what is known as social cooking, which is spending time with friends and family while you prepare food. Outdoor kitchens improve on this social cooking experience because they enable you to have everything you need on hand, so you’ll spend more time around your guests than disappearing into the house to fetch things. Having a slim kitchenette right out there in your outdoor living area makes entertaining a breeze—and it also makes the clean up afterwards super easy.
When creating your own backyard oasis, the style is up to you. If you favour traditional or rustic style kitchens, you may preference timber, stone and brick combos. Or perhaps you enjoy the minimalist look, in which case a mix of timber, metals and concrete will likely appeal. Even if you don’t have a great deal of space, you can design a built-in outdoor kitchen up against a wall; or you can plan to have a hideaway or pop-up outdoor kitchen.
Whichever style you choose, make sure you invest in durable, weather-resistant materials so your outdoor kitchen ages gracefully and remains a good investment. And if you need any tips on outdoor kitchen designs, make sure you enlist the help of an expert in kitchen renovations.
Here, we’ve rounded up over 50 outdoor kitchen ideas to help you transform your backyard for grilling under the stars. Let’s get cooking!
Matching outdoor furniture
Setting up an outdoor kitchen is easy. Mimic the basics of a functional indoor kitchen–ensure you have a cooktop of some kind, a fridge, a sink and an outdoor table setting for guests to chill while you grill.
Undercover outdoor kitchen
When you’re extending your entertaining and cooking space to include the outdoors, your outdoor kitchen area will be exposed to sunshine, moisture and temperature variances. To help it age well, use premium materials that can handle the weather. And consider having it under some form of cover, whether a patio roof or pergola or even simply shade cloth.
Keep it simple
Love to keep things neat and minimalist? Then an all-white outdoor kitchen may be just right for you. Pretty up the area with some lush greenery and a few decorative items in black for contrast. You could also adapt some of these white kitchen ideas to an outdoor one. And if your outdoor kitchen-to-be first needs a fresh coat of white paint, you can get some help from a local painter.
Go for a black and white palette
Paint your kitchen cabinets black and add cane lanterns, also spray-painted black. Teatowels, utensils and serving ware in crisp white will pop against the black. Add potted plants to give the space a tropical flavour.
And don’t worry if you need help with cabinet painting there’s someone nearby who can help.
Choose a mix of natural materials for a chic, minimalist outdoor kitchen. Timber, metals and stone look clean and contemporary, together with accessories in rattan, wicker, bamboo, straw or cane.
Panelling adds a lot of texture to a wall, as you can see here in this black panelled space. The heaviness of all the black is counteracted by the lightness of the pine joinery. Statement black pendant lights complete the look.
Disguise your cabinets
For those who enjoy a minimalist aesthetic, this simple streamlined fence balances the matching cabinet fronts of this concrete slab outdoor kitchen. The cabinets are designed to unobtrusively blend into the surroundings, providing ample storage while avoiding looking cluttered.
A solid workstation
This contemporary setting features a durable concrete benchtop and work station which blends well with the steel pizza oven. The charcoal timber fence provides a lovely contrast to the muted paler grey concrete.
The full setup
Vertical cedar panelling, mirrored in the bench and firepit, gives this backyard setting structure and creates a sense of calm.
Covered outdoor bar kitchen
How’s this for a well-planned setup? It features an undercover cooking area with bar and retro-style stools, an upholstered all-weather lounge, and fairy lights strung under the aluminium & redwood roof.
This poolside outdoor kitchen area blends brilliant white with beautiful timber decking, and it’s bang on trend for 2020 with those subtle concrete accents.
Clean and contemporary
This award-winning modern outdoor kitchen makes extensive use of matte black metal and a variety of tones of timber. It features a streamlined full stovetop with range, undercover on the back deck.
Make a nook
You don’t need a huge backyard or patio to create a useful outdoor kitchen. Even a small area can be transformed with a well-planned cooking space. This BBQ station keeps everything you need for grilling close by.
