Small Outdoor Kitchen Ideas: How to Create an Outdoor Kitchen in a Small Space

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Outdoor kitchen with flat screen TV, pizza oven, sink, bar seating.
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If you’ve ever dreamt about creating a vacation feel in your outdoor living space, then you may have considered building an outdoor kitchen. The problem a lot of people face when deciding whether or not to bring their vision of an outdoor kitchen space to life is only having a small outdoor space to work with.

However, there are ways you can build a stunning, compact outdoor kitchen without compromising its homeliness or functionality, even in a small outdoor space.

In today’s guide, we shall reveal not only why you should invest in a new outdoor kitchen, but also how you can go about creating your own. Additionally, we shall explore the best small outdoor kitchen ideas, so by the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll have an abundance of inspirational outdoor kitchen ideas to choose from!

Why Should You Build An Outdoor Cooking Space?

When it comes to building a DIY outdoor kitchen, you may wonder if it’s a worthy use of your time and effort, especially when you could use your indoor kitchen. It may surprise you to know that outdoor kitchens offer a lot of benefits to those who have them.

Let’s explore further what some of those benefits are!

1. Entertainment

Everyone loves the feeling of sitting in the warm sunshine with a cool drink in hand. Instead of dining out in a restaurant, you can spend quality time with your loved ones and enjoy some delicious grilled food in your outdoor kitchen.

In other words, an outdoor kitchen is a perfect place to make new treasured memories!

People enjoying a meal outdoors with one person serving food onto another's plate.

2. Healthier Eating

There’s another reason you’ll often see a grill in an outdoor kitchen besides the fact that it brings the family together for the annual cookout. Grills actively encourage healthier eating because grilled food has high nutritional value and great flavors. Grills cook at a higher temperature than your typical oven, which will help your meals retain their flavor, texture, and minerals.

Hand grilling meat over flame and smoke on barbecue, a classic outdoor cooking scene, perfect for outdoor kitchen ideas.

3. Lower Energy Bills

If you like to get creative with your cooking in the warmer season, you know that it doesn’t take long before you’re running to your AC. Cooking indoors in the summer can make your home heat up rapidly, and in your efforts to cool off, you’ll end up driving your energy bills through the roof. If you live in an area with a warm climate, you’ll face those struggles all year round.

With an outdoor kitchen, you won’t need to worry about overheating in a compact space. The heat from your gas grill will quickly dissipate in the great outdoors, ensuring that you and your guests stay cool as you cook. The result – you can keep your hands off the AC and keep your energy bills low.

Jar labeled 'SAVINGS' filled with coins, grasped by a person, symbolizing financial goals while pondering outdoor kitchen ideas.

DIY Small Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

If you weren’t already sold on the idea of building or owning an outdoor kitchen, then maybe some inspiration will help! From repurposing cabinets for storage space to finding the perfect place for a mini fridge, there are several ways you can create your own streamlined outdoor kitchen.

Here are some of the best DIY small outdoor kitchen ideas to help you decide how best to use your limited space!

1. A Kitchen With A BBQ or Grill Centerpiece

Building your outdoor kitchen around your BBQ or grill station will save space and help you create an efficient layout in your outdoor living area.

If you were to pursue building a BBQ or grill island, ideally without shelves that protrude out, you could create a small dining area that would serve as the inviting focal point of your backyard. You don’t need to opt for an expensive built-in grill or BBQ either, so you can rest assured that you have utilized your outdoor spaces wisely without concerns of overspending.

All you would need to make your grill island complete is accompanying counter space for food prep and serving, an under-counter fridge, and a small bin. To elevate the appeal of your grill island, we recommend that you invest in a stainless steel grill. The reflective qualities of the steel, in contrast to the muted, earthy tones of the surrounding natural environment, would create a visually appealing style that celebrates both modern and bioliphic design.

Outdoor kitchen ideas sparked by hand grilling meat over flame and smoke on barbecue.

