20 Incredibly Unique Outdoor BBQ Island Design Ideas

It is most important that your outdoor BBQ island functions well and provides a safe, convenient way to cook on your patio. But there is no reason why it cannot also be an attractive, unique addition to your outdoor living area that increases your yard’s visual appeal and maybe even makes your neighbors a little envious. If you are in the design phase or are looking for ways to spruce up an existing barbecue area, consider one or more of these outdoor BBQ ideas to create a unique, attractive, and functional patio barbecue.

Unique Countertop

1. A Unique Countertop

Just like in your indoor kitchen, outdoor kitchen countertops can add color, be a focal point, or give your BBQ island a unique look that is sure to impress your guests. There is a wide variety of countertop materials available, and each one has its pros and cons. For example, lots of folks love the look of granite, but it also needs regular sealing – particularly when used in outdoor kitchens. The same goes for slate tiles or concrete. Both give your BBQ island a unique look but require that extra bit of maintenance. You will need to consider your budget, where you live, how you intend to use your BBQ island, and what factors are unique to your situation. For example, stainless steel is a durable option with a clean, modern look; however, it will get hot in direct sun and may get dented if there is excessive roughhousing on your patio. Other options to consider include glass, engineered stone, porcelain, travertine, and quartz.



2. An Attractive Backsplash

If your BBQ island is positioned against a wall or has a raised area behind it, you have a great opportunity to add some fun color or a little personality to your barbecue area with an attractive backsplash. It is common in Southern California homes to just let the stucco on the exterior wall serve as the backsplash, but stucco is not that easy to clean and can become quite sooty from the smoke produced by your grill. Instead, consider a colorful tile that will be much easier to clean and will provide a pop of color on your patio.



3. A Splurge-Worthy Hood

Hoods serve an important function when barbecue grills are in areas that lack proper ventilation. They can also add style to your patio if you opt for a splurge-worthy hood rather than whatever is cheapest at your local home improvement center. If you plan on including a hood in your outdoor kitchen design or above your barbecue island, don’t miss this opportunity to choose a unique or custom option that will give your patio a higher-end look. 


Pizza Oven

4. A Pizza Oven

If you have the space, a patio pizza oven is a great addition to a BBQ island. They look cool, they can feed a crowd, and guests are pretty much always impressed by them. These wood-fired ovens can, of course, make pizza, but they can also roast potatoes, bake breads and pies, or even cook your Thanksgiving turkey. When including a wood-burning pizza oven in your outdoor BBQ island design, go for the largest oven that you can feasibly incorporate. While larger pizza ovens will need a bit more time to warm up to the ideal cooking temp, they will function better for you overall and will allow you to prepare more food at the same time.



5. A Space of Its Own

If you have enough space in your backyard, consider designing a separate structure for your BBQ island. This will keep your main outdoor living area open and uncluttered and give your family or guests a place to hang out away from the cooking and the smoke. It also allows you to create a bar or other seating area where some guests can hang out by the barbecue grill while you are cooking. If space allows, you could also use this structure for storing sports equipment or pools toys or to house an outdoor bathroom or changing area.



6. Clever Storage

If you consider just one of the outdoor BBQ ideas on this list, it should be this one. While the others can increase your outdoor cooking area’s visual appeal and make it more functional, this one is absolutely necessary. Most barbecue islands have some storage included in the design, but more is always better. With enough storage, you can have a separate set of cooking utensils, pots, and pans just for outdoor use. You can store them right in your outdoor cooking area and can have them conveniently on hand when you need them. If you are able to include some extra storage space, you could even keep your trivets, platters, utensils, plates, and barware right in your outdoor living area and ready to go for impromptu social gatherings. For extra style points, consider including some open shelving where you can display some of your more attractive pieces, keep small appliances handy, or have a dedicated space where you keep things your guests might need to grab during your dinner party.