Simple slatted screen
Install a slatted screen for hanging your kitchen implements and chopping boards. Then add a workbench in a matching colour, and baskets or wooden crates below for storage.
Have an indoor/outdoor kitchen
Rather than create a full outdoor kitchen, you could create a servery by opening up your kitchen windows, if they overlook your deck or yard. A service bar or servery is an increasingly popular way to connect the kitchen to the great outdoors, allowing you to take dining outside very easily.
Servery with alfresco dining
A servery turns your inside kitchen into an outdoor one, by extending the kitchen out into the dining area on the deck. Painting the benches white to match the walls further connects the two spaces.
Looking for some more alfesco ideas, we’ve got you covered.
For a streamlined, neat outdoor kitchen that you can tuck away from sight when you wish, consider a “kitchen in a box” type of setup. It will remain safe from the elements when not in use. Outdoor kitchens that only take up a single wall are similar to galley kitchens, so you may like to look at our galley kitchens for more ideas on how to make galley kitchen spaces work.
All-black outdoor kitchen
Equally as impressive as an all-white kitchen is an all-black outdoor kitchen. Keep it modern with this monochromatic look, and you can easily change up the look anytime by switching out the cushions or wall décor.
White, wood and stainless steel
A simple classic white and timber outdoor kitchen modernised with stainless steel appliances and flagstone paving. A beautiful slab of timber for the counter is reflected in the choice of wooden table setting. This will perfectly team up with your Hamptons style kitchen.
To the top of the house
Make the most of a killer view by setting up your outdoor kitchen on your roof. Choose stainless steel to keep things feeling fresh and cool, and because stainless steel is excellent at withstanding the elements.
Narrow timber panelling and a black-painted wall give this covered outdoor kitchen a polished chic. Open shelving allows you to display beautiful items, while the cooktop is integrated into the stainless steel counter.
Tile with style
Give your outdoor kitchen a unique look by tiling up your bar. This graphic geo patterned outdoor bar belongs to LA-based celebrity Hillary Duff and it looks like the perfect place to have a few friends over, which you could team up with these outdoor entertaining ideas.
Thatch the roof
Allow a little dappled sunshine in with a thatched roof. This one sits atop a contemporary all-black kitchen, softening the space and adding texture.
Design a weatherproof outdoor kitchen
If your outdoor kitchen will be fully exposed, the most weather-resistant materials you can choose for your benchtops are steel or granite. Here, a minimalist black steel kitchen with a slim profile that doesn’t compete with the views.
Add a privacy fence
An outdoor kitchen and dining area becomes a truly private oasis when you shield your space from neighbours with a tall privacy fence.
I’ve actually put an article together all about my favourite privacy fence ideas, which includes all kind of timber, brick and more.
Classic wooden table
A good old wooden dining table always suits al fresco settings. Just make sure it’s adequately weatherproofed, such as with marine varnish.
Geo tiled bar and wooden deck
Here’s another example of a gorgeous tiled bar, perfectly highlighted on timber decking against contemporary black bar stools. The black and white geo patterned tile provides a strong focal point. Bars are very handy for the outdoor kitchen, allowing your guests to feel like they’re at a real bar while giving you a hidden prep area under the counter.
Another hideaway kitchen, this time a pop-up type with hinges opening the BBQ and grill station up. The perfect space-saver for those with limited room.
Mini BBQ station
You can create an attractive outdoor kitchen even in a tiny space. This simple little unit doubles up as a gardener’s potting station. The wooden workbench and slats blend neatly with the timber decking.
Modern timber and black
A gorgeous contemporary undercover patio outdoor kitchen, with the view outlined in black timber and a work surface with an integrated stainless steel BBQ. The light-coloured table and slim chair legs add airiness to the space.
Bright and beachy
You can make an inexpensive outdoor kitchen grilling station out of pallets, as seen here. There’s plenty of room for food prep and multiple storage spaces. Just add bright chairs and a colourful weatherproof rug.
Give your outdoor kitchen setting a playful atmosphere with a graphic sign and fire engine red metal chairs.
