32 Outdoor Kitchen Ideas for the Ultimate Entertaining Zone

patio eating area with grill and pizza oven
Photo: Edmund Barr

Outdoor kitchens bring all the hardworking elements of an indoor cooking space to your deck or patio. Thanks to outdoor appliances, lighting, storage, seating, and other amenities, you can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as you whip up a meal with ease. Use these outdoor kitchen ideas to equip your backyard with everything you need to cook, dine, and entertain in style.

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Outdoor Kitchen Location

outdoor brick grilling area
Ed Gohlich

The best location for an outdoor kitchen is near an entrance to the inside kitchen. This will simplify preparing meals for large gatherings, which often require many trips between the two spaces during cooking and cleanup. Close proximity can also make it easier and more economical to run gas and plumbing lines outside.

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Outdoor Deck Kitchen

multi-level back deck with outdoor dining, kitchen and lounge areas
Aniko Levai

Meal prep is easy in this outdoor kitchen, which is equipped with a stainless-steel grill, side burners and griddle, an outdoor refrigerator, and a sink. Seating abounds with an outdoor dining set, counter stools on the other side of the cooking zone, and a secondary raised deck outfitted with patio furniture. In the evenings, string lights draped from the pergola keep the area well-lit, while patio umbrellas provide comfort during the day.

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Outdoor Kitchen Appliances

stone grill on wooden deck
Cameron Sadeghpour

As outdoor kitchens become more popular, the choices in appliances for outside use have expanded in recent years. Consider outfitting your outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, sink, refrigerator, ice maker, and more. Once you decide which appliances you want installed, be sure to align your utility services accordingly.

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Resilient Outdoor Materials

outdoor kitchen near white porch
Brie Williams

Outdoor kitchen cabinets and surfaces must be able to withstand your climate's weather conditions. Select durable materials such as stainless steel, shown here, and stone, slate, tile, or stucco. Make sure all countertop surfaces and hardware are recommended for exterior use. If you want to install a kitchen on an existing deck or patio, verify that it can structurally support the kitchen's additional weight before you build.

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Compact Outdoor Kitchen

stainless steel grill with wooden work table
Greg Scheidemann

Located on a small deck, this simple outdoor kitchen offers everything a family needs for dining and entertaining. A stretch of concrete countertop adjacent to the grill provides plenty of space for ingredient prep or serving up food. Stools pull up to the counter to form a compact seating area.

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Bonus Outdoor Kitchen Storage

outdoor bar arranged against wood panel wall
Jason Donnelly

Along with picking the right grill and countertop, plan for storage and organizational necessities within your outdoor kitchen. Designate areas for storing trash and recycling bins, cleaning supplies, and tableware including dishes, utensils, and glassware. If your outdoor kitchen lacks the built-in cabinetry or drawers to store all these items, bring in furniture pieces such as a standalone island or a rolling cart to boost storage space.

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Outdoor Kitchen Landscaping

patio eating area with grill and pizza oven
Edmund Barr

Boost the presence of an outdoor kitchen by surrounding it with beautiful landscaping. This patio cooking area feels like a lush oasis thanks to plentiful trees and plantings on all sides. Containers planted with colorful flowers decorate the grill area, and string lights provide ambience from above.

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DIY Outdoor Kitchen

backyard grill area
Matthew Benson

A lengthy counter adds plenty of seating and prep space to this DIY outdoor kitchen bar. The budget-friendly design was created using recycled wood and salvaged cinder blocks, which were painted to achieve a gray patinaed look. Colorful containers dress up the space and visually link the outdoor kitchen with the rest of the garden.

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Large Outdoor Entertaining Area

wooden outdoor dining table
Bob Stefko

This outdoor kitchen and entertainment area provides plenty of space to spread out. The cooking zone offers a spacious countertop that can serve as a buffet area, while the outdoor dining table provides seating for eight. After dinner, guests can relax around the stone firepit and toast marshmallows.

