15 Outdoor Grill Ideas for Summer Entertaining

If you love a backyard cookout, get inspired with these outdoor grill ideas to elevate your al fresco dining experience.

Backyard patio with outdoor dining table and large stainless steel grill.

Nothing signifies the start of summer more than the smell of something delicious sizzling on an outdoor grill. And gone are the days when a portable charcoal barbeque was your only option. Now there’s a wide variety of options when it comes to grilling station designs, sizes, and functions. Plus, practical add-ons like built-in sinks, outlets for extra appliances, and food prep counters are all in demand.

Whether you’re adding a new outdoor entertainment area or want to upgrade your existing barbeque setup, these outdoor grill ideas are sure to have you cooking up a storm and impressing guests.

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Design Around Your Grill

Backyard patio with a fire pit, grill station, and patio furniture

ED GOHLICH

Why not make your grill station the star of your yard? An anchoring focal point in landscape design helps provide purpose and cohesion. Showcase your grill and build the other design elements around it. In this yard, the furniture placement, surrounding border plants, trellis, and orange accent colors all help draw the eye to the outdoor grill area.

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Add a Stone Surround

Patio with grill and stone built around it

PETER KRUMHARDT

Modern outdoor grills can still work with romantic cottage garden landscaping. Here, natural stone offers rustic style that fits with the potted plants sprinkled throughout the outdoor kitchen. Plus, stone finishes are hard-wearing and heat- and bacteria-resistant. Keep in mind, you’ll likely need to seal a stone surround to keep grill spatters from penetrating.

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Connect Your Outdoor Grill to the Indoors

Indoor dining room opening up to backyard patio and grill

ED GOHLICH

Outdoor cooking and dining areas provide practical living space. And by smartly blurring the line between outdoor and indoor, you can create continuity in your grill station. Coordinate color palettes and textures, and consider the placement of furnishings to unify the two areas. However, keep patio doors closed if you don’t want cooking smells wafting inside.

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Create a Grilling Zone for Year-Round Use

Covered patio with large stainless steel grill and dining table.

WERNER SEGARRA

If you’re investing in a top-of-the-range grilling station, it’s a plus if you can use it year-round rather than just in the summer months. Designing a covered patio, especially one that joins directly to the house, lets you do just that. But you don’t have to have a formal extension on your home. Add a pergola for a lower-cost yet functional alternative.

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Put in a Pizza Oven

Outdoor covered kitchen with a wood fire oven

LISA ROMEREIN

If barbequing isn’t your bag, use this outdoor grill idea to make an authentic Neopolitan-style pizza instead. Whether you go for a traditional wood-burning stove or a gas or electric-powered alternative, there are lots of outdoor pizza oven options to choose from. A covered spot to prevent the pizza stone from cracking when wet is a must, and a traditional brick design is something you can DIY.

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Add Shine with Stainless Steel

Patio grill with stainless steel cabinets underneath sink and countertop

BRIE WILLIAMS

If you’re looking for a modern, practical, and stylish finish for your outdoor grill station, you can’t go wrong with stainless steel. This weather-proof material won’t corrode, can handle hot temperatures, and lasts for years with little maintenance. Plus, its sleek look complements just about any outdoor kitchen design.

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Build a Pergola to Create Shade

Outdoor kitchen with large wooden arbor.

MARK LOHMAN

No one wants to stand over a hot grill when summer temperatures soar. Incorporating some shade into your design can help keep things cool. Whether you build a pergola that also acts as a focal point for your design, set up your outdoor grill under tall shade trees (making sure there aren’t overhanging branches that could create a fire risk), or screen in part of your patio or deck, you’ll be thankful for this relief on scorching days.

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Make the Best Use of Small Spaces

Small outdoor grill station on patio

ADAM ALBRIGHT

Even if you only have room for a small backyard grill station, it can still feature functional extras. The key is good planning and keeping clutter to a minimum. Any accessories you introduce should always have a purpose. An L-shaped grill design, like the one above, makes smart use of space, though it might mean you’ll have your backs to guests when barbecuing.

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Create a Cohesive Space

Outdoor kitchen and dining area on patio.

KATHRYN GAMBLE

Don’t let your outdoor grill area stick out like a sore thumb in your yard. Blend the station with other elements in the landscape for a serene space. In this yard, the color and texture of the brickwork are the unifying elements. The trees and plants help to add a layer of textured interest, and the outdoor dining table placement ensures a natural traffic flow around the patio.

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Consider Your Color Palette

Covered patio with rectangular stone fire pit in foreground with built-in grill cooking area in background

DOMINIQUE VORILLON

Black isn’t a common color in landscape design, but it’s a great way to add contemporary drama to your outdoor grill area. Here, black exterior paneling provides a stylish backdrop and draws the eye to the grill station’s warm wood and contrasting steel tones. Plus, dark colors make greenery pop.

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Opt for Modern Minimalism

Covered outdoor kitchen and grill

JULIE SOEFER

If your cookouts are all about having a space to kick back and relax, keeping things clutter-free is crucial. A modern, minimalist backyard grill design can create a soothing atmosphere, and contemporary styles are easy to keep clean and make grill areas seem more spacious. Plus, minimalist designs can be more economical. Limit the number of materials you use in the space, stick with an understated color palette, and think about well-defined boundary lines in the surrounding landscape for a streamlined look.

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Embrace Your Favorite Design Style

Large covered outdoor grill and dining area

ED GOHLICH

If you’re drawn to a particular design style, consider incorporating it into your outdoor grill area, especially if the theme already runs through your indoor spaces. This luxurious outdoor cooking and dining space encapsulates Old-World style. With vintage accents, wood beams, and rustic nods, it creates a welcoming atmosphere.

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Carefully Consider Grill Placement

grill set up for outdoor entertaining

BOB STEFKO

Don’t forget safety considerations when deciding where to locate your grill in your yard. You don’t want it too far away, making it a chore to bring all the supplies down from the house. Equally, it shouldn’t be too close—you don’t want smells traveling right back in the door. Plus, to minimize fire risks, you want to keep it a sufficient distance away from structures and clear of any overhangs.

Any outdoor seating should be close enough to make it easy to socialize with guests and pass them plates of grilled goodness while you cook.

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Install Tile

Patio with grill and outdoor furniture

ED GOHLICH

You don’t have to confine tiles to indoor kitchens. They’re easy to clean, hard-wearing, and available in a wide range of designs. But if you want to use economical and versatile tiles as part of your backyard grill idea, consider frost-proof porcelain tiles rather than ceramic. That way, they won’t crack or absorb water when winter temperatures arrive.

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Build with a View in Mind

Outdoor kitchen overlooking trees and water with a stainless steel grill and food on the countertops.

MATTHEW BENSON

Take advantage of beautiful views beyond your backyard by creating a focal sightline in front of your outdoor grill area. This can make your space feel bigger, and it frames things to emphasize the beauty in front of you. Frame a view using walls, hedges, tall plants, or fencing.

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