RV Kitchen

The In’s and Out’s of an RV Kitchen

Ever wondered what it is like to cook in a RV Kitchen? What kind of appliances are available? What kind of storage is provided? Is the stove top gas or electric? Here’s what you need to know about making the most of your RV Kitchen.

RV Kitchens Then and Now

Many RV kitchens today are smaller versions of home kitchens. The earliest travel kitchens, however, were not inside vehicles at all. The Tin Can Tourists, famous for heating cans of food on the side of the road, were among the earliest to adopt the camping concept. They were shortly followed by the Vagabonds, among them Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who slept in tents but had a custom camp kitchen vehicle on site.

In the past 100 years, we’ve come a long way in recreational vehicles and, more specifically with RV kitchens. All the same, cooking in a RV kitchen is a little different from a home kitchen.

Downsizing Realities

When you’ve grown accustomed to a 100 square foot home kitchen and you are now cooking in an RV kitchen less than half that size, there can be a lot of adjustments that you need to make.

For example, when you are designing a home kitchen you can have whatever stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator you want within your budget. You can even tear a non-load-bearing wall down to create more space.

Conversely, with an RV kitchen, the physical space is set. There are no walls being torn down here! You have plenty of appliance options, but they have to be a certain size to fit your specific floor plan. Unless you have a Class A or 5th Wheel RV, your appliances will more than likely be miniature in size. You have to make sure they fit within the space allotted.

In a home, the weight of materials you use is of little consequence. Every bit of weight matters in an RV. Dishwashers are a staple item in a home kitchen where-as a dishwasher in a RV kitchen is quite often a luxury reserved for large Class A or luxury RV models.

Storage Challenges and Hacks in a RV Kitchen

Most RV’ers have found a way to use clever storage and multi-purpose spaces to solve the problem of smaller square footage. For example dual-purpose spaces. A kitchen sink can easily be covered by a custom lid or tray. With the sink covered, you can double the space as a prep counter. When your oven is not in use, you can store pots and pans on the baking racks. Just don’t forget they are there when it’s time to bake cookies!

Due to the constant movement taking place in an RV, making sure everything is properly secured is quite helpful. You can use 3M mounting strips and hooks as they are great for mounting pictures, hanging potholders and towels. You can use magnetic strips to store your knives and cooking utensils. You can also invest in a wall-mounted tool rack to store your broom, mop, and dustpan.

The Kitchen Essentials

Before you set out on a camping adventure, you’ll want to make sure your kitchen is fully stocked and ready to be used. Here are some ideas of what you need to have in your RV Kitchen.

For Cooking

  • Propane tank or fuel
  • Matches or lighter
  • Pots and pans
  • Pot holders

For eating

  • Plates and bowls
  • Drinking glasses
  • Coffee cups
  • Forks, Spoons, Knives

For food prep

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Can Opener
  • Cutting board
  • Cookie Sheets
  • Cooking utensils: spatula, ladle and stirring spoon
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Thermometer
  • Colander
  • Tongs

Everyday necessities

  • Coffee Maker
  • Coffee Filters
  • Toaster or toaster oven
  • Food storage containers
  • Tea pitcher
  • Napkins and Paper Towels
  • Seasonings
  • Baking supplies such as flour and sugar
  • Plastic Wrap and Foil
  • Cooler

Kitchen Cleaning Supplies

  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop
  • Trash Can
  • Dish soap
  • Dish towels
  • Sponges or washcloths
  • Drying Rack
  • Garbage Bags
  • Plastic bags
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Cleaning rags

Avoid over packing

It can be easy to either overpack or even under-pack. Here are tips on how to determine the appropriate amount of kitchen supplies needed in your RV Kitchen. Aim to have 2 place settings per person who will be traveling. For example, if there will be 2 people traveling, have 4 plates. If you are a family of 4, bring 8 forks.