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Outdoor Pizza Oven

outdoor brick pizza oven
Ed Gohlich

Take your summer parties to the next level by adding a pizza oven to your patio. This outdoor kitchen feature can be a pricey upgrade, but it might be worth the investment if homemade pizza is often on the menu. Use an extra-long pizza paddle to maintain a safe distance from the heat as you cook.

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Outdoor Kitchen Lighting

outdoor kitchen
Jamie Hadley

To maximize the hours you can spend using—and enjoying—your outdoor kitchen, you'll need to plan for varying levels of light. During the heat of the afternoon, a patio umbrella placed over the seating area (away from the cooking zone) can offer protection from harsh sunlight. After the sun goes down, overhead fixtures and other task lighting can extend the usability of your grilling and eating spaces into the night. Make sure all light fixtures are rated for outdoor use.

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Outdoor Kitchen Layout Ideas

porch grilling and bar area
Ed Gohlich

If you plan to use your outdoor kitchen for entertaining, plan the layout with guests in mind. Create different zones for cooking, prep work, and serving to facilitate a smooth flow. Provide seating near the cooking area, such as barstools at a peninsula, so guests can relax and chat with the chef before the meal is served.

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Mini Outdoor Appliances

outdoor grilling and kitchen area
Emily Followill

Most outdoor kitchens don't need to store food and beverages for a week—just for a meal. Instead of full-size appliances, select affordable, small-space models that use less energy and take up a fraction of the square footage. If space permits, consider storing basic condiments in your outdoor kitchen so you don't need to haul ingredients from inside for every occasion.

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Sheltered Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor seating with dining area and couch
Ed Gohlich

Rain, wind, and extra-sunny days can hamper your enjoyment of an outdoor kitchen. Make the most of your grilling-and-dining area by adding shelter above your kitchen or seating space. A roof overhang, as used here, is one option; other ideas include a pergola or an outdoor umbrella.

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Easy-Clean Flooring

outdoor kitchen area
Julie Soefer

Meal cleanup outside shouldn't require more work than inside. In an outdoor kitchen, choose an easy-to-clean floor, such as this resilient tile, that is easy to sweep up and can withstand spills and splatters as well as outdoor messes including dirt and cut grass. For a homier vibe, consider laying down an easy-care outdoor rug that you can hose down if it gets dirty.

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Outdoor Appliance Protection

grill under counter
Peter Krumhardt

Before you build your outdoor kitchen, consider the types of cooking surfaces you will want to use, such as a stand-alone range or a grill. Then design your kitchen with those elements in mind. Here, a built-in niche provides a convenient place to tuck a grill when it's not in use and shields it from the rain and snow, extending its life.

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Outdoor Kitchen Electrical Tips

outdoor grilling area with food
Matthew Benson

If your kitchen will be freestanding, electricity is essential to power items such as lights and outdoor kitchen appliances. Placing an outlet near the main cooking area will expand the ways you can use the space into the night. Add extra outlets near the seating area for the option to bring music or a TV out to the party.

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Sleek Outdoor Buffet

outdoor bar with fireplace
Ed Gohlich

Concrete countertops in this kitchen double as a food prep area and a buffet space where visitors can mingle and munch. Counter-height stools lining the exterior side provide more casual dining space. The sheltered area includes built-in lighting with an outdoor fireplace beyond to keep it cozy after dark.

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Outdoor Kitchen Storage Ideas

outdoor kitchen with grill
David Tsay

Working in an outdoor kitchen can be a challenge if you lack spots to stash everyday necessities. Think through what you want to have on hand to determine what kind of storage you need. If you're not close to your interior kitchen, make sure to include cabinets or a cart to store grilling tools, utensils, plates, and serving pieces. The handier it is to cook and entertain in your outdoor kitchen, the more you will take advantage of it.

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Small Outdoor Kitchen

outdoor kitchen in alleyway
Rob Cardillo

Even the smallest of outdoor kitchens benefit from amenities to accommodate prep and cleanup. In this compact space, three appliances are situated in a row. The dishwasher sits next to the grill to provide convenient countertop space for prep work. A quaint table with space for two makes this cozy alleyway the perfect at-home date night destination.

