The kitchen has rightfully earned its status as “the heart of the home.” Whether entertaining or cooking for the family, the kitchen is a natural gathering place for friends and family to enjoy each other’s company, prepare meals, and create memories together. The same can be true for backyard outdoor kitchens. Outdoor kitchen designs have come a long way to accomplish simply stunning and welcoming results in any backyard.

From small, simple, and rustic patio kitchens to expansive modern, chic, and sleek creations, open-air outdoor kitchens can suit all styles, fit your available space, and match any existing architecture or exterior décor. 

In addition to providing an inviting area for entertaining, an outdoor kitchen adds value to a home. In its latest 2023 Remodeling Impact Report on outdoor features, the National Association of Realtors and National Association of Landscape Professionals project homeowners can recover 100% of the value from an outdoor kitchen project’s price tag.

If you’re ready to take your outdoor cooking experiences above and beyond a standalone grill and patio furniture, consider the following outdoor kitchen ideas as you approach the planning process with your landscape designers, architects, and outdoor living experts.

Small space? Start simple.

An outdoor living space that includes a kitchen isn’t limited to those with a large yard. Even smaller backyards can accommodate any well-designed and functioning kitchen essentials. In addition to necessary seating, outdoor kitchen design often incorporates four functional “zones” complementing one another:

  1. Hot Area: Grill, stovetop, or other cooking sources
  2. Cold Area: Refrigeration
  3. Wet Area: Sink
  4. Dry Area: Storage

Where you go from there, or how large you make each zone of your outdoor kitchen, can come down to personal preferences and the space available in your yard. Whether you prefer more features, bells, and whistles or a more minimalist approach, either can provide an inviting, comfortable atmosphere.

Bring the heat with standard and specialized cooking equipment.

In the hands (and tongs) of the right grillmaster, even the smallest and simplest of basic charcoal or propane grills can get the job done. However, you’ll be able to accomplish much more with a full-size gas grill or a combination of single burners, flat top griddle, and Kamado grill built right into your outdoor kitchen counters. 

Wood-burning fire pits are great for more than just marshmallows. Serious barbecue fans often place a slow-cooking smoker high on their priority list. And if your family loves a make-your-own-pizza night, a rustic clay pizza oven could become the centerpiece of your outdoor living and cooking space.

Keep it covered and choose materials built to last.

Rain is many grillmasters’ arch-enemy, but a summer popup shower doesn’t have to spoil your outdoor dining plans. A pavilion or covered pergola keeps your outdoor kitchen usable during a drizzle. It will also provide shade while helping define the dining area from the rest of your yard.

Moreover, a whole roof or slatted pergola creates a luxurious space and adds to your decor possibilities. You can install fun string lighting, flower baskets, curtains, hanging heaters for the fall, or a ceiling fan for hot summer days.

A wood, metal, or glass roof over your head will let you enjoy your space in any weather and offers some helpful protection to your new appliances, countertops, and furniture. With your open-air kitchen constantly exposed to nature’s elements, consult your designers on the best materials for minimal maintenance and long outdoor life. Countertops, decking, and other surfaces should resist grease stains and withstand high temperatures. Stainless steel is a popular, corrosion-resistant choice, while cultured granite gives counters a more natural look and can blend nicely with sealed patio pavers or custom concrete creations.

Grow your own herb or vegetable garden.

Outdoor cooking becomes even more satisfying when using fresh, homegrown veggies or herbs in your family’s favorite dishes. Add a natural flair to your outdoor kitchen area with a nearby edible garden or collection of hanging planters. 

You can season a steak with fresh thyme or chives, enhance chicken breasts with rosemary, or spruce up a cocktail with a few fresh mint leaves. Growing herbs and vegetables is economical and sustainable and can be a great bonding project to enjoy with your partner or children. 

Begin Now With Aspen Outdoor Designs.

There are no limits to what you can accomplish in an outdoor kitchen design. And while the endless possibilities are exciting, they can also be daunting if you aren’t sure how to get started planning your new outdoor kitchen addition. 

Aspen’s landscape architects and designers have created hundreds of custom kitchens in backyards big and small. If you’re considering adding an outdoor kitchen project to your patio or want to create the ultimate backyard cooking and dining experience for your family, reach out to our team today to schedule a consultation