I am a person of average hight at five-foot-three-and-a-half but since I live with a person who is 6 ft tall, generally I feel pretty short. And I feel especially short in the kitchen, where a lot of kitchen tools are not designed with short people in mind.
In the kitchen, my usually self-sufficient nature is often frustrated by ingredients put away out of sight and out of reach, and by serving bowls, glasses, and bottles hidden where I can’t see them. It’s not Jimmy’s fault he’s six feet tall, but it’s not my fault I’m not either. I need to be able to see stuff! And reach stuff!
In this post I’m rounding up my favorite kitchen tools for short people, because if I’m having these issues, I know other people — shorter-er people — are too. And accessibility matters! Just because kitchen counters come at a standardized height doesn’t mean that height works for everyone, you know?
First, let’s talk about FIFO organization
FIFO stands for “First In, First Out” and it’s how restaurants organize their kitchen pantries. It basically means that when you put new groceries away, you put them behind the stuff that’s already open. That way you remember to use the already open stuff first and don’t grab and open a new container just because it’s blocking the stuff you need to use up. When you use something up, you pull the new bottle forward.
For short people in the kitchen, FIFO is your best friend. If you’ve got a taller significant other or housemate, get them on board with FIFO. Putting new groceries away behind the stuff you’ve already got means even if you can’t reach what you need — at least you can see it. After that it’s just a matter of getting the right step stool, tongs, or organizational tool to make sure you can grab it when you need it.
If you’ve tried FIFO but it just isn’t enough or you can’t stick to it, check out the rest of the list below — it’s chock full of organizers and kitchen tools that are perfect for short people, so you can set up your kitchen so it actually works for you.
My favorite kitchen tools for short people
1. A 9″ or 13″ step stool that collapses for easy storage
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first: If you’re short, you’re probably going to want a nice kitchen step stool. This one by Totally Living comes in a range of fun colors and two different heights. I love this collapsible design because you only need one hand to pick it up or put it down. Just grab the handle that’s neatly hidden in the center of the step and pull up. To put it down, just give it a shake to open it up and it’ll snap into place.
The only downside to this design is that it only holds up to 300 lbs. If you’re looking for a collapsible step stool that can hold more weight, this metal 9″ step stool safely holds 440 lbs.
2. A can organizer with angled shelves because gravity is your friend
The slight angle of the shelves in this can organizer means you can actually see all the cans you have, while making it easy to grab the ones at the front. Instead of having to shuffle cans around to find the ones you need, you can or having to get the step stool to load the organizer from the top, you can put cans away in this as easy as you can take them out.
3. This pull down spice rack so you can actually see the whole spice cupboard
There are a number of great pull down spice rack designs to fit cupboards of all shapes and sizes, but I like this one best because it doesn’t need to be installed or anchored to your cabinet. It’s perfect for renters and its compact size means it will fit in whatever size cupboard you have.
4. A 30″ tall rolling cart you can use for kitchen prep work
Most kitchen counters are 34″ or 36″ tall. If you find yourself working with your shoulders up around your ears or you’re wobbling on your toes, try bringing the counter to you instead. This sturdy rolling cart is just 30″ tall and has wheels so you can do your kitchen prep work more comfortably at a height that actually works for you, making it one of the best kitchen tools for short people around.
One drawback: This does not have a food-safe wooden surface, so you’ll still want to put a cutting board down before you get chopping.
5. A chic black and white lazy susan so you can bring what you need to you
It’s time we rebrand the lazy Susan to something more accurate — the efficient Susan? The extremely useful Susan? Honestly, what did Susan ever do wrong to end up being called lazy? Anyway — say goodbye to the days of pushing up to your tip toes and reach-lunging across the counter to precariously grab the neck of a bottle just out of reach. Lazy Susans don’t just belong in the center of the table. Stick them in your fridge, in your cabinets, in that awkward corner behind your corner sink, and use them to organize bottles, jars, and more. When you need something from the back, just turn the lazy Susan to bring it closer. No jumping necessary.
I really like this black and white 11″ lazy Susan from popular kitchen brand OXO (which also comes in 9.5″ and 16″ sizes), but if you need something with higher sides try this bucket-style lazy Susan and if you want something with two levels, check out this crisp white stainless steel option.
6. An under the shelf wine glass rack to keep delicate glassware within reach
Raise your hand if you’ve ever smashed a wine glass because you slid it to the end of a shelf with your fingertips but then were too slow to catch it when it finally tipped over the edge. just me? Storing your wine glasses on a hanging shelf like this means your shelves can fit twice as much in them and you can grab the sturdier part of the wine glass, sliding it neatly out of the cupboard without sending smashed glass flying everywhere.
