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Why Is an Outdoor Kitchen So Expensive? The Top 4 Reasons

By Daniel Cdebaca

February 3, 2023

So, you’re thinking about buying a beautiful outdoor kitchen for your backyard.

You want a nice place for your friends and family to gather… To have a place to cook outside… And maybe a few cool features or appliances, like a fridge or pull-out trash can.

Your family will love it, and your friends will be jealous (who can blame them?).

Maybe you had an idea of how much it would cost. Islands can cost a few thousand dollars at big-box stores… So you might have expected it to be a bit pricey.

an rta outdoor kitchen with multiple appliances and pizza oven underpergola with price tags on it

You ask for a quote from a trusted builder or outdoor kitchen company… And then you hear the actual total. Wow, that’s way more expensive than you expected.

After all… The national average cost of an outdoor kitchen in America is about $12,000 – $13,000. That’s a lot of money!

Or, maybe you had no idea what it would cost, and this is more than you were hoping for.

What gives? Why is an outdoor kitchen so expensive?

We’ll start with the appliances.

Quick Links:

1. The Appliances Are Heavy-Duty

One of the biggest cost-factors in an outdoor kitchen is the appliances.

This includes your grill, fridge, side burner, outdoor kitchen sink, and any other appliances you may want.

Your appliances will account for roughly 40% of the total cost of the kitchen. That’s a huge percentage.

That means that if you buy a $16,000 kitchen… The appliances will account for roughly $7,000 of the total cost.

This may come as a shock to you because you’re probably used to appliances that only cost a few hundred dollars. Aren’t those good enough to use in your outdoor kitchen?

Well… No. While those appliances might be okay on their own… Most builders or companies like RTA will use appliances that are more expensive and better suited for an outdoor kitchen.

Why can’t you use less expensive appliances?

First of all… They aren’t safe to use in an outdoor kitchen.

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Safety Hazards and Special Accommodations

an image of an outdoor kitchen that caught fire due to poor ventilation

You’re probably used to buying cart-model grills at places like Home Depot.

Unfortunately, freestanding grills aren’t designed to be built into an outdoor kitchen. They can actually be a huge safety hazard because of the way their ventilation is designed.

For example, a freestanding grill will vent through the bottom. But when it’s placed in an island, you’re blocking that part of the grill. This could cause a dangerous explosion!

You’re going to want a built-in grill instead… Which is specifically designed to be in an outdoor kitchen. They are higher-quality and made to vent in a safe way.

They are also going to be more expensive… But that’s the price you pay for safety and quality.

It’s the same deal with other appliances, too.

For example, even though you can find less expensive mini fridges… You’ll want to make sure the appliances you choose are outdoor-rated and made to be built-in.

If your appliances break… Or if they explode without proper ventilation… This is a costly and unnecessary expense… Not to mention unsafe.

So it’s worth it to spend more on outdoor-rated, built-in appliances… Even if they make the overall cost of your outdoor kitchen higher.

Next, let’s look at how your appliances will handle the elements.


rusted grates on low quality modular kitchen
Lower quality steel grates after 3 winters.
304 stainless steel grates after 3 winters

Outdoor appliances are expensive because they are durable… But they need to be able to stand the test of time!

We aren’t just talking five or ten years… You want to buy appliances that can last for decades!

This will make them more expensive… Which, in turn, makes your outdoor kitchen cost significantly more.

We always recommend 304 stainless steel for appliances because it will hold up well in the outdoors.

Because it is a higher quality metal, this grade of stainless steel will also cost more!

However, because 304 stainless steel helps to prevent rust and corrosion… The extra cost is justified.

We recommend looking for built-in “premium” quality grills.

These will be in the $1,500 to $4,000 range. They’re made of 304 stainless steel… And have a lifetime warranty to back it up. They’re also made to be built into your island, so they’re safer.

More expensive for your outdoor kitchen, yes… But it will save you from having to replace your grill every few years.

As costly as it is to have to prematurely replace your appliances… It’s also terribly inconvenient.

Premature Replacements are Inconvenient

Another reason to buy a long-lasting appliance despite the extra cost: The extreme inconvenience you’ll have to undergo if you need to replace it.

It’s never particularly convenient to replace an appliance… But you’ll run into even bigger issues since these will be built in to your kitchen.

What happens if your grill model is discontinued? Don’t expect a cheap grill to stick around on the shelves forever.

The cut-outs on kitchen islands aren’t just standardized sizes… They are designed for specific appliances.

If you can’t find the exact same appliance… You may need to cut your grill island to fit a new one. Yikes.

That’s why it’s worth spending more on your appliances from the get-go… You won’t have to worry about replacing them!

