Our 5 Favorite Kitchen Items For RV Cooking

Zuchinni Fritters with dill-lemon dip...just another yummy lunch in the RV!
Zuchinni Fritters with dill-lemon dip…just another yummy RV lunch!

Having taken our walk on the beach I figured we’d get back and do another little post on food. There are so many posts I could do, so many topics…from my love of fermented foods (which I alluded to in this post) to yummy fresh, raw products and recipe ideas. But what I thought would be appropriate today would be to introduce some of our favorite kitchen items.

Now there are many things you pare down or skimp in an RV, but if you’re a cook I recommend bringing as many cooking items as you can. We did and I don’t think we regretted a one of them. Apart from switching out a few pans over the years we’ve used everything from our massive Cuisinart blender (which takes up a whole cupboard) to our little microplane grater. I can live with 2 pairs of shoes, but my stomach is so much more materialistic. We also bought a coach with both a propane stove-top & propane oven (both used extensively when we boondock) as well as a combo convection/microwave (rarely used). This means there is literally nothing we can’t make.

But if we were to pick just 5 big cooking items we couldn’t live without, these would be the ones:

1/ Italian Stove-top Espresso Maker

We live for our morning espresso. We like it strong, steamy and Italian-style, but we also want it convenient & stove-top so we can easily make it while boondocking. Lucky for us, the southern Europeans have been making espresso like this for decades. I started using a stove-top espresso maker over 15 years ago and we still use the same one today. If you’ve never tried stove-top espresso it is excellent and it’s worth going the extra mile and getting a stainless steel version like the Cuisinox Roma 6-cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Maker (the exact one we have). For less than $90 you’ll have a piece of equipment that will last you for many years. A tried and true kitchen utensil we would never be without.

2/ Chinese Wok

201103 Mar Wok (2) (JPG)
We’ve had this traditional wok for years

I can’t live without my wok. I use it for stir-frying, soups, curries, steaming…you name it. We’ve had the same wok ever since we met each other and we bought it for less than $20 in San Francisco China town. It’s an old-style  steel wok (not the newer “non-stick” versions, which I would never ever buy) which requires seasoning and maintenance, but it’s also got a totally slick surface and superb taste from all those years of cooking which can simply not be replicated. The Chinese call it “chi”, quite literally the “life-force” of the wok, and cooks fawn over their own decades-old woks with pride. If you’re passing through a big town just drop into the China-town area and pick one up. Amazon also has some decent-looking versions like this 16 inch Carbon Steel Hand Hammered Wok. Make sure to get a lid and a traditional Wok spatula too.

3/ Food Processor / Hand Blender

At some point in your cooking life you will need a good food processor. We looked all over for a rock-solid version and when we found the Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9, we knew we had landed our baby. This is not an inexpensive piece of equipment and it takes up some space, but it is a power house. We’ve used this thing for raw veggie soups, almond flour, home-made no-bake Larabars, olive oil mayonnaise, salsa…just about anything that needs chopping or blending. There’s literally nothing this machine can’t handle and the quality is top-notch.

A close second and much more compact is our hand-blender. We started using a hand-blender many years ago when making smoothies and it continues to be one of the most oft-used kitchen tools. It’s compact, easy to clean and can be used for shakes, soups, hot chocolate, frothing milk, whipping cream you-name-it. We’ve been using the same Cuisinart for over 5 years. My version has disappeared on Amazon, but this Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick seems to come the closest.

4/ Cast Iron Pan

Our antique Wagner cast iron skillet. The real deal!
Our antique Wagner cast iron skillet. The real deal and we paid less than $20 for it!

I’m not a big fan of non-stick pans, especially since most of them use plastics (like Teflon) that rub off and become health hazards. There are PTFE & PFOA-free pans out there, but they never seem to last. A good cast iron skillet is heavy, but it’s indestructible and with the right seasoning it’s slick enough to fry eggs. There are modern cast-iron pans like this 8-inch Lodge Skillet which you can buy on-line, but nothing (and I mean nothing) compares to the antique cast iron skillets that were made at the turn of the century. If you’re going to go cast iron I recommend searching around to get the original stuff. We picked up a Wagner (the absolute best brand IMHO…Griswold are also nice) 8-inch skillet from ~1900 from e-bay for under $20. This is the real deal, the original shebang, and it is just beautiful. Before you buy make sure you understand the markings, the sizes and how to clean & season a skillet. For example don’t be fooled by any “1891 Original Wagner Ware” which is really a modern reproduction. Whether you find it in an antique shop or on e-bay, buy the old stuff and it will last you forever.

