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Getting your lighting right counts for a lot in any room, but it’s particularly important in the kitchen. Why? A lot of time is spent in the kitchen! Leslie Saul, owner and principal at Leslie Saul & Associates, says, “They are work spaces—not only for cooking, but also for laptops and homework. [And] they are gathering spaces for get-togethers with family and friends.” In other words, your kitchen does a lot. And your kitchen lighting set-up needs to support and accommodate all of it.
Given this, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that you’ll probably need a few different lights in your kitchen. And those lights should be geared toward different goals. You will likely want both general lighting and task lighting in areas where you prep food, eat dinner, or work. You may even want to invest in some under-cabinet lighting to illuminate your countertops or show off some of the prettiest items on your shelves. “You get it,” Saul says. “One light won't do the job.”
When shopping for kitchen lights, Saul recommends buying different lights for different functions. And Preston Gilmore, Lumens Expert at GoodBulb, suggests favoring “smart” lights wherever you can. “The ability to automatically dim lights or set an on/off schedule can offer versatility to the space,” he says. And since flexibility is key in any layered lighting set-up, those features can go a long way.
Ready to stock up on kitchen lights? To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some of the best kitchen lights for different functions below.
Best Overall: Pottery Barn Glass Globe Cord Pendant
Budget-friendlier than your average custom fixture
Available in different sizes, colors, and styles
Non-brass hardware only available in 1 style
Globe pendant lights make a classic addition to any kitchen. And while many globe lights are versatile enough to suit most spaces, Pottery Barn’s Glass Globe Cord Pendant is genuinely customizable. So you don’t have to settle for a one-size-fits-all fixture that looks good in your space—you can piece together a custom fixture that looks great in it. (And you can do so without spending what you’d spend on a true custom feature.)
The pendant light is available in two different shade sizes. So you can choose whether a sizable 12.5-inch fixture would suit your space, or whether you’d be better off with a smaller 8.5-inch fixture. And once you’ve settled on the size, you’ll get to customize your hardware. Choose between sleek bronze, shiny chrome, and warm brass—and rest assured knowing that with such timeless colors, there are no wrong choices. If you choose brass, you can also choose between ornate hardware, or something sleek and modern.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 86.75 inches | Material: Glass, iron, zinc | Watts: 75W | Bulb: Not included | Recommended Ceiling Height: 86.75 inches
Best Budget: Westinghouse Adjustable Mini Pendant
Available in 2 hardware colors
Backed by a 5-year warranty
Not long enough for very high ceilings
Even if you’re shopping on a budget, basic kitchen lights aren’t your only option. With its striking silhouette and textured shade, the Westinghouse Adjustable Mini Pendant is sure to make a statement in any space. And since the light is available at a reasonable price point, you can stock up on several without giving it a second thought.
The fixture boasts a diameter of 7 inches, so it shouldn’t demand too much space in your kitchen. But despite its small size, it promises to put off plenty of light. (Its shade is crafted from clear glass, after all.) When fully extended, the fixture can reach lengths up to 5 feet. But since it’s height-adjustable, you can easily shorten it to perfectly suit your space. And since color plays a key role in any kitchen design scheme, the fixture is available in two versatile neutrals: oil-rubbed bronze and brushed nickel.
Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.5 x 60.25 inches | Material: Glass | Watts: 60W | Bulb: Not included | Maximum Hanging Height/Length: 61 inches
Best Flush Mount: Joss & Main Carreno 1-Light Flush Mount
Available in 2 hardware colors
Canopy color isn’t customizable
If you’re looking for a flush mount light with a little flair, Joss & Main has you covered. The brand’s Carreno 1-Light Flush Mount offers the low-profile silhouette you’d expect from a flush mount light. But it’s still striking enough to make a statement in your space.
At 8.5 inches tall and 9 inches wide, the fixture is pretty small. But since it’s crafted entirely from hand-blown glass, it should still fill your space with plenty of light. The fixture is currently available in two different hardware styles, so you can decide whether you want to see sleek black or vintage bronze in your kitchen. (That said, no matter which option you choose, the lamp’s canopy will remain a crisp, versatile black.) And since it’s damp location-friendly, you can snag matching options for your bathroom and covered porch, if you feel like it.
Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 8.5 inches | Material: Glass, stainless steel | Watts: 60W | Bulb: Not included | Maximum Hanging Height/Length: N/A
Best Recessed: BBOUNDER 6 Inch Ultra-Thin LED Recessed Lights
Available in 4 light colors
Backed by a 5-year warranty
Need to change entire light when LED burns out
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with recessed lighting. The sleek fixtures will brighten up your space without demanding much attention—giving you the versatile backdrop you need to craft the kitchen of your dreams. Given this, it’s worth it to focus on convenience and functionality when shopping for recessed lights. And BBounder’s Ultra-Thin LED Recessed Lights promise to deliver on both counts.