With basic cooking supplies like pots and pans and cooking utensils, you’ll want to consider what you can store and how often you’ll use it. One baking sheet should suffice but more than one stirring spoon would be helpful. You only need one can opener but more than one type of cutting knife would be useful. You don’t need both a toaster oven and a toaster. Determine which is more practical for your space.

Typical Powers sources for an RV

Your RV has three main sources of power. The first is gas which is self-explanatory. The second is a 12-volt battery. This is used to power recurring energy needs such as your refrigerator, the water heater and furnace and lights. The third power source is a 120-volt system and is made functional by an outside source such as a camp plugin. When plugged in, it can take care of other electrical appliances in the kitchen as well as the TV.

Knowing the power sources for your RV are helpful in knowing when and how to use the appliances in your kitchen. If your amperage is only 30 amps you don’t want to run the microwave and the mixer at the same time as their combined voltage is higher than 30 amps.

The stove, oven, and furnace commonly run exclusively off of gas. The hot water heater and refrigerator can work off of either electric or gas depending on the sources available. If you are in a campsite, seek out the hookups available for your RV and use electric on as many items as possible, which helps conserve your onboard power sources. If you are on the road or boondocking, you’ll want to use gas to keep these appliances running.

Types of RV Kitchens

A Class A Kitchen is one of the largest, most expensive recreational vehicles available. They are extremely large and tedious to drive. Their size, however, does afford some luxuries in the kitchen including full size appliances. Some have dishwashers but not all sport this staple appliance that most home kitchens boast.

Class B Kitchens are very small with miniature versions of the stove, sink, and refrigerator. Many Class B’s just have a dorm type of refrigerator (no freezer). If you plan to have a refrigerator with separate compartments for refrigeration and freezing, make sure it is a big priority as it will consume valuable space. Despite their tiny size, you can still use your kitchen successfully. It takes a little strategy, but it’s possible.

Class C Kitchens provide adequate space for preparing and cooking food. They typically sport full sized appliances like a refrigerator, microwave and full size sink.

5th Wheels deserve an honorable mention as they are both large and stunning. They boast a large luxurious kitchen with full-sized appliances. Unfortunately, they are so large that they are limited on where you can take them for travel.

What appliances are available in a RV?

There’s not much you’ll lack in a RV. You can have a stove, oven, microwave, a compact dishwasher, ice maker, a refrigerator, washer, dryer. It’s just small which is a worthwhile sacrifice.  Make sure you purchase appliances specifically made for RV’s. You don’t want your fridge to stop working because you aren’t plugged into a hookup at an RV park. If the appliance voltage is stronger than what your RV can handle, you’ll find yourself constantly tripping breakers. Seek out as many appliances as possible that work on 12-volt DC rather than 120-volt AC to extend your boondocking runtime hours.

What can you cook in a RV?

With a fully functional kitchen, it’s not difficult to cook regularly while traveling in an RV.  You can cook just about anything you would cook at home. It just may take longer due to space restrictions.

The Challenges of an RV Kitchen

It goes without saying but cooking in an RV kitchen can be tricky. You are cooking in a smaller more confined space. There is limited counter space for food preparation. To compensate you can cover your sink with a large cutting board; this will create more counter space. You can also move your meal prep to the dining table. With only 2-3 burners available on your stove top, you’ll want to be strategic when you meal plan. You’ll need to meal prep weekly as the storage in both your cabinets and refrigerator is very limited. No trips to Costco in your future!

 Tips and tricks for storage in the RV kitchen

Stacking and mounting are two of the best ways to best use the storage you have available. Instead of placing plates in one pile and bowls in another, stack the bowls on top of the plates. Instead of putting your flatware in a drawer, you can store it in a large cup mounted to the wall.

You can clean your counter space by storing knives and spices on the wall using magnetic strips. Everything needs a place to prevent clutter on your counters. If it doesn’t have a home, you should find one or get rid of it.


Traveling in a RV is a great experience. You will have to adjust to a smaller square footage and less storage. With so many options available, you can find an RV that works for you. What would you add to this list? Comment below!