RV Cooking FAQ: How Do RVers Cook & Bake?

RV Cooking FAQ: How Do RVers Cook & Bake?
Answers to the top questions RVers get asked about making meals in their RV.
By: GoLife Staff

One of the top questions RVers get asked is, “what can you cook in your RV?” Many people may be surprised that you can cook (and even bake!) most of the things you would at home. 

Flip up some pancakes for breakfast on the stovetop, put a pizza in the oven, or plug in your slow cooker and add your favorite ingredients for a hearty soup. The options are endless!

Sometimes you may just need to make a few adjustments when making meals in an RV – including keeping in mind how much power you are going to use when running appliances (especially if using solar). But, overall, most RVers say it isn’t much different!

While trial and error is still an effective method to becoming a pro RV chef, we’ve asked experienced RV cooks to offer some insights to give you a head start on mastering RV meals – without the mishaps.

Answers to the Most-Asked Questions About Cooking in an RV

1. Can you bake in an RV?

Let’s get straight to the top question on the minds of most potential RV owners: Are you going to have to go without your favorite homemade treats while on the road? Not at all!

Rod Burkert (@GoPetFriendly) bakes often in his Class A motorhome; here’s what he has to say:

“I love baking in the RV! I make my own bread, muffins, and pizza crust from scratch. We do ‘Scone Sunday,’ wherein I rotate through a series of scone flavors: orange/chocolate, ginger/apricot, pumpkin/pecan, lemon/blueberry, cranberry/walnut, chocolate/peanut butter. I also bake pies ... our favorites being pumpkin and strawberry rhubarb.”

Rod says he sees very little difference baking (or cooking) in their RV versus a traditional home kitchen.

2. What do you need to adjust when cooking in an RV off-grid (no shore power)?

When cooking off-grid, the most important thing is to make sure you have enough electricity, propane, and/or fuel to run whatever appliances you want to use. Each RV and appliance is different, so you’ll just want to check how much power is needed and make sure you will have enough to run it safely. 

In general, the appliances won’t work much differently when using your solar power or generator.

“Our motorhome has an 8,000-watt diesel generator. I have noticed that the oven takes a bit longer to preheat with the generator, but I have not purposefully adjusted actual cooking times for generator use,” Rod explains.

Scott and Jaime Sichler (@awaywewinnebago) have even pulled the Instant Pot out when they have plenty of solar power off-grid. “The only downside to Instant Potting while boondocking is the liquid left over in the pot, but pouring it into a grocery bag doubled usually doesn't make a mess.” 

3. How do you find space to prep meals in an RV?

Photo by Kelly Laustsen & David Somach.

Creativity and planning ahead are key when prepping meals in an RV. While some models of motorhomes and towables will have lots of counter space and large appliances, some smaller options will have limited space. You’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you will have enough room in your refrigerator, freezer, oven, and on your stovetop for what you want to make. 

However, counter space can often be improvised by including your dinette, floor, a picnic table outside, or even a cooler or box. Read this article to see how a van life couple preps full meals in their RV by making the most of their small kitchen.

Of course, if cooking space is important to you, make sure to add that to your must-have list when searching for your rolling home!

Kenny Phillips (@MovingForwardAdventures) shares his insights: 

“When shopping for our RV, cooking and kitchen space was at the top of our list for must-haves. Sabrina and I prefer to make all of our meals at home rather than go out, and the Vista 27N gave us plenty of counter space for meal prep as well as a large convection oven and propane oven. Combine that with a three-burner stovetop, and anything we could make in our home can easily be made in our RV.”

Pizza made in a cast-iron skillet in the Burkert’s oven. Right: Kenny Phillips preps stuffed peppers for dinner.

The Burkerts also feel they have plenty of room for cooking and baking, although they try to limit the number of cooks in the kitchen: 

“We live full-time in a 2013 Itasca Meridian (Class A). We are fortunate to have a fairly good-sized kitchen, even for a Class A motorhome ... which includes a residential refrigerator, a three-burner gas stove, a convection/microwave oven, and an L-shape counter with a pull-out island. That said, we still consider it to be a ‘one-butt’ kitchen!”

4. Is an outdoor RV kitchen and/or outdoor cooking gear worth it?

You don’t need to have an outdoor kitchen included in your RV to enjoy camping, but it is a great perk! Many people like to use them to extend their outdoor living opportunities, keep smoke and food smells out of their indoor area, and have the flexibility to use a picnic table or foldable table for prep. 

