Everyone Wants an Outdoor Kitchen But Are They Worth the Cost? "They Have Long-Term Value," Say Experts

While the popularity of outdoor kitchens has gone up, the set-up and maintenance costs are worth considering. Experts tell us if the spend is truly worth it

An outdoor kitchen and seating area under a canopy
(Image credit: Jenifer McNeil Baker. Design: Maestri Studio)

Who doesn't love the idea of an outdoor kitchen? The space allows you to enjoy your garden and backyard more, and during the summer months, becomes a spot for the family to congregate at. We know that an outdoor kitchen is not a small investment though and you might be wondering — is it a good investment?

To answer this question, we reached out to several experts for advice. Here's everything to know about an outdoor kitchen's cost, upkeep, and aesthetic contribution to a home.

Are outdoor kitchens worth it?

An outdoor set up with a kitchen and seating by the pool

(Image credit: Jenifer McNeil Baker. Design: Maestri Studio)

Experts say a definitive yes. And there are several reasons why. An outdoor kitchen can be as elaborate or small as you wish. People with larger properties may want to invest in a garden bar and kitchen, and ones with smaller backyards might simply want an outdoor bbq. Overall, the possibility of a second "kitchen" in the outdoors adds functionality to this space.

'An outdoor kitchen absolutely adds value to a home, especially in climates that can enjoy the outdoors for 9+ months a year,' says Texas-based designer Shelagh Conway, principal and founder of Triple Heart Design. 'Extending your kitchen and dining area outdoors is very desirable as we crave a connection with nature.'

'An outdoor kitchen can create an additional living and gathering area for your home,' says Amanda Wiss, founder of NYC-based home staging company Urban Staging and home organizing company Urban Clarity. 'If you need a change of scenery, or are just looking to enjoy your outdoor space more, an outdoor kitchen can keep you outside more days of the year, and can keep whoever’s cooking involved in your gathering and conversation.'

'Relaxing outdoor kitchens keep it simple,' says Amanda. 'A sink, some countertop, and a grill are the basics, and often are enough. You can add a mini fridge to really keep everything self-contained, but you want to be able to cook hassle-free to better enjoy your outdoor seating space.'

How much does it cost to set up an outdoor kitchen?

An outdoor space with a dining and a bbq

(Image credit: Life Created. Design: Living with Lolo)

Largely, the cost depends on the materials selected, size, and appliances to go with the outdoor kitchen. Plus, if you want to create a seating area around it then you need to take the outdoor furniture costs too into account. Roughly, just the installation may cost between $5,060 and $17,280, with most homeowners averaging at $13,180. 'Material choices are key in determining cost,' says Shelgah. 'Look for elements that can withstand the harsh changes year over year to minimize the expense of upkeep.'

'You need to keep the yearly cost of upkeep also in mind,' says Lauren Lerner, CEO and founder of Living with Lolo. 'This can vary depending on factors such as its size, materials, and features. Some ongoing expenses may include cleaning, maintenance of appliances, repairs, and possibly seasonal maintenance like covering or protecting it during harsh weather conditions.'

A more cost-effective idea could be to perhaps choose a mini outdoor kitchen (which is less than 10 linear feet). This would typically includes a grill or a built in outdoor grill, some storage, and a small countertop. For those looking fora more lavish set up can go in for a medium-sized kitchen (which is about 16 linear feet) that has certain extras, such as more storage and countertop space and maybe even a small seating area.

Does an outdoor kitchen boost resale value?

An outdoor kitchen and seating area under a canopy

(Image credit: Jenifer McNeil Baker. Design: Maestri Studio)

A fully functioning kitchen in the backyard can add to the home's curb appeal and also be of interest to buyers.

'Kitchens of any kind add value to your home, but especially an outdoor kitchen,' says Amanda. 'These make your home much more than just what’s within its walls. Potential buyers will see an entirely new space to inhabit, and increasing livable square footage is always a great thing.'

'Outdoor kitchens are especially useful in regions where indoor/outdoor living spaces are popular,' says Lauren. 'They can enhance the overall appeal and functionality of the property, making it more attractive to potential buyers who appreciate outdoor entertaining and cooking spaces.'

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Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.