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Outdoor Kitchen Lighting: Considerations for Your Space & 13 Brilliant Ideas

By Jayme Muller

February 3, 2023

If you’re planning an outdoor kitchen… You’ll certainly relate to the feeling of wanting to be outside as much as possible!

Because the more you’re outside, the more you’re able to enjoy your investment.

But if you don’t have lighting… You’re limited to relaxing outdoors only during the daytime.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this… There’s a lot to be said for being able to chat with loved ones straight through the evening.

But to do that, you’ll need some outdoor kitchen lighting!

In this blog, we’ll share the most important things you’ll need to consider before you plan… And wrap up with some stunning lighting ideas!

Now, let’s shed some light on the topic.

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mike pyles outdoor kitchen lit up in evening

Considerations for Outdoor Kitchen Lighting

While lighting your outdoor kitchen might seem basic… There’s actually quite a few factors to keep in mind!

First and foremost?

Knowing what areas of your island should be lit.

What Areas Need Lighting?

u shaped outdoor kitchen with vent hood and stone backsplash

To help us cut through the noise, we’ve enlisted the help of an outdoor lighting expert! Lauren Mackenzie of In-Lite outdoor lighting has a ton of great tips to share on the topic.

When it comes to outdoor kitchen lighting, there are a few areas to consider.

“Think about the different ways to light an area. Cooking areas might take more light than a seating area, but make sure you’re lighting both. Cooking areas should be lit practically so people can see what they’re cooking”, Mackenzie shares.

So if you plan to cook at night… You’ll want to get some overhead lighting for your grill or other appliances.

tiered outside kitchen countertop with bar seating

Lauren also suggests installing wall lights to shine down on your countertops. This will allow you to see the food being served.

Yet another type of lighting to consider is under counter lighting. This creates a stunning effect of floating light down the walls of your island… But it’s also functional!

This lighting will allow you to see other appliances, like outdoor refrigerators and storage. You’ll also be able to see where you’re walking. (Always a plus!)

Between these three options, your outdoor kitchen will be beautifully lit!

You’ll be able to see and access everything you need… And with a stunning design to boot.

Next, let’s turn our attention to outdoor kitchen lighting under cover.

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Lighting Your Island Under Cover

If you have an outdoor kitchen roof… This is the perfect structure to install more lighting fixtures on!

“For anything with a cover, there’s a couple different fixtures that would do well. For one, scope ceiling fixtures which are recessed into the ceiling do well. There’s also pendant lights, which creates a chandelier-like effect to cast light down onto the area”, Mackenzie explains.

Outdoor kitchen roofing provides ample opportunity for overhead lighting… So take advantage of it!

Recessed lighting will flood the area with light… And outdoor kitchen pendant lighting adds a classy, refined look to your space.

However, this isn’t your only option!

“The other way to light your island under cover is with a post. As important as it is for light to shine down, lighting the posts of a pergola is beautiful. It frames the seating area and lights the rafters”, Mackenzie states.

This can be done with wall sconces, strip lights, or even rope lights!

Planning to light your outdoor kitchen roof will add another layer of sophistication to the space.

But what if you don’t have a roof over your island?

Lighting Your Island in Open Air

If you don’t have an outdoor kitchen roof… Overhead lighting will be more difficult. But your hopes don’t have to be dashed!

“If you’re in an open-air environment, finding a wall is helpful to get direct light down to where you’re trying to cook. A fence is also helpful. If there’s anything nearby to mount a fixture, you can mount a scope for practical lighting”, Mackenzie shares.

In this scenario… Placing your outdoor kitchen near a wall makes lighting far easier.

Wall lights and sconces will be your best friend here!

You could also have lights in the ground shining upward… But be aware of the angle, as you don’t want light shining directly into your guests’ eyes!

And of course, you can install under counter strip lighting as well.

While considering your outdoor kitchen lighting carefully is important… That’s not the only thing you should think about!

Don’t Just Illuminate Your Island

galley style outdoor kitchen under gazebo with bar lighting

In addition to your island… It’s important to light other areas of your outdoor living space.

