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Best BBQ Outdoor Cooking Space Ideas & Tips

Looking for the best outdoor cooking space ideas for your next BBQ? Look no further! In this article, we will discuss the different types of outdoor cooking spaces, as well as the pros and cons of each. We will also provide some tips on how to choose the right outdoor cooking space for your needs.

Whether you are looking for a simple grill or a full-fledged outdoor kitchen, we have something for everyone. So read on to learn more about the best outdoor cooking space ideas!

1. Budget


Money is always a primary concern when doing any sort of home improvement. The most simple version may only cost a few hundred dollars, but realistically, a well-appointed outdoor kitchen will start at about $3,000 and can go upwards of $15,000. Look at your new outdoor BBQ cooking space as an investment; it can increase property value and essentially increases the amount of living space you have available. When you are deciding upon a budget, always make sure to account for a bit extra for unexpected expenses that can creep up. Regardless of whether you want to spend hundreds or thousands, there are plenty of options on the market. 


2. Climate


Do you live in a temperate climate where outdoor cooking is a viable option for most of the year, or do you have to make the most of the summer months due to harsh winters? The answer to this question will be a major decision-maker. Most outdoor kitchen structures are made to stand up to the elements. If you live in an area that receives heavy rain or snow, look for rust-resistant materials and take protective measures such as investing in a grill cover.  Another option is to keep things portable so that you can bring them inside when inclement weather is expected. Consider the proximity of your storage area to your outdoor space, and convenience factors, such as grills with wheels, are also a plus.

3. Shade


Since sunny days are the best times for an outdoor get-together, keeping your guests and family comfortable requires shade. Whether you go with a more elaborate setup or a simple patio umbrella, make sure you are providing some protection from the heat and glare of the sun’s rays. A canopy over your grill can make your grilling experience that much more enjoyable. Patios and decks will greatly benefit from shade sails, which can be adjusted according to the time of day. Depending on how much space you have, an elegant option to beat the elements is a pergola. This structure allows you to have shelter while also retaining some of the openness of the outdoors. If you’re really looking to tie in a structure to your built-in outdoor kitchen, a gazebo is also a great consideration.


4. Your Outdoor Space


An outdoor space consisting of patio furniture and a charcoal grill can make setup a breeze. But if you’re in the market for a fully functioning kitchen, there are more things to take into consideration. Before you start building, check with your local ordinances as well as HOA guidelines, if applicable. This can prevent a lot of headaches in the future. You will need utility hookups for such luxuries as a working sink, electricity for refrigeration, and natural gas grills. This is best left to a professional to do for you, even if you are doing most other planning yourself. 


5. Prefab vs Custom


Start by evaluating whether you are a DIY sort of a person, or would rather rely on the expertise of a professional to get everything set up. Take this into consideration when starting to plan out your project. If you go the DIY route, you will have full control of every facet of the process. You’ll also save money by not paying consulting fees. However, you could make costly errors that will set your plans back. Learning from experience can be costly and a waste of time. A professional will be able to help map things out and choose the right materials, appliances, and hookups for your outdoor kitchen. This can come with a hefty price tag, so decide early on what kind of a budget you are working with. 


A compromise between DIY and professional design is prefab outdoor kitchen BBQ islands. What’s great about these islands is they come ready-built with all of the greatest features you could want. While you’ll still likely require help with installation, a lot of the guesswork is taken out. If you go with a pre-fab model, assure that you have appropriate measurements.


6. Portable vs built-in


Are you the type that likes to rearrange your living space every so often? If so, the idea of a built-in BBQ kitchen could seem daunting, since it’s literally set in stone. An answer to this is a modular setup. These kitchens come in more mobile pieces and can be arranged in various formats depending on your space. They are built to be sturdy enough to stand up to the elements but are generally lighter and adjustable. Not only can you arrange them in different ways, but you can also move them to a different location with relative ease. You might want them in one spot when having a family dinner, while a backyard cookout hosting a larger amount of people will require a change of locale to make way for seating. 


7. Small Space Ideas


Apartment and condo dwellers may look at fully functional outdoor BBQ kitchens with envy, but don’t feel left out! There are plenty of options that will work in tighter spaces. For grills, consider building “up”, rather than “out”, like this compact grill. An outdoor bar table is not only stylish but will also provide storage and seating. Multifunctional pieces like this will help you optimize your space. Keep in mind that even a kitchen island that includes prep space can be designed to optimize smaller spaces.


8. Choosing Amenities


Outdoor BBQ kitchens can be just as functional as an outdoor space if you so choose. Your only limitations will be the space you plan to occupy and the budget. When choosing amenities, there are some basic questions you may want to answer. 


  • How many people do I plan to host and feed on a regular basis?

  • What sort of food do I like to cook?

  • What sort of entertaining do I like to do?

  • How often will I use my outdoor kitchen?


If you’re cooking for crowds, a high-capacity grill is a good investment. Bigger isn’t always better, though. Someone who is building within a smaller area and cooking just for their family will be better served with a smaller grill. Deciding upon a charcoal BBQ grill versus a gas BBQ grill is really a matter of opinion and preference. Charcoal grills are often more affordable on average and impart that signature smoky flavor. That smokiness has a downside when it comes to smaller spaces. Gas grills tend to come with more features and temperature control. Grills that have side burners, rotisserie functions, or smoker components are valuable for the BBQ master. These elements are considered extra, but can really make your outdoor cooking worthwhile. For entertaining, a specialized wine fridge is perfect for sophisticated events, and island seating can help to save room. Another outdoor entertaining option is a fire pit. They do require a decent bit of space but certainly add a flair to outdoor entertaining. 


Do’s and Dont’s List for your Outdoor Cooking Space



  • DO assess budget, entertainment needs, and space before you get started

  • DON’T start building without checking local ordinances

  • DO look into money-saving and space-saving options such as pre-fab outdoor BBQ kitchen islands and modular set-ups

  • DON’T attempt to connect gas lines or water lines without checking with a professional first

  • DO look into optional features that will make your outdoor kitchen space functional



Creating your very own BBQ outdoor cooking space is a fun and rewarding project that can add value to your life and property. Keeping in mind some basic ideas, you can make a space that is both functional and enjoyable. 


Have you started to build your outdoor kitchen? Share your experiences in the comments!


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