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10 Must-Have Items For Your RV Kitchen

Image from harvesthosts.com

Although some of us would like to stock our RV cabinets and drawers with every cooking gadget and dish imaginable, many RVs don’t provide the space or storage to do so.  Instead, we each have to take a step back and decide what needs to stay.  Sometimes this includes being a little creative and innovative in our decision-making.

In this process, it’s crucial to think about what items you typically use when preparing meals, the versatility of a kitchen tool, and how much storage space is available.  It’s also important to take into consideration that your RV kitchen is mobile, so there is a matter of securing items. Plus, many RVers use propane to cook; ensuring the safety of all occupants is very important. The following is a list of kitchen essentials to help you get started setting up your RV kitchen!

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot hasn’t lagged in popularity even after its introduction ten years ago.  If you still haven’t become a part of the ever-growing global fanbase and haven’t purchased a model of your own, you may be missing out on some serious cooking.


Image from instantpot.com.

The makers of Instant Pot boast of its versatility, claiming that this multi-cooker takes the place of at least 6 appliances.  Settings include pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sauteing, and even yogurt making. The company combines the love of the cuisine with technology in each model intending to create good-for-you, scrumptious meals in a quicker, user-friendly manner.

From an RVer’s standpoint, there are many benefits to having one in your kitchen. Since it is a pressure cooker, less water is needed than traditional cooking.  It is energy-efficient, preparing food 10 times faster and using up to 70% less energy.  The Instant Pot comes in a variety of capacities, so finding one that fits your traveling crew’s needs and RV space is a cinch. Also, if you are at a loss with meal ideas, don’t sweat it!  The Instant Pot app, cookbooks, and user blogs are sure to spark up a meal plan or ten!

Spice Rack Storage

Storing spices in a cabinet seems like a reasonable option, but it can quickly turn into a rummaging game every time you want to cook. It’s hard to see and easily grab what you need inside of a cabinet that is stuffed with randomly placed jars of spices and seasonings.

Spice Rack Storage

Image from pinterest.com.

Ashley Mann of RVinspiration.com suggests these creative spice rack options to “save storage space in your cabinets and keep your spices, herbs, and seasonings organized and handy.” She mentions attaching spice clips to the inside of cabinet doors, mounting spice shelves, purchasing a spice caddy, or opting for magnetic spice containers to store these ingredients.

Cutting Board and Strainer Combo

When counter space is limited in a kitchen, sometimes utilizing the sink area is the next best thing. For those of us that strive to prepare and cook fresh produce daily, juggling between a cutting board and a strainer can be cumbersome and messy.  A combo over-the-sink cutting board and strainer can be just the trick to preparing fruits and vegetables.  There are quite a few variations on this kitchen product, including the size and type of material used for the cutting board.


Image from whatsgoinoninthekitchen.com.

Water Filtration System

Consuming clean drinking water is not only essential for your body’s health and well-being, but it is also important for the continued functions of your RV’s internal systems–plumbing and other adjoining equipment. There are plenty of contaminants that you can be exposed to once you hook-up to water sources.

Water Filter System

Image of Berkey Water Filter System by rv-insight.com.

You could carry around cases of water bottles, but that would certainly be impractical on many levels. Instead, consider installing a water filtration system. There are many top-rated filtration products available. One highly sought after system is the Berkey Water Filter System. It sits on your countertop. This gravity-fed purification system requires no electricity to operate, thus it is great for boondocking. The sophisticated filtration system eliminates 99% of viruses and pathogenic bacteria for safe drinking and cooking water. The company has been around for 15 years and in the process created a variety of products to meet the unique requests of customers.

If you are limited on counter space in your RV and are looking for a filtration system that attaches to your water system equipment, consider these five water filters recommended by freshwatersystems.com. In addition to mentioning the benefits of each product, they discuss what aspects to look for in a filtration system to best fit the needs of you and your traveling crew.

Cast Iron Pan

A cast-iron pan is one of those kitchen tools that keeps on giving or rather seasoning the more it is used.  They can be used on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, and over the campfire. It is a rather heavy kitchen item, but its practicality, durability, and versatility outshine this minute attribute.

Cast Iron

Image from rei.com.

