How Much Does an Outdoor Kitchen Cost?
Outdoor kitchen costs range between $5,514 and $22,323, with a national average of $13,832, but they offer a high return on your investment.
- Typical Range: $5,514 to $22,323
- National Average: $13,832
Step up your entertaining game by adding an outdoor kitchen to your backyard patio. Homeowners who have taken on this challenging yet rewarding adventure quickly fall in love with the new outdoor space that allows them to enjoy warm (or cool) summer evenings. If you know you’d love to have an outdoor kitchen but are wondering, “How much does an outdoor kitchen cost?” then you’re in the right place.
Outdoor kitchen costs range from $5,514 to $22,323. There is almost no limit to how extravagant you can go with outdoor kitchens, but most homeowners keep the cost to an average of $13,832. Typical construction costs for an outdoor kitchen are based on materials, labor, plumbing, and specialty features. Here are the specifics of what to expect for the cost of an outdoor kitchen.
Factors in Calculating Outdoor Kitchen Cost
The factors that determine the cost of outdoor kitchens are complex and varied, especially since there is a lot of customization available. Homeowners might build a simple outdoor kitchen with a grill and counter space, while others might create an entire wraparound stone structure with grills, sinks, pizza ovens, lighting, roofing, and seating. The size, materials used, appliances, plumbing, electrical, and labor drive the majority of outdoor kitchen costs. Use these factors to answer the question, “How much is an outdoor kitchen?”
It’s easy to guess that the larger your outdoor kitchen, the more it will cost. You might even have to extend your patio’s footprint to accommodate it, which also increases the cost. Including just the framework, finish, countertops, and patio surface, the average cost per linear foot is $300 to $750. Consider the size you need based on available space and how much entertaining and cooking you plan to do.
The materials you choose to build with will have one of the most significant cost impacts on the project. Building a plain concrete patio is often cheaper than a custom paver patio, but it’s not as appealing if you’re also trying to make an eye-catching outdoor space.
Per HomeAdvisor, you can opt to build the structure out of several popular materials:
- Stucco: $3 to $6 per square foot
- Manufactured stone: $15 to $25 per square foot
- Brick veneer: $20 to $30 per square foot
- Standard brick: $25 to $35 per square foot
- Natural stone: $25 to $45 per square foot
Countertops also come in a variety of materials and prices:
- Porcelain or ceramic tile: $10 to $25 per square foot
- Soapstone: $35 to $60 per square foot
- Concrete: $50 to $70 per square foot
- Granite: $60 to $80 per square foot
- Stainless steel: $70 to $100 per square foot
- Resin: $100 to $150 per square foot
- Teak: $100 to $150 per square foot
Appliances and Features
Since you’re building a second kitchen, you’ll need to consider which appliances you want to install. A gas grill is the most common item and averages $250 to $3,500 for the grill, plus $150 to $450 for installation. However, you could also look at adding a sink ($225 to $600), a gas griddle or range, and a full-size or mini-fridge (starts at $125 including installation). Additional features could include lower and upper cabinets, drawers, stone oven ($1,000 to $3,000), fireplace ($300 to $1,400), lighting, and shading.
Installation, Labor, and Permits
Building permits and their costs vary by location, and a contractor will typically roll these costs into the total bill. On average, building permits range from $400 to $2,250. Installation and labor will be a significant part of the average cost of an outdoor kitchen, and these costs will also vary by location. On average, installation alone costs between $3,000 and $12,000. According to HomeAdvisor, a general contractor will cost between $1,500 and $6,000, depending on the project’s complexity. A gas engineer will charge an average of $15 to $25 per linear foot to install gas lines. If you need an electrician, expect to pay for 6 to 10 hours of work at a rate of $50 to $100 per hour. And installing new plumbing could average $350 to $1,850 for a sink and fridge.
Prefab vs. Modular
If you’re aching to have an outdoor kitchen but you’re working with a limited budget, a prefab structure might be the perfect solution. You get a fabulous outdoor kitchen that looks great, is easy to install, and doesn’t break the bank. Prefab kitchens cost between $300 and $500 per linear foot on average. The drawback is that these kitchens don’t tend to last as long, so factor that into your decision.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a long-term investment, then you could look at ready-to-assemble (RTA) or modular outdoor kitchens. These are often built with an engineered concrete composite that’s powder coated for more visual appeal. Modular kitchens can be installed easily once the plumbing and electrical are in place. RTA kitchens are a midrange price between prefab and contractor-built outdoor kitchens.