5/ Pressure Cooker

There’s nothing quite as nice as a fully-cooked meal with almost no time and effort and in our opinion nothing does that better than a good old-fashioned stove-top pressure cooker. We got ours 3 years ago and have used it almost constantly ever since to make stews, chili, bone broth/stock etc…within 30-40 mins you can have it all. It takes up quite a bit of space (we have it by the shoe rack in the closet), but it is an awesome piece of equipment. Now buying these things can be an exercise in patience since there seems to be around 100 different version at 100 different prices. We wanted a basic, solid model which was stainless steel (quite important), but without any of the fluffy extras and the Presto 01370 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker fit the bill perfectly. For the price I think it’s the best quality deal out there. Well worth the closet space.

These are our top 5, at least as far as big items go (there’s about 1000 more little gadgets & knick-knacks I could think about). What about you folks? What are your favorite kitchen items? Share and enjoy below.

POST BLOG EDIT: For those of you who asked for the recipe for those yummy fritters here it is: http://thesproutingseed.com/june-vegucation-zucchini-fritters/. They were very, very good.

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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. says

    Hi Nina!
    Great post topic. It is so funny how each cook has their favorite tools. I think after living in an RV for 2 years I must have felt really attached to the few special kitchen tools I had, and actually packed my stick blender and my crepe pan (along with my Henkel knives) in my suitcase to Abu Dhabi! Bon Appetit! I thought I would mention, there is a great collapsible salad spinner (I think available at Camping World) that is perfect for RV’s. The exterior bowl can be used for salad, chips, pasta, potato salad, ice, etc. We got a lot of mileage out of ours and it smashes down to take very little space.

  2. says

    I found your post quite interesting. I cook almost every night (we rarely eat out). I love making new recipes, but I don’t have any of your favorite items!! Too funny! I gave my blender, cast iron skillets (which I now regret) and wok (my daughter has) away before moved in to the MH. Probably my most valuable cooking item is the grill. I cook almost every night on it. I have learned to cook everything from the usual to many foil dishes, breads, and even apple pie. I try to cook the whole meal. I do love my little cast iron pot (a very valuable tool) that I use on the grill for sauce pan type items. I really dislike when it rains and I have to be creative inside.

    Thanks for sharing your favorites!! Can’t wait to see what others say!

    • libertatemamo says

      I have to admit our grill is another piece of equipment we really do enjoy, but we are woefully poor at using it (apart from just grilling meat). Our guests last night (from the TinTeePee) told me she uses the grill for most of her cooking too. There’s clearly a whole art to grill cooking which we have yet to learn. Fascinating stuff!

  3. Jil Mohr says

    Can I have the recipe for the fritters ? For e it was my knives ( Japanese)’ my Griswold frying pan ( my MIL…well used) , my blender stick ( i am having a senior moment as I can not remember any of my brands) and a few other pots and pans. As well as my cuisinart chopper….but to be honest none of my items have anything to do with living fulltime in a RV….just cooking!!!

  4. says

    We love Zuchinni Fritters. It has been great just walking out to the garden and grabbing a zuchinni. Delicious.

    Paul said his mom cooked everything in a pressure cooker.

    • libertatemamo says

      Paul’s family has used a pressure cooker for years too. His grandmother makes a lot of her traditional Cuban recipes in it. I guess that’s where we got the bug to go buy one.

  5. bette@smithsacre.com says

    Really enjoying your blog. I make jam from wild berries and I have to have a couple of good stock pots for cooking the jams and one for the canning process. Hope you are enjoying the hunkelberries in Bandon. Bette Smith

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh yum…wild berry jam! My mother is an expert at jams, but I have yet to make any for myself in the RV. Before I leave the coast I want to do some wild blackberry picking and jamming.

  6. says

    Logic Lodge cast iron skillet, KitchenAid blender, Electric Skillet, tea kettle! I have a wok, but never bring it on the road; maybe I should!

    • libertatemamo says

      We too have a tea kettle!! Not many people do over here. It’s something I started using when I lived in England (where it would be unthinkable to be without) and I’ve had one ever since. We make a fresh herbal tea every evening after dinner. Couldn’t live without it!

