Must Have Gadgets for Cooking in a Small House

Half a Baking Sheet, Teeny Tiny Tongs and a Measuring Shot Glass



When we moved to Our Little House, we had all kinds of kitchen gadgets and tools. Some of them we never took out of boxes when we received them as wedding presents.

The truth is, unless you’re a gourmet cook – which I am not – like most things in our homes, we can get by with a few necessities.

I had already learned this when Our Little House was set up as a weekend/vacation lake home. I had very few things, but everything I needed to cook a good meal while we were here.

Since moving, I’ve found there are some gadgets and tools that are great for small spaces and for cooking for one or two people.

Here’s my list of 7 must-haves for the small kitchen:

Inside the Cookie Sheet Cabinet



1. Teeny Tongs: I found these tongs in a kitchen store, and they are at least half the size of the larger tongs. Dale still uses the larger ones for cooking on the grill, but these are great for turning things in the toaster oven, which brings me to my next item…

2. Toaster Oven: We no longer have a microwave. I’ve always read you should stand away from those things when you’re cooking in them, so I began questioning if, in a space as small as ours, we could get away from any possible dangerous waves. I also do not trust anything that can make a hot dog explode in under 2 minutes. I do, however, love my toaster oven. It saves us from heating up the entire kitchen when we want to warm up a small dish.

3.  A Half a Baking Sheet: Whoever invented these is brilliant! When I’m ready to throw out my old big baking sheet, I will not buy another big one. These are perfect for any household with two people and make storage easy in a small space.

4. Measuring Shot Glass: Another find in a kitchen store, this shot glass measures up to 3 tablespoons and eliminates the need for all of those little measuring spoons, which I plan to eliminate when I clean out our kitchen drawers.

5. Small Sauce Pan: I haven’t completely taken all of the non-stick cookware out of my kitchen yet, but when I do, I have two small Revere Ware saucepans. We rarely use a large saucepan for just two people.

6. Small Cast Iron Skillet: I do have larger skillets for frying chicken, but again, for two people, I use the small skillet much more.

7. Cookie Sheet Cabinet: If you’re building a small house, you want a cookie sheet cabinet. Ours is deep, which allows me to store our cookie sheets, cutting boards, food processor, mini choppers, toaster, waffle iron and mixer.  

What gadgets do you have that work in a tiny kitchen or are good for cooking for 1-2 people?

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61 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    Pampered chef makes this little mini-whisk that I use daily. It’s perfect for mixing a powder into a liquid, scrambling an egg, mixing up a small amount of batter, etc… and takes up almost no space in a drawer (and is super cheap). I’ve not seen one like it anywhere else. LOVE it.

    And I’d have to include a coffeepot as a must-have! I’m currently using a little vintage stovetop “moka pot”… it makes one perfect mug of strong coffee in about 2 minutes. (We got rid of our drip coffeemaker years ago– too much space and doesn’t make all that good of coffee!)

  2. sarah henry says:

    Give me a cutting board, a good knife, and a salad spinner and I’m happy. I have a tiny kitchen too, which I see as a blessing. People don’t use a lot of those gadgets. Never had a microwave or a toaster oven, though I use a toaster almost every day and agree that an immersion blender is a handy, and frequently used tool, for soups, smoothies, pestos etc.

  3. Claudia says:

    Hands down, my #1 must-have gadget is my Bamix immersion blender. I bought it in the 90s and then, as now, it was a spendy purchase. Mine came with a wet/dry mill (to grind coffee and spices, as well as grains to flours, plus chop nuts) and three blades. It only draws 140 watts, which is amazing, given how powerful it is. I use it to whip eggs whites, make hummus, puree soup in the pot, make smoothies with crushed ice, make mayo from scratch.

    I also love my pressure cooker, which cuts cooking time by two-thirds. That’s a big deal when it comes to preparing anything that’s traditionally time-consuming, like beans.

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, that blender does sound awesome. I will have to look into one of those! I’ve never had a pressure cooker although my husband’s step mother always cooked with one.

  4. Alisa Bowman says:

    This is brilliant. Most of our kitchen stuff we’ve inherited (like fine China). I don’t know what to do with it.

  5. Alfredo says:

    My must have in the kitchen is a good quality wok!

    • Kerri says:

      Alfredo, woks take up so much space, where do you store yours?

      • Alfredo says:

        Mine hang’s under a shelf. I tend to cook a lot of curries and stir frys. Mine is ceramic coated and I can make pancakes and eggs in it as well as soups. I reach for it more often than my stainless steel Farberware pots and pans.

  6. Merr says:

    We have a small kitchen. I’ve discovered a couple of other items I’d recommend: collapsable colander and collapsable measuring cups.

  7. Jane Boursaw says:

    We’re not big on the gadgets around here either. It’s amazing what you can get by on with a little ingenuity and old-fashioned common sense.