2. A DIY Brick Pizza Oven

A brick-based pizza oven would be the centerpiece of any social event you plan on hosting in your outdoor kitchen. With a pizza oven, you can reap the benefits of its versatility – long gone are the days when you only had the option to eat a burger or a hot dog during a cookout. You can use pizza ovens for more than just pizza; you can even use them to cook bread, meats, and even the odd dessert!

However, versatility isn’t the only benefit of building a pizza oven in your outdoor kitchen.

Using bricks to make your pizza oven creates a visual harmony between your outdoor kitchen and your house. The best part is – brick pizza ovens don’t take up too much space!

Tip: Use vermiculite bricks if you can. Vermiculite bricks help to create a crispy crust on your pizza thanks to their porous qualities – beautifully absorbing the moisture from the dough!

Outdoor kitchen inspiration: freshly baked pizza with ham and pineapple toppings on a pizza peel, ready to be served.

3. A Portable Kitchen Cart

Stainless steel appliances never fail to add a polished, durable veneer to your outdoor kitchen, especially if you have a wood-fired pizza oven to contrast against.

The most compelling feature of a portable kitchen cart is that you can move it wherever you desire, adding more flexibility to your creative ideas. Try using your kitchen cart as an accent table or place it in close proximity to your guests for convenience.

Ideal for storage, as you can store your pots, pans, and canned goods in your kitchen cart. With a kitchen cart, you’ll never have to worry about kitchen clutter.

Street food stall at night: roasted chestnuts, scales, and rising steam, fueling outdoor kitchen creativity.

4. A Folding, Wall-mounted Table

Trying to find a dining table that is the ideal size and does not compromise the space in your outdoor kitchen is easily resolved by building a simple, foldable, wall-mounted table. Instantly transforming your yard’s back wall into a new dining area. Remember to enhance the atmosphere by adding a stylish Square Vase.

Wall-mounted tables would prove especially useful if you have a yard that’s approximately 100 square feet, ensuring that you won’t use up too much valuable space!

On a rustic table, gourmet dishes and a glass of white wine stimulate thoughts for outdoor kitchen ideas.

5. A Simple, Stylish Beverage Station

By repurposing some cabinets that you no longer use, you could create a stylish beverage station.

Beverage stations combine convenience with functionality, and by using old cabinets, you can stock drinks for any occasion. Not only is a beverage station a great place to socialize, but it also allows you to chill out more as the perfect host, saving the need to go back and forth to get drinks for yourself and your guests.

Assorted cocktails with mojito, martini, chocolate, negroni, and citrus garnish, perfect for outdoor bar ideas.

Small Covered Outdoor Kitchen Ideas: How to Protect Your Outdoor Furniture

It makes sense that you would want to protect your dream outdoor kitchen from harsh weather conditions.

If you love cooking outdoors, then consider being able to do so throughout the year, come rain or snow.

Is there a solution? Yes, and thankfully, we’ve got some great small, covered outdoor kitchen ideas so that you can enjoy your outdoor kitchen all year round!

1. The Perfect Solution is Always a Pergola

If you’re unfamiliar with pergolas, let us explain more! A pergola is a structure built from pillars and cross beams supporting a sturdy open lattice. A pergola’s structure allows you to create a sheltered area over your patio or deck.

Pergolas serve as an aesthetic extension of your living space. Since pergolas can divide your outdoor space without detracting from the style of your yard, you can use them to add shape and definition to compact outdoor kitchens.

What’s more, you can use pergolas as a privacy wall by simply adding drapes or screens, which can easily be removed when you want to open up your space for social gatherings.

Elegant outdoor kitchen with grill under wooden pergola, string lights.

2. The Vacation Feel of a Cabana

Generally, a small cabana is no bigger than your average small bathroom, so you’ll have no concerns about how much space one will take up!