  7. says

    When we moved from the 5th wheel to the motorhome, I lost the propane oven. The convection oven doesn’t do nearly as good a job as a propane oven. I deeply mourn its loss. My favorite cooking tool is a 5 quart pot in which I can brown, then simmer one pot meals. I also love my slow cooker.

    • libertatemamo says

      I agree about the propane oven versus the convection oven. There are certain things (like pizza, for example) which require strong heat that the convection just can’t handle. We LOVE our propane oven even tho’ many RVers don’t. We use our pressure cooker to brown and cook 1-pot meals (very similar to a stock pot).

  8. says

    Great post. I think my list would be very similar. I couldn’t live without my cast iron skillet. It’s the perfect cook-everything pan. I also love my mini-food processor and immersion blender. I really like the idea of the pressure cooker but so far have resisted one since I thought they were all electric. Since we boondock and dry camp so often that would be really impractical for us. It appears that the one you linked to goes on the regular stove top. If that is the case than I really need one!

    • libertatemamo says

      Ah yes…I should have made that clear in the post. Our pressure cooker is a stove-top version! Perfect for making stews while boondocking. It’s the “old fashioned” kind of pressure cooker.

  9. gary and carolotta presson says

    Our favorite has to be our vita-mix, we use it every day whether at home or in our motorhome,the next item would be the solid stainless steel electric skillet…we had a hard time finding one without nasty teflon.

    • libertatemamo says

      Lots and lots of people love their vita-mix. We’ve never owned one, but thought about trying it out sometime. I’ve heard so many good reviews.

      • Kay says

        Love my vitamix! Have had it for almost 20 years. It is an item that is a must for our full-time adventure beginning summer of 2016! Keep up the good work on this site!

  10. says

    I gave my Cuisinart Food processor away and have regretted it over and over. Love my Lodge cookware, our Keurig coffee maker, my gas stove and oven and rice cooker (perfect rice every time)…last but not least my wooden spoons & spatulas.

    • libertatemamo says

      We too have a big assortment of wooden spoons and spatulas. Good, basic equipment. We don’t eat much rice at all, but if we did we’d certainly own a rice cooker too.

  11. Mary Ann says

    We live and camp at high altitudes, and a pressure cooker is quite a timesaver. Since water boils at a much lower temp up here, it can take 40 minutes to make mashed potatoes, so you get the idea. We bought one with a small pot and a large pot, and a steamer basket. The small pot comes up to pressure in just a few minutes and will cook large chunks of potato in the steamer basket in about 7 minutes. Also, I wouldn’t give up my cast iron skillets without a fight!

  12. flyfishnevada says

    If I remember right, Paul has a big grill/smoker. That’s got to be a requirement. I wondered about the pressure cooker until I read the comments. Now I think I’ve got to get one.
    I’d be up for a good fritter recipe too. We’ve got zucchini coming out our ears.

    • libertatemamo says

      Yup, we got our Weber Smoker last year and it’s a wonderful piece of equipment. Our little WeberQ Grill is also essential.

      Just updated the post w/ the recipe for those fritters (link at the end).


  13. says

    Great post! I’ve been on in “new kitchen gadget acquisition mode” this month and just ordered my very first pressure cooker yesterday– can’t wait to try it out! Last week’s new gadget was an Omega low-speed juicer– fabulous new friend that can also extrude sorbet or homemade pasta noodles! Now if I could just find a nimble-sized RV with a big-ass kitchen, I’ll be all set!

    • libertatemamo says

      Excellent! Enjoy that pressure cooker!
      Interesting top on the Omega juicer. I’ll have to look that one up.

  14. Chuck says

    Now you’ve gonna have to give up the recipe for the Zuchinni Fritters.

    You might check out these blogs for their recipes and their photography.

    With the steamykitchen site, type “photography” into the search engine and you’ll find several entries about food photography.


    Love your blog! Keeps me sane as we’re counting down the years to retirement and join you and the rest of the full time community.


    • libertatemamo says

      Just added the link to the recipe in the blog post. Thanks for all the cooking links. I really do enjoy cooking blogs.
      P.S. Back in the day I was a food photographer (had my own business, believe it or not). I haven’t bothered with the “proper” set-up for my food shots, but maybe I’ll try and do some better ones for the blog. Food can look so very tasty when it’s shot right.

  15. Linda says

    We have a waffle maker and use it for more than just waffles! It substitutes for the “George Foreman Grill”. Yes, can cook chicken breasts, etc. Also use as a pannini maker.

