10 Ways To Make Cooking A Holiday Feast Easier In A Tiny Kitchen

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

The art of cooking in a tiny kitchen is a feat that can take years to master. Each tiny kitchen has its unique quirks and challenges. But with time, preparation, and perseverance, great meals can come out of these very small spaces. While cooking a typical meal in a small space is easy enough, preparing a holiday feast in a tiny kitchen is a much larger challenge, and requires lots of planning and tricks to pull off without any issues.

When preparing a holiday feast in your tiny kitchen, allow others who offer help bring a side dish or dessert. Do prep work the day before, so can spend the big day focusing on what needs finishing. Don’t be afraid to buy desserts and bread at a bakery instead of making them at home. Consolidate your menu, and understand the limitations of your tiny kitchen.

Cooking a giant holiday spread for family or friends is not an easy task when you are working in a small kitchen. But just because it isn’t easy, it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. The key is preparation, planning thoroughly, and not being afraid of accepting help when others offer it. Below are some the top tips to help you prepare a delicious and stress-free holiday feast in a small kitchen.

10 Ways To Make Cooking In A Tiny Kitchen Easy This Holiday

1. Allow Those Who Offer To Bring A Side Dish Or Dessert

As the host of a holiday gathering, you might feel a personal obligation to prepare all the food yourself. But if you have a tiny kitchen and someone has offered to bring a prepared dish, you should probably let them.

Allowing a loved one to bring a side dish will probably make them happy, and it will decrease the amount of time you need to spend in the kitchen. Make sure you kindly ask the guest to bring the item hot if it is a hot dish, or cold if it is a cold dish. This will prevent you from having to spend much time getting it to its ideal temperature in your small oven or packed refrigerator.

2. Don’t Create A Complicated Menu

Everyone likes to show off their culinary skills, especially if you have some. But don’t allow your wild imagination to take control of your menu. The key to creating a successful holiday feast in a tiny kitchen is preparing a menu you know you can execute.

Don’t make any dishes that are wildly complicated and require tons of counter space for vast periods. Sure, homemade pasta tastes amazing, but if you need to use the entire counter to prepare it, consider going in a different direction.

3. Do All The Prep Work The Day Before

Remember that when you make a giant meal for a large group, you can do most of the work a day or two in advance. Just like in many kitchens around the world, much of the long and painstaking prep work, like cleaning, chopping and even pre-cooking, is all done in advance.

When you do all the chopping and prep work at least a day before, it helps for a few reasons. For one, it means you aren’t creating piles of dishes (that you will have to keep washing in your small kitchen), but it also means you can focus the final day on bringing together all the dishes. This means much less stress, and minimal fighting over counter space.

4. Cook Dishes In Advance

In addition to prep cooking, there are also entire dishes you can essentially finish a day or two in advance. Some pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese and lasagna, for example, taste just as good or even better the second day.

Many desserts can be prepared well in advance. Some cookies taste just as good after they are frozen, so make sure you get those cookies baked well in advance, so you aren’t worrying about that on the day of your feast.

5. Use A Grill Or Crock Pot To Keep Dishes Warm

One of the biggest challenges to cooking a large holiday spread in a small kitchen is keeping everything warm. If you have a lot of different side dishes and finger foods on the menu, then it is hard to keep them all at the ideal temperature. But there are many ways to keep holiday food warm.

If you have a grill, you can use it to warm some items that don’t fit in the oven. Just be sure to use aluminum trays and not breakable glassware. You can also heat items like sauces in a crock pot. If you have a camp stove, use that as well.

6. Consolidate Your Menu Offerings

Just as you should not create a menu that requires all sorts of fancy prep work and ample counter space, you should also keep the menu fairly short. Focus on quality and not quantity. It is possible to have variety without spreading yourself thin.

Make sure you can execute each dish, and also make sure you can fit all of the food you are preparing under one roof. Taking the less-is-more approach will reduce a lot of stress out of your holiday cooking plans, and will help ensure everything you do end up preparing is cooked to perfect.

7. Know The Limitations Of Your Kitchen

Another important tip when planning to cook a holiday feast in your tiny kitchen is to understand and acknowledge the specific limitations of your kitchen. Every kitchen is different and poses unique obstacles when preparing for a large gathering.

If your kitchen has a small sink, make sure you have a plan to keep up with the dishes. If you have limited counter space, think of ways to create more counter space. The important thing is to understand the limits and plan to find solutions.

8. Use Coolers To Keep Beverages And Food Cold

Refrigerators tend to get overfull when you host a party. If you have a tiny kitchen, then you aren’t likely to have a giant refrigerator. Instead of stuffing your refrigerator to the brink of not being able to close the door, use coolers. Coolers are a great place to keep beverages and sealed food items like condiments. Just don’t put anything in a cooler that can leak.

9. It’s Perfectly Fine To Order Desserts And Bread From Bakeries

Preparing everything from scratch is always nice, and it’s something to brag about. But when you have a tiny kitchen and a holiday meal for lots of people to prepare for, it might not be realistic. You might even want to outsource some food items that professionals do better.

If you have a bakery that you love or that is special to your family, consider using them. Buying some desserts or breads from a bakery is a great way to cut down on the amount of cooking you need to do in a small kitchen.

10. Ask For Help In Advance If You Think You Need It

Lastly, when hosting a holiday party for family or friends, you are most likely going to be offered help. Don’t be so proud as to deny help when you need it.

If someone offers the use of their oven to finish some dishes, accept it. If a family member has a cooler or wants to stop by a bakery to get sweets, don’t deny them this service. After all, coming together as one and helping each other out is a big part of what the holidays are all about.

Final Thoughts On Cooking For The Holidays In A Tiny Kitchen

If you have a home with a small kitchen you likely already know that preparing a more involved meal is challenging. Having a holiday party with a tiny kitchen is even harder, but it is still possible.

Make sure you prepare what you can days in advance, and keep your menu short. Know the limits of your kitchen, and think outside the box by creating more counter space and using coolers instead of overloading your fridge. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take help when it is offered.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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