How Much Does an Outdoor Kitchen Cost?
We’ll cut right to the chase: this pressing question has no single answer. In fact, the answers are theoretically endless! You see, outdoor kitchens are exceedingly customizable projects loaded with so many variables that no two will ever be exactly alike. We could give you ballpark numbers of, say, $1,500–$50,000, but how much does that really help you? No, we think you’d be better off understanding all the different factors at play before they blindside you halfway through the planning process. (Don’t worry, we’ve provided some more fine-tuned estimates for you, too.)
Before we dive into the seemingly endless variables that influence outdoor kitchen costs, let’s take a look at how wildly different the very concept of an outdoor kitchen can be. A freestanding propane grill with a nearby table? That technically qualifies as an outdoor kitchen, though that’s a bit of a stretch for our definition of the term. A medium-sized grill island with a sink and side burner? Sounds like an outdoor kitchen to us. A fully functional backyard installation with every luxury appliance imaginable? Now we’re really talking. Keep in mind that those are just “Small, Medium, and Large” examples — between each one, there are virtually limitless outdoor kitchen designs separated by elements both big and small.
Such a huge range of possibilities means an equally large range of prices, and that’s not even considering the different outdoor living brands there are to choose from. Throw in the costs of labor and various building materials, both of which are highly dependent upon location, and you’ve got a complicated math problem that turns out differently for every project.
The Hidden Costs of Outdoor Kitchens
As if this question wasn’t hard enough to answer already, there are numerous unseen expenses that crop up as your project starts to take shape. (Because of course there are!) These costs extend far beyond the cooking appliances and grill island but are just as vital to making your outdoor kitchen a fully functional space. For example: does that grill you’ve had your eye on use natural gas? That probably means you’ll have to pay to install or extend utility lines. Do your plans include an outdoor sink and/or outdoor refrigeration components? If so, prepare to pony up for water lines, electrical work, and drainage.
Unless you expect your guests to stand around at every cookout, you’ll need to keep outdoor seating sets on your radar, too. You don’t want to get caught off guard by the costs of shade elements or an entire covered structure, and the same goes for outdoor heating and cooling appliances. It’s also easy to overlook expenses for landscaping and permanent lighting, assuming they’re included in your plans. And now for a real bubble-burster: some areas require you to pay for a building permit before a single shovel can be put to work!
With so many variables in play at once, it should be clear just how complicated the question “How much does an outdoor kitchen cost?” really is. But if you need more proof that the only honest answer is “It depends,” we posed the problem to someone whose entire livelihood revolves around designing outdoor kitchens.
Non-Equipment/Material Outdoor Kitchen Costs Contractor labor Electrician and plumber labor Outdoor seating sets Shade structures Outdoor heating and cooling appliances Landscaping labor Light fixtures Building permits
“That’s a hard one to quantify,” says Erin Hopson, who oversees the BBQGuys outdoor kitchen design team. “There are several factors that make the costs vary so much, and it really depends on who you ask. A quick Google search will give you wildly differing totals ranging anywhere from $2,700 to upward of $15,000, with some high-end spaces spending up to $80,000 on equipment alone. And that’s not even mentioning the massive construction project such a budget would be able to support.”
None of this information is meant to deter you from embarking on your outdoor kitchen project. The benefits of outdoor kitchens are well worth the cost, most notably the expansion of your home’s living space and improvement of your family’s overall quality of life. When you dig into other advantages like lowered utility bills, upgraded entertaining capabilities, and the fun of outdoor cooking, you’ll remember why you came to this article in the first place.
Outdoor Kitchen Cost Estimates
Though it’s impossible to provide a firm answer regarding the cost of outdoor kitchens, we’ll try our best to give you at least an idea of what you should expect your project to cost. As of September 2020, home remodeling website Fixr estimates that the national average for outdoor kitchen projects falls between $2,700 and $10,000. Fixr lists low-end DIY projects with a low-cost grill and simple countertop for as little as $900, while high-end projects can approach $100,000 on quality materials and appliances alone. OK, maybe we should try to narrow this down some more.
HomeAdvisor presents a price range of $5,356–$21,451 as of this writing, with a national average coming in at $13,094. The website’s data has also accounted for projects where luxury add-ons push the total near or past $100,000, which corresponds with Fixr’s upper-end cost. Knowing that outdoor kitchen costs are quite location-dependent, we turned to HomeAdvisor’s outdoor kitchen cost calculator to see just how different the average price can be. In Los Angeles, the average cost of an outdoor kitchen is $19,605. Texas, meanwhile, has a state-wide average of $11,737. See, we weren’t lying when we said location matters!
We searched for even lower estimates, but as of this writing, HomeAdvisor is still compiling data for most areas with cheaper cost of living. That led us back to Fixr, which has an outdoor kitchen calculator of its own that lets you pick from many common options like components, flooring, and whether you’re building on an existing patio. Once we filled all that out (we went big because, well, why wouldn’t you?), the calculator still required a specific street address because costs varied in the chosen area. That ended up being true of every hypothetical outdoor kitchen we tried to price using Fixr’s software.