What’s more, cabanas are associated with tropical retreats and beach vacations, therefore, by stepping out of the door, you can transport yourself to a new world of much-needed R&R.

Additionally, the privacy that cabanas provide makes it the perfect option for your storage, being the ideal place to install a small refrigerator or icemaker With a cabana, you no longer need to worry about trying to fit these essential appliances into the style of your outdoor space, just ensure that you have a suitable power point close by.

Tropical poolside patio with thatched roof, seating, hammock, lush greenery.

3. The Practicality of a Retractable Awning

A retractable awning will protect not only your outdoor kitchen but also you and your guests from harmful UV rays or downpours of rain.

In addition to protective advantages, awnings also come in a multitude of different colors and patterns, making it easier to find one that suits the style of your yard!

Modern outdoor kitchen with glass railing, string lights, overlooking arched structure.

Small Outdoor Kitchen Ideas on a Budget: Tips and Tricks

Just because some outdoor kitchens can cost tens of thousands of dollars doesn’t mean it always has to be such a costly endeavor.

Below, we’ve assembled our best small outdoor kitchen ideas on a budget so that you can release your inner landscape designer without breaking the bank!

1. Design with Versatility in Mind

The best way to save money when building a small outdoor kitchen is to invest in appliances that have multiple functions. Use multi-purpose appliances like the pizza oven we discussed earlier to expand your cooking options while saving valuable space and money.

2. Repurpose Existing Furniture and Materials

It may surprise you to know that with a simple grill, some leftover wood, and bricks, you can create a pleasant cooking station without racking up a hefty bill.

Before you start shopping online for the best deals, you should explore your house for any furniture or leftover materials that you can repurpose. Not only will it de-clutter your home, but repurposing furniture and materials you already own is the best budget-friendly option for building a small outdoor kitchen, the only costs will be your time and imagination!

3. Avoid Costly Countertops

You don’t need the finest, bespoke countertops to create visual appeal in your backyard.

You can easily make a sophisticated statement piece for your outdoor kitchen by using more affordable materials like laminate, concrete, or tile.

You could even consider using furniture that you no longer use, such as cabinets, to save on expenses while celebrating a stylish, minimalist design.

4. Creative Storage Space

Instead of buying brand-new storage furniture for your outdoor space, you should use leftover wood for shelves, hooks, racks for cooking ingredients and utensils, and even hanging baskets for floral decoration.

Hooks, racks, and hanging baskets are cheap to buy, and won’t take up any precious floor space.

Final Thoughts: Let’s See Your Small Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

An outdoor kitchen is a great way to extend your living space, even if that space is compact. With an outdoor kitchen, you can transform the way you spend time with your loved ones while soaking up the sun.

Consider the ideas that we’ve provided in this guide and unleash your creativity in your backyard! Don’t forget to tag us on social media so we can see how you’ve utilized our small outdoor kitchen ideas!

For more tips related to all things gardening, feel free to check out our blogs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are our most frequently asked questions about small outdoor kitchen ideas. 

How much does it cost to build a small outdoor kitchen?

It’s difficult to put an exact price on the cost of an outdoor kitchen as it will depend on the cost of materials used, how much space you want to allocate and how much groundwork might be involved. However, as a rough guide, an outdoor kitchen that takes up 100 square feet in your yard, containing a simple grill, counter space, and a stone patio, can cost you as little as $3,200 to build.

How much space do I need to build an outdoor kitchen?

If you have around 100-400 square feet of free space in your yard, you’ll have enough room to build a small outdoor kitchen that suits your style! 

Do I need vents in my outdoor kitchen?

Yes, you’ll need vents in your outdoor kitchen if you intend to install a BBQ island and utilize propane or natural gas. Without vents, the gas won’t disperse properly. 

Does an outdoor kitchen need a foundation?

The simple answer is yes. You should have a deck area or a foundation of concrete slabs before you start building your outdoor kitchen.

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