Skip to main content

HappySprout may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to build an amazing outdoor kitchen area for under $1,000

When building an outdoor kitchen, your end goal is always to have it look nice and be functional. But as you look around, you see many expensive bits and pieces. So, you may find yourself asking: Is building an outdoor kitchen on a budget possible? The answer is, of course! Although there are large ones with extravagant features, it’s possible to build an affordable outdoor kitchen. Many people can’t afford a full-blown outdoor kitchen for $15,000. That’s why we’ve laid out a few tips and tricks you can take into account to cut back on some costs and still build a durable, beautiful outdoor kitchen.

A set of outdoor grills
Kent E Roberts/Shutterstock

How to choose budget-friendly features

Building an outdoor kitchen on a budget often means picking inexpensive furniture and working with recycled materials, but that’s not a bad thing! Even if it’s inexpensive, outdoor furniture can come in beautiful sets that will have a decent life as long as you maintain and care for them well (and you may find particularly nice pieces at flea markets or garage sales). As far as building the base for your outdoor kitchen, there’s plenty of reclaimed wood and recycled stone/brick that people no longer need, and using those materials will significantly lower your cost as opposed to buying new stone to lay down.

Furniture and seating

This will be the most comfortable part of your outdoor kitchen, so you’ll want to find the comfiest inexpensive option you can. Stackable plastic chairs are affordable, and you can easily find cushions that have removable/washable cloth covers to use as padding. You’ll want to bring the cushions inside when there’s harsher weather, but the plastic chairs will store nicely under an overhang or in a shed.

The biggest cost saver when it comes to table and chairs will be veering away from a cohesive set (though there are affordable sets available). Although sets look nice, they’re often more expensive when sold together simply because they match. You can go for a nicer table, cutting back on the costs of chairs buy purchasing an affordable option. You can also visit flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores to find nice, lower-cost options of these items.

Choosing a grill

The grill will be another big cost saver, if not the biggest. When you’re building an outdoor kitchen on a budget, you’ll often want to go with a pre-built grill. You can still choose the type of fuel you want (charcoal, gas, or electric) but you won’t have to worry about how the cost adds up when you start to select custom components. As far as fuel goes, charcoal or propane will be your most affordable option. These two don’t require a gas or electric line to be run from your house to the grill, won’t increase your monthly bills, and will allow you to place the grill where you see fit.

An outdoor kitchen with an open area

Other ways to cut down on costs

Building a kitchen will, of course, be a little pricey. If it was too affordable, you’d find yourself replacing everything year after year, which will cost you more money in the long run. By spending a little, you can save a lot as long as you maintain it.

Other ways to cut back when building an outdoor kitchen on a budget is to avoid anything that may require a professional, like an electrician or contractor (see above about selecting a charcoal or propane grill over electric or gas). You can also choose to go with a moveable island or rolling cart for drinks instead of installing counter spaces. Islands will give you additional surface area but don’t require any installation costs. In fact, like the grills, you can even get some pre-made!

If you already have a level spot of land perfect for an outdoor kitchen, utilize it! By not carving out another space for this specific purpose, you’ll save money on having to prep the land. Another bonus with recycled materials is that you and your friends/family may be able to install them yourselves — and they’ll be happy being paid with food and love.

Keep it affordable, but not too affordable

The importance of a budget is to help you save on unnecessary costs and give yourself a spending limit. Whether your budget is $3,000 or $6,000, you’ll want to make sure that the pieces you pick aren’t always the most affordable on the market. Lower costs chairs and tables will do fine as long as you maintain them (after all, you’re just sitting on the chairs), but you don’t want to be replacing your grill or sink every single year because the furnishings don’t hold up.

To that effect, maintenance will be key. Your outdoor kitchen is, well, outside, and thus exposed to whatever elements mother nature throws your way. Make sure you invest in a grill cover and move your furniture into the sun so it can dry whenever it needs. Proper care will help ensure longevity and will save you more money in the long run while allowing you to enjoy your outdoor kitchen to its fullest.

