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Help! I Don’t Have a Kitchen!

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Yes, you read that right! One of the first things you may say when moving into a studio apartment or dorm is “Help! I don’t have a kitchen!”  Well, today you’ll learn how to cook with no kitchen in a tiny space!

cook with no kitchen microwave


If you are new to My Wee Abode, chances are you’re reading this post because you have recently moved into a studio apartment or dorm.

We all know that most (if not all) dorms are lacking at least one thing… a kitchen.

But did you know that in So Cal, many studio apartments are kitchen-less?

So, what’s a girl to do?

Well, if you are like a couple of my dear cooking-hating friends, you jump up and down and say, “Yes! Where’s the nearest Chick-fil-A???”

But, for many of us, this is an adventure that we’re not so sure we want to embark on.

How To Cook With No Kitchen

If you had told me five years ago that I would be moving into a studio apartment that did not include a full kitchen, I would have given you an incredulous smirk and said, “Yeah, riiiiight.”

But, here I was in 2016… (pardon the lousy basic phone pics)

cook with no kitchen empty apartment kitchenette

No joke… this kitchenette had cupboards (NICE cupboards, but I still to this day hate the color), a stainless steel sink, and some counter space (and part of it didn’t count because, what can you do with a sixteen inch space of counter?)

cook with no kitchen empty apartment kitchenette

Oh… and let’s not forget the dinosaur-of-a-convection-oven that weighed 100 pounds! (I purchased the fridge from the prior tenant.)

If you are looking for some odor neutralizing tips for your fridge, take a look at how to make your refrigerator smell fresh!

And here I am today!

cook with no kitchen empty apartment kitchenette
cook with no kitchen studio apartment kitchenette

Let me show you how I went from a blah, empty kitchenette with no stove or oven to what I consider a pretty-darn-cute, fully functional kitchen.

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How Can I Live in an Apartment with No Kitchen?

It’s actually not hard at all to live in an apartment (or any small space) and cook with no kitchen. And, it’s really kinda fun!

NOTE: Before using any of these items in a studio apartment or dorm, or any place that doesn’t have a built-in kitchen, be sure to get the approval of the landlord/owner/or person in charge.

The first thing you will want to do is maximize your storage.

There are several ways to do this:

  • If you don’t have upper cabinets (like MWA), I say add open shelving! It’s pretty, practical, affordable, and easy to install!
  • Add cabinet organizers to maximize your vertical space.
  • Add drawer organizers, as well. You want to squeeze out every inch of space you can.
  • Add furniture pieces that add storage and counter space. Like this one…
cook with no kitchen studio apartment kitchenette

Really think about adding a portable island or kitchen cart to your kitchen, whether it’s tiny or not-so-tiny. It’s affordable and adds both counter and cupboard space!

And, if you really do your research, you can find one that let’s you add some of your kitchen ‘pretties’…

island with cubbies and vintage pyrex

And, look for extras on a portable island, like a spice rack and towel holder.

island spice holder
cook with no kitchen portable island with towel holder

Can You Rent an Apartment Without a Stove or Oven?

Oh, yes… you can rent an apartment or tiny house without a stove or oven. Just ask me!

But, here are my solutions to cooking when you don’t have built-in appliances.

Use a Smart Oven in Place of a Built-in Oven

Although my apartment came with an old (but working) convection-microwave oven combination, I didn’t like the way it worked, and it was HUGE!

The Breville Mini Smart Oven (along with a nice microwave) has been the perfect, affordable option in My Wee Abode’s kitchen.

This mini smart oven toasts, bakes, broils, and roasts, and has several other nifty features. It also comes in different sizes!

mini smart oven
Pardon the parchment paper inside the door… the glare was very distracting.

The mini size oven is large enough to bake a personal size pizza and fits up to a 10.5-inch pan (and here’s how to reheat pizza in the oven, too). The baking and toasting abilities are excellent, but I have yet to use it to roast or broil (I’m sure I won’t be disappointed when I do). Still, it’s my fave appliance in the kitchen.

Throw in a Microwave for Good Measure

A microwave is also handy to have in a studio apartment kitchen, whether it’s for popping your favorite movie treat or simply warming up leftovers!