  8. Terry says:

    Three months ago my husband & I downsized from a 1200 sf casita to a 30ft travel trailer & now we’re downsizing from that into a horse trailer with 10ft living qtrs. Talk about learning what’s really necessary in life! My latest greatest kitchen find is a collapsible salad spinner, which also serves as a colander and a serving bowl. We’re vegetarian, so salads are a daily meal. Also, the wine opener=)

  9. Sheryl says:

    Great tips, as always. Half a cookie sheet? Never knew about those. And tongs…love mine, can’t get along without them. There are multiple uses for those!

  10. Donna Hull says:

    I love the idea of half a cookie sheet. Who knew? Stick blender is a must have for me. And, I like mini muffin tins for making smaller portions.

    • Kerri says:

      I’m definitely going to have to try a stick blender, it would be way more efficient for our small kitchen than the big one we have now.

  11. Ann Hyland says:

    My favorite tools: Vitamix Blender, MagicBullet, Citrus Juicer, good set knives, small cutting boards, stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, glass measuring shot glass, glass pyrex measuring cups, glass smoothie straws among other raw food gadgets. 🙂

  12. I’m not nearly as pared down as you – I’m still cooking for four – but no matter what size my kitchen is, I want my big, sturdy wooden spoons!

  13. My cast iron is a must too. I have five to feed so I have a larger one. My hand-held mixer is a favorite. I’ve never wanted one of the those huge standing mixers, they just seem to talk up too much room.

  14. +Rianh+ says:

    My daughter and I lived in a tiny caravan for two years, and the only kitchen gadget i had was a stick blender. I used it for blending soup in the same pot i had cooked the veggies in. Also for making smoothies. We have since moved to a larger house, but my kitchen remains minimal. We have four plates, four bowls, cutlery for same, one saucepan, one cast iron frying pan (also doubles as a baking pan as it has a cast iron handle), one oven tray and a mixing bowl. one good knife and a stone and a wooden spatula. I use the saucepan as a mixing bowl for fruit smoothies and pancake mix, as it is only a container when not being used to cook stuff.

    • Kerri says:

      That is a minimalist kitchen, Rianh! I commend you for being so productive with a small amount of stuff. My M.I.L. was telling me yesterday that she bought new dishes this week and only bought two of each thing, rather than a set. It’s just her and my f.i.l. and they live out of town with few guests, so that’s all they really (and most of us) need! I’ve thought of getting a stick blender, a handy gadget and small.

  15. Marlene says:

    I love all the tips . We have a small cabin and a big microwave it is coming home and toaster oven going to cabin.

    • Kerri says:

      Love my toaster oven, Marlene, I baked a piece of fish yesterday for lunch and warmed up the brussels sprouts and never had to heat up the kitchen!

  16. Peg Nichols says:

    I have to have one of those metal spiral thingys for making puddings or cream sauces, or heating tomato soup. Just leave it in the saucepan while cooking, swirl it around from time to time, and it keeps the ingredients evenly mixed and helps prevent scorching on the bottom.

  17. I cook for a family of 6 and often a friend or two of my children. Our drawers are pretty filled. Not sure what is a must have though there are certain things I love. Rather, I need advice about which spoons/ladles to get rid of. Just can’t part with them! Three ladles. Is that 2 too much? Maybe not, b/c we use them every day.

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, that’s a lot of cooking, Jennifer! I have way too many big spoons and ladles too, and was just thinking the other day that I need to get rid of a couple when I clean out my drawers. I would have 3 spoons as sometimes I have 3 pots going at once. But I only need one ladle. In your case, maybe five?

  18. Judy Taylor says:

    I have 6 and 12 muffin tins. The 6 muffin tin is perfect for my toaster oven. The 12 muffin tin is getting rcycled into my sewing studio to hold plastic cups for holding pens, pencils,felt tip pens, etc. Things I need to have handy when working on quilt designs. I was also fortunte enough to inherit 6 inch pie pans from my grandmother and they are ideal for my toaster oven. These are great because as a senior and a widow I don’t need to bake a 10 inch pie for one person. I stil have my microwave but its one of the small ones. Downsizing kitchen gadgets and pans does not mean sacrificing goodness.

    • Kerri says:

      No, you’re right, it doesn’t, Judy! Thanks for your post. After I made that list, I thought of my small muffin tin too. Especially now with the Muffin Tin Cookbook by Brette Sember, this is a great little gadget! I wonder if we can still find 6 inch pie tins?

  19. Vida says:

    Hi Kerri,

    More then gadgets I think about storage. Right now we are just finishing our kitchen, so it’s a topic that we have been dwelling upon lately. Storage not only means to be able to have space for stuff but it should also mean that everything is organized for easy access. It’s no use storing a great pasta maker at the back of a deep cabinet, it just ends up never being used. In our case, apart from creating storage areas not strictly in our very small kitchen, we freed up a ton of space when we put a series of rails on the wall and just hung our pots and pans from it. It looks good too! Everything is hung with the interior facing inwards so that any dust only collects on the exterior and can be easily wiped off before use. Plus we try to only have stuff that we use often so there is not time for dust to accumulate. In an ideal kitchen I would have closed shelving for every single pot and pan. But we are pleased with our non-ideal kitchen. I will send you photos one day of our storage solutions when we are done!