Our experiments are included here not to knock either website’s calculator — in fact, we think they’re awesome tools for prospective builders (with actual street addresses, of course!) — but rather to illustrate just how important location is when discussing outdoor kitchen expenses. As Erin Hopson, our outdoor kitchen design team lead, so succinctly puts it: “Contractors in San Francisco are going to charge more than they will in Bismarck, North Dakota.”
Outdoor Kitchen Costs by Tier
We’ve managed to narrow down the price range of outdoor kitchens a bit more, but we presume it’s still not quite as specific as you were hoping. Instead of presenting wide price ranges for all types of outdoor kitchens and calling it a day, we thought it best to give you more clear-cut estimates based on the amount of components included in the project. That way, you can see which of the 4 tiers we’ve created aligns most closely with your wants and budget, then start setting realistic expectations for costs.
It’s important to remember that the estimates you see here are merely that: estimates. As demonstrated with the calculators discussed above, there’s no possible way to account for the differing costs of labor and materials from one area to the next. But once you start accounting for specific types of outdoor kitchen components — which have mostly fixed costs regardless of location — more defined price ranges begin to take shape.
Outdoor Kitchen Kits
BBQ island kits are units that have already been finished, partially built, and matched with specific components. As a result, these outdoor kitchen hacks fall on the less expensive end of the scale and may even be cheaper than custom projects. Perhaps best of all, you can see the cost of components and materials upfront because outdoor kitchen kits are ordered as a single item. Keep in mind that the usual hidden costs of utility lines, shade structures, and landscaping may still apply to this type of outdoor kitchen. You may even want to add an additional product like a fire pit that isn’t part of the actual grill island! Either way, installing an outdoor kitchen doesn’t get any easier (or potentially cheaper) than this.
Price Range: about $1,700 - $10,000
Core Outdoor Kitchens
As far as custom projects go, this tier includes the most basic builds. These outdoor kitchens feature a BBQ island, a solid gas grill, and only the components most homeowners consider essential: access doors, side burners, refrigerators, and trash bins. Factor in a vent hood and vent panels for safety, and you’ll have a good idea of how much you should budget for grill island components. This is also the tier where you’ll see the majority of DIY projects, which can greatly reduce expenses in certain areas (a lot more on that in a bit). No matter how you go about it, these smaller-scale outdoor kitchens are great for enjoying outdoor living with your family but will probably be lacking when it comes to hosting huge crowds.
Price Range: about $750 - $10,000
Advanced Outdoor Kitchens
A step up in entertainment capabilities and convenient storage naturally means a step up in cost, but rest assured that you’re investing in worthwhile components. Power burners and griddles expand cooking versatility, while sinks, outdoor kitchen storage, and paper towel holders take your outdoor space up a notch in terms of functionality. This is also where “outdoor refrigeration” means much more than just a fridge: wine coolers, kegerators, beverage coolers, ice bins, and ice makers are all popular in this tier of outdoor kitchens. In addition to the greater quantity of components, homeowners who build on this level typically invest in greater quality — it’s the best way to ensure durability and a noteworthy outdoor aesthetic.
Price Range: about $10,000 - $30,000
Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens
In true outdoor kitchen fashion, there’s no upper limit for the top tier. You can go wild with as many Luxury appliances as you want, surrounded by the finest building materials you can get your hands on. Indeed, projects in this tier are loaded with more seating, storage, and overall components to create outdoor spaces that double as fully functioning kitchens and living rooms. Driving up the price tag even further is the presence of a secondary cooking appliance (be it a grill, smoker, or pizza oven), which is a hallmark of ultimate outdoor kitchens. And why stop there? Patio heaters and fire pits add another luxury touch, along with outdoor TVs and cooling units. The only limit is your imagination! (And, well, your wallet.)
Price Range: about $30,000 and up
Just as the price ranges above are simply estimates, the types of outdoor kitchens they correspond with are merely a starting point. There’s nothing stopping you from building a Core Outdoor Kitchen that pulls a few extra components from the Advanced tier, or installing an Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen that’s missing one or two appliances we listed. You can go even smaller than we suggested, too, if all you really want is a grill and some access doors on a simple BBQ island. These tiers and estimates are meant to help you, but don’t forget that the main part of planning your outdoor kitchen is picking the appliances that matter to you and fitting them within your budget.
Tips for Cutting Costs on Outdoor Kitchens
If you’re the kind of reader who skims (our copywriters forgive you), we’re willing to bet this section stopped you in your tracks. Who doesn’t enjoy saving a few bucks, especially on something as potentially costly as an outdoor kitchen? There are several ways to bring expenses down, but be aware that each cost-cutting measure comes with a drawback that limits functionality, convenience, or both.
Build Your Outdoor Kitchen Yourself
|Cutting labor costs, which often balloon in a hurry, is usually more bearable than sacrificing certain appliances or materials.||Appliances that use water, gas, and electricity require professional installation, meaning a DIY project will be fairly bare-bones anyway.|
Going fully DIY is the most extreme way to tighten up your outdoor kitchen budget. Labor expenses often hit several thousand dollars, not to mention that funneling projects through contractors can sometimes add more stress to the building process. But the real drawback here isn’t that you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and break a sweat — even if that sounds fun to you, the biggest issue you’ll encounter is that many parts of an outdoor kitchen require professional installation. Look no further than appliances that run on gas, water, and electricity. Without one or more of those, your outdoor space will lack full functionality. Additionally, some construction techniques should be performed only by licensed contractors, so you’ll either have to pony up or change plans.