This General Electric Microwave is tiny, but sturdy (easily opens with one hand, and the microwave doesn’t budge.)

cook with no kitchen microwave

Stove-top Alternative

Counter top burners have come a long way, baby!

The Waring Counter Top Double Burner has not steered me wrong, except…

Though the double burner looks nicer, if I had to do it over again, I would buy two single burners (one won’t cut it for cooking). Any guesses why?

You cannot put a large skillet and another pan on the double burner at the same time… they don’t fit!

So, learn from my experience. Two single burners can be moved around to accommodate pan/pot sizes.

counter top burner with pot

So, those are my three main items, besides the refrigerator, that create a kitchen out of ‘nothing’.

But, let me share a few extras that help you feel like you have a kitchen, when you don’t.

How Do You Cook When You Don’t Have a Kitchen?

Again, it really is an adventure to live in an apartment with no kitchen. You just gotta think creatively…

Use an Instant-Pot

An Instant-Pot (aka electric pressure cooker) is a WONDERFUL electric item to use for cooking when you don’t have a kitchen.

Great for cooking meats, potatoes, eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, desserts (yes, desserts) and more, the Instant-Pot really has an endless amount of uses!

instant pot on counter

Add an Electric Skillet

Want to only buy one counter top burner? An electric skillet works for cooking meats, pancakes, veggies and more!

This ‘vintage’ Farberware skillet is no longer available, but if you buy a nice one, it will last forever!

cook with no kitchen electric skillet on counter
cook with no kitchen electric skillet on counter

Just a few more items to think about…

  • A small rice cooker is great for cooking, well rice, and steaming veggies
  • A good hand can-opener takes up less space than its counter-top sister and is a must.
  • A nice food processor not only grates cheese in 5 seconds, but it cuts butter into flour, slices veggies, and lots of other fun stuff.
  • Oh… and this one-cup coffee maker. You’re welcome…
one cup coffee maker with green cup on counter

And, yes, I have all these things stored in my little kitchen. How? That’s for another post!

Bonus Item

Even though you don’t cook with this item, an extra-high DIY cake plate works great to keep things off the counter, creating more space for your cooking appliances!

cake plate with cleaning items on top of counter

Now It’s Your Turn

So, now you know how to cook with no kitchen! What item(s) do you think you will be adding to your home?

Or, if you know some one that says, “Help! I don’t have a kitchen!” you know where to send them now! Hehe!

signature updated 2022

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  1. For my daughterโ€™s birthday, I bought her a special lid which turns her instant pot into an air fryer. She says it works great, and itโ€™s a healthier way to fry food.

    1. Oh my goodness, that’s amazing! I’m running to Amazon to look! So glad you shared, and I may update my post! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks, Kathy!

  2. I loved seeing how you cook in My Wee Abode! You definitely have made great use of every inch of space that you have. Using an electric skillet and having those burners plus your handy small oven make your kitchen fully functioning for making a meal. I used to use single burners in my science classroom and they always worked so well. My aunt uses a few of them for canning so that she can do the work on her deck and not heat up her house. Looking forward to part 2 of this post!

    1. Thanks, Paula! It really is pretty easy to cook a meal for company, and easily cook for myself, in my little kitchen!

    1. Yes… I think lots of people will appreciate these tips for living in a dorm, too, Danielle!

  3. What brilliant ideas! I love them…and it’s fun to learn from someone who has tried out the options and come up with solutions that work!

      1. Full of great ideas for those living in small spaces Julie and for my daughter and the small apartment she will be moving into in the fall.

    1. Thanks, Michelle… and I love my shelves, too. I would like to replace them with some thicker wood (still). Someday!

  4. Fantastic ideas! You’ve really put a lot of thought into maximizing your space. I think many of these ideas are also great when you are remodeling a kitchen and need to create a makeshift one in another room:)

  5. WOW Julie! That really IS impressive! And I’m a new devotee of the instant pot as well ๐Ÿ™‚ And I love your pedestal dish to create another tiered surface – brilliant!

    1. Thank you, Janet. I am very happy with my little kitchen. Now if I could just get my fridge to be level (the wheels don’t adjust).