If you don’t have an outdoor kitchen in your RV, you could also consider getting a small portable grill or booking a campsite with a grill or campfire.

Read these tips for getting started with using or making your own outdoor RV kitchen.

5. How do you cook food evenly in an RV oven, and do you need to adjust timing?

Depending on your RV, your oven may be much smaller and use a different heating element than you are used to. This may mean you need different cookware and adjusted timing for your go-to recipes. 

Some RVers swear by turning their dishes throughout the cooking time to ensure an evenly cooked meal, while others use pizza stones to better distribute the heat. But many don’t notice much difference at all and don’t need to make any adjustments.

“Our convection oven has a turntable that spins, and it does a great job of cooking food evenly. For what it’s worth, we hardly ever use the microwave. We didn't use it much in a home, and we use it even less in our RV. I am a believer in cooking, not microwaving!”, Rod says.

Rod also doesn’t see much difference in timing: “If we are plugged into shore power, I find very little difference in cooking times. What ‘the recipe’ calls for - time and temperature - I find generally works in our RV convection oven.”

6. Can you use a rice cooker, slow cooker, air fryer, and other go-to gadgets in an RV?

Yes! Many RVers travel with additional appliances. However, just remember to do a little research into how much electricity they will need to make sure you won’t have any issues powering them.

Scott Sichler shares: “We purchased and made room for an air fryer this summer. It turned out to be something we use a lot to not only cook french fries or tater tots, but it also does great with mains like chicken thighs and pork chops. When it was really hot, we plugged it in and cooked outside.” 

The Instant Pot is another favorite among the RVing community since it can be used to cook ingredients quickly and with minimal cleanup. The Sichlers use theirs to prep meals for travel, boondocking, or days they just don’t feel like cooking. They simply store leftovers flat in gallon Ziplock freezer bags for quick defrost.

Check out this article for more ideas of how to use an Instant Pot while RVing!

7. How do you store food items so that they don’t move around?

Many Class A and C motorhomes have full residential fridges and plenty of storage space. But, regardless of the size of your RV, you will still have to account for movement of items as you drive. Your main concern will be breakable containers, like oils, spices, and glass jars. Ideally, you can avoid such items, but make sure they are secured if you do have them.

“We line our shelves and refrigerator with non-adhesive grippy liner. As flight attendants say about the overhead bins - contents may have shifted in flight, so we are also careful when opening cabinets after driving,” shares Scott.

Photo by Kelly Laustsen & David Somach.

However, the Burkerts don’t feel food shuffling is much of a problem: “We have lived in a Class C Winnebago View, and now of course, we are in the Itasca Meridian. And I don't ever remember food moving around all that much in either RV,” Rod explains.

“Our fridge is almost always fully stocked so there is no room for things to move in there. And we put down a rubberized matting in the kitchen cabinets that keeps most things pretty much in place. 

Of course, there is some minor shuffling during travel days but not enough to make us feel the need to come up with a better solution. That said, I generally try to stay away from purchasing anything that comes in a glass jar!”

8. Can you cook a large, holiday-style meal in an RV?

With the holidays around the corner, this is the question on many new and prospective RVer’s minds. The short answer is: YES! You can absolutely cook a large meal in most RVs! You may just have to get a little creative depending on how much room you have.

“My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and we pretty much go the whole nine-yards for that large, traditional meal,” Rod shares. 

“Doughs and batters are prepared a day or two in advance. Pies are made the day before. Waffles the morning of. And my parents taught me to make a dish they called "filling," which my wife says is a combination of mashed potatoes and stuffing ... that's prepared the day before and cooked on Thanksgiving afternoon. 

Everything but the turkey ... because we generally don't eat meat. But we almost always share Thanksgiving with friends (who live in a "real" home or in an RV) who like to make the turkey. And it all just comes together.”

The Sichlers have cooked a bone-in turkey breast in their RV convection oven for Thanksgiving. Scott says, “the key to cooking it faster was to spatchcock it - remove the backbone before cooking.”

Kenny shares: “We have made Thanksgiving dinners with friends while boondocking in Florida for the winter. Another plus of having the counter space in our Vista is cooking gadgets, our favorite being an air fryer - it has certainly upped our cooking game!”

Bonus: Go-To RV Camping Recipes!

RVers often go for easy meals with minimal ingredients and supplies needed while traveling. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t go all out and create a multi-course dining experience for your family. 

Here are some top RVer recipes to give you a few ideas:

Are you an avid RV cook? Please share your favorite recipes and tips in the comments!

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