Tiny House Kitchen Ideas; The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

If you're looking for tiny house kitchen ideas, you've come to the right place.

I've lived in several tiny homes, ranging from ADU's to schoolies (converted school buses). Plus, as the organizer of TinyFest, a tiny home festival, I have seen hundreds of tiny homes in person, and met thousands of people who live in tiny homes.

When it comes to a tiny house, the kitchen can make or break your experience. But don’t go installing a regular kitchen and making it “smaller” just because you want a tiny house kitchen. 

Here are some tips when designing your ideal tiny house kitchen. These are truly the best tips I have. I’ve used them all myself in my own tiny house endeavors and they really work! Learn about the biggest mistakes people make when building their tiny house kitchen, and get proven solutions for common beginner blunders.

Questions to ask yourself while designing your Tiny House Kitchen 

No matter if you’re building from scratch, remodeling, or just trying to figure out how to get the most efficient kitchen in your small space, when considering putting together your tiny home kitchen, there are a few important questions to ask yourself. 

What is important to you? 

Different people have different needs. That's why you need lots of tiny house kitchen ideas! If you’re moving a family into a tiny home, your kitchen is going to look a lot different than if you’re living alone or if it’s just you and your significant other.

Here’s the process I went through with my kitchen when I first started living in a tiny home.

The first tiny house I bought, I had for four and a half years. Using that small space really showed me what I wanted to do when I built my own tiny home.

So, it's a fun idea to try to experience some kind of tiny living, whether that means renting a van or a tiny house for a few days, and see how that works. You can really often see what you would change about it. It's hard going from a full kitchen to a smaller one not having something comparable to reference. 

The types of meals you cook (lots of casseroles? Sautés? Bread? Canning?)

I think the major thing about designing your tiny home kitchen is taking into account that you can't have everything in a small space. You can't have a big kitchen, a big bedroom, a big storage area, and a big bathroom. You have to give and take. So, deciding how important it is to dedicate space to the kitchen and your cooking style is definitely a good start. 

From my experience in my first tiny home, I know that I don't bake. I don't have an oven, and I really don't miss it. I don't have a microwave, and I don't miss it because of the style of food I eat. I don't eat frozen prepared meals, so I don't need that microwave. In my apartment, probably the thing that I did the most was throw a frozen pizza in the oven, and I don't do that either anymore.

I recognized I wanted a little more counter space for my small space. I didn't need more burners. That gave me a starting point. In general, it's all individual. So, I do enjoy the counter space to be able to chop up all the veggies and different ingredients into the dishes I make, and a two-burner stove works pretty well for me.

How many are you cooking for?

I live alone, so I only cook for myself. However, if you are cooking for more, you can still do it on a two-burner stove. It’s when you have different dishes going that you need more burners. So whether I'm making an egg scramble for one person or for four, it's in one pan. As far as that goes, adding people doesn't necessarily mean you need more burners. If your style is to do a lot of different cooked dishes at once, you might need more burners.

Where's the energy going to come from? Nomadic or parked? 

Depending on if you're nomadic or packed is going to greatly influence which tiny house kitchen ideas you go with.

If you are planning to be in a tiny house that is going to be parked somewhere for quite a while, then having electricity is not an issue. You can have an oven, a stove, and a big fridge because you can just run everything through electricity.

If you're nomadic, you really need to think about the draw that an electric oven would have, or what type of oven you can get, like one that's run by propane rather than run by electricity. 

What about outdoor tiny house kitchen ideas?

Even in warmer environments, people keep their kitchens indoors; having an outdoor kitchen means that you would have to double it up when it’s not being used, and that’s a total waste of space.

Tiny House Kitchen Appliances Do’s and Don'ts

What are the best appliance ideas for tiny house kitchens? How can you determine what will work in your specific kitchen space? After researching this topic and testing a variety of appliances, I’ve discovered a few small devices that perform very well in small areas.

Refrigerator

Again, this is a big difference between the nomadic and parked. If it's someone that is in a tiny home on wheels, that's parked and plugged in, I'll often see what I would think is like a three-quarter sized fridge or a full-sized stand refrigerator that pulls electricity.

As for nomadic, I see a lot of under-counter or chest-style refrigerators, the kind of cooler style that pop the top open. I also frequently see those on a slider; you slide it out and open it up. I see that frequently. 

Dometic is a very popular option I see people using. They have both under-counter style and stand-up refrigerators. Energy-efficient, 12-volt refrigerators can get expensive pretty fast. I see many people get the chest style or cooler style fridge for that reason.

Here are some tiny house kitchen ideas for refrigerators:

I don't see a lot of propane refrigerators in the full-time nomadic community anymore. Usually, in that case, the fridge could be switched between electric and propane. I think that it was a big thing in RVs, at least for a while. 