      1. Loved your post to create a wee “kitchen” out of nothing. I enjoyed from over here in the Caribbean so feel satisfied knowing that you are reaching out into the world, lol. Hint for your fridge, simply push into stable position and whichever point is causing the rocking, is the point to chuck. Chuck with piece of clothespin or rolled up cardboard, depending on how big the space is. Sending love and kisses and a little sun!

  6. Fabulous ideas for cooking without a kitchen Julie. We needed to do something similar when we first moved to Germany and stayed in a tiny rental until our place was finished – it’s amazing how limitations get the creative juices flowing!

    1. True… you really do get creative when you have to… At least most of us do! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Did I tell you I have another blogging friend that lives in Germany? Marissa from squirrelsofafeather.com . She’s a hoot!

  7. LOVE this so much, Julie! I swear you are one of the most creative people ever. These organizational tips are all fantastic and I love how you’ve styled your shelves too. My sister will be moving into a workshop-barn before their main house is completed and she will need this so much. Pinning and sending it to her too, hugs, CoCo

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, CoCo… and I’m SO glad your sis might be able to use these tips! Thanks for sharing!

  8. You got me! LOL! I thought you had a fire in your kitchen! I love this post! So many great tips! My daughter is 17, so I will be thinking small rental spaces with her in no time! Plus these are great ideas for our basement kitchenette. I have a pizza oven and fridge down there for the kids…I love your decor! You really made the space so pretty and efficient! wink, wink! Seriously great job!

    1. Thanks, Gena… Yeah, no fire. Literally had to create a kitchen in my little place. Thank you for the virtual hugs with your kind words!

  9. Such brilliant ideas, Julie! You know, I’ve never really noticed the lack of counter space in your original kitchen because you’ve made such great use of your portable island! I was shocked to see the move-in photos! I’m super impressed with all the ways you’ve made your kitchen functional and oh-so-pretty. Great advice for wee-abode dwellers! Pinned! Big hugs, Crissy

    1. Thanks, Crissy. Yes, that portable island gives me quite a bit more surface and storage. PLUS, I do have my baker’s cabinet that has yet to be painted and seen on the blog… it gives me LOTS more storage and another surface, too! Maybe I can get it done next weekend! Big hugs back!

  10. Julie, iโ€™m So impressed with your ingenuity and resourcefulness. Iโ€™ve been blessed to have big kitchens with all the needed appliances. But you have made it clear that small size kitchens can do big size tasks. Thank you for sharing how you did this.

    1. Thanks, Carol! Yeah, I can’t imagine you in a tiny kitchen, but I bet you would make the best of it if you had to!

  11. You have made an AWESOME kitchen for yourself. The only thing I would be wary of is how is the wiring in your kitchen. When we built this house, I had 3 circuits put into the kitchen as even 30 years ago, we used so many little appliances, some all at once! When I moved to Maine, this house had no incoming running wate (pipes had frozen after his mother died)r and no phone. The kitchen was composed of a gas stove with no gas, so I had a 2 burner hot plate, a toaster oven ( and finally, my microwave). We had rice pilaf (which my late ex loved) so often that my kids caled it “rice yuck-off” and finally “rice puke-off.” A 3 burner meal on a 2 burner hot plate was so hard! We lived like that for a year till they moved the house across the street onto it’s new foundation with an addition. IF I’d known it would take him a year to get the paperwork for a pre-approved mortgage done, I would have agitated to get the avocado gas stove hooked up! I have an armoire where I keep a lot of my small appliances; works for me!

    1. Thanks, Kathy… for the kind words and the warning! I only use two appliances at a time, at the most. I’ve not tripped a breaker… yet! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Too funny about your rice pilaf! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. I just love how functional and cute your kitchen is, Julie. And, it makes me realize, actually, how unnecessary some of the items in a bigger kitchen really are! Reminds me of a European kitchen! Practical and adorable. Hugs!

    1. Oh, my friend in Germany just showed that they have to create their own kitchen in their new home! Crazy! But so fun!

  13. I love this, Julie! You are so clever! Your kitchen is both beautiful and functional. I am going to share this with my daughter, who is getting ready for dorm life. This post is full of great ideas and inspiration! Pinned!!