7. Skylights

If your barbecue island is on a covered patio, you can lighten the space and provide more light for meal prep by adding skylights to the roof structure. Skylights provide the most light during the day, but they can also be helpful at night by letting in the moonlight. Plus, even on dark nights, skylights can allow you and your guests to enjoy a little stargazing while cooking and dining on your patio. Aside from letting in light and allowing you to see the stars, skylights can also break up a boring ceiling and add visual interest to the roof structure of your patio. Unless you are pretty handy, it is best to bring in a professional for skylight installation. Skylights are prone to leaking when not properly installed or if the wrong materials are used.



8. A Roll-Up or Swing Door

Most folks want their outdoor BBQ island to be visible and ready to go at a moment’s notice. They look attractive and are common patio features, so there is usually no reason that they need to be hidden away. If we have custom BBQ islands, we probably also want to show them off a bit when neighbors stop by our out-of-town friends come to visit. However, there might be a reason that you would like to hide it away when not in use. Perhaps you live near the ocean or in a windy area and want to protect your grill and keep it clean. Or perhaps you have a small outdoor living area and having your grill out of sight when not in use might make it feel less crowded or less cluttered. If this is the case, then you might want to consider a garage-style, roll-up or swing door that will cover the space and block the view of your grill when not in use. If you decide to go this route, make sure the space is well ventilated and that you allow the grill to cool off adequately before closing the door. If you are using a wood- or charcoal-burning grill, make sure the fire is completely out before closing the door.  



9. A Patio Television

If you are a sports fan or love to watch movies outdoors, a patio television should be high on your list of outdoor BBQ ideas. If there is space, you can mount the TV on a post or wall. If there is not much vertical space available, look into a ceiling mount that allows you to bring your television down to watch a game, and then stow it out of the way when not in use. You might also want to stow your television out of the way if it will be blocking a view when in viewing position. If you live in Southern California and are installing your patio television on a covered patio, you might be able to get away with purchasing an indoor television and using it outside. However, it is a much better idea to purchase a weatherproof television designed for outdoor use. You are going to have a better viewing experience, since outdoor televisions are designed to reduce glare and be viewed in bright sunlight.



10. Rope Lighting

Rope lighting serves multiple functions. It adds visual interest and color to your barbecue island, makes it easier to find your way around, and can alert your guests to steps or other tripping hazards to make your outdoor living areas safer. You can use it under upper cabinets to illuminate food prep areas or install it under lower cabinets to avoid stubbed toes. Some rope lights even come with a remote that allows you to change the color of the lighting to fit the occasion.



11. String Lights

String lights are an easy and inexpensive way to immediately update a lackluster outdoor living area. They provide soft light to create a more intimate atmosphere and add to the festive feeling of social gatherings. String lights are easy to find almost anywhere; you can even find them at the grocery store if you are looking at the right time of year. Plus, they come in all sorts of styles and shapes so you can express your personality or easily find an option that will go with your current décor. String lights designed for outdoor use can stay up all year, so you do not need to worry about taking them down, storing them, and then putting them back up for the next season.  



12. A Retro Refrigerator

A retro fridge might not be the most obvious choice on a list of outdoor BBQ ideas, but it is one to consider. If you have a flair for vintage items or just like eclectic design, this might be the right choice for you. Retro refrigerators come in fun colors and can easily fit into a variety of backyard designs ranging from rustic to contemporary. If it is difficult to find an authentic, vintage refrigerator or if you are concerned about energy efficiency, look for new refrigerators that are designed with a retro look.



13. A Rustic Backsplash

Tucking your outdoor BBQ island into an alcove created by a rock wall or stack of railroad ties creates a rustic backsplash that separates your patio kitchen from the rest of your yard. This might be useful if you have natural rock surrounding other features that can be designed to include an alcove for your grill. The rustic look will make your outdoor cooking area more visually appealing by adding an interesting and unique element your guests will not be used to seeing.  