Folks that are traveling around in their van or their house or whatever generally use solar. Most of them are going for that totally off-grid capability. So they don't need to be switching back and forth from electric to propane. They get the solar power that runs the 12-volt fridge on its own.

On the other hand, folks that live in a tiny house on wheels that is parked and plugged in can have a standard refrigerator because those tiny houses are not designed to be driven up and down the road. 

Do you really need a dishwasher in a tiny home?

When people are looking for tiny house kitchen ideas you often see stock photos with dishwashers in them.

However, dishwashers are not really common in tiny houses. It seems quite a luxury if a tiny house has a dishwasher or a washer and dryer. As you’ll see later in the article, I generally recommend keeping dishes to a minimum. Having fewer dishes means you wash them right away and don’t need a dishwasher.

Do you really need a microwave in a tiny home?

Obviously, energy usage is a con since they're so energy-intensive. I don't really see anything that a microwave does that a stove can't do. You can heat leftovers on a stove or steam vegetables on a stove. The thing that I used to use the microwave for the most when I lived where I had one, was warming up my coffee because I left my coffee cup too long.

Therefore, I believe that microwaves are quite wasteful and unnecessary. This is another case of searching google for tiny house kitchen ideas and seeing stock photos with microwaves in them. Yet in real life, very few people actually have one.

The best compact coffee makers for tiny homes

I see mostly pour-overs and French press when it comes to compact coffee makers.  I also see a big crossover between the coffee culture and the tiny house community. Since quality and taste are essential, pour-overs and French presses are pretty popular. K-cups are the least popular because they waste both electricity and plastic.

Cooktop Burner Options

I have a propane cooktop. I do see a lot of people that have an induction burner. One nice thing about that is they can put it in a drawer and then pull it out when you need to. I don't happen to have one. I think it's nice to get it off the countertop.

I have seen denatured alcohol burners a few times, but it's pretty rare.

On the other hand, I don’t see many people using butane, plus it’s no longer legal in California. When you're looking at tiny house kitchen ideas for burners, make sure to check the regulations around the fuel source.

Sinks

The really popular ones that come in handy are those you can turn into a workstation. They have pieces that roll over the top and a place to chop and rinse. So, you can turn that space into a countertop or multi-use.

We are big fans of multi-use tiny house kitchen ideas!

My favorite appliance

When people are asking me for tiny house kitchen ideas, they often wonder what my most used appliance is.

One of my favorite appliances is a special blender. I can drink out of its container so I minimize dishes. I don't take something out of the blender, pour it into my cup, wash the blender, and then wash the cup. Mine looks like a regular old kind of water bottle with a lid, you normally see people walking around with it, but it’s not the reusable plastic one. It’s like a tumbler. 

The more for nomadic living, the more you can get on 12 volts. You're more conscious of the water that you're wasting and electricity usage overall, even if you have access to it, I think it's more on your mind. 

That's my little one. That's where I can throw in some healthy greens, juice, and make myself a healthy shake. 

Air fryers and Brava ovens are also very common and trendy. 

Dishes For Your Tiny Home Kitchen

How many plates and utensils do you really need?

I find that people that are living nomadic and traveling have generally either just one set per person, or they have one set plus an extra.

For instance, if there are two people in a traveling rig, they would maybe have two plates, two bowls, or three and keep that extra one around just in case. 

The same goes for the silverware. You don't need a set of eight for two people. Even though I'm one person, I have probably three sets of silverware, or maybe four, just because they don't take up much space. You might use several of them for cooking.

Pots and pans storage solutions

I only have three pots and pans. One is a Dutch oven style. It’s a pot, but not huge or tall, and it has a built-in strainer. Then there are my two pans; a smaller and a bigger frying pan. That gets me everything that I need.

I don't really have any saucepans. I use my Dutch oven-style pot for soups and such.

I have pretty limited space, so I made sure that they nest nicely and fit inside each other, which most often pans do.

So, you've seen the pan stack up because you get bigger and smaller, but again, it's pretty minimal. Maybe two pans, two pots might be plenty. You definitely don't need to have the same size. If you only have a few burners, you're not going to need a bunch of pots and pans.

Tiny House Kitchen Ideas Takeaway

A tiny house kitchen is one of the most challenging spaces to design for a few reasons. That's why you need to collect lots of tiny house kitchen ideas before you make a decision! If you want to see some up close and in person, see if there's a TinyFest event near you.

You need to incorporate many elements into a small space, which can be tricky. Your design choices should consider the energy consumption of appliances, the size and number of dishes you use, and the amount of countertop space you have available. 

As you transition from excess to tiny living, there will be trial and error. The only way to find what truly works for you is to do some things that don’t work. But hopefully, this blog post has given you a good jumping-off point to make the best kitchen for your unique needs!

Article written by Renee

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