  16. says

    Very interesting list and I don’t think we have any of those. We use the pressure cooker often at home and think it would be a good addition to our coach.

    • libertatemamo says

      I think anything you like to cook with at home makes sense to bring along in the RV. In my mind RV cooking is not really any different from home cooking, except for the reduction in space. We do everything in the rig that we did at home.

  17. ann cabezas creed says

    We have a slow cooker ….cook complete meal in one setting.
    Ken and Ann Creed –18 foot Casita “The Little House on Wheels”

    • libertatemamo says

      Lots of RVers love their slow-cooker. I’ve heard many people use it on the road (e.g. driving from one destination to the next) or leave it cooking all-day while on a trip. I understand you can buy versions that don’t need electricity too (I think they’re called “thermal cookers”). We tend to use our pressure cooker for any 1-pot meal that requires longer cooking times, but I like the idea of a thermal cooker too.

  18. says

    We use our crockpot all the time. Nothing better then some warm beef stew on a cold, wet camping trip which we get a lot of in the Northwest.

    • libertatemamo says

      Yup…many crockpot fans out there. We may be one of the “few” RVers that don’t have one. It’s a wonderful piece of equipment.

  19. says

    I could not live without several good ceramic knives and my mandolin slicer. I had a fancy stainless steel mandolin when I lived in our home, but bought a cheap plastic version for the MH and it works great for all of the veggies I purchase at the Farmer’s Markets we visit. I wish I had room for all of your great kitchen equipment recommendations but we live full-time in a 21′ MH and have serious space restrictions, so the only electrically powered equipment I have is an immersion blender with chopping attachment. Also, I 2nd the grill recommendation…we use it to cook most of our meals in the summertime. Safe travels.

    • libertatemamo says

      Indeed. A good blender/chopper can accomplish many things & is a great piece of equipment for those with more limited space. We must learn to do more grill-cooking. It’s a perfect match for RVing.

  20. says

    We want recipes! I don’t really like to cook, neither does hubby but we have to eat. In fact, I love to eat. Intrigued by the mother stuff…most folks don’t go there with food. Might have to get one of those immersion/stick blenders as I have been eyeing them for soups for a long time.

    • libertatemamo says

      I see we have a lot of foodies in the audience :) Maybe I’ll start including more recipes in the blog.

  21. says

    Hmmm… what would be on my list not covered by yours.

    Lesse, I absolutely love my rice cooker, which I use in a similar way as you do a pressure cooker.

    And as we ripped out our propane appliances, we use a portable induction hob for all our stovetop cooking – which I have come to absolutely love. (With my wok, of course – essential that thing is!)

    We have a combo food processor and stick immersion blender by Ninja that we use for a lot of our salsa and hummus making.

    And my Soda Stream would have to be on the list too. We just love our fizzy water (not so much sodas tho.)

    Looking forward to being temporary neighbors and geeking out on this sort of stuff :)

    • libertatemamo says

      I’m definitely interested in checking out your Soda Stream. We love sparkling water, but don’t really like the price (and waste) of buying bottles every week.

    • libertatemamo says

      Well you two are definitely fellow foodies. I still love the avocado chocolate mousse you made for us….yum, yum!

  22. Debrjean says

    Awesome thread! I too have the pressure cooker…the Cuisinart….the cast iron…but I would like to add my Food Saver. It has saved me many times from tossing extras that wouldn’t get eaten right away….I also love my slow cooker. When we have a long travel day, which btw we try not to do I put dinner in the slow cooker and it cooks while we are driving. My favorite in the slow cooker is Butter Chicken.

    • libertatemamo says

      Interesting idea on the Food Saver. Our RV fridge is so small that I don’t really “keep” that much food so not sure I’d get enough use out of it. Lots of RVers love their slow-cookers. We’ve not yet bought one, but it’s something we think about.

  23. Lori says

    To all, as we start provisioning our land yacht, these comments are so helpful! Debrjean, will you share your crockpot chicken recipie?

  24. Connie Schwanger says

    We start full timimg around the end of Jan. when the Winnebago Via 25P is delivered. I’ve tried to find a smaller blender to make our raw vegetable smoothie we have every morning, but everything is as big so I’ve decided to just keep my old osterizer. I’d love to hear about your olive oil mayo. How much do your pans, etc. rattle while driving? Wondering how much we will need to cushion kitchen things.

    • libertatemamo says

      For a small blender you might want to check out the “Magic Bullet“. Some of our RV neighbors had one this summer and used it for all their small veggie blends. They loved it.

