7 Fantastic Outdoor Kitchen Bar Ideas to Build on a Budget

Are you planning to invest in an outdoor kitchen? Worried about the cost? Building an open-air cooking area and bar doesn’t always require a considerable amount of cash and space. This should be good news if, like most of us, you’re working with a limited budget.

Outdoor kitchen designs usually include an area for preparation and cooking. Some even include a bar, a dining area, grill, lounge, and storage. That may all sound like a faraway pipe-dream for many right now – but it doesn’t have to be.

Building an open-air cooking area and bar doesn’t always require a considerable amount of cash and space.
Building an open-air cooking area and bar doesn’t always require a considerable amount of cash and space.

Building an Outdoor Kitchen Bar on a Budget

With most of the world’s economy droning into a slow-motion free-fall, spending on an outdoor kitchen and bar might appear frivolous, if not frivolously tone-deaf. But you can transform your backyard without abusing your bank account to the point of exhaustion. All you really need is a bit of imagination and smart planning.

Here are a few ideas for outdoor kitchen designs that shouldn’t cost you the arms and the legs you’ll need to build them.   

1. Outdoor Kitchen Cart

The best way to start is with a kitchen cart. Most kitchen cart set-ups include a small counter space and storage – enough for an alfresco family meal. With some muscle and an adequately stocked tool cabinet, a basic DIY kitchen cart build should cost you less than $100. If you are planning to buy instead of build, remember to check whether the item you’re eyeing is suitable for use outdoors.

Most kitchen cart set-ups include a small counter space and storage.
Most kitchen cart set-ups include a small counter space and storage.
(Source: hgtv.com)

2. Bare-Bones Grilling Island

A simple, straightforward outdoor grilling island won’t cost you much, either. The project requires little more than an outdoor grill surrounded by a few cabinets. You’ll probably spend a weekend building the cabinets but the finished project should be well-worth the effort. If time is in short supply , you can even sequester a few free-standing cabinets from around the house for temporary storage.

A simple, straightforward outdoor grilling island requires little more than an outdoor grill and a few cabinets.
(Source: diynetwork.com)

3. Deck or Patio Kitchen    

If you have a little more to spend then you can go for an outdoor deck kitchen. That is, you can build your outdoor kitchen right on your existing deck or patio. This should be a quick and easy DIY build. If you don’t have a deck to build on, you can construct a small patio section without much effort and expenditure.

Once it’s done, just slide your grill into place. You’ll have a lovely outdoor kitchen for just a fraction of the cost of having a professional build it for you.

You can build your outdoor kitchen right on your existing deck or patio.
You can build your outdoor kitchen right on your existing deck or patio.
(Source: placeofmytaste.com)

4. Stone-Covered Grill Island

If you have enough space in your backyard, you might consider building a stone-covered grill island. You can have this outdoor kitchen up-and-grillin’ over the course of two weekends, if you have a few friends who’ll help with the work. However, real stone can be heavy, expensive, and difficult. You might have to compromise. Cementitious cultured stone cuts faster, is lighter, and just as sturdy as the real thing.

If you have enough space in your backyard, you might consider building a stone-covered grill island.
If you have enough space in your backyard, you might consider building a stone-covered grill island. (Source: justoutofmyhome.com)

5. Outdoor Kitchen with DIY Pergola

If you already have an outdoor grill island, you can build a pergola overhead for a cool and relaxing Mediterranean vibe. You’ll be mixing Sparkling Springs and Pink Ladies complete with dapples of sunlight on the countertop.

Pergolas allow some versatility, too. Pergola designs are particularly effective on patios, garden paths, open decks, and terraces. You’ll probably spend a week building the structure but it’s not at all a difficult project.

Pergola designs are particularly effective on patios, garden paths, open decks, and terraces.
Pergola designs are particularly effective on patios, garden paths, open decks, and terraces.
(Photo: Rustico Tiles and Stone/Flickr)

6. DIY Concrete and Corrugated Steel Outdoor Kitchen

Jim and Mary Competti of Old-World Garden Farms built the little outdoor kitchen photographed below with concrete and corrugated steel reclaimed from an old barn.

If you have the boards and steel, you can construct a similar outdoor galley without spending anything. Just add an off-the-shelf grill and maybe a small refrigerator and you are good to go.

This build is quite easy. The Compettis completed theirs over the course of two weekends.

You can build an outdoor kitchen built with concrete and reclaimed corrugated without spending anything.
You can build an outdoor kitchen with concrete and reclaimed corrugated without spending anything.
(Source: oldworldgardenfarms.com)

7. Outdoor Kitchen Made from Re-purposed Pallets

Building an outdoor kitchen and bar combination with re-purposed pallets will save you a good amount of money, as well. Of course, you can be as frugal or extravagant as your budget will allow.

A pallet wall will add charm and character to your outdoor space. A sturdy counter top and some cement backer board will permit you to install a tile surface. You can create a bit of shade by building the side pieces with pallets, too.

Building an outdoor kitchen and bar combination with re-purposed pallets will save you a good amount of money.
Building an outdoor kitchen and bar combination with re-purposed pallets will save you a good amount of money.
(Source: recycleart.org)

Planning and Building Smart

Outdoor kitchens do not have to be costly. You simply have to avoid costly components and services to build an alfresco galley on a budget. Some smart choices will also help keep expenditures to a minimum.

For instance, you can avoid paying for professional plumbing by situating your outside kitchen close to a water hose. You can completely sidestep the cost of installing gas lines by picking a propane tank or charcoal fueled grill or cooking top.

We suggest that you shop for modular outdoor kitchen components that are compact so you can bring them with you in case you want to move.

Below are a few more outdoor kitchen and bar ideas to inspire you.

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