The budget-friendly multi-pack comes with six recessed lights. And since the lights promise to be incredibly easy to install, you can save money on the lights and on the install fees. The lights are available in four different colors—cool white, daylight, soft white, and warm white—so you can choose the ambiance that best suits your space. And since they’re also dimmable, you can flexibly adjust the lighting in your kitchen any time you need to.
Dimensions: 11.65 x 8.27 x 7.83 inches | Material: Metal | Watts: 12.5W | Bulb: Built-in light | Maximum Hanging Height/Length: N/A
“Recessed lighting is a clean look that is commonly used over countertops, islands, and other points of visual interest,” Gilmore says. In order to make sure you have enough recessed lighting in your space, he recommends installing one recessed light per every 36 square feet of space in your kitchen.
Best Track: Hampton Bay Large-Step Linear Track Lighting
Adjustable, multidirectional heads
Easy enough to install yourself
Available in 2 colors
Utilitarian style may not blend in all kitchens
Dimensions: 5.7 x 44 x 10 inches | Material: Metal | Watts: 60W | Bulb: Not included | Maximum Hanging Height/Length: N/A
If you’re looking for a more adjustable alternative to recessed lighting, adding track lighting to your kitchen is a particularly striking option. And Home Depot’s Hampton Bay Large-Step Linear Track Lighting is a great place to start. The traditional track light comes with three multidirectional heads, which you can adjust to illuminate those hard-to-reach spots in your space. And since the track light is designed to be compatible with other (matching) track lights, you can stock up on as many as you need to fill your space with light.
The track light promises to be easy to install, so if you're an experienced DIYer, you can tackle the process yourself with some research. And since the light is designed to be ceiling or wall compatible, you can get creative with where you add light to your space. What’s more? The track light comes in two versatile neutrals—white and black—either of which is sure to look great in your kitchen.
“Track lighting can be used to replace or collaborate with recessed lighting,” Gilmore says. “If you are replacing recessed lighting with track lighting, then you’ll want to [install] one light fixture for every four to six square feet of ceiling space.” If you’re using recessed lighting and track lighting together, you’ll want to consider other factors—like the angle of your track lighting or how close your track lighting is to the wall—when determining how many to install.
Best Under Cabinet: MCGOR LED Under Cabinet Light
Easy to install
Great for reaching tucked-away places
Need to be recharged every 5 hours (in always-on mode) and every month (in motion sensor mode)
When you’re outfitting your kitchen with lighting, remember that ceiling-mount lights aren’t the only options on offer. You may want light in other, more underrated places—like under your cabinets, along your shelves, or even inside your pantry. And when your goal is to bring light to these tucked-away spots, your best bet is to invest in some under-cabinet light strips—like McGor’s LED Under Cabinet Lights.
Snag McGor’s Under Cabinet Lights set, and you’ll score three low-profile light strips. Each of these strips is lined with 46 LED lights, so the full set will provide plenty of light while you chop veggies or mix up a cookie batter. And since the lights are rechargeable, you shouldn’t have to replace them with much frequency. Each light strip comes with a dual-sided install strip, which is magnetic on one side and adhesive on the other. This dual-sided design should give you the versatility you need to mount your light strips, well, anywhere and you won’t have to worry about a complicated install.
Dimensions: 5.7 x 44 x 10 inches | Material: Aluminum, ABS | Watts: 9W | Bulb: 46 built-in LED lights | Maximum Hanging Height/Length: N/A
Best for Over Sink: Rejuvenation Carson Wall Sconce
Available in 26 colors and finishes
Available with a removable cage
Hardware isn’t customizable
Pendant lights are a popular choice over sinks, but sconces can look just as pretty. And Rejuvenation’s Carson Wall Sconce is one of the most striking options around. The sconce is crafted from lightweight aluminum from top to bottom, so it should be durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of your kitchen—but not so heavy that you’ll worry about it falling off your wall. And thanks to its 12-inch opening, it should give you all the light you need for a thoroughly illuminated kitchen.
The sconce boasts a relatively simple silhouette—one sure to suit many different decor schemes. And if you want yours to look a little more industrial, you can snag the version that comes with a removable cage. Even better: The sconce is available in a whopping 26 colors and finishes. So you’ll have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to selecting the right fixture for your space.
Dimensions: 11 x 5 x 13 inches | Material: Aluminum | Watts: 100W | Bulb: Not included | Maximum Hanging Height/Length: N/A
Best Pendant: Huxe Lanz Mini Pendant Light
Frosted glass for diffused lighting
Searching for a striking pendant light worth hanging in your kitchen? Look no further—the Huxe Lanz Mini Pendant Light is a great option for adding soft lighting to your kitchen. This geometric pendant is made of ridged glass that draws attention away from the lightbulb within, which can be an issue with some pendant lights.
