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Limited storage and food prep space in RVs can make cooking more difficult than in a typical kitchen.
Knowing what items work well for preparing and storing food in a small space will play a significant role in outfitting your RV kitchen.
From finding the right cookware to figuring out what kitchen gadgets are worth it – we’ll give you our ten RV kitchen must-haves, plus a few tips to help you based on how you cook and your RV travel style. Both will be key to deciding what works in your kitchen on wheels!
What Do I Need in an RV Kitchen?
I want to start by saying that no one can tell you precisely what you need for your RV. But through research and experience, you can narrow down what works for you based on the below.
There are tons of articles about what items you’ll want in your RV kitchen. They cover everything from Instant Pots to cast iron skillets. I encourage you to look at as many as possible and apply that knowledge to how you eat, how you want to camp, and your RV kitchen setup.
What you eat at home in your sticks-and-bricks probably won’t change much when you live in your RV. However, how conservative you are with power and water can affect how you cook. If you are constantly boondocking and don’t have a substantial solar setup and inverter, you’ll have to avoid the microwave. You might also focus more on one-pot meals, so you don’t have to waste water washing a ton of dishes.
If you are in a smaller RV, you’ll also have to be conscious of how many large kitchen gadgets you have and if you have the storage and counter space to house them. On the flip side, if you have a 40-foot fifth-wheel and like to camp with full hook-ups, you can probably cook very similar to the way you would in a traditional kitchen.
As we go through the items below, I’ll point out what makes these items great for different types and styles of camping.
1. Nesting Pots
Cookware is one of the most crucial RV kitchen essentials. It can also be one of the biggest headaches to store.
These nesting pots with removable handles make storing pots in a small space a breeze.
Unlike many other nesting pots, this set doesn’t make you compromise on quality. They are highly durable, stainless steel. They also work with gas, in the oven, or with induction. They also come with a bungee cord that locks the top and bottom pot together, making them the perfect cookware set for travel days!
BONUS: The smaller pots in this set work great as mixing bowls too!
2. Induction Plate
An induction plate is a great way to take advantage of cooking outside. You can easily create a small outdoor kitchen with an induction plate, an extension cord, and a level cooking surface.
Not only does this save on propane, but it also gives you more prep space inside. Plus, it keeps the heat out of the RV (a big pro if you’re camping in the summer).
We also like this handy kitchen gadget because it allows us more space even when we use it inside the RV. We can cover the stovetop and use that entire space for food prep. You can check out the induction plate we use here.
NOTE: If you’re using an induction plate, make sure to use pots and pans with a magnetic bottom. The Magma set we listed above works on both gas and induction.
3. Stove/Sink Cover
One of the biggest challenges in an RV kitchen setup is creating prep space for cooking.
Our first motorhome had a kitchen with a sink on the left, a kitchen stove on the right, and about 3 inches in-between.
One of the easiest ways to increase prep space is with a stove or sink cover – or both!
We used this universal stove cover in our motorhome to prep food when we weren’t using the stove. When using the stove, we would use the cover over the sink creating additional counter space. Alternatively, the cover is small enough to lean against the back wall directly behind the stove.
In our travel trailer, we have a similar setup. However, a large sink with a split sink cover allows for sink use while cooking and creates more counter space. Our stove came with a cover, but the previous owners added a large square cutting board that covers the stove cover and the surrounding countertop creating ample prep space.
This setup offers the most counter space, and we prefer using this with the induction plate rather than the propane stove. It also doubles as a dish drying rack when you get ready to clean up.
The universal stove cover in the motorhome was nice because you don’t have to move it when you travel, but the cutting board over the stove creates more space, and we just throw it on the bed on travel days.
PRO TIP: The previous owners of our trailer added a cut-down pool noodle under the back of our stove cover to keep it level. So clever!
4. Immersion Blender & Beaker
One of our favorite RV kitchen gadgets is this immersion blender. It’s perfect for blending sauces, soups, and smoothies right in the pot or container – no extra dishes to wash!
We love to have smoothies or shakes in the morning, and the immersion blender is the perfect RV gadget because it’s small and cleans up easily compared to a blender.
It’s a great alternative to a Vitamix, full-size blender, or even a Ninja when you’re in a small kitchen with limited counter space.
We love this gadget for boondockers because the wattage required to run this type of blender is substantially less than other blenders.
BONUS: The beaker doubles as a measuring cup and is easy to drink smoothies right out of (no extra dishes)!