    • Kerri says:

      Ugh, what I wouldn’t do to be able to re-design all over again, Vida! It sounds like you have thought ahead. I would very much like to see photos when you’re done!

  20. Hi guys, trust your hand for small measurements. For most people what you can put in the palm of your hand is roughly a tsp. check it out and trust your senses.



    • Kerri says:

      I typically trust myself with a “pinch,” but if I want to follow a recipe closely, I need my little shot glass! 🙂 Thanks, Harry!

  21. Juli says:

    as far as cabinets, when we built our galley (we live on a boat) we had a 6 in gap between the oven and the fridge. I had my husband build a pull out pantry cabinet for canned goods. The shelves are standard 14.5oz can size -width (4.5 inches) and I can fit a ton of can goods and other small items like all my spices.

  22. mat says:

    Cookie sheet cabinet FTW!
    When we remodeled our kitchen, the 2 wall cabinets we bought (lightly used) were each 4′ long and we were left with a 6″ gap in between. I filled the space with a custom open cabinet made of a 1×6 and some luan. It stores our cutting boards, large pizza pan, and my wife’s cookie sheets. Never has so small a cabinet brought so much joy and utility to my kitchen.

    A few people have mentioned it so far, but absolutely, three good knives: 6-7″ santoku, 3″ pearer, and a bread knife are all you really need. Perhaps an additional santoku if two of you like to cook. I have a 4″ santoku for my son when his motor skills improve to the point where I don’t have to worry so much about his fingers.

    Color-coded plastic cutting boards.
    With them, I don’t worry about cross-contamination. Red is for most meats, blue is for chicken, and green and white are for veggies. And they’re recyclable!

    A medium-sized stainless steel mixing bowl.
    This was a recent edition and has become my go-to for mixing of eggs, flour, you name it. It’s so easy to clean and has a wide, flat lip that you can grab to hold the bowl. It’s wonderful….

    • Kerri says:

      The color coded cutting boards are a good idea to avoid contamination, I had never heard of that. However, I haven’t heard that plastic cutting boards are recyclable? We have these cutting “sheets” I’m in love with. Very thin sheet of plastic that takes up no more room in my cookie sheet cabinet than a piece of paper. I also love my mixing bowls. I still have a set of Pyrex that was given to us as either a shower or wedding present that I’ve seen in antique stores recently for over $60!

  23. Heather L. says:

    Measuring cups are a staple here because I measure as much of my food as I can in order to know how many Weight Watcher points it contains.

  24. I was about to say we couldn’t live without our corkscrew — but the truth is, we don’t buy that many wines with corks any longer. Love the tops you can twist open.

  25. I cook a lot and sell baked and canned goods at market. Toaster oven (we’re 2 people also), food processor, stand mixer, immersion blender, and pressure canner with regard to appliances. For actual tools, whisk, tongs, good knives.

  26. When we moved to our new house, it did not come with a microwave. It’s been almost two years now and I still haven’t bought one and I don’t miss it. It’s amazing what you can do without once you don’t have it and have to adjust. This house also didn’t have a functioning dishwasher, which I previously NEVER thought I could live without. But it turns out that washing dishes by hand for just two people is not that big a deal.

    We did just recently inherit some kitchen items from my husband’s mother, who moved to a condo in a retirement community and had to scale back on all her stuff. She gave me a brand new Vita-mix that she only used once and I love it! I have been experimenting with different smoothies and also love that it can chop an onion in about ten seconds without any tears! So- I have learned an appreciation for something new but also learned that I could do without appliances I previously thought I had to have.

    • Kerri says:

      We don’t have a dishwasher either, Kathleen, and I would never give up precious counter space for one. You’re right, handwashing dishes for 1-2 isn’t bad, especially with the views I have of the mountains outside of my kitchen window! 😉

    • Ginny says:

      When I moved into my tiny house, I traded in my microwave for a lamp. Best deal I ever made. :^)

  27. I have that shot glass measuring glass too and it is very handy and is faster than measuring tablespoon after tablespoon out in a spoon. I believe in good knives – if you have a couple good knives, you can do just about anything.

  28. Alexandra says:

    I prefer my toaster oven, too. I recommend one of those old glass orange squeezers. Also, we have raw carrots a lot. I make them now with a French gadget that is small, a mill with a handle. Takes less space and the carrots taste better.

    • Kerri says:

      We don’t drink a lot of juice around here due to Dale’s diabetes, but we always had one of those old glass orange squeezers before, good call. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the carrot gadget.