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BBQ Kitchen: 5 Leading Brands & Detailed Buyer’s Guide

By Daniel Cdebaca

January 5, 2024

There’s nothing quite like outdoor cooking over an open fire.

Bouquets of savory smoke… Melt-in-your-mouth flavors… The sizzling sound of searing meat…

There’s so much to love!

But we probably didn’t have to tell you that.

Because if you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you already consider yourself somewhat of a BBQ-buff… And you’re looking for ways to take full advantage of your beloved craft.

Hence, why you’re after more info on BBQ kitchens!

Man grilling at outdoor bbq kitchen

Well, you’re in the right place.

Here at RTA, we know BBQ kitchens like the back of our hand… From outdoor kitchen grills, to countertops, to cabinets, and everything in between. (We’ve been designing them for years!)

So buckle up… Because today, we’re here to spill the beans on how to get your very own BBQ kitchen, plus review some of the most popular brands.

Let the outdoor cooking commence.

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What Is A BBQ Outdoor Kitchen?

Though often used interchangeably with the terms outdoor kitchen, BBQ island, grill island, or grill station… Most commonly, you’ll see the term “BBQ Kitchen” used to describe ready-made outdoor kitchen kits.

In other words, BBQ kitchens can be bought fully equipped and ready for use.

More than just a kitchen for BBQing… A BBQ kitchen provides a space for all things outdoor cooking.

In addition to a built-in BBQ grill, pre-crafted BBQ kitchens can include a combo of different components to meet your wildest outdoor cooking dreams… Some popular choices being:

And so on and so forth.

Depending on your needs, a BBQ kitchen can be a one-stop-shop for the ultimate summer hangouts…

Or, it can be a simple station to serve just you and your family.

But no matter what outdoor BBQ kitchen ideas you hope to fulfill… You need to get familiar with the different options.

Want to bring your idea to life?

Use our free 3D design tool to bring the outdoor kitchen of your dreams to reality in just a few minutes.

Buying a BBQ Kitchen: What Are Your Options?

When buying a ready-made BBQ kitchen, you’ll have two main choices: modular outdoor kitchen cabinets or prefabricated grill islands.

Both of these are simple, DIY outdoor BBQ kitchen solutions…

But what sets the two apart?

Modular

Modular BBQ kitchens consist of multiple outdoor kitchen cabinets, otherwise known as “modules.”

Usually, these modules arrive fully finished and assembled for you, allowing for easy installation in your outdoor living space.

Each individual module will feature a different component. For example… You’ll have your pick of built-in grill cabinets, sink cabinets, refrigerator cabinets, or storage cabinets (to name a few).

Some modular outdoor kitchens are sold as multi-piece kits… While others can be bought one module at a time.

In either case, you can arrange modular outdoor kitchen cabinets to form your own BBQ kitchen layout… And it can have as much (or as little) functionality as you’d like. (Want additional cooking power? Just add another module!)

Prefab

prefab outdoor kitchen with bar seating and built in grilll

Prefab BBQ outdoor kitchens are the other “in stock” option.

Much like modular, these outdoor BBQ kitchen kits come pre-built with an integrated finish.

Appliances, countertops, and other accessories are also already included.

So, how are prefab outdoor kitchens really any different?

Well, unlike modular BBQ kitchen islands… Each and every component in a prefab grill station is a part of the same structure.

There’s no need to pick and choose modules or piece them together in your backyard…

And all you have to worry about is unboxing a pre-built kitchen. (That said, getting a beefy BBQ island to your backyard can pose its own set of challenges… Which we’ll talk more about later.)

Now that you have a baseline understanding… It’s time to get a better feel for these two options.

And what better way to do so… Than reviewing real-life BBQ kitchen brands?

By the end, we’ll reconvene to see which (if any) is best for you.

Modular BBQ Kitchen Brands To Mull Over

We’ll kick off with the modular BBQ kitchens.

We’ve included some of the biggest names on the BBQ kitchen block… So let’s see how each stacks up.

Thor Modular BBQ Kitchen

thor pizza oven refrigerator drawer sink BBQ outdoor kitchen
Product Highlights

Price: up to $7000.00

Materials: 304 Stainless Steel

Warranty: 2 years

On top of selling indoor kitchen appliances… Thor also offers a decently sized lineup of portable outdoor kitchen modules.

To be exact, they bring five different BBQ island modules to the table.

These include a built-in liquid propane or natural gas grill module with drawers…

A wood-fired pizza oven module with double storage doors…

An outdoor refrigerator cabinet…

An outdoor kitchen sink and faucet module…

And finally, a corner cabinet module for extra counter space and dry storage.

As far as functionality goes… The Thor modular kitchen covers all the basic BBQ kitchen needs.

