How to Build and Design a Cost-Effective Backyard Kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are inside gardens, greenhouses or on your favorite patio space. They are green, sustainable and liveable.

An outdoor kitchen is a great way to upgrade your backyard space, but it can also come with a hefty price tag. Fortunately, building an outdoor kitchen on a budget is possible with intelligent planning and creative thinking. 

4 Backyard Kitchen Tips and Ideas

An outdoor kitchen is a great way to expand the usable square footage of your property and get more enjoyment out of your backyard during the spring, summer, and early-fall months. 

Here are some tips and ideas for building an outdoor kitchen without breaking the bank.

Plan Carefully

Take the time to thoroughly plan out your design before you start building. Consider factors like the location, size, layout, and functionality of your outdoor kitchen. A well-thought-out plan can save you from expensive mistakes or changes down the line. (And when you consider that “ownership costs” are often the biggest long-term expense, this is huge.)

Do it Yourself (As Much as Possible)

Tiny house kitchen on the patio

If you have a tiny house you can swing open a couple of doors to bring the inside out. Keep perishables and spices locked up so critters and animals can’t snack on the jam at night.

If you’re handy, have you thought about doing some (or all) of the work yourself? This can significantly cut down on labor costs (which typically represent a big chunk of the overall project costs). 

If you decide to DIY the project, make sure you’re comfortable with any tasks you take on. For some things, like electrical or gas line work, it’s always going to be safer to hire a professional. Don’t cut safety corners just to save a few bucks. Pay for the professional and then use your time to focus on things that you can reasonably handle (like finishing work or landscaping).

Choose the Right Materials

You don’t always need the most expensive materials for your outdoor kitchen. For example, concrete or tile is a more affordable option for countertops than granite or marble. (And, again, it’s going to cost less to maintain over time.) 

Likewise, you might consider using reclaimed or recycled materials for parts of your construction. You can find materials at local salvage yards, building surplus stores, and secondhand shops. Home improvement stores also have occasional outdoor living sales.

Start Small

You don’t need an outdoor kitchen fit for a Michelin star chef. If you ever reach that level of skill, then, by all means, add any and every appliance you possibly can. But for now, focus on keeping a small footprint and aiming for quality over quantity. That means getting things that provide versatility and functionality. 

A great example of this is an outdoor grill island with a side burner. 

“The double power burner is an excellent choice to boost cooking capacity,” RTA Outdoor Living explains. “You can have two pots or pans going while you are grilling burgers. This is perfect for making sauces and side dishes to complement the main component of your meal.”

While a grill island with a side burner is great, you probably don’t need three or four different types of grills (at least not when you’re starting out). Be smart and discerning!

The Cost of Your Outdoor Kitchen

The cost to build an outdoor kitchen can vary significantly based on the size, materials, appliances, and your geographical location. It’s important that you take the time to budget properly, research the equipment and layout you want, and use discretion to avoid letting scope creep turn a reasonably priced outdoor kitchen build into an expensive mess that prevents you from enjoying it. 

With that being said,  a basic outdoor kitchen with a small counter and a decent grill will probably land you in the $3,000 to $5,000 range (on the minimum side of things). A more elaborate setup with high-end appliances, custom design elements, plumbing and electrical work, built-in seating, high-quality materials, and professional installation could easily reach upwards of $15,000 to $30,000 or more.

That’s obviously a pretty wide spread of costs, which is why it’s critical that you come up with your own plan and connect with experts in your area who can guide you through the process.

Adding it All Up

When you put it all together, there’s something exciting about building an outdoor kitchen. It gives you a chance to invest in something that your family will get years of enjoyment out of. And if you follow the tips outlined above, you’ll have a much more rewarding experience. Enjoy!

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