Save up to 40% + An Extra $600 Offer Ends 12/6/23


Secret Small Outdoor Kitchen Ideas for Tight Budgets

by Olly Mason

Man, woman, and child enjoy eating breakfast outdoors on a patio

When your outdoor space is limited, but your will to grill is massive, it’s time to start considering small outdoor kitchen ideas to satisfy your need to grill. Finding a jumping point can be tricky with a fixed budget, but it’s not impossible when you have the right tips and guidance.

Get started on your journey to enjoying your very own outdoor oasis with help from us — the experts at Don’s Appliance, Pittsburgh’s trusted appliance supplier for over 50 years!

At a Glance:

The Cost of an Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen Essentials on a Budget

Tips for an Affordable Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen FAQs

Why Trust Us?

How Much Does a Small Outdoor Kitchen Cost?

Man and woman hugging while looking at a pergola with an illustrated overlay

Perfectly charred burgers, mesquite barbecue, juicy hotdogs, and more are in your near future, but to get there without breaking the bank, you need to set a spending limit. The national average for outdoor kitchens starts at just under $5,500, while a basic outdoor kitchen usually includes a grill, accompanied by a sink, refrigeration, and storage.

A basic outdoor package will cost around $2,000, while high-end outdoor kitchen remodels average just over $22,100. On average, the typical homeowner can expect to spend just over $13,700 on a decent outdoor makeover. Here’s a general breakdown of what each level includes:

  • Basic outdoor kitchen: A grill, compact refrigerator, some counter space; flooring and cabinetry are made of basic materials like ceramic and aluminum.
  • Mid-end outdoor kitchen: A built-in grill, built-in outdoor refrigeration, and plenty of workspace; custom flooring and cabinetry are often included in these projects.
  • Luxury outdoor kitchen: A premium built-in grill, luxury outdoor refrigeration, and custom cabinetry and countertops; designers create a personalized look with the best materials in a custom layout per the homeowner’s request.

How to Budget an Outdoor Kitchen Remodel

Once you’ve decided on a comfortable budget to work with, subtract 10–20 percent of that budget to cushion unexpected costs.

Experts also suggest budgeting the remainder of that spending limit between 80–90 percent of the total cost to avoid overspending.

For instance:

  • You have a mid-range budget of $7,000.
  • Once a 20 percent buffer has been subtracted, that leaves you with $5,600 to work with.
  • Of those $5,600, it’s recommended to plan to spend $5,040 to avoid overspending.

Essentials for Open-Air Kitchens (on a Budget)

Small spaces can be tricky to work with, but they can also make an impact with the right elements. If you’re working with a budget, we recommend focusing on these three areas to get the most function (and fun) out of your space.

Grills & Outdoor Cooking Appliances

Person grilling vegetables and fish on a gas grill

It’s the main attraction and the reason for celebration (other than the good company): the outdoor grill. If you ask us, this is the number-one essential for any open-air cooking space, so you’ll probably want to focus a good portion of your budget on a grill.

These days, you have several outdoor kitchen grill options to choose from. Let’s break down what each variety has to offer.

Charcoal grills – Iconic, smoky flavors are synonymous with charcoal grills. These wood-burning grills are often the most affordable, but sizes can be limited.

Gas grills – Get grilling at the single press of a button with gas grills that don’t need to be stoked or fanned to get a fire going. Liquid propane grills are the cheapest options, but natural gas grills that connect to your home’s gas line are also available.

Pellet grills – Arguably the most expensive grill type, pellet grills make barbecuing simple with an automatic auger that feeds wood pellets into a heating element. You can literally set a temperature, walk away, and come back to perfectly grilled food.

Portable grills – Don’t underestimate a small grill. While you won’t get as big of a cooking surface as other grills, portable grills can be a convenient way to enjoy the pleasures of grilling, especially if you’re cooking out of a condo or townhouse.

Keep in Mind

Built-in grills provide a luxurious touch to your hardscapes, but there’s the upfront cost and then another cost for installation. To keep your spending on track, we recommend a freestanding grill, preferably one with wheels for convenience.

Outdoor Refrigeration

If there’s one other outdoor appliance that’s worth splurging on, it’s an undercounter refrigerator. Based on your budget, you can explore outdoor refrigeration for a variety of beverage needs, whether it’s a compact refrigerator for soda and juice, a kegerator for craft brews, or a wine cooler to store local vintages ready to pour and enjoy for your next gathering.  

Abundant Workspace

From preparing ingredients ready to hit the flame to displaying your latest great grilled sensations, countertop space is a core asset to any outdoor cooking space. To double up on workspace, look for grills with foldable side tables or appliances that double as work surfaces, like the top of a compact fridge.

Smart Storage

No patio or backyard designed for gathering is complete without comfy furniture for you and your guests to sit, enjoy some grub, and catch up over some laughs. To make the most out of your small outdoor kitchen idea, look for pieces that double as storage. Popular examples include an ottoman with a removable top to put weather-resistant throws, outdoor games, rain boots, and similar items when not in use.

