Cooking in a tiny house (1)

A lot of potential tiny house owners have concerns about cooking in a tiny kitchen. I'm often asked what it's like to cook in a tiny house, so I thought I'd give you an insight into what it's like to whip up a meal in my tiny house.

You might be surprised to hear that there aren't actually many differences between cooking in my kitchen and cooking in anyone else's kitchen. Yes, mine is small, but it does just what I need it to do and I've had many a delicious meal in the two years that I've been living tiny! That said, there are a few things to take into account.

I Have No Microwave

I decided to go without a microwave in my kitchen, which means I have to heat up any pre-prepared meals or leftovers on the stove or in the oven. This takes more time and is slightly less convenient but the food ends up tasting better, so it's not an issue at all.

tiny house kitchen

photo by Oliver Parini

Of course, you could choose to have a microwave in your tiny kitchen if you felt you couldn't live without one, but I didn't see the point in using up more space on an item that does the same job as another item.

I Don't Have a Toaster Oven

Another “luxury” I've given up in the name of space is a toaster oven. This means I can't just set and forget my toast. Instead, I use the broiler in the oven. Again, this makes things slightly less convenient but the trade-off is definitely worth it.

Toaster ovens and other appliances that heat with resistance use a huge amount of electricity. By skipping this appliance and others like it, my house could easily be converted to be off-grid without requiring a huge solar array or battery bank.

My Fridge is Small

Since space is at a premium in my house, I decided to go with a small fridge. This means I can't keep as many fresh ingredients on hand as I could if I had a bigger fridge, so I find myself going to the store more often. I also can't store huge containers of leftovers, so I have to cook slightly more often that I might if I had a bigger kitchen.


photo by Rikki Snyder

If I could make one change to my kitchen, I'd probably fit in a bigger fridge. When I designed the house, I was so concerned with having enough storage space (in the kitchen and elsewhere) that I added a lot of kitchen cabinets. Looking back, I actually have a couple of kitchen cabinets that aren't even full.

The space above my refrigerator is currently taken up with slide out shelves- it is my pantry. If I could do it again, I'd find a tall, skinny fridge to take up the whole space, and keep my pantry goods elsewhere.

There's Less Ventilation

Ventilation is extremely important and it's something I talk about in Tiny House Decisions. This means I have to be religious about running the vent fan when I'm cooking.

If my ventilation were weak, the house and everything in it would stink, steam and carbon monoxide would get trapped, and the moisture levels would get pretty high.

That's why I strongly recommend installing a range hood in your tiny house. They are inexpensive (mine cost under $100), and they do an excellent job of venting out the cooking gasses that are produced whenever you heat something up. Additionally, since my range hood is close to the bathroom, I use it as a bathroom fan to vent the steam out of the tiny house after I've showered.

broan range hood

Once you get into the habit of using the fan, this isn't a biggie at all. I also have a counter-current air exchanger in my tiny house which is able to provide me with fresh air in the winter without making the house super cold. I talk all about the importance of these types of ventilation systems in my comprehensive resource, Tiny House Decisions.



Think Before You Build

It's important to think carefully about what you need your kitchen to do and be before you start building it. You must be very honest with yourself about what you really need and what you can live without. Remember that almost every decision you make comes with a trade-off.

Here are a few things you might want to consider:

  • What source of power will you use?
  • How much cupboard space will you need?
  • How much food will you want to store at any given time?
  • How could you make the most of the space available?
  • Where should your ventilation be located?
  • Do you really need a freezer, microwave, or dishwasher?
  • What types of food do you eat most and how is it stored?

There's no need for your mealtimes to change dramatically just because you're moving into a tiny house. You simply need to think about your needs before you get too far into your journey.

What else would you like to know about cooking in a tiny house?

cooking in a tiny house (2)