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Grilling Utensil Storage

stone outdoor grill area
Alise O'Brien

Employ outdoor kitchen storage that keeps cooking utensils organized yet out of the way. Consider storing forks, tongs, and spatulas off the countertop with a drawer or a simple metal hanging rack. Whichever storage solution you choose, position it near the cooking area for convenient access.

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Outdoor Kitchen Sink Ideas

outdoor kitchen with sink
Ed Gohlich

Install a sink in your outdoor kitchen to avoid having to traipse back inside to wash your hands or rinse ingredients. A bar-size sink positioned next to the grill can provide a handy solution even in small spaces. Include a trashcan under the sink to quickly toss veggie scraps or empty bottles.

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Built-In Outdoor Kitchen Seating

outdoor grill and bar area
Mike Jensen

Particularly for space-challenged outdoor kitchens, clever inclusion of seating can increase countertop space and create a more welcoming feel. Here, a bar-height space neatly dovetails with the cooking spot and has enough space for a few stools. Designate additional space elsewhere for a more formal outdoor dining area.

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Patio Grill Setup

grilling on patio
Jamie Hadley

Nestle a built-in grill amid lush plantings to create an oasis for outdoor cooking and dining. This outdoor kitchen includes counter space next to the grill as a landing spot for hot plates. A lamp with a flexible neck attached to the adjacent fence keeps the cooking zone well-lit when barbecuing steaks after dark.

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Outdoor Ventilation

vent above grill in outdoor kitchen
Bill Stites

Even in an outdoor kitchen, air quality can be a concern. A vent hood is a good option to consider for an outdoor kitchen that's located on an attached or covered patio or deck where air circulation can be an issue. Be sure to invest in one that will stand up to the elements, as a strong storm could do some serious damage.

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Double-Grill Fireplace

outdoor brick barbecue
Laurie Black

A sizable brick fireplace is the focal point of this outdoor dining area. A natural-gas line fuels easy starts for wood fires, while a two-tiered design creates separate spots for grilling meats and veggies. Interlocking bricks provide a solid, low-maintenance floor, and a pergola overhead offers relief from the sun.

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Full Outdoor Kitchen

outdoor kitchen and sitting area
Jamie Hadley

This deck features all the necessities of an outdoor kitchen, including a refrigerator, sink, and natural-gas grill. Comfortable seating and an outdoor fireplace create a cozy spot to relax after dinner. To take the chill off cool evenings, a heater suspends from the pergola.

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Secondary Outdoor Kitchen

wooden outdoor kitchen
Jamie Hadley

A grill, sink, and refrigerator—all faced with stainless steel—make outdoor cooking a breeze. This exterior kitchen is just steps away from its indoor counterpart, so tools and ingredients are close at hand. Should a light rain fall, a broad umbrella protects diners at the table.

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Cooking Outdoors

white shelving near grill
Peter Krumhardt

Cooking in an outdoor kitchen is a great way to take advantage of the sunshine, fresh air, and your homegrown vegetables and herbs. If you don't have a fully fledged kitchen garden, you can still take advantage of the growing season: Place a few pots of often-used herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and more near your cooking prep space for ready-to-pick ingredients.

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Stacked-Stone Eating Area

outdoor stacked stone eating counter
Ed Gohlich

This outdoor kitchen features a hardy, poured-concrete countertop that steps up to form a serving bar. The bar hides clutter while still allowing the cook a clear view of the pool, spa, and sitting areas. Stacked-stone cladding gives the island a rustic look.

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Freestanding Outdoor Kitchen

outdoor kitchen with roof
Emily Followill

Cypress cabinets enhance this modern outdoor kitchen and offer a water-resistant material for outside wear and tear. The roof defines the outdoor kitchen as a freestanding room and extends the use of the space. A ceiling fan adds comfort in the heat.

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Durable Stone Structure

brick outdoor kitchen
Mike Jensen

Durable materials are critical components of any outdoor kitchen. Here, concrete countertops, stone cabinets, and a stone floor bring unity to the space. The natural materials ground the kitchen and will help it stand the test of weather and time.

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