Keep an eye out for opportunities to organize with appliances, too. Many freestanding grills offer open bottom shelves, which are ideal for neatly storing charcoal, propane, grill tools, and packs of bottled water.

Shop Outdoor Living at Don's Appliances

Find everything you need for the outdoor kitchen of your dreams at Don's Appliances.

Outdoor Living

Tips for an Affordable Outdoor Kitchen

We’ve seen plenty of projects in their experience, and that means we’ve collected quite a few outdoor kitchen ideas for small space layouts. Here are a few of our favorite tips we’ve come up with over the years.

Respect Your Outdoor Layout

Wide shot of a built-in grill and dishwasher drawers next to a kitchen

There are times when going against the grain is worth it, and then there are other times when going with the flow is the best solution. In the case of small outdoor spaces, we recommend working with the layout that already exists. Surveys show the average cost of a patio starts at $1,922, or about $8–$20 per square foot. Considering our previous budget model of $5,040, building a new patio would leave you with just $3,118 to spend on any remaining outdoor projects.

Optimize your small outdoor kitchen idea by creating specific zones for cooking, hanging out, and playing games. Ideally, you’ll want to have your grill close to your indoor kitchen to make it easier to travel in and out of your home for ingredients. This will also eliminate causing traffic jams passing through designated areas.

Choose Propane for No Pain

Natural gas grills offer the luxury of never having to remember to fill a propane tank by connecting directly to your home’s gas supply. The setup is convenient, but it can also be expensive since it adds to your monthly utility bill. Remember, grills are made for high-heat output; many grills produce as much as 75K BTUs of gas-powered heat per hour, and that adds up quickly.

You’ll also pay a hefty amount to install a gas plumbing line if your outdoor space doesn’t have one already. According to HomeGuide, that could result in as much as $743 per line, on average. If you’re working on a $5,040 budget, that equates to about six percent of the total spending per line added.

Build as Close to the Kitchen as Possible

Keep it close to home is more than an adage — it’s also a great tip for cutting down on unnecessary appliance costs for your outdoor living space. Virtually every corner in limited patios and backyards competes for real estate, so adding appliances, such as a sink, full-size refrigerator, or even a kitchen cart might make the space less functional and burn a hole in your wallet without any need to.

The solution? If possible, build your cooking area as close to the kitchen as possible. By doing so, you can access a full-size sink, refrigerator, countertop space, plus all your tools and kitchen gadgets without having to travel too far.

Design in the Off Season

We get it — the itch to grill hits hard once the weather starts to blossom, but being strategic can save you big time. The contractor market for outdoor remodels is booming during spring and summer since the demand is high, and that means prices soar. Meanwhile, fall and winter see a natural dip in the demand since fewer people are spending time outdoors. This is the prime time to find a contractor and a local appliance supplier to begin planning while prices are in hibernation.


Building an outdoor kitchen design from scratch is exciting, but it’s not the only option worth considering. A smart way to craft an outdoor kitchen on a budget is by scouting salvageable pieces that have been gently used. This is a great way to incorporate storage and outdoor fixtures at a fraction of the cost while giving the space function, too.

Hot items to look for are cabinetry, kitchen carts, furnishing — even plants and décor can be thrifted to give the space a touch your unique personality.

Outdoor Kitchen FAQs

The best way to discover cheap, simple outdoor kitchen ideas is by asking questions. Over the years, we’ve gotten several questions on the topic from homeowners like yourself. Below, we answer a few of the most common questions when it comes to small backyard patio ideas.

Does an outdoor kitchen increase home value?

The value of an alfresco kitchen varies depending on the location. Studies show outdoor kitchens have a 100–200 percent return on investment (ROI), while the national average for an outdoor kitchen falls between 55 percent ROI.

How far should a gas grill be from my house?

As recommended by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an outdoor gas grill should be located no less than 10 feet from a home.

Why Trust Us?

Founded in 1971, Don’s Appliances is a family-owned, independent appliance retailer based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Don’s has since expanded to 10 locations selling, delivering, installing, and servicing all major appliance brands. Large enough to offer competitive pricing yet small enough to continue offering the “white glove” service we pride ourselves on, our focus is always on the customer experience — from the first step into a showroom to the purchase transaction to well after your new appliance has been installed.

When our customers are remodeling or building a new house, Don’s has all the expertise, product knowledge, inventory, brands, displays, and services to meet and exceed your needs. And in the event an appliance breaks, we are there, right on time and with the right product, delivery, installation, and service.

Shop Outdoor Appliances at Don’s Appliances

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and shop outdoor appliances at Don’s Appliance. Our friendly experts are always happy to help you discover small outdoor kitchen ideas — whether you call us at 866-544-1711, email us, or use our online chat feature. Better yet, stop by any of our Don’s Appliances Pittsburgh, PA warehouse locations. Visit us today!

Learn More: The Best Grill Brands for Grill Season