Outdoor kitchen ideas – everything you need to know

As the sun finally gets its hat on, we can’t help but look forward to long summer evenings spent dining al fresco. Though we all love a good BBQ, what we’re really dreaming of, however, is a full outdoor kitchen a la Jamie Oliver.

But outdoor kitchens aren’t just for TV chefs and the super-rich. A recent study by Uswitch found that they have become one of the UK’s most popular home improvement projects, ranked somewhere between installing new windows and replacing the roof.

Experts believe our increased desire to be grilling in the great outdoors can be traced back to lockdown, with a report by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association revealing that outdoor kitchen sales increased by 18% in 2020.

And the growth in garden cooks looks like showing no signs of slowing.

Felix Heinrich, brand and marketing communications at Flammkraft, says the appeal of outdoor kitchen spaces in the UK (despite the unpredictable weather) can be attributed to several factors, including a growing appreciation for outdoor living and entertaining.

“People enjoy the experience of cooking, dining and socialising in the open air, which complements the British love for nature, gardening and outdoor activities,” he explains.

The trend is also reflective of a broader European movement towards outdoor living spaces, fuelled by changing lifestyles and a desire for modern, functional outdoor areas.

More simply, outdoor kitchens provide the perfect opportunity to extend your living space, providing a functional and stylish area for cooking, dining and entertaining.

“With the right design and amenities, outdoor kitchens can become the heart of the outdoor living space, allowing people to enjoy the beauty of nature while still enjoying the comforts of home,” adds Steve Esdaile, founder of EO.

There are practical advantages too.

“Hosting alfresco parties and gatherings can be much more enjoyable when you have an outdoor kitchen at your disposal,” Steve continues.

“Instead of constantly running back and forth between your indoor kitchen and garden, everything you need is right there. You can prepare meals, serve drinks and socialise with your guests all in one place.”

From knowing which appliances to include to understanding how to maintain it, if you’re keen to jump on the fresh air frying bandwagon, we spoke to the experts for our complete guide to building an outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor kitchen
Image Credit: Lundhs

Consider the cost

According to Lewis Jaundrell, mortgage and property specialist at Landlord Vision, the cost of an outdoor kitchen will vary depending on size, materials, appliances and customisation. A basic setup starts around £5,000 and more elaborate designs can reach £20,000 or beyond.

“This will, of course, be comprised of a plethora of factors, such as the construction, installation, labour and materials,” he adds.

Get the right permissions

Wondering if you need any permit requirements before installing an outdoor kitchen? Thankfully in terms of planning permission or building regulations, an outdoor kitchen is regarded as a piece of furniture.

“This makes it a piece of cake when it comes to planning your dream outdoor kitchen,” explains Dougal Donald, co-founder of Grillo Outdoor Kitchens and Bars.

Image Credit: Cullifords

Carve out a garden kitchen corner

The ideal location for an outdoor kitchen depends on several factors.

“First, consider the current layout and design of your garden,” advises Steve.

“Look for any natural focal points or suitable areas. For instance, you might want to choose a spot that’s ‘framed’ by plants or architectural features.”

Next, Steve advises thinking about the proximity to your indoor space.

“An outdoor kitchen close to the house simplifies transferring food, utensils, and other essentials, which is beneficial if you often entertain or dine outdoors,” he explains.

“However, some prefer their outdoor kitchen at the garden’s far end, creating a separate, peaceful zone.”

Lastly, consider protection from the elements.

“The ideal location for an outdoor kitchen should be fairly well protected, either against a wall, under a permanent structure or at a lower level to the main house,” advises Jo Bull, marketing manager at KönigOutdoor.

“Think about prevailing winds, the position of the sun and the view when you’re cooking up an outdoor feast.”

Outdoor kitchen
Image Credit: Grillo

Think about the practicalities

According to Steve, planning an outdoor kitchen requires careful consideration of the necessary utilities to ensure functionality.

Electricity: Electricity is crucial for running various appliances in your outdoor kitchen.

“For safety, use armoured cables and bury them at least 600mm deep to prevent damage,” he advises.

“Ensure all outdoor sockets are RCD protected and waterproof.”

Placing your outdoor kitchen on a dedicated electrical circuit is advisable as it improves safety, guarantees efficient power supply, and allows for future expansion.

“Bear in mind that electrical work in the garden is not covered by building regulations in England,” Steve adds.

Gas: Gas mains should be buried at a depth of 375mm in gardens and 450mm under paths or patios.

“A registered Gas Safe engineer ( must carry out the laying and connecting, in line with all current building regulations,” Steve advises.

Water: Incorporating a sink into your outdoor kitchen can significantly enhance its functionality.

“To achieve this, install a water feed, typically using a flexible pipe that supplies cold water,” Steve explains.

“If you want hot water, consider installing an instant electric water heater underneath the sink.”

It’s crucial to protect the water heater from freezing, however.

“This is typically done by using release valves and shutting off the water supply when not in use,” Steve adds.

“Blue MDPE water supply pipes must be buried below the frost line, which is a minimum depth of 750mm and a maximum of 1,350mm. These pipes should also be placed at least 350mm away from other utilities, such as gas and electricity. Additionally, you need to consider a method to isolate the water supply, allowing you to drain the pipes during winter. This is crucial, as any water left in the pipes could freeze.”

Waste: Waste drainage is another crucial aspect to consider.

“Ideally, you should install a drainage point connected to the mains system for efficient waste disposal,” Steve continues.

“If your garden is far from the main drainage, you could use a soakaway system as an alternative.”