That said, there are still only five modules… So in many ways, you will be limited.

thor outdoor kitchen

Aesthetics may also be a sticking point.

Each and every Thor outdoor kitchen module is constructed fully with 304 stainless steel.

While this means rust and corrosion won’t be an issue… It also results in quite a polarizing look.

And unless you have a modern, industrial space… A Thor outdoor kitchen may stand out like a sore thumb. (Aesthetics aside, stainless steel countertops and cabinets will get unbearably hot in the summer sun.)

Looking past style… A Thor outdoor kitchen will be easy to order and set up in your space.

And the upfront cost seems quite fair, too! For all five modules, you’ll end up spending just under $7,000. (For some perspective, the national average outdoor kitchen cost hovers around $13,000.)

Now, take this “cost-effectiveness” with a grain of salt. Despite the 304 stainless steel construction… Thor outdoor kitchen modules are only covered under a two year warranty.

So if you were hoping to get more years of use from your $7,000 investment… Thor probably isn’t for you.

Char-Broil BBQ Kitchen Outdoor

Char-Broil Medallion Outdoor Kitchen Gas Grill
Product Highlights

Price: $400.00 – $2,000.00 per module

Materials: Unknown stainless steel, granite countertops

Warranty: Varies depending on the component, the best is 10 years

Moving right along… Let’s have a peek at Char-Broil’s selection of outdoor kitchen modules.

Char-Broil may be better known for their standalone gas grills…

But not too long ago, they also began manufacturing their own modular BBQ kitchens.

Char-Broil’s modular outdoor kitchen selection comprises a handful of pre-designed BBQ island sets… As well as individual module options.

Looking at their individual modules, the following components are available for you to mix and match:

  • 3- or 5-burner built-in gas grill modules with storage drawers
  • A stainless steel flat top griddle module with an access door
  • A double side burner cabinet
  • An “entertainment” module featuring a drop-in cooler, outdoor kitchen sink and faucet, storage space, and a pull-out trash bin
  • An undercounter outdoor refrigerator cabinet with additional storage space
  • A corner module to transform a linear layout into an L- or U-shaped BBQ kitchen
charbroil outdoor kitchen countertop with cooking utensils and food

As with Thor, Char-Broil’s selection of outdoor kitchen modules bring on decent functionality… With multiple options for outdoor cooking, and additional accessories to add convenience.

However, you’re still left to work around limited functionality. If you wanted a charcoal grill, kamado, or pellet smoker, for instance… You’re sore out of luck.

We also need to address Char-Broil’s choice of materials.

Char-Broil relies on steel-frame construction with painted steel exteriors… But the grade of steel used isn’t specified.

The stainless steel used for their built-in grill, doors, and other accessories is also not brought up.

So without knowing exactly what these are made of… It’s tough to say how a Char-Broil BBQ kitchen will hold up outdoors. But based on customer reviews, we’d say that rust and corrosion are a common concern.

Really, the only thing we don’t have a gripe with are Char-Broil’s granite countertops!

Warranty coverage varies across the different components… But generally speaking, the best you’ll get is 10 years. (To put it in perspective, a lifetime warranty is our usual standard.)

And while this is better than Thor’s warranty, it’s still not the greatest… And goes to show that a Char-Broil BBQ kitchen is another short-term solution.

Finally, concerning cost, you’ll spend roughly between $400 and $2,000 per module.

Though cheaper than your average outdoor kitchen project… It might not be a wise investment if you’re hoping it will last a decade or more.

Ikea Outdoor BBQ Kitchen

ikea outdoor kitchen
Product Highlights

Price: up to $1,300.00

Materials: Unknown stainless steel

Warranty: Unknown

Our final modular outdoor kitchen BBQ island is from Ikea.

Now, Ikea’s Grillskar outdoor kitchen lineup isn’t all that different from the other offerings we’ve discussed.

It contains five individual modules… From gas grills, to sinks, to shelving, to side burners.

Additionally, Ikea does also offer a charcoal grill module... Which hasn’t crossed our paths yet!

So if you’re all for smoky flavors, this simple BBQ kitchen setup may have some more appeal.

Like Char-Broil, Ikea’s modular BBQ kitchens can be purchased as a predesigned set…

Or, you can choose to mix and match modules as you see fit.

In either case, you’ll be working with a powder-coated steel frame… Which certainly isn’t what we’d call “indestructible.”

l shape ikea outdoor kitchen with appliances

And as with Thor, Ikea uses stainless steel for their countertops and appliances… But unlike Thor, we can’t say for sure what grade these are.

The fact that we couldn’t even find a warranty doesn’t lead us to believe that Ikea uses 304 stainless steel…

And because of this lack of clarity across the board, it’s safe to say that this is yet another short-term solution.