5. Multi-Use Kitchen Utensils
With limited storage space, you’ll want to choose RV utensils that are simple and versatile to cover many different jobs in the kitchen.
There are so many specialty kitchen tools available you might have to remind yourself that most tasks can be done with just a few tools. Lemon squeezers, zoodle makers, jar openers, etc., will all take up extra space in your tiny kitchen.
Here are a few utensil items we go for to stay clutter-free in the kitchen while still cooking all kinds of meals!
- ‘Mini’ versions of larger kitchen utensils. We’ve found some great smaller tongs, ladles, etc., at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and At Home.
- A couple of good knives. A high-quality chef’s knife and paring knife will go a long way.
- A handheld cheese grater. You can easily store this in a drawer or hang it from a command hook inside a kitchen cabinet.
- A great pair of kitchen shears. You can easily cut chicken, herbs, and of course, any packaging you need to get into.
- One measuring cup. A lot of RVers love the collapsible measuring cups. We like a glass measuring cup and find the one-cup option is plenty.
Stick with the basics and upgrade any utensils that are not of good quality. Having a small collection of kitchen tools is no problem if they are reliable.
6. Collapsible Tub
This collapsible item is a convenient kitchen accessory for boondocking or anywhere that doesn’t have a sewer hookup.
We keep the tub in the sink and use it for washing dishes and catching extra gray water. We toss the water out when we’re boondocking to save room in the grey tank.
Collapsible tubs are also great if you need to do a small load of laundry (underwear, leggings, or kitchen towels) – or if you need to hand wash items.
NOTE: These tubs come in a few sizes. We used the smaller size (2 gallons) in our motorhome but opted for the larger version (a little over 3 gallons) for our travel trailer. Just remember, if you fill the big one up, you have to tote it!
7. Non-Slip Drawer & Shelf Liner
Everything tends to rattle when you’re on the move in a travel trailer, motorhome, or van.
Non-slip liner on shelves, in drawers, and even in between items will help protect your kitchen gear, keep things from shifting, and eliminate rattling when you’re riding down the road. It can also protect the shelves in your RV.
It’s a simple item that solves many potential problems in your RV kitchen. There is a variety of textures and styles of this shelf liner.
8. Eco-Friendly Cleaning Cloths
Use eco-friendly microfiber cloths to clean your kitchen without using harsh chemicals. They clean messes with just water! These create space savings by only requiring us to carry a small amount of cleaning supplies and limiting our paper towel usage.
The set below features a variety of colors. We like to assign colors for different chores – red for the bathroom, green for the kitchen counter, etc.
There are many microfiber cloths out there (we’ve all seen the massive pack for ten dollars at Walmart). We really love the E-Cloth brand set because they are very high-quality and durable for life in the RV. We’ve had our set for over 3-years!
9. Stainless Steel Drinkware
When it comes to drinkware, we’re all about stainless steel. Not only does it not break like glassware can, but it doesn’t hold on to flavors and works for both hot and cold drinks.
In addition to the more widely used stainless steel tumblers, we love our stainless steel wine glasses. The stainless steel cups below are also great for hanging around the campsite.
Stainless steel works well for RVers because it is easy to clean and store. You don’t have to worry about these cups breaking in storage on travel days!
PRO TIP: If you get coffee or tea stains on your stainless steel cups, soak the inside in a bit of bleach and water to make them shine like new.
10. Small Kitchen Storage Containers
Small storage containers are essential for organizing a small, functional kitchen.
Items in a grocery store aren’t usually packaged for small living. Everyday consumables like sugar, baking supplies, and even tea bags can be transferred to smaller containers to store in convenient areas in the kitchen. Meanwhile, we tuck away the larger container in hard-to-reach storage areas and refill the small containers as needed.
In the fridge, you can do something similar. Break down any large or awkward ingredients into something that fits easily in your fridge.
FRIDGE EXAMPLE: We like to buy real maple syrup (which needs to be refrigerated), but the bottle is a less than perfect shape for a small RV fridge. We split the syrup up into smaller containers and store spares at the back of the refrigerator.
Final Thoughts on RV Kitchen Must-Haves
So, there you have it! Our list of RV kitchen must-haves. These items will help make your cooking experience a little easier and a lot more convenient – especially when on the road. Whether you’re boondocking or just out for a weekend getaway at a campground, these items will make your time in the camper kitchen much more enjoyable.
Want to learn more about cooking in an RV?
For more ideas for recipes, meal planning, and how to outfit your RV kitchen, view our guide.
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