Editors' Recommendations

Kiera Baron
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kiera Baron is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a budding digital artist, based in Upstate NY. She is currently one…
What you should be cooking in your outdoor kitchen this October
Pizza spinach

Now that the weather is cooling down, it’s time to fire up the grill in your outdoor kitchen one last time before it gets too cold for outside gatherings. Luckily, there’s no shortage of delicious recipes that take advantage of fresh autumn harvests. In addition to the herbs that you planted in the late summer, you can also whip up meals with all the gourds, leafy veggies, and fruits that you might have in your garden right now. From an herb-stuffed fish as your main dish to sweet grilled apples and pears as dessert, we’ve rounded up the most delicious autumn recipes to try in your outdoor kitchen this October.

Fresh salad with kale, spinach, and arugula
Veggies such as kale, spinach, and arugula do well for early autumn harvests, and they‘re also excellent salad bases. For some autumnal flair, chop up and roast root veggies such as sweet potatoes or beets. Pop in the protein of your choice—chicken breast and tofu are easy go-to's that you can heat up quickly on your grill. To use even more of your garden goods, add herbs such as tarragon and rosemary to enhance the dressing or vinaigrette for your fresh salad.
Barbecued carrots
Barbecued food doesn't only have to be summer fare. A great autumnal recipe for your outdoor kitchen is barbecued carrots with some toasted pecans. After coating your carrots in oil and grilling them for around 20 minutes, toss them in a dressing with vinegar, soy sauce, fresh herbs, garlic, and ginger. Add in toasted pecans or the nuts of your choice for extra texture and flavor. Obviously, carrots aren’t the only veggies that you can grill—you can try cooking broccoli, corn, and more! Grilled veggies make for easy and delicious side dishes that will surely win over your guests.
Grilled fish with lemon and herbs
Fish with lemon and herbs is one of the most laidback recipes you can prepare for your autumn soirées. It’s uncomplicated, but still filling and flavorful. All you need to do is stuff the fish of your choice with lemon, garlic, and herbs. Then, drizzle oil on your fish and leave it on the grill for six minutes or so on each side. Fresh herbs that work perfectly for this dish include parsley, thyme, and dill—whatever is handy in your herb garden!

Read more
What you need to consider before installing a built-in outdoor fireplace
Brick fireplace

When you entertain guests on your patio or in your yard, a built-in outdoor fireplace can be a great way to add heat and ambiance as you wine and dine. A well-designed fireplace can add a touch of coziness to autumn and winter soirees when you want to warm up next to the flickering flames outdoors.

What the built-in style usually entails is a fireplace attached to an outside wall of your home. To ensure that things stay safe, it's important to come up with a thorough plan before installation. More often than not, homeowners will consult professional contractors to ensure the security and durability of their designs, since built-in outdoor fireplaces are often custom projects as opposed to ready-to-go pieces.

Read more
How to choose the best outdoor sink for your entertaining area
Outdoor sink

Setting up an outdoor kitchen can be quite an undertaking, but it's well worth your time, energy, and money if you want to prepare food for your guests outside. Naturally, an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor sink go hand-in-hand. The process of selecting and installing an outdoor sink, however, can be a confusing one. Deciding on the material alone can put you down a rabbit hole, so what are the main factors to consider when setting up a sink for your outdoor kitchen? Keep reading to find out!

Benefits of having an outdoor sink
Before we get into the details, let’s consider the general benefits of having an outdoor sink. Though you could always dash indoors to access your bathroom or kitchen sink, keeping one outside can be very convenient. If you prepare meals during a barbecue or cookout, an outdoor sink makes it easy to wash food and dishes outside instead of lugging things in and out of the house. If you have a double-basin sink, you can even chill your drinks on one side. Even when you're not hosting guests, having an outside sink during the warm-weather season can be helpful. You can use it to clean your harvests before bringing them into the house, for example. You can also use an outdoor sink to water your potted plants and wash your hands and other materials while working on outdoor or garage projects.
What to consider when you install an outdoor sink
Some sinks at big-box and hardware stores come with everything—faucets, fittings, the whole shebang! However, you may want to source your own components for easy customization and the best prices possible. There are three essential components for an outdoor sink: the basin, faucet, and plumbing.

Read more