Small-Space Kitchens

8 Things Smart, Friendly Cooks Do in Small Kitchens

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Want to be a good friend and have someone over for dinner — but dread trying to cook for more than you and your cat in a tiny kitchen? Don’t be scared! Teeny-tiny kitchens are cozy, friendly, and can do anything a larger kitchen can do!

Just in case you need a little refresher, though, here are a few ways smart cooks handle cooking for more than one or two in a really small space.

1. Clear counter space for yourself.

Counter cleanliness is key right now. It lets you do what you need to do, put out apps, or lets guests pour their own drinks with more than enough elbowroom. Clear out any clutter and put it in another room. (You know the room — the one that’s off-limits to guests.)

2. Make as much as you can before the party.

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said a million times. Even if your kitchen is enormous, do as much as possible ahead of time. This way, you’ll be able to wash and put away all your prep dishes. Plus, it allows you to actually hang out with your guests too.

3. Choose your menu wisely.

Smaller kitchens tend to have smaller appliances, so you need to be extra cautious about overcommitting. Plan a mixture of both hot and cold foods — foods that can be served at room temperature, and things that get cooked in the oven and the stovetop. Ideally, this will spread out things that need to go in the fridge or the oven. Also, don’t be afraid to let guests bring something like an appetizer or a dessert — most people love to feel helpful!

4. Have that menu include some store-bought stuff.

You do not have to make everything from scratch. You need hummus for your world-famous crostinis? Buy it. No one has to know the difference. This will save you time and it will also be one less thing you have to make in your small kitchen.

5. Get creative with space.

Once you’ve prepped and you’re ready to serve the food, transition the kitchen into more of a presentation space. Fill the sink with ice and place wine and beer inside and use the kitchen counters to serve appetizers.

6. Don’t be afraid to kick people out of the kitchen.

People love to be in the kitchen. No matter the occasion, they flock to the kitchen to hang out. Be firm but polite when asking them to move into the living room if you’re still in the midst of cooking. You have such limited space in a small kitchen that not only can people be in your way, but it could also be dangerous.

What helps? Having someone who helps usher people into the living room. Or consider setting up the bar in another room.

7. Add extra seating in the living room.

When the living room is an open and inviting area with plenty of places for guests to sit, they will gravitate to it instead of crowding in the kitchen. By setting up some extra chairs, guests will get the hint as to where you want them to be.

8. Use the bathtub.

You read that correctly. When you have a small kitchen, the bathtub is basically a large sink. That’s where dirty dishes go for now.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for entertaining in a small kitchen? Let us know in the comments.