Fantastic outdoor kitchen ideas - must haves, pricing and more

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04 May 2021

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11 min read

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There’s no better summer experience than cooking delicious food outdoors for family and friends. These great outdoor kitchen ideas cover all the basics you need to know to set up your own glorious outdoor kitchen, no matter what your budget might be.

The outdoor kitchen has always been more than just a BBQ on a deck. It’s a legitimate kitchen system designed to bring a higher level of quality and sophistication to an occasion and culinary experience. It is a more permanent part of the home that is comfortable to be in, increasing its value at the same time. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while and are keen to see some great ideas for outdoor kitchens then you’ve come to the right place.

A basic setup 

For a very basic outdoor kitchen with a simple charcoal grill and minimal additional features, costs can start as low as $50 to $500. This setup would be quite rudimentary, focusing primarily on the grilling aspect.

Moderate setup

For a more comprehensive setup that includes a good-quality cooking unit, some counter space, and basic storage, prices typically range from $3,000 to $10,000. This would cover a decent grill or cooking unit, a modest amount of counter space (possibly in concrete or tile), and some basic outdoor cabinetry.

High-end setup

A fully equipped, high-end outdoor kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, extensive counter space, high-quality materials like granite or stainless steel, custom cabinetry, sophisticated lighting, and possibly features like a sink, fridge, or bar area can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 or more. This range includes professional-grade cooking equipment, durable and stylish materials, and customised designs to fit specific spaces and needs.

Additional costs

You’ll also need to factor in installation costs, which can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the project, as well as any necessary plumbing, electrical, or gas work. These can add several thousand dollars to the total cost.

Outdoor kitchens are often combined with open dining areas
Outdoor kitchens are often combined with open dining areas

Outdoor kitchen units have many benefits combining the functionality required for the outdoors with the convenience enjoyed of the indoors. While we stressed their operational importance, it’s also nice to get one with a bit of style as well. Thankfully, there is no shortage of exquisite outdoor kitchen units that will complement the lushness of your yard while maintaining the seamless flow from the interior to the exterior living.

If budget isn’t an issue, then you’re in a great position to run with your inspiring ideas and plan the perfect kitchen layout. Some easy outdoor bbq area ideas can include pairing a stainless steel bbq island with matching outdoor kitchen cabinets. Paved areas, attractive decking and well-positioned plants never fail to please the eye either. Here's a more detailed look at some of these benefits:

Transformative outdoor living

Your own outdoor kitchen can turn your backyard into a social spot, a place to relax and offering a delightful spot for preparing meals while enjoying the open air. They become the heart of outdoor gatherings, elevating simple barbecues to memorable social events.

Match your outdoor kitchen to your own style 

With a range of design options, outdoor kitchens can be tailored to personal taste and the style of your home. Whether it’s a sleek, modern look with stainless steel fixtures or a rustic charm with brick and wood, they add a visual appeal to your outdoor space.

Outdoor kitchens can increase the value of your home 

Well-designed outdoor kitchens can significantly boost your property's value, making them a smart investment. They are increasingly sought after in home markets, often being a key selling point.

Cook a wide variety of meals

Outdoor kitchens often come equipped with a variety of cooking appliances like grills, pizza ovens, smokers and other more optional appliances such as an outdoor bar with a bar fridge, offering a broader culinary range than typical indoor kitchens.

A sophisticated bar fridge is a must for any outdoor kitchen
A sophisticated bar fridge is a must for any outdoor kitchen

Serve as great areas for entertainment

They serve as an entertainment hub, allowing the host to cook and socialise with guests simultaneously. This setup fosters a more interactive and engaging dining experience.

Built to last

Made to withstand the elements, these kitchens use materials like stainless steel and stone, ensuring durability and ease of maintenance. This means they can endure various weather conditions while retaining their functionality and appearance.

Can be built to your budget

When budget isn’t a constraint, the sky's the limit. You can integrate luxury appliances, sophisticated lighting, and bespoke features like built-in sound systems or outdoor heaters, creating an outdoor kitchen that’s not only functional but also a statement of lifestyle and luxury.

Related article: The best outdoor kitchen materials: substance and style

You can build an outdoor kitchen that is as simple or advanced as you need
You can build an outdoor kitchen that is as simple or advanced as you need

Your outdoor space and budget will dictate many of the options you go with as there are no other real limitations and plenty of outdoor bbq area ideas and outdoor kitchen designs to explore. You should really look at your outdoor kitchen space as a blank canvas, starting afresh with products and choices that will maximise your enjoyment.

The BBQ island

A bbq kitchen island has, and always will be, a popular choice in Australia. The best outdoor bbq kitchens bring tradition, style and functionality altogether as one nice outdoor kitchen package. A standard and durable unit should cost around $1,000 with a few additional features. There are other options at either end of the price scale from this so it’ll just depend on what you’re willing to part with.

A pizza oven

It’s hard to beat an outdoor pizza oven especially if you’re anything close to resembling a pizza lover. As soon as you have one of these, you’ll never have the need for pizza delivery again as homemade pizzas always taste better. As well as pizzas, these wood fired ovens can roast vegetables and even bake bread. You can actually build these from scratch or buy them for between $500 to $1,500.

Outdoor kitchen cabinets

Storage is an essential part of kitchen decor if not the most important. However, they don’t just have to provide functional benefits. You can extend your cooking zone and prep areas with beautifully matching outdoor kitchen cabinets.

In particular, aluminium kitchen cabinets are a great option where the kitchen sits under a weatherproof pergola. The options don’t end there with plenty of products to consider for outdoor cabinetry.

Exterior panels can be installed to improve the appearance of an outdoor oven unit
Exterior panels can be installed to improve the appearance of an outdoor oven unit

A built-In cooking appliance

This is the heart of your outdoor kitchen. Options range from grills to pizza ovens or even full stovetops, depending on your cooking preferences.

