Your RV Kitchen: Everything You Need to Know

RV Kitchen
Restored kitchen in a from a 1940s Airstream, taken in Pismo Beach.

One of the biggest benefits of taking a tiny home with you on the road: you can cook along the way! This saves money and allows you and your traveling companions to skip fast food and eat healthy meals throughout your journey. Both are incredible benefits well worth having.
It’s good to know what you can expect from your RV kitchen. We get a lot of questions from renters about what to expect from their RV kitchen. Because so many people are asking about them, we knew we needed this Big Guide to RV Kitchens to help give an introductory lay of the land.

Class A Kitchens

The Tiffin Allegro Class A RV
The Tiffin Allegro Class A RV

Because they are some of the biggest RVs on the market, Class A’s boast some of the biggest and most well-equipped kitchens in the RV world. If you are looking to make yourself at home in one of these big motorhomes, you can expect to have nearly all of the wonderful amenities you might find in a house.

The few things you might not find include sprawling countertops and a dishwasher. Still, the counter space is nearly always sufficient, and hand-washing dishes isn’t really all that bad.

Class B Kitchens

Class B motorhomes are small. There is just no getting around that fact, and while RV designers are pretty clever with their space-saving tricks, Class Bs do have a little less to flaunt in the kitchen department.

Still, almost all Class Bs include everything you need to cook a meal, only in miniature. This usually means two burners instead of three, a tiny refrigerator, and a single-basin sink as opposed to the usual double-basin.

One thing that is generally missing from a Class B kitchen is an oven. Therefore, baking shouldn’t be on your to-do list if a Class B is how you roll.

Class C Kitchens

Though smaller than the kitchens found in the enormous Class A rigs, Class C motorhomes tend to have pretty decent kitchen setups.

Most Class Cs include an oven and stove, full- sized sink, full-size RV refrigerator, and a microwave. That said, some of the smaller models may skip the oven and go smaller in the sink and refrigerator departments in order to save space. If these things are important to you, be sure to look into them before committing to anything.

Fifth-Wheel Kitchens

Eagle Premier Fifth Wheel from Jayco
Eagle Premier Fifth wheel from Jayco

Fifth wheels tend to have the absolute most living space out of all the RVs out there. Therefore, the kitchens in these bad boys tend to have the most space to work with.

Almost every fifth wheel out there will include full-size versions of all the typical  appliances. Still, rarely will you find one with a dishwasher. Counter space can be improved upon in these larger living spaces though, so if counter space is a must-have, a fifth wheel very well may be your best bet.

Travel Trailer (Bumper-Pull) Kitchens

Bumper-pulls can vary greatly in the size department. Because of this, the kitchens can also come in a variety of sizes.

A bumper-pull kitchen may be as roomy and well-equipped as one found in a fifth-wheel, or it could be more comparable to a Class B cooking setup. In general, the bigger the bumper pull, the better the setup, so that is something to keep in mind while shopping around.

Pop-Up and A-frame Kitchens

RV Kitchens

Because of their fold-down feature, pop-up and A-frame trailers all have kitchens with shorter countertops and smaller fridges. They also tend to have a smaller amount of space to work with, which equates to a smaller kitchen in general. This means less counter space, a smaller cooktop, and a smaller sink.

Additionally, most of these rigs lack an oven, and many do not have a microwave either. This makes pop-up and A-frame trailers some of the least equipped when it comes to cooking. Nevertheless, these types of trailers are ideal for a number of situations, making the smaller kitchens and fewer appliances a worthwhile tradeoff.

 

Teardrop Trailers

RV Kitchens

We all know teardrop trailers are tiny. Honestly, that’s what makes them so great. However, it also makes them unsuitable for housing a kitchen, no matter how small. For this reason, teardrops are always either lacking a kitchen entirely, or they’re equipped with a small outdoor galley.

Those with outdoor galleys may include a small sink, a small cooktop, a tank for water, and/or plenty of food storage.

Outdoor Kitchens

Some RVs are so prepared to meet your cooking needs that they offer both an indoor and an outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens are great for those warm weather days when you’d rather be enjoying the great outdoors than stuck inside. They also work well for preparing sides while grilling out.

 

Most outdoor kitchens or galleys include a cooktop and sink along with a bit of counter space for preparation.

 

What to Expect from RV Kitchen Appliances and Equipment

Now that you have a better understanding of the various types of RV kitchens out there, let’s talk about what is included in those kitchens. For the most part, you will find that RV appliances are quite similar to what you are used to using at home. However, there are some differences you may want to be aware of.

Ovens

RV kitchens

Not all RVs include an oven. However, some do, and unfortunately many go unused because travelers have a hard time getting them started.

  • All RV ovens use propane in order to cook food. In the same way a gas oven might cook food in a house, RVs use propane.
  • Many RV ovens require you to relight them manually each time they’re used. It’s not a difficult thing to do, but if you’re unaware you might have a hard time baking cookies. Read the RV oven instruction manual before heading out if you want to use your oven.
  • There’s a tendency for an RV oven to cook unevenly, leaving chefs everywhere with baked goods that are burned in the middle. To solve this problem, simply place a pizza stone on the oven rack under whatever you are cooking. The stone helps distribute heat and gives that perfect, even bake everyone loves.