14. A Blender or Other Small Appliances

Some folks like to keep it simple and have on hand just what they need for basic grilling. Other folks prefer to have their outdoor kitchens so well stocked that they never have to go inside for anything once they have started some patio meal prep. We find that most folks fall somewhere in the middle and like to have their BBQ island equipped with some of the items they use most often. If you love to make hummus or salsa to go with your grilled meals, you might benefit from having a food processor in your outdoor kitchen. If you like to make your own salad dressing or whipped cream, a stick blender should be stowed in one of the drawers in your barbecue island. If making drinks is your forte, fit your outdoor BBQ island with a decent blender or, better yet, have a blender base installed right in the countertop.



15. A Cooktop

Some portable barbecue grills come with one or two burners attached. However, when you are installing a built-in barbecue island, you will need to add burners separately. Not everyone adds burners to their outdoor kitchen, but they increase your capacity to cook different foods so significantly that it really is worth it. Adding a cooktop to your barbecue island can make the difference between grilling some meat and vegetables or cooking an entire meal with multiple sides. Adding burners allows you to make sauces, soups, beans, curries, and stir-fries on top of what you could already cook on the grill. With a burner, you can even put a kettle on for tea while enjoying time with friends or watching a movie with your partner on your patio projection screen.


Warming Drawer

16. A Warming Drawer

If you have not yet installed a warming drawer in your indoor or outdoor kitchen, you need to know that it is life changing. A warming drawer is incredibly convenient for keeping food warm while you finish grilling or prepping other parts of the meal. When used in a barbecue island, a warming drawer is a perfect spot to hold food that you cooked inside while you finish your outdoor cooking. But warming drawers can also do so much more. They can be used to slowly roast meats and vegetables, to keep sides like garlic bread warm without getting too crusty, warming up potluck dishes brought by your guests, or to warm plates before using them to serve your guests hot foods.



17. A Griddle

This is a hot trend that is relatively new but we think is going to stick around. Adding a griddle to your barbecue island seriously expands your meal prep options. This one feature can turn your outdoor kitchen from somewhere where you grill hotdogs for lunch or steaks for dinner into a diner-like breakfast spot where you can make everything from pancakes and scrambled eggs to bacon and hashbrowns. With this addition, you can cook every meal outside if you want. Beer Tap or Wine Refrigerator

18. A Beer Tap or Wine Refrigerator

Depending on your drink preferences, a beer tap or a wine refrigerator might be a good addition to your list of outdoor BBQ ideas to consider. If you entertain often, this can save you from repeatedly running to your kitchen or wine cellar to grab more wine and makes it more convenient for your guests to serve themselves. This allows you to enjoy your party and your guests more, since you will not spend quite so much time playing bartender.


Coffeemaker or Espresso Maker

19. A Coffeemaker or Espresso Maker

There is plenty of focus on making it easier to grab a beer, soda, or glass of wine, but there is not nearly as much attention paid to the fact that we cannot simply enjoy a couple of cups of coffee on our patio in the morning without running back in the house for refills. Think about how nice it would be to just stay on your patio doing crosswords, chatting with your partner, or making your to-do list for the day while you enjoy your morning coffee. If you have a coffeemaker or espresso maker as part of your barbecue island, this is possible. You can simply pop in another coffee pod or craft a latte that would make a barista green with envy without ever having to leave your patio. A patio coffee bar is also a nice addition to dinner parties and evening soirees where your guests can serve themselves, and then rejoin the group around the fire pit.



20. An Icemaker

If you have the space and your budget allows for it, go for the icemaker. It might not seem like a big deal because you are so used to running to the store for bags of ice before you host parties, but once you realize just how convenient it is, you are going to love never again having to send your partner or a party guest to go pick up more ice in the middle of your gathering. Plus, this is another feature that helps you stay outside with your guests by limiting the times you need to head inside to your indoor kitchen to grab things. Icemakers are, of course, great for iced drinks and for popping in the blender when making frozen margaritas, but they are also great for having ice on hand to keep cold dishes cold while finishing meal prep. If you are ready to design and install a custom barbecue island with features that meet your needs and fit your lifestyle, contact our design team to find out how we can help.

(Original Publication Date: February 9, 2016 | Refresh Date: December 1, 2021)