Modern concrete and timber
Concrete or granite slab outdoor kitchen counters are very popular, being a rough and ready, easy-care solution. Mixing natural stone or concrete with cedar gives off rustic Spanish hacienda vibes.
Add colour bursts
Mimic nature with bursts of kaleidoscopic colour in your outdoor kitchen seating—chairs are an easy way to introduce colour into any outdoor space.
A concrete island
A concrete kitchen island is the centrepiece of this outdoor setting. The cement counter is softened by the timber-fronted concealed storage underneath. The beauty of having an outdoor sink is that you can use it as a handy potting station when it’s not being used for cooking.
Laying pavers like this looks easy but it’s something best left to the outdoor paving experts.
Yellow cedar has been used to create a clean and contemporary look in this spacious outdoor kitchen.
This massive timber outdoor kitchen incorporates a bench seating area, cooking area and a bar at one end. Despite all the black, the kitchen feels airy thanks to its wide-open spaces.
Wooden roof feature
The space here can be clearly defined with the addition of a pergola. Aside from its decorative effect, pergolas create some much-needed shade. You can also dress up your pergola with décor such as fairy lights or plants. This pergola-like roof structure was created by an LA design collective.
A simple wooden table and benches create rustic French charm for your alfresco dining setting.
Several types of timber have been combined to create this stunning minimalist outdoor kitchen, which is somewhat dwarfed by the potted palm arrangement!
Tiled feature wall
Tiled backsplashes will continue to be hugely popular in 2020, both indoors and out. Define your space with tile, as well as adding instant beauty and personality. This rustic outdoor kitchen features a mix of stone, wood and stunning, antique blue cement tiles sourced from the Mediterranean.
Unexpected colour pops
Vibrant, saturated colours in the bar stools and floral lounge upholstery look stunning against this white wall and servery.
Create a Boho atmosphere
Plenty of warm, raw, natural materials has been used to construct this Boho-inspired alfresco area. How comfy would your guests be on this generous lounge, in this serenity?
Cleverly concealed storage
Every square metre of your outdoor kitchen can be utilised efficiently with some good planning. Here, the upholstered bench seating contains hidden storage compartments.
Add personal touches
Bring your space to life by changing up the décor. Add some large garden umbrellas or hang pot plants from the pergola.
Give it a floral boost
Double down on the garden flavour by arranging fresh flowers on your outdoor dining tables.
Coloured bar stools
Many classic outdoor dining combos feature a bar area opposite the cooking area, so guests can sit and enjoy a drink as you cook. While outdoor kitchens might be designed in neutral colours, you can easily add a pop of colour in the bar stools.
Built-in bench seating
A slim integrated grill and a freestanding concrete sink, concealed cabinets and built-in bench seating make this a backyard kitchen that means business.
Fire pit area
Consider creating a fire pit and seating area separate from the cooking zone. Firepits are great low maintenance additions to your alfresco area and offer plenty of atmosphere for guests to enjoy.
And if you’re keen on adding some warmth to your backyard, here are a bunch of other fire pit ideas.
Simple butterfly chairs look stylish lined up in this firepit setting. Add some lantern lights to a tree for even more atmosphere.
DIY gold barrel tables
Seating around your firepit can be as simple as a set of Adirondack chairs and a couple of wooden barrels as side tables, spray-painted gold. The result is a bewitching, fairytale setting.
Make evenings more magical with lighting in your outdoor kitchen, whether you hang lanterns from trees, add cascades of fairy lights, or wrap outdoor Edison bulb lights around a pergola roof as seen here.
This alfresco dining area has been set up to evoke a sense of romance and intimacy. Add potplants, candles and fairy lights strung through the pergola, play some gentle music and you have the perfect evening entertainment setting.
For general kitchen styling ideas, you might like to also read our recent blog on kitchen ideas.
Which style of outdoor kitchen is your favourite? Do you think you would splurge on a top-end luxury outdoor kitchen, or is a DIY pallet workbench more your style? If you already have an outdoor kitchen, are there any tips you can share on what works? We’d love to know—drop us a comment below!