  14. JULIE. You’re amazing! What a marvelous kitchen you’ve created from a tiny scrap of space! So many good ideas here. And like everything you do, it all LOOKS awesome as well as being functional!

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

    1. You made my day, Richella… thank you for the kinds words. Truly! Hugs, and thanks for the feature!

  15. I havenโ€™t even finished reading your post but I had to comment that I have the same mixing bowls. The blue with white pilgrims or something on them. I also have some of the set of casserole dish on the shelf above. I think I have two salad plates and a covered serving bowl. I love them. Also…I love how youโ€™ve made the kitchen work.

    1. Oh, I LOVE my vintage Pyrex. Did you know the print is called “Butterprint”? It is very rare, and when I do find it, it’s pricey. I got the Cinderella bowls for a steal when I went to Florida a few years back, and carried them home on the plane. I also have the three casserole bowls with the lids that I inherited from my mom when she moved into assisted living. Thanks for dropping in! Hugs and hearts!

  16. Wow, Julie! I’m so impressed with what you have accomplished in your kitchen! This post made me chuckle because every summer my grandmother moves to her tiny cabin and she has about the same space as you! She has collected all the appliances you mentioned, except she still has a crock pot instead of an Instant Pot. I will have to get her the Instant Pot. I love your vintage Faberware skillet! It’s beautiful! And…your vintage Pyrex is drool worthy! I accidentally broke 2 of mine (same pattern) last week. They just slipped from my hand when I was rearranging my cupbord! Now I have 2 lids and no bowls. Boo Hoo! Anyways, I really enjoyed reading this clever post! I’m convinced now that you are the expert at creating space! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh no! You broke TWO pieces?! I hope your heart is mending! LOL! That would be really hard for me (silly, I know… but that print is SO expensive!) At least you still have the lids! Those are REALLY hard to find! I actually have a Crock Pot, too… just forgot to feature it! LOL! (and a rice/veggie steamer)

  17. Hi Julie. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but how you did this AND did it without having everything look so cluttered is nothing short of amazing. What an inspirational post!!

    1. Thanks, Leanna! Yep… It was a challenge when I decided to rent MWA, but it was a fun challenge!

  18. Julie, your little kitchen is adorable. You are very creative. I’m pinning this.

    My husband and I are considering a little house, and we are putting our thoughts and ideas together about how we would design and decorate it. We’ve come up with some cute ideas but seeing how you have worked out a small kitchen is very helpful. Thanks!

    I just discovered you while at Carol’s of Bluesky At Home and saw the Tuesday Turn About Link Party.

    1. Oh, Lea, I’m so glad you found My Wee Abode! I hope I see you here often, and hope you find some tips and tricks to help if you do, indeed, move! Small living is actually quite fun!

  19. Did you remove all the electric outlets over the countertop? I don’t see them in “after”. Nice ideas for organizing a small kitchen, although the article was living WITHOUT a kitchen. Most would agree that a designated area with cabinets, counter, microwave, sink and near full-size refrigerator = kitchen.

    1. LOL! You caught me, Kari… yes, I edited the outlets out of the “after” pictures… I usually edit them out of all my pics, simply because I have SO many, and they aren’t very ‘pretty’. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I guess I was more trying to show how to create a kitchen, when you don’t have one. When I moved in, I really had nothing more than a sink and cabinets… that’s not any more than you would have in a nice laundry room. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, I was trying more to show how to create an area for prep, cooking, etc. And even how to expand the space, and use it most efficiently. I’ll take a look at my post again, and see if I may need to tweak it a bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for sharing!

      1. Lol makes sense! Having too many outlets is a nice problem to have, though! ๐Ÿ˜Š We are about to tackle our guest house (600 sf), and I am weighing counter space vs appliances! With no stove and a small under counter fridge, I would gain nearly 5 feet of counter space. But reducing appliances maybe isn’t the best way to do that… I’m also thinking of an RV stove that has a metal or wood “cover” that doubles as counter space. Or maybe a portable induction burner that stores under the sink… Tiny abodes for sure require planning and trade-offs!

        1. Sounds like great ideas, Kari! My induction burner can store under the sink or even in a closet. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s worked great for me!

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