The good news, though, is that this is by far the cheapest modular BBQ kitchen.

For Ikea’s largest L-shaped island… You’ll only spend just over $1,300 for every included cabinet.

Now, this drastically lower price doesn’t reflect too highly on the quality of Ikea modular kitchens, per se…

But that said, at least you won’t really be breaking the bank for a kitchen that’ll last (at most) a few years.

The perfect grilling station

Pick the perfect appliances for your BBQ Outdoor Kitchen using our free 3D design tool. Get started today.

Buzzworthy Prefab BBQ Kitchen Kits

With modular outdoor kitchens squared away…

It’s time to shift our focus to the prefab offerings.

As a reminder, these are also ready-made… But unlike modular kitchens, each and every component is included within the same structure.

With that, let’s talk through a couple of the leading brands.

Cal Flame BBQ Islands

Product Highlights

Price: $3,000.00 – $11,000.00

Materials: Galvanized steel frame with Hardibacker cement board

Warranty: 1 year

Cal Flame offers a hefty handful of prefabricated linear, U-shaped, and L-shaped BBQ kitchen kits.

Typically, these can be found at your big box stores… Like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Costco, and the like.

These’ll be fully constructed when they arrive at your backyard… Which can make getting them set up quite a tricky task. (Especially if you opt for a larger island!)

So just be warned… If backyard access is limited, you may need heavy machinery to get your grill island where it needs to be.

Now, back to their offerings.

Cal Flame’s BBQ kitchens can be split into two categories: Pavilion and BBK.

With the Pavilion Island option, you’ll be able to pick your choice of components from Cal Flame’s own appliance selection… Including gas or charcoal grills, sinks, storage, fridges, flat tops, and burners. (Generally, Bull uses 304 stainless steel for their outdoor kitchen components… But they also occasionally make use of lower quality 430 stainless steel, so watch out for this!)

cal flame l shaped outdoor kitchen island

The BBK islands, on the other hand, come fully pre-designed for you.

In either case, the countertop and finish will be at your discretion.

For the countertop, your options include either granite, porcelain, or natural stone…

As for the exterior finish, you can choose between stucco, natural stone, or synthetic wood panels.

No matter what finish you choose, Cal Flame BBQ kitchens are composed of a galvanized steel frame with Hardibacker cement boards.

And we must say… This is far from an ideal construction method for your BBQ kitchen!

Cement boards and metal frames are a poor match-up for humid and northern climates.

And without getting too in the weeds… Freeze/thaw cycles and moisture can wreak havoc on cement boards, causing the exterior finish of your island to crack or crumble.

Then, this leaves the internal frame exposed to the elements… And rust and corrosion will make themselves at home.

And it’s all downhill from there.

Perhaps this explains why Cal Flame BBQ islands are only covered by a one year warranty! Unfortunately, this method doesn’t bode well for longevity.

But if you’re after a simple, short-term solution… Current pricing averages between $3,000 and $11,000.

Bull BBQ Kitchens

Product Highlights

Price: $8,000.00 – $23,000.00

Materials: Steel frame and cement board

Warranty: 1 year

When it comes to prefab BBQ kitchens… Bull is yet another major player.

A Bull BBQ island will arrive at your home mostly assembled… You’ll just need to place the appliances and accessories to finish it off.

As with Cal Flame… This can make Bull Outdoor Kitchens quite tricky to maneuver into your backyard.

But backyard logistics aside… What does Bull’s prefab kitchen selection look like?

Well, Bull offers a large range of linear and L-shaped outdoor kitchens.

While these are all designed and ready-to-order with pre-selected components… Bull does also offer an online design tool to “customize” your prefab kitchen.

With this, you’ll simply be able to toy around with predetermined layouts and Bull’s outdoor kitchen appliance selection.

Speaking of appliance selection… Your options will include Bull’s built-in gas grills, side burners, outdoor kitchen storage, and undercounter fridges.

Bull typically uses 304 stainless steel for their outdoor kitchen components… But keep an eye out for outliers.

Their outdoor kitchen fridge, specifically, is actually NOT rated for outdoor use… So you’ll want to thoroughly scope out all other inclusions for peace of mind.

As for the quality of the island itself… Bull and Cal Flame are once again on common ground.

Bull BBQ kitchens are constructed with steel frames and cement boards… Which we’ve already given you the spiel on.

These are finished with your choice of quartzite, faux rock, or HDPE.

For their countertops… You’ll get three different types of tile to choose from. (Unless you like cleaning gunk out of grout… Tile is not something we’d recommend!)

Currently, the MSRP for Bull BBQ islands is set between $8,000 and $23,000, approximately.

But again, Bull only backs their BBQ islands with a one year warranty… So do some serious thinking before you make this splurge.

