When the weather is warm, there’s nothing quite so pleasant as eating dinners on the patio. But it can be a hassle to transfer food, plates, and utensils from your kitchen out to your outdoor dining space.

That’s why the real al fresco aficionados have an outdoor kitchen setup! For those who have a large outdoor space, they may have a full outdoor kitchen, while others will simply have a small serving area where they can stash their outdoor eating utensils. Either way, having an outdoor kitchen area to complement your dining space will really level-up your life.

And here’s the great news: it’s possible to design an outdoor kitchen on a budget—and even to install an outdoor kitchen on your own. Today, we’re sharing some tips on designing a low-budget DIY outdoor kitchen, plus sharing some DIY outdoor kitchen ideas for every skill level.

Essential Elements for Designing a Low-Budget DIY Outdoor Kitchen

Designing and installing a DIY outdoor kitchen on a budget? Here are some essential elements for any outdoor kitchen, with ideas on how to make it work on a budget.

Counters

For any countertops you’re installing in your DIY outdoor kitchen, opt for materials that are weatherproof, durable, and easy to clean for when you’re tackling food prep. Natural stone and concrete countertops are common choices for outdoor kitchens, and you could save even more money by opting for salvaged stone. To save on your budget even more, stick with a smaller countertop space.

Appliances

Exactly what appliances you’ll need will depend on what kind of outdoor kitchen you’re designing and how big it is. But here are the key elements we’d suggest:

  • A grill, griddle, smoker, or pizza oven for cooking meals outdoors
  • A beverage cooler or mini-fridge for keeping cold drinks close at hand
  • A sink for washing hands during food prep and washing up dishes after meals

Designer Note: Installing a sink will certainly add to your budget, so this is an easy one to skip if you’re going super low-budget on your DIY outdoor kitchen!

 

Storage

Storage for outdoor cooking and dining supplies is an absolute must. Ideally, you’ll have some cabinets and drawers for housing cooking equipment and dinnerware, serveware, and glassware, so they’re tucked away from the elements. (Uness your outdoor kitchen is partially enclosed—then you could get away with some open shelving!) It’s also nice to have hooks for utensils near your cooking station to keep things close-at-hand.

Custom built-in cabinets will be a higher-lift DIY and have a higher price point, while freestanding storage is a better option for low-budget DIY outdoor kitchens.

 

 

DIY Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Whether you’re a skilled DIY-er or a novice, there are DIY outdoor kitchen ideas for all skill levels! Here are our top three suggestions for a DIY outdoor kitchen, depending on what skills you have and how much space you have to work with.

Patio Kitchen

If you’re someone who loves to cook and eat outside on a daily basis, if you love to entertain, and if you live in a moderate climate, you may want to consider a full patio kitchen! This can include not just a grill, but a grill that’s “built-in” to surrounding cabinets and countertops, along with a sink, fridge, and plenty of storage space. You could even incorporate some bar seating.

Of course, for a full outdoor kitchen you’ll need utility hookups, as well as proper coverage so that the kitchen isn’t fully exposed to the elements. And if a lot of building is involved, be aware that you may need to pull permits! This is definitely the biggest, most involved DIY lift, so, only attempt if you have pro-level skills! Otherise, leave it to the professionals.

Regardless of if you want to DIY or hire it out, you can have a renovation design expert create 3D designs of a patio kitchen so that you or your contractor have everything you need to execute the design and get started!

DIY Difficulty Level: Pro

Tips for Designing a Patio Kitchen

  • Include elements you’ll use the most, like a grill, a beverage fridge, and a sink. Just remember that outdoor kitchens are meant to be convenient, but they are smaller than a normal kitchen. So, you won’t have everything your normal kitchen has!
  • Incorporate closed storage for outdoor dinnerware, serveware, and flatware so that you don’t have to bring your normal indoor stuff outside.
  • Go easy on decor. With exposure to the elements, delicate decor and materials can get ruined! So, don’t decorate with anything too precious.

Outdoor Pizza Kitchen

Want something a bit simpler? Try a DIY outdoor pizza kitchen. All you need is a freestanding pizza oven and ideally some prep space and a drink fridge. (However, if you want to keep it really simple, you can prep pizzas inside, bring them out to cook, and serve drinks out of a cooler!)

This is obviously a great choice for those who love pizza—but it’s also great for entertaining. What friends don’t want to come over for woodfired pizzas and drinks?? And if you live in a climate where year-round outdoor dining isn’t possible, this is a great option that’s more than just a grill but can still easily be packed away for winter. And, of course, it’s not as expensive or involved as a full DIY outdoor kitchen.

DIY Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Tips for Designing an Outdoor Pizza Kitchen

  • Make sure you have the necessary surface space around the pizza oven for your cooking utensils and pizza stones. You may also want to consider adding a stone countertop as a place to prep your pizzas and set down and serve hot pizzas!
  • Install your pizza oven in a place with good circulation and low fire risk. Because of the heat and smoke pizza ovens generate, you don’t want the oven too close to where people sit or stand, or to be too near anything flammable.

Outdoor Serving Cart

Looking for a low-budget DIY outdoor kitchen that’s also easy to execute? Keep it simple with an outdoor serving cart. This is an inexpensive and easy outdoor kitchen set-up that can be the perfect complement to a grill or smoker. It can serve as a prep space to accompany a grill, then transform into a serving station as the food is being cooked.

And, if you opt for a serving cart on wheels (vs a stationary outdoor kitchen island) you can easily move it around or even move it to the garage when not in use to protect it from the elements. This is a great DIY outdoor kitchen option for rentals! And, because it doesn’t actually involve any building, it’s a DIY anyone can tackle! All you need is to stock your serving cart with your outdoor serving dishes and utensils, then load it up with food when you’re ready to entertain!

DIY Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips for Designing an Outdoor Pizza Kitchen

  • Use a bar cart, outdoor rolling utility cart, or DIY a kitchen cart for your storage and serving needs
  • Include practical items, like shatter-proof glasses, durable melamine plates, napkins, and enamelware trays. By having an outdoor-specific kitchen and dining goods,  you don’t have to bring all of your indoor gear outside every time you want to eat outside. Plus, opting for more durable materials is simply better for outdoor dining!
  • Stock the cart with sturdy and durable storage pieces to house these kitchen items. Adding baskets and bins is a great way to maximize storage space on a lower shelf!

Want professional help designing your outdoor kitchen or patio?

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