Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Equipping a Minimalist Kitchen

The kitchen is a prime target for clutter.  With companies inventing a gadget for every little thing, anything that can make cooking a little easier.  In the end we find our kitchens filled with gadgets, multi-function counter top appliances and it all adds up to a whole lot of clutter.  Some time ago I realized one thing about all these things in my kitchen: they don’t add up to better food on the plate.  It was in that realization that it became clear to me, what really mattered in cooking was the initial ingredients and technique, very little relied upon the tools.


With this realization I began to declutter my kitchen using my tried and true box method (read about how to do it here).  As I needed things, I would pull them out and after a few months I still had 80% of my kitchen things still left in the box.  During this time I brushed up on some of my knife techniques, read up on how professional chefs cook, and focused on simple.

A few things to keep in mind.  I have this setup for how and what I like to cook, I don’t like to bake much, I’m mainly stove top or grill.  I also am cooking for myself, maybe one other person.

In the end, I was able to whittle down to a basic set of tools in my kitchen all the while increasing the quality of my cooking/food.  So what does a minimalist kitchen have in it?  Glad you asked…

Two knives and one steel


I see this all the time, you walk into someone’s kitchen and there is a giant knife block that contains 10-15 knives.  If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t know what half them are for and we only use a few on a regular basis.  Most of your work will be done with your 8 inch chef knife, it’s the workhorse.  Next to that I have a 3 to 4 inch parring knife for smaller, more delicate tasks.  Finally a honing steel, this helps re-align your edge between sharpening because as you use a knife, the fine edge actually rolls over, creating a less sharp edge; using a honing steel quickly un-rolls that edge and gives you back your edge.

If you ask me, put your money here.  A check knife in the $100-$200 price range with a full tang and good steel is something that is worth spending money on.  A paring knife for $50-$100 and a honing steel for $25-$50.

Two rubber spatulas and two tongs


These two items are pretty much my go-tos when it comes to actually cooking on heat.  It keep two of each so that if I have to make things that can’t mix, I’m covered, or if I’m doing something with meat, to reduce risk of salmonella.  My tongs are a rigid silicone tipped, so they can be used on coated pans and on the grill.

One metal spatula


I use this for grilling or if I ever use cast iron. This is a heavy duty metal spatula that is rigid enough to scrape, but flexible enough to wiggle under a piece of meat.  I’d use this a lot more if I was a big fan of cast iron, it’s not my favorite, but if you cook a lot with cast iron, this will be a go to.

Break apart scissors


Sometimes scissors are the right too for the job, including cutting up chicken.  A solid pair of scissors that come apart so you can thoroughly clean the joint is very handy.  These can play double duty for a bottle opener.

Pot strainer (or colander)


I use this style of a pot strainer, its very small, compact and doesn’t take up a lot of space.  If I was more of a pasta guy, I’d upgrade to a colander, but this suits my needs.

Pots and pans


This is the pot set that I choose for my kitchen, it was the second place that I sunk most of my money into.  When you live a minimalist life, it makes sense to spend some real money on the few things you have.  For this set, I did my research and ignored prices, in the end this set cost me $600.  The large soup pot and the high side saute pan I use very rarely, but they are worth keeping on hand.  While I still keep these two, I don’t actually keep them in my kitchen of my tiny house, I keep them in my bulk storage area.  90% of what I cook is done in the small fry pan, the large fry pan or the medium sized pot.

Cutting Board


The last thing on my list is a cutting board, I prefer a butcher block style myself.

Your Turn!

  • What else would you add?
  • What is your favorite kitchen item?
  1. Citrus juicer – got to have fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice for cocktails!

    BUT … instead of a dedicated citrus juicer, I’d keep a wooden reamer and a small strainer. Keeps the setup from being for only one thing. I fry often – and I strain and reuse the oil.

  2. I would add a can opener, grater, measuring cups, whisk, potato masher, slotted plastic spoon, soup ladle, and vegetable peeler.

  3. Need a really good bread knife and at least one baking pan. If you have a cast iron frying pan or one with a metal handle it can be used for baking too.

    • Yes! A bread knife and pans for baking. I don’t have an oven (do have a toaster oven).

  4. If you get a decent baking pan/tray with a rack to fit you have something for roasts, lasagnes, etc. Something you can bake bread on and a cooling rack for bread, cakes etc.

  5. An instant-read digital thermometer is essential no matter what size your kitchen.

  6. As someone with disabilities, I need a few more tools. A one hand can opener and a one hand jar opener that screws onto the bottom of a shelf. I also use a Vitamix blender because smoothies and creamed veggie soups are easier for me to digest, and a food processor because pain in my hands sometimes makes it impossible to do grating and chopping manually. I also love having a good solid whisk, and a Caribbean hardwood mortar and pestle for crushing garlic, peppercorns, herbs and other things. I also do have a hand grater for the good days.

  7. I just have one rule for all my household items – each item must have more than one function (except the fire extinguisher). I like the idea of the cast iron skillet, can also be used to bake in (roasts or bread or pies) parchment paper helps in the cleaning to reduce water use. Pyrex glass pans can be used to bake in but not on stove top (direct heat) or broiler. Cast iron does give off iron so it is good for blood hemoglobin levels, but can get to be too much if acidic items are cooked. Stainless steal with metal handle will function the same but does not give off as much iron when cooking acidic items (like tomato sauce or apple pie).

  8. I enjoyed this post because I’m considering simplifying my kitchen. I love to cook. I cook 20 Paleo-ish meals a week for my growing family of 5 because of multiple food allergies/intolerance. You’re right that a lot of gadgets aren’t needed, especially when you consider that over-processing food is still processed food! I am going to use this list to purge now… but I will be keeping all the knives in my knife block. I use every single one of them frequently for different uses!

  9. Oh, and I have recently reduced my pots and pans too; I got rid off all non-stick and have a cast-iron skillet & dutch oven set, my large stock pot, and a small pot.

  10. Tabletop convection oven ( ilove my DENI), French press coffee/tea maker, nutri bullit, Pressure cooker.

  11. I love the pot/pan set. I have a giant set and I want to reduce. I thought I’d give my son the set I have now. Who makes your $600 set?

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