Using a contractor to build a custom or basic outdoor kitchen is a popular way to go since it allows homeowners to create a space that matches their style. These types of kitchens are the most costly since each element is customizable for your space. As discussed with the installation costs, you’ll pay extra for a contractor. Still, in most cases, if you’re bringing in plumbing or electrical, your local building codes might require a contractor to oversee the project. The benefit is that a qualified contractor ensures that the project will be done safely and to specifications.
Framework and Flooring
The framework makes up a fair portion of an outdoor kitchen estimate. Outdoor kitchen structures vary in size, design, and height, so choose what fits your needs and budget. It could be as small as a 6-foot-long counter and cabinets with a grill or a 10-foot by 20-foot L-shaped kitchen with all the appliances. The framework can be made of prefab materials or typical stucco, brick, or stone.
Flooring is an essential element to consider. An old, crumbling patio will need to be redone to handle the new structure. Contractors recommend concrete patios due to their durability, but you can undoubtedly build a decorative paver or brick patio as well. On average, a patio costs $5 to $30 per square foot, and materials like flagstone pavers are on the higher end of that range.
Countertop materials range from tile to concrete to granite to teak. You could spend anywhere from $10 to $150 per square foot on countertops, but they’re an essential part of the outdoor kitchen, so you’ll want to choose wisely. Opt for the choice that matches your overall design but will stand up to the wear and tear you expect—not to mention the weather elements in your region. Most homeowners spend between $25 to $75 per square foot for their countertops.
Plumbing and Gas Lines
Almost every outdoor kitchen project will need plumbing, gas, or electrical work. If you opt for a gas grill and a sink, then you’ll need to hire licensed professionals to do the installation. If you hire a general contractor to lead the job, they will employ the necessary subcontractors. You’ll pay an average of $350 to $1,850 for plumbing an outdoor kitchen and $15 to $25 per linear foot to run gas lines. If you plan to add a gas heater eventually, now is the time to get the lines pulled so you don’t pay for extra time and labor later.
Having an electrician wire an outdoor kitchen is an essential step to truly enjoy your outdoor space all year. You can choose to install an electric grill or other appliances that need electricity. Still, most homeowners also opt to add electrical outlets throughout their patio so they can add lighting, fans, or TVs for game day. If your budget allows, adding extra outlets can come in handy for things like electric heaters or speakers. Electricians charge between $50 and $100 per hour, and most jobs take 6 to 10 hours to complete.
Additional Costs and Considerations
There are always a few unexpected elements to consider for any construction project. To complete your outdoor kitchen, you might need to consider enclosing it against the weather. And lighting, storage, and ease of maintenance are other considerations when contemplating the cost of building an outdoor kitchen.
No region is free from foul weather, so you’ll need to decide how to shelter your outdoor kitchen within your budget. Options include an awning or a pergola to provide shade or an additional structure to protect from wind or driving rain. Pergolas average between $2,200 and $5,900, gazebos average $3,350 to $9,900, and enclosed patios cost $8,500 to $25,000. There are variations with all of these that your contractor can show examples of and explain.
There are times you’ll want to enjoy your new outdoor entertaining area when the sun isn’t shining. Installing lighting will be crucial for enjoying this space whenever you want. Aside from the electrical costs, you’ll pay between $150 and $800 for lighting fixtures. You can also string lights around the edges of your patio, but they might not be bright enough to read the temperature on your meat thermometer.
The more time you spend on your patio, the more you’ll realize you need some extra storage space. Building your outdoor kitchen is the perfect time to add a few extra cabinets. They help store cushions, backyard toys, and often used yard tools. Beyond the extra storage, you’ll also appreciate having a few dedicated kitchen cabinets in which to store your cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, and some serving pieces. Avoid storing food in outdoor cabinets as it can attract unwanted pests.
Depending on how your backyard is set up, you might want to add a privacy fence to keep nosy neighbors from spying on your private evening (or from seeing whatever electronics you might have out). Fences this small typically cost between $1,000 and $3,500. Additionally, if you really want to splurge, you could add a beer tap (or two), a soft drink dispenser, an ice maker, a stone pizza oven, a wine cooler, or warming drawers.
Pest Control and Maintenance
Since food naturally attracts pests, you’ll need to consider the cost of an effective and reliable pest control company. Your first line of defense is to keep your outdoor kitchen clean and free of crumbs, grease, and food, but a pest professional is invaluable for preventing an infestation of ants or mice before it happens.
Additionally, as you plan your outdoor kitchen, consider how easy each element will be to maintain if there is a problem. Each appliance should be easy to access. Finally, you want to keep an eye on your patio, countertops, and other areas to check for signs of cracking or bowing, as catching a problem early can prevent more costly repairs later.