The reverse is also true… There’s no point in having built-in appliances if your grill island isn’t built to last, either!

2. Your Island Has to Be Made to Last

linear outdoor kitchen with stacked stone finish

Why is the cost of an island so high when you go through a contractor or a company like RTA?

Well, because they have to be made to withstand a lot. You can’t just slap down some inexpensive materials and expect it to last.

Can your island withstand the weight of a heavy grill? Is it made of flammable materials that will catch fire when you start your grill?

You can probably see where the argument is headed, but it’s true…

Any island that can handle the elements and the wear-and-tear of being used will be expensive.

No matter how much money you think you’re going to save on the front-end… It’s just not worth spending twice as much on repair and replacement costs in the future if it won’t hold up.

This means that the materials you’ll need to use will have to be heavy duty. They need to be able to stand extreme heat, cold, the salty air of the ocean, hail, rain, freeze-thaw climates…

That also means that you’ll be spending more for quality outdoor kitchen materials.

A quality contractor or company should be able to direct you to quality materials… As well as other important considerations like safety.

That brings us to our next point on why outdoor kitchens are so expensive…

3. Outdoor Kitchens Are Surprisingly Complicated… and Potentially Dangerous

Outdoor kitchens are actually extremely complicated. And that makes them more expensive.

There are so many details, specifics, and safety concerns to be aware of when it comes to building outdoor kitchens.

If it isn’t done right… Durability isn’t going to be the only issue. You’re also looking at the possibility of some serious safety concerns.

This isn’t a project for just anyone. You have to make sure your contractor is a good choice for the job. They’ll need to know exactly what they’re doing!

You're Paying for Experience, Quality, and Safety

Anyone who makes an outdoor kitchen for you should have a lot of specialized knowledge… And that isn’t cheap to acquire. It also isn’t something you can just get from a few YouTube videos.

You want a contractor or company like RTA who really knows what they’re doing… Even though it will cost a lot.

When you’re hiring a quality contractor or company… You’re hiring an expert in the field.

They need to know what safety precautions to take… What materials to avoid… How to make sure your island will last long-term… And so much more.

This kind of experience doesn’t come cheap… But it’s worth it to know that your island will be made well and with your safety in mind.

They are also building it especially for you!

4. It's Custom-Made For You

It’s true that you can find a modular outdoor kitchen for less money than you would pay for a quality contractor or company… However, you cannot order a custom grill island with them!

If you hire a contractor, they’ll build your kitchen right in your backyard. You can discuss your needs with them, and they should be able to accommodate you.

If you buy it from us at RTA, it’s the same deal… We’ll also be making your island just for you! But we’ll get into the specifics later.

Whether you choose a contractor or a company like RTA… A custom-built island simply won’t be inexpensive…

It goes without saying that this level of dedication and personalization takes time and money. You can’t just grab it off of a shelf.

You aren’t buying some mass-produced island and grill combo made overseas. You’re getting something that will last and meet your specific needs.

But when your island is made to last… And it looks exactly how you want… And it includes all of the appliances you need… It creates a space where community thrives and you want to be outside.

So now you have a better idea of what makes outdoor kitchens so expensive.

Is it worth it?

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Next Question: Is an Outdoor Kitchen Worth the Cost?

You never want to buy something that’s unnecessarily expensive… So of course, it’s good to see that there’s a valid reason why outdoor kitchens cost so much.

But it’s still expensive, regardless.

Is it worth the money?

The short answer is absolutely.

Starting with the value it adds to your home.

An Outdoor Kitchen Adds Value to the Home

Whether you’re planning on selling your home anytime soon or not… Your equity is always worth thinking about.

You never know when an opportunity will come… So it’s always best to keep your house in good shape.

An outdoor kitchen project won’t just maintain the value of your home… It will add to it significantly!

The higher-quality your kitchen… The more value it will add to your home.

But in the meantime, you can just sit back with your friends and family and enjoy an outdoor kitchen that was built especially for you.

How long will you be able to do that for? How long will it last?

An Outdoor Kitchen Will Last a Lifetime

How long should your kitchen last? A lifetime.

Sure, an outdoor kitchen is expensive. But think about how many times you’ll be using it! The cost-per-use will actually be pretty reasonable.

After all, this kitchen should last a lifetime.

And it will… As long as it’s made out of quality materials like we discussed before.

A lifetime warranty is another way to make sure it sticks around. You want lifetime warranties on the appliances and the island.

Your outdoor kitchen should provide you with years of enjoyment… And whatever outdoor kitchen option you choose should honor that!

After all… Your kitchen will be helping you spend more time with your friends and family… And that’s something you want to last forever!

It’s a Place Where Family and Friends Will Want to Gather

One great reason to buy an outdoor kitchen despite the cost is, of course, that it helps foster community. That’s priceless.