You can adjust the light from 14.5 inches to 56.25 inches, so while it's not a great option for ceilings much over 10 feet, it is customizable. It's also adaptable to sloped ceilings, so if you need to hang the base on an angle, the pendant will still hang straight down. The fixture is also dimmable, so you can adjust how much lighting you need depending on what's happening in your kitchen.
Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 11.5 inches | Material: Glass, brass, steel | Watts: 43W | Bulb: Not included | Maximum Hanging Height/Length: 56.25 inches
“Pendant lighting fixtures work in conjunction with other lighting fixtures in the kitchen, such as recessed and track lighting,” Gilmore says. He recommends placing your pendant lights about 4 to 6 feet apart—and paying attention to the mounting height. “The correct mounting height for pendant fixtures is 30 to 36 inches from the base of the fixture to the surface of the countertop,” he says.
Kitchen lighting is available in so many shapes and styles that it can be tough to pick an overall favorite. But since Pottery Barn’s Glass Globe Cord Pendant (view on Pottery Barn) is customizable, it earned our top spot. The globe pendant light comes in two different sizes and three different colors. And since it’s also height-adjustable, it should make a seamless addition to your space.
If you’d prefer a budget-friendlier option, the Westinghouse Adjustable Mini Pendant (view on Home Depot) is an excellent pick. The pendant light is sleek and versatile. And since it’s height-adjustable, you shouldn’t have any trouble hanging it in your space.
What to Look for in a Kitchen Light
Your kitchen lighting setup needs to accommodate many different activities. And you may need to buy several different lights to get the job done. “Each light should be chosen to fulfill a function,” Saul says. Think about what you need your lighting setup to do. Then, stock up on different lights that can effectively deliver those things.
Many kitchen lights come with built-in dimmers, which you can use to adjust the ambiance of your space. And many also boast adjustable heights, which can help you navigate low ceilings, extra-high ceilings, or even slanted ceilings. These features will only increase your options, making your lighting set-up even more flexible.
Both Saul and Gilmore recommend favoring LED lights whenever you can. “[LED technology] is cost-effective and offers the best light,” Gilmore says. LED lights are also an energy-efficient option. So in addition to being bright and budget-friendly, they’re environmentally friendly, too.
What color light is the best for kitchens?
Gilmore recommends a light temperature of 3000 Kelvin for a home kitchen—that should leave your kitchen a warm, welcoming white. “Why? For a home kitchen, you want a light that will complement the surrounding areas—often the dining room and living room,” Gilmore says. “A 3000-Kelvin bulb emits a warm white color that will provide adequate lighting in the kitchen while offering a welcoming, homey feeling.”
How high should kitchen lights be above a table/island?
Gilmore recommends hanging lights about 30–36 inches over a kitchen table or kitchen island. “The reason this works so well is that it provides a good distance from the tabletop to the base of the light fixture to allow for kitchen prep and visual acuity,” he says.
But there are two caveats to this rule of thumb. First, if you want to be able to walk under the light, you might want to hang it a little higher. “It's best to be 6 inches above the tallest person in the household,” Saul says.
Second, you may want to hang the light higher if you have higher-than-average ceilings. “The general practice assumes an average ceiling height of 8 feet,” Gilmore says. “However, it's best practice to raise your fixture three inches for each additional foot of ceiling height.” (He adds that this caveat doesn't apply when you’re hanging light fixtures over prep areas—like your kitchen island. For those, you’ll likely want to stick to that 30–36-inch rule.)
How many lights should you have in your kitchen?
To ensure your kitchen is adequately lit, Gilmore recommends hanging one light for every 36 square feet of space. This might sound like a lot. But remember that you can mix and match different kinds of lighting—pairing track lighting with pendant lighting, and so on—to keep your space from looking repetitive.
Why Trust The Spruce?
A good kitchen lighting setup doesn’t involve just one light. It involves many different lights, which have been layered to support all of your go-to kitchen activities. So for this shopping guide, The Spruce contributor Lindsey Lanquist focused on including a range of different lights, which are designed to serve different functions.
Lindsey prioritized lights that were well-reviewed by those who’d tried them. And since flexibility is important, she favored adjustable options wherever possible. She also favored options that were available in a variety of colors and/or finishes. And tried to include options that were versatile enough to suit many different decor schemes.
For this story, we interviewed two experts, Leslie Saul, owner and principal at Leslie Saul & Associates and Preston Gilmore, Lumens Expert at GoodBulb. We asked them for advice on choosing the right lighting for your kitchen—from the kinds of lighting you'll need to how to place it.