Ventilation: Steve says it is important to always ensure your outdoor kitchen has adequate ventilation for any barbecue or oven situated under an overhead cover.

“You should also verify that all chosen materials have heat-retardant properties,” he adds.

“Incorporating a back panel into the design can act as a heat barrier when cooking near combustible items, such as fences or foliage. Alternatively, position the cooking appliance at least 500mm away from these materials. Lastly, never install combustible materials above a cooking appliance.”

Outdoor brickwork kitchen with outdoor lighting,

Outdoor kitchen must-haves

When it comes to thinking about what you want to incorporate into your outdoor kitchen, it’s important to consider what you want the space to do for you.

“Have a think about all the elements that you might find useful and convenient within your outdoor kitchen,” advises Dougal.

“Do you want a charcoal BBQ for smoky flavours and slow cooking? Do you need a drinks fridge, or even a sink? Do you want to host pizza parties, and therefore need a wood-fired pizza oven? Think about what you’re going to need to hand when entertaining outdoors and let that be your guide in configuring your kitchen.”

Choose the right material

When it comes to choosing materials, particularly when it comes to the worktop surface, consideration needs to be given to practicalities and, of course, the weather.

“While stainless steel was once a popular choice for outdoor kitchens, it can look clinical and in recent years, consumers have favoured wood, which has more character,” explains Lena Gierasinska, head of product and displays at Barker and Stonehouse.

“Cabinetry with a hi-tech ceramic top is very practical as it’s UV, scratch, stain and extreme temperature resistant, perfect for Britain’s temperamental and unpredictable climate.”

Jonathan Stanley, VP of marketing at Caesarstone, says porcelain is an ideal choice for outdoor use due to its high resistance to heat, sunlight, UV and extreme weather conditions.

“Porcelain combines aesthetics with durability, outperforming natural stone alternatives like marble and granite – especially when it comes to withstanding the elements,” he explains.

“It is highly resistant to heat, scratches and stains, whilst also being non-porous and simple to clean.”

Outdoor kitchen
Image Credit: Caesarstone

Factor in storage

When creating an outdoor kitchen, it’s essential to consider the key items that will make the space functional and organised, whilst still maintaining a stylish feel.

“The first key consideration is storage,” advises Reilly Gray, Co-Founder, Suns Lifestyle.

“As outdoor kitchens are generally exposed to the elements, you need to ensure you have enough storage to keep utensils, cooking supplies and equipment dry and protected.”

Reilly suggests opting for cabinetry made from high-quality materials that are weatherproof such as stainless steel, enamelled steel and weather-resistant FSC-certified premium timber.

Light it up

Lighting is a key addition to your outdoor kitchen design. Without it, you’ll be limited in how long you can use your new space.

“Adequate lighting is essential for both safety and ambiance – especially at night,” explains Felix.

“Include task lighting for cooking areas and softer lighting for dining and relaxation zones.”

And remember to use lighting which has been specifically tested and approved for outdoor use.

Outdoor kitchen
Image Credit: Grillo

Don’t forget about maintenance

Keeping your outdoor kitchen in prime condition is particularly important during the winter season and regular maintenance is key to preserving your kitchen’s aesthetics. Steve recommends scrubbing down or pressure washing the surfaces several times a year to remove any accumulated dirt, grime or stains.

If your outdoor kitchen is situated under spruce trees, you may encounter an additional challenge – pine tree sap, which can be acidic or alkaline and could potentially harm your kitchen surfaces.

“In such cases, we suggest considering a cover for extra protection,” Steve adds.

“For your appliances, we strongly recommend using winter covers during the colder months. These covers shield your appliances from the elements, helping prevent potential damage and maintaining their optimum condition.”

Add in some accessories

Amp up the look of your outdoor kitchen by throwing in some accessories.

“A colourful outdoor rug looks stylish and also helps to blend together the indoor and outdoor spaces,” advises Lena.

“I also recommend displaying fresh herbs in terracotta pots on the worktops – not only will these ingredients enhance your cooking but they also to add a touch of greenery to your outdoor kitchen.

“Finally, in Britain, every outdoor kitchen needs a firepit to extend evenings of alfresco dining, even after the sun has set.”

Outdoor kitchen surrounded by greenery
Image Credit: Talking Tables

Opt for a small space design

It’s not only those with large gardens who are adding a kitchen to their outside space either.

“There is demand for outdoor kitchens even amongst those with limited outdoor space,” explains Lena.

If your garden is very small, consider placing a single cabinet alongside your barbecue.

“This won’t take up much space but will make for a practical, stress-free cooking area that’s perfect for hosting.”

Build in a bar

Adding a garden bar to the kitchen is a popular option right now, according to Dougal.

“Where there’s a BBQ, you really need a bar! A pub on your patio – what’s not to love?”

Opt for an off-the-shelf kitchen

Some modern designs have everything you could want in one outdoor kitchen structure.

Here’s our pick of some of the best:

Flammkraft Block M (Gen/ 5) Outdoor Kitchen Module – Price Guide £3,890 

Outdoor kitchen unit
Image Credit: Flammkraft

Zest Outdoor Living Terraza Outdoor Kitchen Range Set – £1,249.99

Freestanding outdoor kitchen
Image Credit: Terraza £1,249.99 Zest Outdoor Living

Palazzetti 803004910 Marbella Outdoor BBQ Kitchen with Twin Gas Hob and Sink – Anthracite – £2,356

B&Q Outdoor kitchen
Image Credit: B&Q

Outdoor kitchen set-up – £10,745.00 including installation, Grillo

Outdoor kitchen from Grillo
Image Credit: Grillo