Wondering which RV ovens are best? Well, considering there are only three manufacturers out there and all three receive good reviews, you probably won’t go wrong. Here are the companies to look for with the best reviewed brand at the top.

Whirlpool Corp – Considering the amount of experience Whirlpool has with manufacturing cooking appliances, it comes as no surprise that they are the top rated RV range on the market.

Atwood – Another popular brand, Atwood manufactures a good number of the RV ranges out there and do a great job of it!

Suburban – Suburban ranges are included in many trailers and motorhomes. They also receive excellent reviews and would be a good choice for any traveling baker.

Stoves

RV stoves are also gas-powered. They are fairly self-explanatory for anyone who has ever used a gas stove. Those who haven’t may want to look at the manual.

The thing that is a bit odd about RV stovetops is the number of burners. While most household stoves offer users four burners to choose from, most RV stoves boast only two or three burners. While this doesn’t usually pose a problem, it might require extra planning on the part of the chef of the house.

If you are trying to decide which RV stove to go with, consider the brands below.

Dometic – Dometic manufactures products specifically for RVs and other traveling vehicles. This makes their appliances ideal for trailer and motorhome use.

Atwood – As mentioned before, Atwood consistently receives good reviews from RVers everywhere.

Suburban – A third amazing choice is the Suburban cooktops. These bad boys get the job done well in any RV kitchen.

Microwaves

RV Kitchens

RV microwaves work in exactly the same way as any other microwave. There is one small thing you will want to be aware of when you do choose to use yours though.

Because most RVs are only able to pull a limited 30 or 50 amps of power at any given time, it can be easy to trip a breaker. This is especially true when one is using a number of items that pull a lot of power. These include the air conditioner, hair dryers, toasters, coffee makers, and microwaves. While running any one of these devices alone should not be a problem, running the microwave while someone else is drying their hair may not work out so well.

There are a great many brands of microwaves that work well in RV kitchens. Below we have compiled a list of our favorites.

Dometic – Because these microwaves are made specifically for RVs, they are the ideal solution for any tiny kitchen.

Whirlpool Corp – Whirlpool joins the running once again with high quality microwaves that just keep on going. In fact, many RVs come equipped with Whirlpool Magic Chef microwaves straight from the factory.

Samsung – Whether you are looking to put a microwave in a house or an RV, Samsung is an excellent choice.

 

RV Refrigerators

RV Kitchens

RV refrigerators are interesting in that they run quite differently from the appliances we are used to using at home. While this won’t be noticeable at all for the most part, there are a few things that it could affect.

The first one is in the way the fridge cools down.

  • When you first turn your refrigerator on, it is important to keep something like a few water bottles inside. This helps the fridge cool down faster.
  • It’s important to be aware of the fact that RV refrigerators can take up to 48 hours to become completely cold.
  • Most RV refrigerators can run off of electricity OR gas. While you are parked and hooked to shore power, it’s a good idea to use the electric option and save propane.
  • If you are boondocking in a place without hookups, the propane option works equally as well. Just keep in mind that the refrigerator will require a small amount of power at all times in order to run in gas mode. Therefore, if your battery goes dead during a boondocking trip, your food is not going to stay fresh for long.
  • To change the mode of your refrigerator, look for the small control panel on the face of the fridge. This should include two or more options including gas, electric, and “auto” mode, the latter of which will run electric until shore power is no longer available, at which point it will switch to gas.

There are two major brands of RV refrigerators out there. These are the very best options, and should always be the go to when an RV fridge needs to be replaced or upgraded.

Norcold – Norcold limits their product line to RV refrigerators only. With all of their focus directed toward their one product type, they are able to offer an incredible, top-of-the line product that you are sure to love.

Dometic – Once again, Dometic is a wonderful option. This is one manufacturer who knows what they’re doing when it comes to RVs.

Sinks

RV Kitchens

The taps in RV sinks are pretty great in that most can either 1) pull water directly from your freshwater tank using a pump, or 2) allow water in from the outside tap. This makes for a versatile experience and allows for camping with or without hookups.

Of course, the water in a freshwater tank is limited, making it important to ration water during stints without water hookups. Nevertheless, pulling from a tank is an excellent option to have.

If you are unsure how to switch your pump on, check your user manual.

  • Most pump switches can be found on a small control panel somewhere on the wall near the kitchen sink.
  • Flipping the switch will turn your pump on and allow you to pump water from your tank.
  • Just don’t run it without water to pump through, or the pump can become damaged.

Countertops

RV Kitchens

As mentioned before, counter space isn’t exactly easy to come by in an RV. While this is understandable–given the smaller living space you’re working with–it doesn’t make it any easier to cook when you need that prep space.

If you are having trouble dealing with the lack of counter space, consider giving yourself extra room by…

  • Using the table as a cooking space.
  • Pulling out a drawer and adding a cutting board on top of it.
  • Placing a cutting board across the sink.
  • Going outside to prep is also an option many people choose.

As you can tell, there is a whole world to RV kitchens. However, now that you have read this guide, you should be well-equipped with the knowledge you need to cook some stellar meals on your next RV adventure.