      As for the olive majo it’s simply 1 egg, some lemon, mustard, vinegar and 1.5 cups olive oil blended in at high speed. Makes an awesome majo.

      For rattling we put towels between our pans and rubber separators between our plates. Our glasses we keep in a big wine-box lined with foam.


  25. Gerry Murray says

    Just love your ideas – totally agree with other – definitely wouldn’t be without my cast iron pan – lodge Logic, “made in the U.S.A, which I purchased in Wal-Mart, actually I’ve bought more and given them to family and friends. Just so versatile. Another item I wouldn’t be without is my ninja chopper! multi purpose…. Thanks for all the great tips and ideas

  26. Mark says

    Love your blog — just found it today, and have read for hours!

    I also love to cook, but our pop-top camper van is only 18′ long (we’re not full-timers), so there is precious little room for cookware. We also love boondocking, so we generally avoid electric appliances, and favor compact items that can be used to cook indoors or out. Accordingly, these are my favorite kitchen items so far: Lodge 4QT Camp Dutch Oven, Lodge 10.25″ Cast Iron Skillet, EcoQue 12″ Folding Stainless-Steel Grill, Cuissential SlickBoil Collapsible Silicone Tea Kettle, and for making coffee, the GSI Outdoors H2JO! filter in a 32oz. Nalgene bottle with a thermal cover.

    My next purchase will be a Bemco 8″ Backpacker Oven for use on both my indoor and outdoor propane stoves. Although it is on the small side, from what I’ve read, I’ll be able to bake nearly everything you can make at home (artisan bread, biscuits, pizza, lasagna, brownies, etc).

    I’d also love to try a pressure cooker, but I don’t have room for the one you use. I’ve been looking at the GSI Outdoors 5.7 Liter Halulite Pressure Cooker, which is probably the largest I have room for.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  27. Kim Peters says

    Great post! My husband and I are in the paring down stage in preparation for full time rv-ing. I’m a foodie, and the one thing that is causing me heart palpitations about this process is my kitchen. I can’t imagine my life without my kitchen aid. Did you bring yours?

    • libertatemamo says

      Yup, we bought the kitchen aid too. It takes up almost an entire cupboard, but it’s worth it. I say if it’s an item you use regularly at home, bring it with you in the RV. Cooking is the same, just in a smaller space.


  28. Loretta says

    I collect vintage cast iron and like to cook over the open fire when I can. I was wondering if, in your travels, you have found fun outdoor and/or cast iron cooking festivals?? BTW, made your
    roasted cauliflower in cast iron last night. Delicious. Will be a staple in our travel trailer.

    • libertatemamo says

      Our antique cast iron pan is still our favorite pan! How cool that you collect them!

      We haven’t gone looking for any specific cast iron cooking events in our travels, but I know you can often find cast iron cooking at Dude Ranches and festivals (e.g. Cook offs). It’d be an interesting thing to look for.


  29. Diane says

    Love reading all your great info. My husband will be starting full-time Rving next week and found great rig to start our travels. It has everything we had hoped for except one thing – a propane oven!! It has the microwave/convection oven which Im sure works great if you are plugged in but not great for boondocking. I am searching how to overcome the loss of a propane oven. I know there are a few stove top ovens but is there anything else you would recommend?? Help!! I love to bake!!

    • libertatemamo says

      Is there an option to install a propane oven after market? I have to admit that’s probably what we’d do since we really love (love, love) our propane oven.

      Otherwise I know many folks who adapt to the convection/microwave and even end up preferring it. It’s easy enough to use for roasts, baking etc, but just not for broiling. Another option is a countertop toaster oven/broiler which can be surprisingly versatile once you get used to it. There are also outdoor propane-based camp ovens which I know some RVers use, although I’ve never personally tried one. And of course lastly there is the good old outdoor grill which can also be very versatile.

      Hope that helps!



  1. […] Equipment Needed The key to a good mayonnaise emulsion is speed and the best thing for this is a food processor. You can certainly make mayonnaise the “old-fashioned” way with a hand whisk (and we’ve done that), but you’ll get more consistent results with the speed of a food processor. Our processor of choice is the this very basic, very powerful Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB 9-cup. It’s an absolute work-horse that we’ve used it for years, and it’s big enough to handle just about anything we need. We like it so much it’s one of our top 5 favorite kitchen items for RV cooking. […]

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