“As a professional, we always suggest not to light just one area. If you have an unlimited budget, you should make the entire space something welcoming and beautiful. When you are at your seating area, think about the backdrops. Add some fixtures to the wall or fence to create some shade and a beautiful look”, Mackenzie explains.

If you’re going to be lighting your outdoor kitchen, you may as well go all-out!

Lauren Mackenzie brings up a good point, too. When you’re seated outside with your guests… Their eyes should be drawn to beautiful lighting! Not a pitch black background.

But that’s not the only area you should consider lighting!

“Any change of elevation is also a good place because it is safe, and looks nice”, Mackenzie continues.

It’s not the most jaw-dropping place to light… But illuminating steps and walkways ensures everyone at the party stays safe.

Now that you know how extensive your outdoor kitchen lighting should be… You’ll also want to think about lighting design!

Include all Three Types of Lighting

When it comes to outdoor lighting… There are actually three types to consider!

“First there’s practical lighting, which is either for safety or necessity. Second is ambient lighting. This has a softer, more romantic, intimate feel. Third, there’s artistic lighting. This describes designing with the light, creating shapes, shadows, and bringing out textures”, Mackenzie shares.

The key is to ensure all three types of lighting are used in the appropriate locations.

So let’s summarize.

outdoor kitchen with bar lighting at night

You’ll want to use practical lighting for your grill, bar, and other appliances. Also use pathway lights to illuminate walkways, steps, and the like.

Ambient lighting is a great choice for seating areas, dining areas, or over an outdoor bar.

The warmer, dimmer light is far better suited to these applications. You don’t want a super-bright light beaming down on you when you’re trying to enjoy a meal!

Finally, there’s artistic lighting. Really, the sky’s the limit here… And it’s the perfect opportunity to unleash your creativity!

Use artistic lighting to create backdrops throughout the space. This is particularly important for areas your guests are looking at when seated.

Consider bringing out the textures of stone walls, or the colors of the garden with landscape lighting.

Even if you’re using the right lighting in all areas… You also can’t forget about viewing angles!

It’s important to ensure that lighting doesn’t shine directly into anyone’s eyes.

Does it all make sense so far?

If so… It’s time to see what some outdoor kitchen lights look like in real life!

Best Outdoor Kitchen Lighting Ideas

Before you start planning lighting for your outdoor cooking space… You’ll want to review some examples for inspiration!

So let’s begin.

Modern Outdoor Kitchen Lighting Idea

linear outdoor kitchen with concrete backsplash

We’ll kick off the list with a simple example.

This modern outdoor kitchen features just one type of lighting! It has two wall lamps to provide downlighting on the countertop.

For this homeowner’s purposes, it probably works great! There’s enough light to see inside the grill, work on dough to toss in the pizza oven… And to wash your hands at the sink after you’re done!

There’s also an outdoor dining area in this space that is unlit. Some candles at the table (or ones lit with LED bulbs) would create a nice ambiance!

Outdoor Kitchen Light Ideas

linear grill island with outdoor lighting

This outdoor kitchen design also takes a simple approach!

In fact, the only lighting you’ll see here are string lights. And although we can’t see the entire space… It appears as though the string lights outline the perimeter of this area.

While it will provide a good amount of lighting… If you’re cooking at night, you’ll want something a little more powerful!

Installing fixtures on the roof post would be a great way to add stronger illumination to the area.

Adding some under counter strip lights would also add to the aesthetic! It will create a beautiful texture on the stone BBQ island… And allow you to easily see the storage underneath.

Another way to improve the ambiance would be to install lighting on the wall. A couple well-placed wall sconces would easily take this outdoor space to another level.

Lighting for Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

This example is quite similar to the previous island! This design also features string lighting, which lines the perimeter of the space.

While this provides a lot of nice ambient lighting… There isn’t much practical lighting in the outdoor kitchen area.

If you’re planning to grill or use your smoker during the evening, you’ll want something a little more robust!

There is a bit of landscape design to work with here… So a well-placed landscape light can help illuminate the area far better.

And of course, some under-counter LED strip lighting would work wonders here!

Ideas for Outdoor Kitchen Lighting Fixtures

linear grill island with dining table under roof with chandelier lighting

This outdoor kitchen on a deck shows a lovely example of outdoor chandelier lighting!