If you’re looking for a way to bond with your kids without going out… You can teach them how to cook their favorite food on the grill!

Your kids are grown up and moved out? Here’s an excuse for them to come over… You’re grilling steaks!

It’s a great place to have your friends over for dinner. Your kitchen can be your excuse!

Don’t even get us started on your neighbors… You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood when they smell you cooking on your new grill! You can always invite your neighbors over, too. It’s a great way to meet them.

Long story short, an outdoor kitchen is a memory-maker no matter who you invite over.

It gives you a place to gather… And that extra push to spend quality time with your friends and family.

We all know that if you’re with the people you care about, you can make memories anywhere…

But a barbecue is an easy excuse to gather with the people you love… And cooking is a great way to show your friends and family how much you care.

One more way to take care of yourself and those closest to you is through a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, your outdoor kitchen comes in handy here as well!

You'll Be Healthier

You’re happier when you’re feeling healthy. After all, health is wealth, right?

Having an outdoor kitchen is a fantastic way to get healthier in two ways…

Eating Healthy

First of all, you’re eating healthier when you’re cooking your own food.

You’ll be using fewer artificial ingredients… And you can be more mindful of what you cook.

Who wants to go to a restaurant when you have your own in your backyard?

This brings us to the second way they help make you healthier… You’ll be spending more time outside!

Spending More Time Outside

On average, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors.

So taking advantage of your outdoor space will always be beneficial for your health and happiness.

You’ll probably be inclined to sit and stay longer than you would in a restaurant… Or even when you would normally cook and eat indoors.

This means you’ll be able to spend more time with your friends and family… and soaking up the fresh air and Vitamin D outside.

It’s a long-term, holistic way to improve your health that your doctor will absolutely approve of.

Now you know why it’s so expensive… And what makes it worth the price tag.

So what comes next? What should you be looking for?

An Outdoor Kitchen Option Just For You

We understand that researching a new outdoor kitchen can be intimidating. They’re expensive… And it’s hard to tell what’s a good deal or not.

There seem to be more bad materials than good ones out there… And not that many places offer a lifetime warranty.

Often, descriptions online are vague, and it’s hard to know who you can trust.

And some contractors won’t be aware of the safety concerns if they don’t have much experience or training.

You want to make sure that the builder or company you choose to build your outdoor kitchen is a good fit for you.

You want an island that is truly long-lasting… Is safe… That comes with a warranty… That will complement the style of your home and outdoor space… And has the features and appliances you need.

Well, you’re in luck! That’s our specialty.

Decades of Enjoyment

an rta outdoo

To start off, RTA islands are made up of structural panels. These outdoor kitchen panels are composed of high-performance concrete… So you know that they’re built to last.

After all… Our concrete is rated for 100 years, and it isn’t built out of layers that can peel back over time. Instead, it’s monolithic… Which means that each panel is made of one piece that is self-supporting.

The appliances are all from our partners, Coyote Outdoor Living. They’re made of 304 stainless steel… an outdoor-rated material that resists rust and corrosion.

These are premium-grade grills, so you know that they’re high-quality and great for an outdoor kitchen.

But you can’t stop there. When you’re working with a hot grill, safety is critical.

Our islands are also engineered with only non-combustible materials. We exceed venting requirements for Coyote’s natural gas and liquid propane grills.

This means that our outdoor kitchens will provide you with years of enjoyment… Safely.

The lifetime warranty on the islands and appliances speaks for itself… Your kitchen is built to last, and we are dedicated to upholding that at both RTA and Coyote.

Another advantage is that you will get exactly what you want.

Customized Just for You

Many people begin by selecting a size and layout that works for their space in our free Design Tool.

You can decide on one of 10 beautiful finishes… And one of 10 countertop options.

Again, we use Coyote’s outdoor appliances… And they have quite a selection of high-quality products! Sinks, fridges, grills, top burners, kamado cookers, and more.

You can get anything you want… In any configuration!

With so many choices, you’re bound to find a look that works well in your yard. The world is your oyster.

No Hidden Costs or Fees

Lastly, we’ll be upfront about the price. We don’t have hidden costs or fees.

You can create your kitchen using our design tool and chat one-on-one with one of our experts from the Design Team… And you’ll have the price set in stone before we get to work.

We’ll be the first to admit that building an outdoor kitchen is a little expensive…

However, we can guarantee you an island that’s perfect for you and your backyard… Is safe… And that will last a lifetime.

If you want to learn more about who we are and what we do… You can take a look at our Learning Center.

Have more questions or want to talk to someone? Our team of design experts will be happy to speak with you.

We can’t wait to help you create your dream outdoor kitchen!


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