Benefits of Building an Outdoor Kitchen
Now that the question of “How much does it cost to build an outdoor kitchen?” is answered, it’s time to identify why this investment is worth the cost. Building an outdoor kitchen isn’t the cheapest project you can take on, but it can provide excellent benefits for the homeowner.
Additional Entertainment and Living Space
Not everyone has the luxury of a large kitchen and dining area inside the home, so adding extra outdoor cooking and living space can be a huge blessing. In some cases, it’s cheaper than extending a house over an existing patio. It’s also a great way to take advantage of the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors in the fresh air. You might find yourself cooking and eating on your new outdoor patio most nights the weather permits. And if you add lighting and heating options, you can even enjoy it year-round, depending on your region.
Lower Energy Costs
Turning on your oven during the height of summer adds too much heat to the kitchen. If you have an outdoor kitchen, you can grill meat and vegetables outdoors where it won’t raise your house’s interior temperature. Not only will you eat healthier, but you’ll also pay less on your monthly energy bill since your AC won’t have to work so hard to compensate for the extra heat.
If you build a complete outdoor kitchen structure, you’ll discover you have more room to prep meals and juggle the cooking of multiple items. This is more obvious when you consider how little space you have to prep and cook when you only have a freestanding grill to work with. Counter space, a sink, drawers, and cabinets will prove to be invaluably convenient compared with the clunky old grill you used to use.
Having additional entertaining space that expands your home’s footprint will create a sense of abundance. Your outdoor kitchen will quickly become the envy of your friends and neighbors.
Return on Investment
As is always the concern with any home improvement project, homeowners want to make sure their investment will pay off. Outdoor kitchen costs generally have an excellent return on investment. Even if your new outdoor kitchen is small, as long as it’s well-built, matches the home’s style, and meets the basic needs for an outdoor kitchen, you can expect an increase in your home’s value by about 60 percent of its cost. Some homeowners can expect a 100 to 200 percent investment return if they live in warmer climates—that ROI is almost unheard of for other projects.
Outdoor Kitchen Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Since labor and installation cost so much for the average outdoor kitchen, it’s normal to wonder if you can DIY this particular project. There are certainly proficient DIY enthusiasts who have made their own outdoor kitchens in various ways or by handling specific tasks on their own. However, since this is a construction project that includes the same elements as building a kitchen for a home, most of this project is best left to a pro.
Only licensed professionals can install gas lines, for starters, and even though this kind of plumbing isn’t as complex as some projects, you’ll still need a pro to help install it to avoid problems down the road. The same goes for installing new electrical wiring that’s set up on its own circuit. And in some municipalities, you might not be able to obtain the permits to build an outdoor kitchen without the oversight of a licensed contractor.
Nevertheless, suppose you have some construction experience. In that case, you can certainly complete the tasks you have expertise in, such as building the pergola or installing a ready-to-assemble kitchen that you’ve already had plumbed. You’ll also be involved with choosing materials, colors, and the layout to make sure your outdoor kitchen looks the way you envisioned it.
How to Save Money on an Outdoor Kitchen
Since the cost of outdoor kitchen projects isn’t a small price tag, it’s common to look for ways to save money. Here is a list of ways to help shave some costs off this project.
- Build an outdoor kitchen that fits within your existing space.
- Consider using portable or compact appliances instead of full-size built-ins.
- Build as close to your house as possible to reduce how far plumbing, gas, and electrical need to be pulled.
- Choose a ready-to-assemble outdoor kitchen.
- Install your grill after the busy summer season with less demand and lower prices.
- Select materials that suit your style but aren’t the most expensive.
- Ask the contractor or other professional if they have any extra materials from a previous project.
- Choose a portable cart rather than building an island.
- Opt for a propane grill if propane is cheaper than gas in your area.
- Install an electric or charcoal grill instead of a gas grill.
- Place your current portable grill in the counter rather than installing an outdoor kitchen grill. (Keep in mind you’ll need to purchase the same size grill down the road when it wears out.)
- Purchase a fire pit instead of building a fireplace.
- Avoid using the cheapest materials since they will wear out much faster when exposed to the elements.
- Use weather screens or lattice with climbing vines instead of enclosing the patio.
- Price shop at wholesale kitchen and countertop suppliers and compare the rates your contractor can get.
- Choose string lights instead of installing full light fixtures.
Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor to Build an Outdoor Kitchen
Deciding which contractor will best help you complete this project can be a daunting process; there’s a level of trust you need to have. To simplify this process, use these questions to narrow down your choice of licensed, bonded, and insured contractors.
Before you start:
- How long have you been in business?
- Have you worked on many outdoor kitchens? If so, do you have a portfolio and references?
- Who hires the subcontractors? Will I have a say in those decisions?