Not a fan of doing dishes after a meal? These skillets require minimal maintenance after each use.  A brief rinse in water, a quick brush using a scouring pad, and sitting it over a small flame to dry usually does the trick.  Some folks wipe it down with a bit of oil afterward.

Tension Rods/ Shelf Liners

Your kitchen is on wheels, so regardless if you are on the road every week or every season, at some point, your kitchen supplies will be bouncing and sliding about unless there is some form of restraint to keep them in place. This is where tension rods and non-slip shelf liners come into play.

Tension Rods

Image from pinterest.com.

Tension rods are usually used in the RV refrigerator and freezer to keep food and containers from falling out every time the door is opened. They can also be used in cabinets for perishables, really any items that you want to prevent from falling. RV road trips can get pretty bumpy, and if rods are not situated an innocent snack attack could end up with a broken glass jar of pickles splattered all over the floor.

Before stocking up any cabinets or drawers with items, line all bases and shelves with non-slip liners. Not all shelf liners are created equal. There are a variety of options, but the main goal is to keep dishes and food items in place and not sliding around. Brandon Burk of baysiderv.com helps narrow down your search by detailing some top-notch shelf liners for RVs, including the pros and cons of each.

Collapsible and Nesting Cookware

Innovative kitchen products on the market today take the guesswork out of storing functional cookware in an RVs limited cabinets and drawers. If you are a big fan of Tetris, then investing in collapsible and nesting cookware will be quite an enjoyable venture.  Mix-matched bowls and measuring spoons have to go.

Nesting Cookware

Image from Amazon.com.

A simple online search for either collapsible or nesting cookware will produce an entire gamut of cooking essentials like mixing bowls, measuring cups, and pots and pans sets. If collapsible items catch your attention, there are collapsible tea kettles and dish drying racks also. The possibilities appear endless.

Compact Blenders

Emulsion Blender

Image from rvinspiration.com.

Small, lightweight, portable blenders like stick and personal blenders are examples of the type of appliances that wouldn’t take much room tucked away in an RV kitchen cabinet or drawer. Besides their size, they are a very versatile cooking tool that comes with various attachments to dice, emulsify, shred, mince. In the market for an RV-friendly blender, check out these recommendations from thrivecuisine.com.

Refrigerator-Freezer Thermometer

Compared to residential refrigerators, RV refrigerators have a completely separate mechanism that allows it to cool.  Residential refrigerators use a compressor and blow cold air into the unit.  The air circulates around, cooling all items evenly.

In contrast, an RV fridge cools down by a process called absorption.  Basically, the fridge relies on chemistry and gravity to cool the metal blades in the fridge. Warm air slowly rises and is cooled down by those blades located at the top of the unit’s interior.  That cool air falls, and the process continues, slowly cycling up and down.  Simply opening the door to the fridge could disrupt the entire process and cause cool air to quickly escape.

Many RV owners will stick a portable fan inside to help speed airflow and cooling.  An easy way to make sure your RV fridge is staying in the sweet spot of 34 to 36 degrees and your freezer between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit is to mount a thermometer inside each. Check the temperature periodically to make sure your food is not in danger of spoiling.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

In a special report by Tennessee’s Department of Health, representatives discussed the hazards of carbon monoxide in recreational vehicles. “In campers and RVs, items that emit carbon monoxide include built-in or portable generators, gas-powered heaters, gas ranges or ovens, portable camp stoves and gas water heaters. The carbon monoxide emitted can build up in enclosed, semi-enclosed or poorly-ventilated spaces, poisoning people and animals who breathe it.”

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Many RVers use propane to cook.  Burning propane on a range stove produces carbon monoxide, so proper ventilation must be utilized when cooking.  An overhead range fan usually does the trick.  However, if the ventilation or propane system is malfunctioning, a carbon monoxide detector can help detect elevated levels of the poisonous gas.

The Heart of a Home

A kitchen has often been referred to as “the heart of a home.”  Ensure that your RV kitchen is where life and activity thrive by stocking up with these must-haves. Together they help provide practical, functional, space-saving, and safe options so you and your traveling bunch can enjoy cooking as much as RVing!

About The Author: Natalie Henley and her husband, Levi, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years.  They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time.  They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats.  They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com.

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