This chandelier serves as a great focal point for the entertaining space. Your eye is naturally drawn to it… And it emits a beautiful, soft glow over the dining area.

And although dim, it does provide some lighting to the BBQ island.

Additionally, this homeowner installed some recessed lighting over the built-in grill. This provides some nice downlighting while you’re grilling!

It would be nice to see another light illuminating the pizza oven, as well. This would also make it easier to see what’s inside all those drawers!

Plus, some strip lighting under the counter and around the perimeter of the deck would add a nice pop.

Either way, this space is looking elegant and classy as-is!

Outdoor Kitchen Island Lighting Ideas

l shaped grill island with vent hood with ceiling fans

While the first thing you might notice about this island is its beautiful design and backsplash… There’s also quite a bit to say about the lighting!

This indoor outdoor living space utilizes a ton of lighted ceiling fans! Four, to be exact.

So not only does this provide ample ventilation… It also provides a good amount of lighting in the area.

Additionally, there’s recessed lighting installed in the ceiling as well.

Between these two types of fixtures… The area should be quite well-lit at night.

To crank it up a notch, it would be nice to see a couple forms of artistic lighting. Perhaps a few wall sconces, or strip lighting should do the trick!

Outdoor Kitchen Countertop Lighting Ideas

l shaped outdoor kitchen with firepit lit and under countertop lighting at night

We’ve talked so much about under counter lighting… It’s about time we showed you an example of what that can look like!

Instead of continuous strip lighting, this homeowner opted for individual bar lights on their island. However, the results are quite similar!

This lighting highlights the stone finish beautifully… And as you can see, the ground is well-lit, too!

There’s also matching bar lights on the fire pit, creating a nice cohesion in the space.

To really make the space pop… It would be great to see some form of overhead lighting to illuminate the top of the island.

Otherwise, things are looking good!

Combination Outdoor Kitchen Lighting Design

new jersey outdoor kitchen by rta at night with lighting

This outdoor living area is a shining (pun intended) example of what your outdoor kitchen lighting can look like!

The string lighting creates an almost-dreamy atmosphere in this space… And you could easily chat the night away under the glow of this lighting!

But of course, we can’t forget the lighting on the outdoor kitchen itself. There’s some under counter lighting… And the illuminated knobs on the Coyote S-Series grill are on full display here.

Between these three elements… A striking look is created in this backyard area!

Although this area is already stunning… Some well-placed landscape lighting could truly make this space a 10 out of 10.

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Pergola Outdoor Kitchen with Lights

outdoor kitchen under pergola with string lights

Here’s an excellent example of string lighting being used in a slightly different way!

Instead of using them to line the perimeter of the outdoor space… They’re weaved throughout the pergola!

This creates a nice, boho aesthetic… But it also concentrates the light! So when you’re seated at the table, you’re not left completely in the dark.

There’s also a fire pit to the side that adds a warm glow to the area.

If you plan to cook outside at night… Installing some downlighting on the pergola posts would be a smart move!

Outdoor Kitchen Light Fixtures Ideas

grill island under roof with recessed lighting

If you’re installing your island in an indoor outdoor living space… Make sure you utilize that coverage for outdoor lighting!

Just like with this example. There’s some recessed lighting to help illuminate the area.

The light closer to the island should help you see the countertop and sink just fine… But it would be nice to see a couple extra fixtures to really brighten up the space.

In this space, some wall-mounted downlighting would be an easy choice. Strip lighting along the perimeter of the roof could create a mesmerizing effect as well.

Recessed Lights for Outdoor Kitchen

an rta summer kitchen under a covered patio with a fireplace

Here’s another example with recessed lighting! It’s a popular choice… And it’s no surprise why!

If you have your island in a covered area, it’s one of the easiest ways to light the space.

And for these homeowners, it’s no different.

They made great use of recessed lighting to illuminate the entire area!

There’s also a centrally-located fire pit to bring some ambient lighting into the space.

To really make the summer kitchen pop… Some under-counter lighting would really do the trick!

Patio Outdoor Kitchen Lighting

pellet grill island on patio with seating with string lights

This patio outdoor kitchen has some lovely lighting overhead!