Food prep space

Ideally, you should have at least one meter (or more) of counter space for food preparation. This area can be made from durable materials like stone or stainless steel to withstand outdoor conditions.

Additional features that can enhance your outdoor kitchen include:

Sink 

Having a sink in your outdoor kitchen is extremely convenient for food preparation and clean-up, helping to keep your outdoor space tidy and functional.

Storage

Adequate storage for cooking tools, pots, pans, and utensils is essential. Outdoor-grade cabinets or drawers can protect your items from the elements.

Refrigeration

One or two outdoor fridges can be very useful for keeping food and beverages cold and close at hand, reducing trips back and forth to the indoor kitchen.

Lighting

Good lighting is crucial. Task lighting ensures safe cooking and food prep, while ambient lighting creates a pleasant atmosphere for dining and socializing.

Shelter and Shade

Protection from sun and rain will make your outdoor kitchen more versatile and comfortable. Options range from pergolas to retractable awnings or even fully covered structures.

Heater

A heater can extend the usability of your outdoor kitchen into the cooler months, making it a year-round feature of your home.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to the type of cuisine you can cook with your outdoor kitchen complete. With the outdoor grill, you’ll be able to easily manage Western and European style BBQ dishes. For something like South Asian and East Asian cuisine, you might want to opt for higher flamed cookers that will work better with deep woks in mind.

As previously mentioned, a big influence when building an outdoor kitchen is your budget. To give you a more specific idea of what different kitchens look like according to your budget we’ve broken it down into 3 categories.

Below $5k

For under $5,000, you can create a trendy and budget-friendly outdoor kitchen. This budget is sufficient to invest in a quality cooking unit. To save costs, you can enlist the help of friends and family for installation. While permanent shelter might be beyond this budget, portable umbrellas can provide practical and flexible protection from the elements. Alternatively, opt for a cooking unit with wheels for easy mobility, allowing you to move it under cover after use.

You can enhance the atmosphere with a chiminea or a freestanding gas heater, which are both cost-effective and efficient for outdoor heating. Low-cost paving can also be a great addition, creating a defined and stylish cooking area. One clever and budget-friendly idea is to incorporate a small herb garden near your cooking space. Not only does it add a touch of greenery, but it also provides fresh herbs to elevate your culinary creations.

While an outdoor fridge might stretch this budget, consider prioritising the essentials first and plan for future additions as funds allow. This approach lets you gradually build up your outdoor kitchen while staying within a reasonable budget.

Between $5-30k

With this enhanced budget, you're stepping into a realm where you can incorporate some luxury in your outdoor kitchen. This level of investment allows for the inclusion of a shelter, ideally a pergola-style, which not only offers protection but also adds a touch of elegance. Attractive paving and decking become feasible, setting the stage for a well-designed outdoor cooking and dining area.

In this budget range, you can consider adding a wood-fired pizza oven, which not only serves as a fantastic cooking feature but also becomes a focal point for social gatherings. Imagine the aroma of freshly baked pizzas wafting through your garden, creating an inviting atmosphere for your guests.

An outdoor bar is another potential option at this budget. It can be designed in a modern style, blending seamlessly with the rest of your outdoor kitchen, providing a sophisticated space for entertaining and relaxing. Equipping this area to be well-lit ensures that your outdoor kitchen and bar are suitable for both day and night activities.

Additional heating options, like stylish outdoor heaters, can be included to ensure comfort on chilly nights, extending the usability of your outdoor space across seasons. While integrating an outdoor fridge to store cool drinks and an outside sink greatly enhances convenience and functionality, it's wise to manage the plumbing costs carefully to keep within budget. Strategic planning and prioritisation of features will ensure you achieve a balanced, well-equipped outdoor kitchen that suits your style and practical needs.

Above $30k

With a generous budget, your outdoor kitchen can be transformed into a state-of-the-art culinary space. Start with custom-made units that cater to all your cooking needs, equipped with top-of-the-line appliances. Concrete counters are a smart choice here, offering not only a sleek, modern look but also exceptional durability and ease of maintenance, perfect for outdoor conditions.

You can also diversify your refrigeration options, selecting different models for drinks, foods, and snacks, ensuring everything has its place and is easily accessible.  For example, you could have a main fridge for items you use regularly and a mini refrigerator for more food or drink that comes out on special occasions. An interior designer can be invaluable in this process, guiding your outdoor kitchen design to create a highly functional outdoor room or dining area. They can help blend practicality with style, ensuring your outdoor kitchen is visually stunning and perfectly tailored to your cooking and entertaining needs.

An indoor kitchen can seamlessly flow into an outdoor area with the right design
An indoor kitchen can seamlessly flow into an outdoor area with the right design

If you have a flair for interior decoration, applying those skills to your outdoor kitchen area can be both fun and rewarding. Simple additions can greatly enhance the area's appeal and comfort. You can add plush cushions that add a splash of colour and comfort to seating.  Consider installing unique outdoor cabinets for stylish and practical storage. Ornate lanterns, too, can provide a warm and inviting glow with little effort. To further define and enrich the space, you might add durable outdoor rugs, which not only provide a cosy underfoot but also help to delineate the dining or cooking area. Shopping around in the outdoor living range will reveal many budget-friendly options, allowing you to create a distinctive and enjoyable outdoor kitchen area without breaking the bank.

With so many options and choices to choose from, you’ll have no problems creating an outdoor kitchen that will work for you and your family all year round. Whether it’s a rustic DIY pizza oven or a luxurious outdoor kitchen with all the bells and whistles - you’ll be able to create a great living space that will be enjoyed by one and all for many years to come.

Related article: 5 elegant essentials every contemporary kitchen needs

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