5 Meals You Can Cook in a Small Kitchen Without Too Much Gear

updated May 2, 2019
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We recently received a request from a reader working in a temporary rental kitchen, who realized that recipes that had a lot of “parts,” like lasagna, weren’t easily doable in her new, tiny space. Frankly, I couldn’t agree more! It’s really hard to make a multi-step recipe on a little patch of countertop.

But it’s not impossible to adapt your cooking methods and become a more efficient, small space pro. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned from my eight years living in small apartments, and five go-to meals perfectly suited to small kitchens.

Let’s face it: the biggest pain in a small kitchen is lack of countertop space. Unless you’ve got some sort of Martha Stewart situation with multiple sinks and a double convection oven, countertops are the primary difference, right?

There’s no doubt that in small kitchens, some things are just easier to cook. (One pot dishes, slow cooker recipes, soups — I’m looking at you!) What becomes tricky are dishes that require assembly in many parts or recipes that dirty every single pot, pan, and bowl you have.

Want to make your teeny rental kitchen a little bit better? Check out our tips here: 10 Ways To Be Less Frustrated With Your Rental Kitchen

5 Great Meals for Small Kitchens

Here are a few of my low maintenance go-to recipes that are good for a small space, low-key, and require minimal pieces of equipment or special utensils.

  1. Roast Chicken. With a zillion delicious variations, it’s typically a one-pan situation that can easily be paired with lightly dressed greens. One of my favorites is Deb Perelman’s ever impressive Harvest Roast Chicken with Olives, Grapes, and Rosemary. You can also find a basic tutorial for making easy roast chicken here.
  2. Shakshuka. You literally eat this egg dish out of the frying pan! Try this classic recipe from Saveur or our own Green Shakshuka.
  3. Risotto. It might seem complicated, but risotto is one of the easiest things to make. Its main requirements: time and patience. Plus, at most it requires two pots: one to cook in and one to warm broth. Learn the basics of making risotto here.
  4. A really gorgeous salad, like panzanella.
  5. Curries or stir-fry. Aside from the prep of chopping vegetables, a good Thai curry or stir fry is an easy way to stick to one pot, plus a low maintenance pot of rice on the side. I’ve long been meaning to try this Thai Green Coconut Curry.

There are so many great recipes that are very low maintenance in terms of amount of dishes and moving parts. Steamed mussels, for instance, are easy-peasy and can be served with a hunk of crusty French bread!

In the end, it’s sometimes hard to rein in the scope of cooking in a small kitchen, but it’s still possible to prepare something beautiful, satisfying, and even impressive. Plus, just think — if you learn to adapt your cooking to a small space, you’re going to be super efficient when you get into a large space!

What are your favorite low-fuss, low-equipment meals to make in a small kitchen?

It’s Reader Request Week at The Kitchn!
This post was requested by Juliejulezzzzz.