- Who pays and supervises the subcontractors?
- Do you have suggestions for saving money while still meeting the needs I have?
- Will this contract include all materials, labor, installation, and permit costs, or will some things be billed separately?
- When can you start?
- How long will it take to complete?
- Who orders countertops, cabinets, and appliances?
- How will you ensure the enclosures and island have proper ventilation against accidental gas combustion?
During the project:
- Will my gas/electricity/water be turned off at any time during this project? If so, for how long?
- What access will workers need to the interior of my house?
- What kinds of issues do you anticipate could arise, and how will they be handled?
- What if I change my mind about something during the process?
After the project:
- Are there any warranties or guarantees on these appliances or materials?
- What kind of maintenance is involved in making sure the kitchen remains in good condition?
- What kind of cracks or other concerns should I call you about?
- Are there specific cleaning products that cannot be used on these surfaces?
- Who do I contact if I can’t get the grill to light?
Building an outdoor kitchen can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Budgeting thoughtfully and deciding on your priorities, along with working with carefully chosen professionals, should make the process go more smoothly. Here are some questions that homeowners often ask as they begin the process.
Q. Can I build an outdoor kitchen with metal studs?
Metal studs make sturdy outdoor kitchens since metal is extremely durable. The only drawback is that it’s much more costly: $400 to $600 per linear foot.
Q. How do I plan and build my outdoor kitchen on a budget?
As handy as an outdoor kitchen cost calculator would be, there isn’t a way to quickly identify the exact costs of an outdoor kitchen. However, using the information here can give approximate costs and design ideas that can get your creative juices flowing without breaking the bank.
The key is to use your existing space, build close to your house, install only the necessary utilities, and avoid extra features. You’ll find that even a small space with a counter and grill will be a great improvement over a freestanding grill. And if you decorate the space with plants, window boxes, and artwork, it will feel more luxurious than your budget might have allowed.
Q. Do I need to level my outdoor kitchen?
Yes. It’s important to make sure your patio is level before installing your counters and appliances (which also need to be leveled before installation). Utilities and plumbing need level surfaces to avoid water pooling or buildup, and appliances operate best on level surfaces. Not to mention, you’ll appreciate that you won’t have to fight food rolling off your counter or grill every time you use it.
Q. Do I need to cover my outdoor kitchen during winter?
It depends on where you live. For regions with a true winter climate, you’ll need to winterize the kitchen to prevent pests from building nests and to keep pipes from freezing. This includes turning off water and draining all the lines, turning off the fridge, cleaning the sink, covering the grill and other appliances, and sealing the cabinets. You might even consider removing your faucet, as even a small bit of water can freeze and cause the pipe to burst.
Q. Can I build an outdoor kitchen out of wood?
It’s possible to build an outdoor kitchen with wood, but it’s not regular wood. Similar to what you’d need to build a house, any wood used for structures outdoors needs to be pressure treated or otherwise durable enough to withstand weathering. Teak is a top option for cabinets and countertops, though it’s also one of the most expensive material choices.
Q. Do outdoor kitchens add value to the home?
Outdoor kitchens can be a great investment. As long as the kitchen is well designed and suits the house, an outdoor kitchen could deliver a 100 to 200 percent return on investment in warmer climates where the kitchen can be used year-round. In other areas of the country, an outdoor kitchen will add approximately 60 percent of its cost to the home’s value.
Q. Do I need a building permit to build an outdoor kitchen?
It’s possible, but it depends on where you live and what your project entails. If you’re planning to add any utilities, then you’ll likely need permits. Some municipalities also require permits if you’re building any structure. But if you’re just building a basic cabinet, countertop, and sinking a charcoal grill, you might not need a permit. Talk with your contractor to find out which permits will apply to your project.
Q. How do I weatherproof my outdoor kitchen?
Talk to a contractor about which materials and methods are best for installing weatherproof materials. You can ask about having cabinets weatherproofed, which usually costs $3,000 to $5,000. You should also choose flooring that is easily weatherproofed. Appliances should be rated for outdoor use, and they’ll need some kind of shade if they’re being positioned in full sun. Avoid choosing hardware that could rust, and make sure all light fixtures are also rated for outdoor use.
Q. Can I put kitchen cabinets in my outdoor kitchen?
It’s not advised to use regular kitchen cabinets outdoors. Most kitchen cabinets are not weatherproofed or made of any kind of durable material to withstand changing temperatures and humidity levels. Speak to a cabinet professional about how to achieve an indoor cabinet look outdoors, if that’s what you’re interested in.
Sources: HomeAdvisor, Landscaping Network, Home Stratosphere, Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, Fixr