Cooking in the Great Outdoors: RVer Grill Comparison
Cooking in the Great Outdoors: RVer Grill Comparison
Top cooking surfaces to use when making meals at your campsite.
By: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips
There is something about being outdoors and cooking that go so well together. In fact, it is so popular that most Winnebago Class As now have the option of outdoor kitchens and when I talk to dealers, they say it is one of the most requested options from their customers.
In this article, I am going to discuss the benefits of cooking outside as well as the many different styles of cookware available. In today’s market we have the ability to cook with gas, charcoal, electric, and pellet/smokers. However, I will be focusing on the first three because that is what I have hands-on experience with.
Benefits of Cooking Outdoors While RVing
We love the kitchen in our Winnebago Vista 27N, especially the L-shaped countertop. It was one of the major selling points for us when shopping for an RV. We like having all the prep space to make any meal we desire. But it does not compare to the amount of space we have outdoors to lay out a big spread on a picnic table and invite several people over for a meal. When we cook outside with a group it feels more like an event than just sitting down for some food.
The other big plus to cooking outside is it can help keep temperatures down inside the RV in the summer months. RVs are small spaces, so if you have things like your oven or stovetop on, you are fighting against the A/C unit to keep your RV cool. This can go for any type of cooking, not just grilling. We have outlets on the outside of our Vista so we can use our air fryer or our portable electric cooktop outdoors as well!
Read these tips for cooking outdoors with an RV.
Different Types of Outdoor Cooking Surfaces We’ve Tried
Like I mentioned earlier, when it comes to cooking outdoors you have a lot of options. I do not believe that one is better than another. It just depends on your cargo space, what you like to cook, and what method of burner you prefer.
Many of you might be thinking that you don’t want to carry around an extra appliance such as a grill or stovetop and I totally get that. For a long time, we went without a grill for that reason.
The good news is that we also have found a lot of campgrounds provide a grill at the campsites. When Sabrina and I didn’t have a grill, we always thought of it as a treat to find a campsite that had one we could use.
We have found that KOAs typically provide the nicest grills at your site. Weber gas grills appear to be their go-to grill, and they are always in tip-top shape. Just keep in mind not all campgrounds have this feature and, if they do, sometimes it could be a gas or it may require charcoal.
It’s best to check the website of the campground you are going to or give them a call if it is not listed so you can be prepared with what you need when you arrive.
The Classic Tabletop Stovetop
Sabrina and I started out with a small two-burner Coleman tabletop stovetop. This is the type of stovetop I used because my grandparents had one. It is such a classic that Coleman now has “classic” written right in the name of this setup. We used this for years and it was great to cook on and it packed up small enough to fit in any compartment of our RV.
You could use a pan or pot on top of the burners which made it very versatile. And it used the small one-pound propane bottles, which can be found at almost any outdoor store, Walmart, and even places like Target. All these benefits made it easy to transport and use.
The only downside I felt it had was I needed to be careful when cooking to not make a mess because I never found the stovetop to be easy to clean. Maybe I am just messy, but I was at a point where I didn’t enjoy cooking on it because of the cleanup that took place afterwards.
We were at a campground in Virginia one day and the person camped next to us was car camping out of their Honda Element and said, “hey that’s a nice cooktop” and I said, “you can have it!” He was excited and so was I, knowing that he was going to enjoy it so much more than I did.
Gas vs. Charcoal Grills
When we went those few years without carrying a grill and would just use what the campgrounds had available, I was able to try different types of grills and found I prefer gas over charcoal. Gas is quick to light and easy to clean up afterwards without needing to dispose of ash when finished. Some of the gas grills we used even had side burners to put pots on to boil water, giving the gas grills a little bit more versatility.
I felt charcoal grills were limited to what we could make, a bit more labor intensive when cleaning up and with a charcoal grill you will have to buy bags of charcoal and these bags can take up a good bit of space in your RV. I believe the big positive with charcoal is the added flavor, in my opinion.
Electric griddles for RVs are becoming more popular and with outlets on the outside of our Winnebago this is a quick and easy way to get cooking fast. I have also found electric griddles and stove tops to be very easy to use and a great way to control temperatures. Typically, you have more than one temperature control knob, so you can easily offset the heat across your cooking surface.
I have also found electric cooktops easy to clean. The only major downside to electric cooktops is if you boondock a lot, you may find yourself limited in using your electric cookware as they typically are power hungry.
This brings us to what we use now, and it is something that you may not be familiar with which is a skottle. Our skottle is made by a company called Tembo Tusk and I found them while working at the Overland Expo shows. These skottles are very popular for car campers and van lifers.
A skottle is a shallow 18-inch diameter cast iron bowl, kind of in the shape of a wok, but not as deep. The heat source is a single propane burner and the Skottle has adjustable legs so we don’t need a table to set it up on. We can place it anywhere we want in our campsite.
It is a very straight forward design and is simple to clean up. I also bought a lid and a grate that sits on top of the hot plate, so I can make almost anything with it - even baked goods. The Skottle packs up small and is easy to carry making it perfect for our travels.
The only downsides that I can come up with are that it takes a little longer to set up than an electric griddle or classic Coleman stovetop and there is a learning curve on how to cook multiple items at the same time. With that single burner heat source, the entire cooktop gets hot, but the further from center you go the less heat there is, so I can cook something on low heat around the edges while having something in the center on high heat.
All in all, the Skottle has been great and has quickly become my favorite way to cook. I even bring it out to use while at our home base. After a year of ownership, I have made meals like pizza, stir fry, eggs, pancakes, burgers, burritos, pasta, and rice just to name a few.
What Grill or Outdoor Cooking Surface Do You Use?
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment down below. I often check back on my articles to see what comments people have left. Also, I would love to hear what you have used and are using in your travels.
Take care all and safe travels!
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