How To Cook In A Tiny Kitchen?

outdoor kitchen
Cooking in our outdoor kitchen in Thailand in 2005

A tiny kitchen and minimal equipment, we know what we are talking about! But it is not all kitchen impossible and we always make things work.

 Our smallest kitchen ever was outdoors and had a 1-pit-gas-burner. It wasn’t so much the small space that was a challenge, but working without electricity needs organisation, creativity, and a lot of wok recipes!

Today we live in the heart of Shanghai and our apartment has a tiny kitchen that looks more like a corridor. Even so, we are happy to have 2 gas burners, a microwave and a real oven which is rare in Chinese households.

All the shared recipes on our website are made in this kitchen. We are living proof that it is possible to make delicious food in a tiny kitchen. We’ll give you some personal tips to make cooking in a tiny kitchen easier.

Use your organisation skills.

Keep it clean

Having mixed ingredients all over the the place in a tiny kitchen will only lead to frustration and confusion. Wipe your cutting board once you have chopped, cut or prepared an ingredient. Toss the cut offs in the bin and store your ingredients in stack-able containers in the fridge.

Re-use and rinse utensils

You might store more equipment than you think in your tiny kitchen, but it’s not necessary to pile up and display everything at the same time. Rinsing and reusing will save space and it’s a great way to avoid breakage. 

Create more preparation space

If you often work like us, with 2 in a tiny kitchen, having some extra space to get everything ready is always good. Place a cutting board over your sink if it’s not too big, make sure it’s stable and safe before you start chopping. Another genius way to create space is installing a fold down table. It’s easy to store when not needed and handy when you get busy.

Don’t overstock on food

It is unnecessary to have a big reserve of food as nowadays, it is easy to find fresh products, wherever you are and there are easy ways to store food correctly. Dry products or other staples can be bought during weekly shopping trips. Stick a ‘to buy’ list on your fridge and note what is needed for next time!

our tiny kitchen
Our Shanghai ‘corridor’ kitchen

Make clever storage space

Use space above cabinets

We are lucky to have cabinets that reach to the ceiling, so we don’t have a problem. I just need hubby by my side to grab things from the highest shelves. A small ladder will also do the trick but it’s not as cosy. If your cabinets are small with plenty of space above, organise some baskets to create more storage.

Install a magnetic knife bar

These magnetic bars are easy to install, your knives are always within reach. 

A pull-out pantry is smart

Pull out pantries are very useful when you have a small gap in the kitchen. We store the smallest containers of herbs and spices and we have enough space to store bottles of olive oil and vinegar.

Make 2 shelves from 1

Get some wired shelf risers to divide 1 shelf into 2. You will be grateful for the extra space you create. This is not a reason to buy more though!

Hide appliances

Keep counter tops free and uncluttered. Invest smartly and only buy only equipment that you really need. Check for appliances that have multiple uses and are easy to store. Don’t forget to clean and store directly after every use. Organise your drawers and cupboards well!

Magnetic storage 

This is another smart way to store ingredients are magnetic spice racks. These containers come in many styles and colours so you can make it look funky, chic or cosy…your choice.

Use teared cooler racks

These are handy if you bake a lot because they optimise vertical space. Choose racks with tight grids to prevent baked goods from falling through.

How to make a tiny kitchen look bigger?

Work with colours

White and light grey will make your kitchen look more spacious as they reflect light. Bright colours will lighten up the space and add to a fun and lively atmosphere.  

Use see-through elements

Having see-through cabinets or chairs will create an open feeling, and make your tiny kitchen feel bigger.

Add mirrors or reflective surfaces

Mirrors are not a usual material to decorate or use in a kitchen, but we all know it helps to make a room feel more spacious.  Reflective surfaces such as glossy cabinets, high-gloss paint, shiny floors or glass tiles will also help to make your kitchen feel bigger. We have a shiny stainless-steel backsplash, which is easy to clean and it looks pretty chic.

Choose a single sink

Opting for a single sink is fashionable and it will give more room to work with. They not only fit better in small spaces, but they are usually deeper which makes it easier for pot washing.  Use a dish drying rack that also functions to wash and drain vegetables. 

Integrated appliances

Mixing and matching designs can be a pleasure for the eye, but it can be tricky to do this with appliances in a small room. Integrating your appliances is a great way to give your kitchen a sleek look. Check this out if you need details about small appliances that fit tiny kitchens.


Make it a must to keep workspace clear and store as much as possible. One of our personal rules is that we need to create storage space before we buy new gadgets or utensils. It’s harsh at times but this ‘small kitchen rule’ helps us also to avoid impulsive shopping.


Installing a perfect small kitchen, following all the above tips, will depend on the exact size of the room and your available budget. 

Make a plan and decide on a few of the tips outlined to help you create a functional kitchen. Keep personal touches small because a minimalist look also helps to make a space feel larger.

Make the most of your kitchen and you will enjoy spending time creating lifelong culinary memories! 


  1. We will be trying this soon! Anything with bbq sauce, especially if it’s made on the barbeque, my husband loves!

  2. The smallest kitchen I ever had was a woodstove sitting in our ‘yard’ with nothing around or over it. That was a real challenge! We always had small kitchens when I was growing up, and even though I have a much larger kitchen now, I do miss how much easier it was to keep a small kitchen tidy. Love tiered baking racks!

    1. I also like our small kitchen, makes you more creative to use space well.

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