Similar to some of the previous examples… There’s string lighting zig-zagging across the backyard! It’s a no-brainer design that looks great in nearly any space.

These homeowners also opted for a lovely wall sconce to help illuminate the countertop. It elevates the look of this outdoor living space… And also makes it easier to prepare and serve!

In the evening, some landscape lighting would really bring this backyard to life.

Grill Outdoor Kitchen Lighting Under Cover

rta outdoor kitchen with string lighting under a pavilion

Once again we see string lighting… But in an area with a completely different aesthetic!

Even with an urban and modern feel, the string lighting works quite well here.

There’s also a touch of recessed lighting over the seating area to better illuminate the space.

All in all… The small outdoor kitchen should be fairly well-lit!

But of course, it would be great to see some lighting on the back wall to help brighten the island.

Overall, it’s looking pretty good!

Mike Pyle’s Outdoor Kitchen Island Lights

If you’re an avid HGTV-watcher… You’ve likely heard the name Mike Pyle!

He’s a co-host on HGTV’s Inside Out, and a highly skilled landscape designer.

So it’s no surprise that his outdoor kitchen from RTA is beautifully lit!

Let’s take a closer look at the components.

On the pergola, you’ll find multiple downlights to illuminate the island. The flat top grill, gas grill, pizza oven, and pellet grill are all easy to see!

Practical lighting, check.

You’ll also see there’s under counter strip lighting along the bar island. This outdoor kitchen counter lighting creates a stunning, almost ethereal presence.

Ambient lighting, check.

Finally, you’ll see the dramatic landscape lighting across the back! The plants are well-illuminated, and create a beautiful shading across the wall.

Artistic lighting, check!

It’s the perfect trifecta. (Well done, Mike Pyle!)

At this point, you’ve seen quite a few outdoor kitchen lighting examples!

Feeling ready to get started with your own project?

The Best Outdoor Kitchen for Your Needs

After seeing these ideas, you’re probably eager to get started with your own outdoor kitchen!

We’re excited for you!

And as you embark on this journey… We’d like to throw our hat in the ring.

If you’re looking for the easiest BBQ island solution out there… There’s no better choice than an RTA outdoor kitchen!

It’s a DIY solution that requires zero professional experience on your part.

You’ll start with a free consultation with one of our Design Experts to nail down the details of your custom island… And they’ll do all the heavy lifting!

Once your design is confirmed… Our manufacturing facility in Cambridge City, Indiana will get busy!

Your outdoor grill station will arrive at your doorstep as panels. The countertop, and premium appliances from Coyote will be included as well.

Then, all that’s left to do is assemble!

You’ll bolt together the panels, place the countertop, and slide in the appliances.

Final step?

Set up your lighting and start grilling!

The process is so easy… You’ll have more than enough time to design your outdoor kitchen lighting to perfection.

You’ll be grilling the best food you’ve ever had… Day and night!

So, what are you waiting for?

Get started with your design!

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.


There are a few ways to light your outdoor kitchen. If your island is near a wall, it’s smart to install fixtures pointing downward on your island. This will help you see what you’re cooking! Also consider under counter lighting for a unique effect, and to be able to see the appliances on the side of your island.

When it comes to outdoor kitchen lighting… There are three types of lighting to keep in mind. First, there’s practical lighting. You’ll use this to light your grill and countertop. There’s also ambient lighting, if you have a dining area nearby. Finally, there’s artistic lighting. A creatively-lit backdrop increases the beauty of the space.

For an outdoor kitchen, there are a few types of lighting that are suitable. Wall-mounted lighting or task lighting are a smart choice to illuminate your countertop and grill. There’s also under counter lighting to illuminate the side of your island and be able to see appliances.

There are plenty of good outdoor kitchen lighting options! Consider pendant lighting, chandeliers, recessed lighting, string lighting, under counter strip lighting, and ceiling fans with a light.

The primary benefit of outdoor kitchen lighting is it extends the amount of time you can enjoy your space. Rather than having to pack up the grill before sundown… You can enjoy a meal as late as you’d like! You can also relax with loved ones outdoors well into the evening.

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