The Verdict On Premade BBQ Kitchens

Alright. Now that you’ve seen a mix of both modular and prefab BBQ kitchens…

You probably picked up on a few common themes.

Though their ease and inexpensive price tag may certainly be appealing… After reviewing some of the most popular prefab and modular brands, you can start to see that they aren’t exactly the best choice.

Let’s recap on why this is.

Across the board, our major gripe is with the poor material quality and lackluster warranties.

Both modular cabinets and prefab islands alike are most often made with lower grades of steel or shoddy metal frame systems… Which are a rust- and corrosion-risk waiting to happen.

It’s one thing if you’re looking for a short-term solution…

But in our eyes, an outdoor kitchen should be built to last a lifetime. And ready-made BBQ kitchens just don’t cut it.

You’ll spend the time arranging modules or transporting a prefab island to your backyard… Just for it to give out in a few short years. How frustrating!

And on top of low caliber construction… There’s also the lack of creative freedom to deal with.

With each and every option we discussed, your choices are severely limited when it comes to customizing layout, finish, dimensions, and (most notably) the appliances you can include.

Though there were one or two exceptions, practically every brand listed offered only built-in gas grills as the “main source” of cooking power.

And while this may be fine for some homeowners… What if you’re looking to test out other types of cooking? A gas grill doesn’t always fit the bill.

By and large, these are truly a “you-get-what-you-see” solution.

And 99% of the ready-made BBQ kitchens we discussed were pretty limited… In more ways than one.

So, where does this leave you?

A Better BBQ Kitchen Alternative

We’ve laid out the challenges of typical ready-made BBQ kitchens…

And it’s clear to see… Most of the options out there fall short.

So if you’re not willing to settle for a pre-made BBQ kitchen… How do you proceed?

Though it may not be “ready made,” so to speak… We have an alternative solution that we think will spark your interest.

RTA Quick Ship Kitchens

Product Highlights

Price: >$13,000.00

Materials: 304 stainless steel, concrete, granite countertops

Warranty: Limited lifetime 

Perhaps you want the ease and convenience of a pre-made outdoor BBQ kitchen…

But you’re after an outdoor kitchen that’s actually built to last.

Or, maybe you’re simply hoping to get more from your grill island.

If you can relate, allow us to bring your attention to RTA.

Our Quick Ship outdoor kitchens are a solid alternative to pre-built BBQ islands. 

They may not arrive at your door fully assembled, per se…

Rather, they come 95% complete and ready to assemble.

This is because our islands are composed of composite concrete panels rather than individual cabinets or pre-built frames.

So you will have to piece these panels together, place your appliances, and top it off with a countertop.

We know you’re after as much ease as possible… But don’t be deterred by this.

Though it may seem more intimidating, assembling an RTA island is about as involved as piecing together cabinets in a modular outdoor kitchen. 

Our kitchen kits can be assembled by yourself or one of our Pro-installers in just one afternoon… And that little bit of extra effort needed up front will be more than worth it in the long run.

Why’s that?

Well, for one, our kitchen islands are all backed by a limited lifetime warranty.

And from the composite concrete panels, to the concrete or granite countertops, to high-quality 304 stainless steel appliances from Coyote Outdoor Living… These BBQ islands are built to last, rain or shine.

So, you’ll have to put in a tiny bit more work than you would with a prefab or modular offering… But you’ll also gain much better quality.

And that’s not all!

Our Quick Ship BBQ kitchens also grant you more creative control.

We have a much wider selection of options to peruse than your average online BBQ kitchen brand.

In addition to gas or charcoal grill islands… You’ll also find options with pellet grills, kamado smokers, side burners, power burners, flat top griddles, electric grills, and pizza ovens.

And of course, the standard storage, sink, fridge, and accessory options will also be at your disposal.

As for pricing?

It is more of a middle-ground option, and our linear and L-shaped kitchen kits hover around the $13,000 national average.(Our custom islands, on the other hand, do tend to come at a higher price.) 

But don’t forget, this is meant to be a one-time investment. An RTA kitchen will last you a lifetime… And you won’t be dishing out more dough down the line to repair or replace it.

Get The Ball Rolling On Your BBQ Kitchen

We’ve covered a whole lot in this article… From what a BBQ kitchen is, to why ready-made options probably aren’t your best bet, to a much better solution.

By this point, you should feel more prepared to tackle your own outdoor kitchen project.

But if you’re still not 100% sure how to dive in… Don’t worry.

When you choose to work with RTA, you won’t have to go at it alone.

Check out our Learning Hub… Browse through our Quick Ship BBQ islands…

And if you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for… Test out our free online design tool for a true custom BBQ kitchen solution.

Whenever you’re ready, we’re happy to help you begin your BBQ kitchen, on your terms.

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