You can create an outdoor kitchen on any budget
Outdoor kitchens range in cost, generally between $5,000 and $50,000. Luxury or high-end projects can cost as much as $200,000. However, you don’t need to (and probably won’t) spend nearly that much. For $1000 or less, you can build a basic outdoor kitchen that should serve your needs. Read on to get a sense of the outdoor kitchens you can create at budgets ranging from $1000 or less to $30,000 and up.
Keep in mind that, at minimum, an outdoor kitchen should include a patio, grill, some prep and storage space, and an area to eat or entertain. If you have money left over, you might also want to spring for a fridge, sink, roof, or other covering.
For $1,000 or Less
Here’s what you can expect when you’re on a small budget. This outdoor kitchen project is so easy, you should be able to DIY.
Opt for a portable kitchen. In most cases, building permits aren’t necessary for kitchens that move.
Situate your kitchen on an existing patio near your house. This way, it will be close to your kitchen sink and fridge. If you’d like to include a sink, buy a garden sink (less than $100) and hook it up to your garden hose. Or rinse dishes and hands directly from your hose.
If your kitchen location includes an empty wall, install cabinets or a bar-height ledge.
Buy a portable charcoal or gas grill with heavy cast iron or stainless steel grates and a grease trap. New grills start as low as $30, or even less if used.
Purchase a portable all-weather kitchen cart (about $200) with some storage and counter space. In addition to holding items, it can serve as a surface for prepping and serving. Store the cart in your garage, and wheel it out for parties.
Purchase a clip-on grill light to illuminate your space.
Instead of a fridge, fill a large steel tub with ice, and use it as a cooler.
Eirasophie / E+ via Getty Images
With this level of outdoor kitchen, you’ll get a few more features—still without the headache of applying for permits.
For a slightly more luxurious portable kitchen, purchase a deluxe grill on wheels (starting at about $1000). Grills at this price point should include shelves and a work surface.
Buy outdoor furniture, like a table and chairs or potting bench, from a camping retailer or garden store.
Buy an umbrella or sail shade ($70 and up) or awning (starting at about $230).
For kitchens starting at this price point, you’ll need a building permit ($400–$2200, most likely on the lower end). However, the full features and stylish appearance of this level of kitchen justifies the effort and expense.
Go for a permanent semi-custom kitchen. For ease, buy a prefabricated outdoor kitchen kit. You can choose from three different types of these kits, from $3,000 and up:
Finished outdoor kitchen islands include appliances, cabinets and a countertop surface. Once you’ve handled the utility hook-ups, these products are basically ready to go.
Prefinished or ready-to-finish modular outdoor kitchen kits let you choose exactly which components you’d like. If you buy ready-to-finish, you will need to handle the countertop surface and facade material.
Pre-framed ready-to-finish outdoor kitchen kits give you the most control, but also require the most work. Here, you choose your desired appliances, sink, cabinets, and amount of countertop space. Then, you buy a set of pre-framed cabinets that accommodates them. Again, with ready-to-finish, the countertop and facade materials are on you.
Add an outdoor ventilation hood ($600 or more, not including installation), if your grill is located next to your house and under your roof.
Hire a plumber to lay a direct gas line to your grill ($134–$391) and install your grill ($150–$450) and sink ($225–$600). Hire an electrician to run wiring to your undercounter fridge ($125–300) and light fixtures (about $300–$1000).
Plan on a small to medium kitchen to save money on cabinets and countertop materials. Go for tile countertops, which should cost $75–$325 (not including installation) depending on the size of the kitchen. Be sure to choose outdoor-rated ceramic tile.
Hire a pro to create your dream outdoor kitchen. Here are some features to consider:
Go for a permanent custom kitchen, including a bar with stool seating.
On the appliance front, consider adding a side burner or power burner and griddle.
Plan on a medium or large space, with ample counter space. Spring for natural stone countertops, which should cost $337–$1,462 (not including installation), depending on the size of the kitchen.
Include drawers for trash and storage, marination and warming.
For $30,000 or More
hikesterson / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images
Trick your kitchen out with even more features:
Build a pergola or gazebo ($2,200–$10,000).
On the appliance front, consider adding a built-in wine fridge, smoker and wood burning or pizza oven.
Illuminate walkways and the outer perimeter of your kitchen with solar-powered LEDs.
Install an outdoor TV and sound system.
How can I avoid common mistakes people make when building and maintaining outdoor kitchens?
Make sure outdoor refrigerators are not exposed to direct sunlight. Bring electrical appliances inside during harsh winters. Coat stainless steel appliances with a protectant to guard against rust. Most important, do not use flammable materials, like wood, in your grill island and avoid placing your grill right next to vinyl siding.
Can I buy any light fixtures for outdoor kitchens?
Make sure that all electrical fixtures, including lighting, are rated for humid and damp conditions.
Where can I buy outdoor kitchen furniture on a budget?
Check newsgroups to find free or inexpensive used items. For deals on new items, try discount home and garden retailers.
When is the best time to build an outdoor kitchen?
Schedule this work for the winter. That way, your backyard won’t be under construction during prime grilling season. Plus, contractors tend to be less busy on outdoor projects then, so you might get a better deal and the installation might take less time.