What is a Kitchenette? Kitchenette vs Kitchen Explained


By Jana Freer

Jun 15, 2022

If you’re a renter looking at apartment listings, you may be wondering about the difference between kitchenettes and full-sized kitchens. What is a kitchenette? Is it big enough to prepare food in and store all your cooking essentials? Can you cook in a kitchenette? What appliances, if any, are in a kitchenette?

As you’ve probably guessed by the -ette at the end of the word, a kitchenette is a smaller version of a standard kitchen, and kitchenettes are usually set up primarily for functionality. That means you likely won’t find chef-quality appliances or expansive countertops in most of these compact kitchens. But, kitchenettes are ideal for fitting basic food-prep items into limited space.

Let’s dive into the differences between kitchenettes and full-sized kitchens so you can adequately evaluate apartment listings and decide if a particular rental meets your needs.

What is a Kitchenette?

A kitchenette is a miniature kitchen often found in a small apartment, studio, or room for rent. It is not necessarily defined by size but by what it contains.

Kitchenettes usually have scaled-down versions of cooking areas, major appliances, sinks, and shelving. They’re typically set up as bare-bones kitchens to hold the basics like a coffee maker, mini-fridge, hot plate, toaster, and microwave.

What is the Difference Between a Kitchenette and a Kitchen?

A kitchenette is an option a builder or landlord decides on for a property or rental, over a standard kitchen, due to limited living space in an apartment, studio apartment, or room for rent. It may be pint-sized, but don’t conclude it will be a cramped area that doesn’t serve a good purpose.

Kitchenettes typically don’t contain as many square feet as regular kitchens and aren’t located in their own room (they’ll probably sit in a section of the rental adjacent to a living room or bedroom). Still, these mini kitchens are designed and laid out with function in mind.

A kitchenette generally has limited storage; think just a few shelves or cabinets to hold dry goods, pots and pans, and dishes and glassware. Compact kitchens won’t feature generous workspaces, and they might not have cabinets to tuck away trash and recycle cans.

Whereas standard kitchen designs reserve room for full-sized appliances like refrigerator and freezer combinations, you may not find these luxuries in a kitchenette. The typical compact kitchen doesn’t even house a dishwasher (but will usually have a tiny sink for hand washing).

What Appliances Go in a Kitchenette?

You’ll often see small versions of microwaves, refrigerators, freezers, and coffee makers in kitchenettes. Renters typically won’t find a full-sized range, but hot plates and toaster ovens take over cooking duties in many compact kitchens.

There are various appliances that may come with kitchenettes, but renters might have to supply their own. Always ask a landlord about exactly what you get with your monthly rent, including what appliances you have to use in a kitchenette.

Can You Cook in a Kitchenette?

Most kitchenettes provide a place to cook. If you see an apartment listing highlighting a ‘fully equipped kitchenette,’ you can likely assume it has some sort of small stove. But even if you have to prepare meals on an electric griddle or in a slow cooker, you have many options for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

Renters have found great success making pancakes, toast, oatmeal, hot sandwiches, rice dishes, pasta, and soups in countertop appliances. Some mini appliances also let you bake cakes, cookies, and breads.

The Bottom Line

Aside from “What is a kitchenette,” “What are the pros and cons of a kitchenette” is a top question that renters have. The bottom line is that a kitchenette may benefit you over a standard kitchen if you’re single, a college student, or always on the go. Kitchenettes also typically lower the cost of an apartment, which is important to know if you’re on a budget.

On the flip side, renters who like to cook gourmet meals and entertain might not find a kitchenette adequate. The lack of full-sized appliances, tool storage, and food prep space can mean you’ll be ordering takeout more than you would if you rented a place with a standard kitchen. Additionally, traditional kitchens may have much-needed seating areas like places for a dining table or bar chairs.

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