That being said, you can still take a middle-ground approach and DIY certain aspects of the project while leaving the professional work to the professionals (we can’t recommend that last part enough). Like everything else outdoor kitchen, whether you can actually self-install pieces of your project is highly dependent on what you’ve planned. There’s always the possibility of calling in a few favors if you’re lucky enough to have friends who are licensed plumbers or electricians — just be prepared to include them on the guest list for every barbecue.
Choose Fewer & Less Expensive Components
|It goes without saying, but a handful of cheaper appliances will cost much less than a full line of luxury appliances.||This route may rob your space of functionality and convenience while also leaving you with low-quality components that quickly break down.|
This probably doesn’t sound all that desirable, but scaling back your components to only the basic needs is one of the easiest ways to reduce costs. We understand if you have some trouble taking certain appliances off the table, and we fully encourage you to follow your vision for your outdoor kitchen, but this is something worth considering if your budget isn’t shaping up the way you thought.
For starters, budget-crunched builders shouldn’t buy the biggest and best grill just to say they have it. Instead, it’s often wiser to pick a durable Premium grill that’ll get the job done at cookout after cookout and last many years. The same thought process applies for every component in the event money gets tight, perhaps with trade-offs like purchasing a low-quality sink or going without one entirely to free up some cash for that kegerator you’ve had your eye on.
Finding compromises to maximize your budget is an integral part of outdoor kitchen planning, but be sure to step back and weigh the costs appropriately. Choosing lower-quality appliances just to get under budget now will probably cost you more down the road as they begin to wear down and you suddenly have to drop money on a replacement in time for next week’s barbecue. You’re almost always better off with higher-quality materials that won’t break down after just a few years of use. The same applies to building materials; make sure they’re of good enough quality to resist the elements. Of course, if money isn’t an issue, feel free to go all out with a Luxury grill and materials that speak most to your personal style!
Other Ways to Save on Outdoor Kitchens
We know what you’re thinking: “So, is there a way to reduce my outdoor kitchen budget that doesn’t sound like pulling teeth?” Thankfully, there are cost-cutting measures you can take that don’t require quite as much compromise or outright sacrifice as what we’ve covered.
“Look at items manufactured outside the US. You can get really good quality at a lower cost if you aren’t stuck on US-made products,” says Erin Hopson, the BBQGuys outdoor kitchen design team lead. “Countertops are another great place to cut costs — if you really want a fancy stone, you can often find granite or other stone remnants that you can use as a groutless tile. It’s much less expensive than buying a slab.”
Hopson also recommends finding double-duty appliances and storage components. She says the right gas grill can double as a smoker, charcoal grill, and griddle, while door/drawer combos are a better choice than separate storage units. A few more helpful tips from our top outdoor kitchen designer: build on an existing patio to avoid landscaping costs, install appliances close to existing utility lines to decrease labor expenses, and construct your outdoor space attached to the home so you can use your indoor sink and fridge rather than buying outdoor models.
Ways to Pay for an Outdoor Kitchen
Still hanging in there? We’ve thrown a lot of information your way, so we anticipate your head may still be spinning as you try to piece together all the different factors that determine how much an outdoor kitchen costs. But actually paying for your outdoor kitchen project doesn’t have to be a headache from start to finish, especially if you take advantage of our fast and easy financing. It’s designed for you to save now, pay later, and start taking meaningful steps toward your dream backyard.
A home equity loan can also help you stretch your budget further than what you think possible. This type of loan, which is secured by the amount of equity in a home, is becoming more and more popular with each passing year as homeowners look for cost-effective ways to fund improvements to their residence.
If you’re still overwhelmed by the number of variables and uncertainties, we ask you to take a step back and keep in mind one key piece of advice from our outdoor kitchen design team. “It's really a personal choice on how much you want to spend,” Erin Hopson says. “Something I used to tell my customers back in my sales team days is, ‘Tell me your dream, and I can make that work with your budget.’”
Our team of outdoor living experts is strongly committed to that mission, so it never hurts to give them a call at 1-877-743-2269 if you’re struggling to nail down the right mix of products for your budget. They can answer any questions you have about our industry-leading selection and set you up for a successful outdoor kitchen project. And when it finally comes time to start sketching up your space, there’s only one place to turn — our Free Outdoor Kitchen Design Service, of course! Erin Hopson and her team have helped thousands of happy homeowners visualize their outdoor space before breaking ground, which is an added peace of mind when project expenses vary so wildly.
Oh, and one more thing: our outdoor kitchen checklist is an indispensable tool when budgeting for your project. Just mark off what you want as you go, keeping in mind the (many, many, many) things you learned here about the costs of outdoor kitchens. We can’t wait to see how your outdoor space turns out!
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