For a non-wine variation on this, I really like a hanging shelf like this that slides onto the shelf above to create more space below. These shelves particularly good for short, sturdy items like mugs — so you can “stack” two layers of mugs in one shelf cavity without having to actually stack mugs on top of each other.
7. These sturdy glass magnetic spice jars that live on the fridge
This isn’t the first spice-jar solution for short people on this list (and, tbh, it’s not the last, either). But reaching for spices is especially precarious if you’re short, and different kitchen configurations require different solutions. So I’m giving options! This set of 15 round glass spice stashes neatly on your fridge for easy use. Many magnetic spice jars are small and won’t hold the contents of a standard spice bottle, which is annoying because then you end up having to keep the rest of the spice bottle elsewhere, so I love that these bottles are a generous 4 oz (enough for a standard-size spice bottle).
You probably won’t keep all your spices on the fridge but this is a great way to keep the ones you use most often within reach.
8. An in-drawer knife holder so you don’t feel like you’re pulling Excalibur out of the stone when you just need to chop celery
Yeah, okay, I’ve been rewatching Merlin lately, can you tell? But tall, upright knife holders can be clunky and just a bit dangerous when you have to slide a long knife up before you can pull it out of its slot. An in-drawer knife holder allows you to store your knives in an easy-to-reach space, can fit knife blades of varying sizes, and keeps the sharp and pointy bits safely covered when you’re rummaging.
9. A pair of oven rack pullers so you don’t need to get quite so close to the oven to pull your food out
These funny looking sticks are an extremely helpful kitchen tool for short people — the c-shaped cut outs on the side hook onto your oven rack, allowing you to slide it out without having to get quite so close. And the slightly indented end is designed to help you push the oven rack back in. These also featured on my list of handy kitchen tools for clumsy people, but don’t go thinking this means all short people are clumsy.
10. An extremely narrow storage cart to create more low-level storage
At just 6.5″ wide, this extremely narrow storage cart is perfect for holding and organizing frequently used pantry ingredients at a far more convenient height. I like this one because it’s on wheels and has high sides on each shelf so you can easily slide it away when it’s not in use. It’s also easy to clean, and unlike some of the wire, metal, or wooden versions, doesn’t have large gaps that might allow smaller items to fall out.
11. These extra long 12″ silicone-tipped tongs for grabbing pretty much anything
A list of kitchen tools for short people wouldn’t be complete without a good pair of extra long tongs. You’ll want to make sure you get ones with silicone tips, not nylon or stainless steel, otherwise the tongs won’t have a good grip on anything. This pair comes in a range of colors, is super affordable, and will help you knock or grab things stuck in hard-to-reach places. Or, you know, you can use them to flip a piece of meat in a skillet while standing a good foot away from the stove. They’re really quite versatile that way.
12. A slide out spice rack that mounts inside your cupboard
This is the last spice-jar solution on this list I PROMISE. Unlike the previously listed options, this one is mounted inside your cupboard and slides out. Where the other ones are better in a cupboard where you’ve got some height to work with between shelves, this one is short enough that it can fit on pretty much any shelf.
13. A portable induction burner so you can cook anywhere
Pair this Duxtop portable induction burner with that 30″ cart I listed above and you’ve got a roving short person-friendly cook station so you don’t need to keep climbing on and off a step stool to check on your food. This is particularly handy if you’re working on something in a tall stock pot with a long cook time, like chicken stock. It’s also a handy set up if you’re deep frying in a high-sided dutch oven, if you’re making something like risotto that requires you to keep a close eye on it, or if you just can’t reach over your stove’s front burners to use the back burners at the same time.
I used this Duxtop models in my pastry school classes all the time and ended up buying one that I use often at home. Most pans work on induction burners, but if you aren’t sure, try sticking a magnet to the bottom of your pan — if it sticks, the pan will work.
14. A silicone sink splash guard to keep your shirt clean while you wash dishes
You can always tell when I’ve done dishes because I end up with an annoying, uncomfortable, and conspicuous band of water across my shirt. A flexible silicone splash guard means you can lean on the counter and reach into the sink without having to changed clothes or suffer in damp silence every time you do the dishes. Alternately, you can put a folded towel across the front of your sink (I like these Zeppoli towels because I don’t have to worry about keeping them clean or pristine; more on that here) to absorb the water before it gets on your shirt.