Choosing the Right Lighting for Your Outdoor Kitchen

Your outdoor kitchen’s lighting sets the tone for any and all gatherings you host in that space. Though there are countless lighting fixtures you can choose from, it will ultimately come down to budget and purpose.

For a cohesive exterior aesthetic, you may want to align your outdoor lighting as closely as possible with your remaining landscape lighting.

Overhead Lights

Naturally, overhead lights in your outdoor kitchen only work if it’s situated under some sort of structure. That structure could be a gazebo, pergola, or simply an overhang.

This option provides maximum visibility, as it illuminates the entire area. It’s a mid-range choice, depending on the kind of overhead fixture you get.

Some options incude:

  • Ceiling fan with light: This is a fixture that’s moderately priced and versatile. Not only does it provide the benefit of light, but it’ll keep the area cool during the warmer months. Furthermore, it helps to keep mosquitoes and other pesky insects at bay.
  • Chandelier: Depending on the kind of chandelier you get (simple and modern or extravagant), your price will correspond. This is perhaps the most popular light fixture for upscale outdoor kitchens.
  • String lights: Though more for ambiance than practicality, stringing some of these warm and cozy lights atop your outdoor kitchen (thus creating a canopy) can really make it a great space for entertaining. What’s more, it’s extremely affordable and you don’t need to hire an expert to install them. For better illumination, opt for the higher wattage, commercial-grade globe bulbs.

Cabinet & Counter Lights

Adorning the undersides of your outdoor kitchen cabinets and countertops with LED lighting creates a subtle yet stylish look. These can simultaneously light the walkways surrounding your outdoor kitchen and the prep areas.

They also provide illumination for appliances that are tucked under cabinets and countertops, such as mini fridges, wine storage, and more.

To create mood lighting, invest in LED lights that can change color. These will create a glow in any hue you select.

Walkway & Pathway Lights

For the sake of safety, the subtle illumination provided by pathways and walkways lights goes a long way. Though we wouldn’t recommend this as your only lighting option if you’ll be using your outdoor kitchen often (especially for entertaining), it’s a suitable choice for casual grillers.

Place them along paths, steps, and especially near any water or fire features. To keep costs down, you can purchase solar pathway lights, but keep in mind they tend to be pretty dim (even in the sunniest of climates). Wired pathway lights are still your best option to maximize brightness.

Another novelty idea for pathway and walkway lighting is to use tiki torches. This gives your outdoor kitchen a themed vibe, while creating a warm glow.

They’re festive, fun, and serve as a captivating fire feature (which means no elevated electric bill for you!), but they can be a hazard if there are small children around, so keep that in mind. They’re certainly an inexpensive way to decorate for a party or family gathering, however.