Are you ready to start RVing, but you’re unsure of what appliances you’ll need to cook meals and keep your camper comfortable?
Lucky for you, I know what it takes to run an efficient RV household and what appliances are invaluable so that you can prepare your camper with equipment that will prove useful.
Read along as I discuss size and cost factors, and then list the top 12 appliances perfect for any size camper. I will go over the pros and cons of each appliance and what you can expect to pay for them.
Size and Cost Concerns
Before you pick out RV appliances, you need to consider the size and cost factors that will influence your decision.
Space is a big consideration when choosing RV appliances, but smaller is not necessarily the size you should choose.
Finding an appliance that does double-duty (or more) is critical, but having the ability to use full-size dishes and create full-size meals will add tremendously to your overall comfort while RVing.
Why should you choose “normal” size appliances if possible?
You may save space by choosing a small version of say, a slow-cooker, but you’ll have to make two or three batches to create a full-size meal for your family. This becomes a waste of time when you should be out enjoying your camping experience.
When I began my RV life, I eagerly went out and bought all kinds of miniature appliances thinking it was the only choice I had. Over the years I found myself replacing them for full-size versions because they just work better and save time.
Learn from my mistakes and start out buying the appropriate size appliances for your particular needs. If an appliance is instrumental in making your camping trip better, you’ll find the space to store it.
Campers tend to be very frugal and enjoy good bargains. Don’t make the mistake of choosing cheap appliances as they’ll cost you more money in the long run because you’ll replace them often. You also don’t want to find yourself wasting money on appliances you end up not using at all because they don’t fit your lifestyle.
Buying high-quality appliances will stand up to the vibrations of travel and will perform its duties efficiently for years. Fortunately, most appliances you’ll need for your RV are affordable.
Choosing only the appliances you know you’ll use will save you even more money. If you never eat rice, there’s no need to buy a rice cooker, no matter how much a fellow camper raves about the version they own.
Many campers come with some basic appliances, like a refrigerator, stove, an oven, and possibly a microwave.
My experience has shown me that a considerable percentage of RVers that have campers with a built-in oven never cook in them and only use it for storage of pots and pans. They have found other appliances to be much more efficient for cooking food.
For this guide, I’ll be discussing portable appliances that run on electricity, as most people will plug their camper into a 30 or 50-amp campground power pedestal.
For those who camp off-grid, I add in some 12-volt options that can make your trip a bit nicer.
Let’s go over the top 12 appliances you should consider for your recreational vehicle, so you can be as comfortable as you can while camping.
A microwave oven is a staple in most homes and is the easiest appliance to add to your RV and the one you will miss if you leave it out.
- Heats/cooks quickly
- Can boil water for tea, rice, oatmeal, etc.
- Doubles as storage space
- Takes up premium counter space
- Poor for complete meal prep
Buy the largest microwave that you can easily fit into your camper. Ideally, you can fit a full-size dinner plate inside, or a larger tray of food so you can efficiently prepare a meal.
A quality microwave will have sufficient power to heat your food quickly and evenly. The tight seal of a microwave door also allows you to use the space to store bread while not in use, which is a trick many campers utilize.
If possible, save counter space by mounting the microwave under or inside a cabinet. Most microwaves cost between $50 and $200.
A slow cooker or crock-pot is an RV staple for those who prefer to home-cook most of their meals, yet don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. Tossing several ingredients like potatoes, vegetables, and meat into a slow-cooker will create a simple and complete meal with a minimum of fuss.
- Cooks complete meals
- Easy to store leftovers
- Can enjoy a day out and still have dinner ready
- Thousands of recipes
- Easy to clean (use cook bags)
- Only cooks in one way
I think anyone who loves simple cooking as I do cannot go wrong with a slow cooker. This cooking method is perfect for those who like to be out most of the day, but want to come home to a hot dinner.
I had to trade my mini version in for a large crockpot so I could cook up larger quantities of food, which saves a lot of energy. If you cook with slow-cooker plastic insert bags, clean up is a breeze.
I also find it perfect for making cheese dips or meatballs to bring to campground happy hour get-togethers, with its convenient slide-out pot making it easy to carry. Expect to pay an average of $40 for a quality slow cooker.
An instant pot is a combination of slow-cooker and pressure cooker. Because the Instant Pot can perform many different cooking tasks, this product is becoming the go-to appliance for many campers because it can do so much without heating up your entire RV.
- Cooks food up to 70 percent faster
- Multi-cook features for steaming, rice, yogurt, and more
- Can be a food warmer
- Cooks frozen food without thawing
- Pressure cook feature can be dangerous
- Time to cook is longer than posted
For an appliance with a “set it and forget it” method of cooking, the Instant Pot works wonders. You can even hard-boil eggs in it.
As with the slow-cooker, buy the largest model you can afford so you have the flexibility to make any size meal. Be aware that although this will cook food faster than traditional methods, the posted times from the manufacturer do not include the minutes it takes to warm up the appliance.
The Instant Pot is a type of pressure cooker, which means following correct operating procedures is a must for safety.
I suggest making the step up to the Instant Pot if you are considering a slow cooker. For those who want many cooking options, this single appliance gives you tons of opportunities to make a variety of dishes. Instant Pots come in different models and average around $120.
In the camping world, a grill should be on the top of your appliance list for many reasons. A portable grill, with small screw-in propane tanks, will take up little space but provide you the ability to cook up just about any meal, without the fuss of charcoal.
- Portable and gets hot quick
- Keeps cooking heat and splatter outside
- Can grill up tasty and complete meals
- Use with a pan or pot for eggs or soups
- Need to store extra propane tanks
- Only good for outdoor cooking
It’s rare to find a camper who does not have a grill of some type. There’s something about cooking outdoors that makes a meal special and makes you feel like you are camping. I use a portable grill several times a week for breakfast and dinner when the weather cooperates.
If you have the extra space, go with a larger surface grill and upgrade to a 20-gallon propane tank so you can grill more food items without worrying about running out of gas. Expect to pay around $125 for a durable, portable gas grill.
An induction plate is the most basic of RV appliances that you should always keep on hand. Think of it as a portable cooktop burner, but it uses magnetic induction instead of thermal induction to create heat.
- No flame
- Good heat control
- Use your pots and pans
- Cooks food fast yet uses less energy
- Typically has a single burner
- Must use magnetic cookware
Induction plates do not produce a flame, which makes them safer to use inside your RV, but you can also use them outside if you choose.
Although it is nice to use any size pots and pans, they must be magnetic to cook quickly and evenly on an induction cooktop. I was lucky and found that a magnet stuck to all my current pots and pans, which is how you can check your current cookware if you plan to use an induction plate.
New cookware will sometimes state on the packaging if they are compatible with induction cooktops. It’s also nice to have a kettle with a magnetic bottom to warm up water for tea or coffee.
For any grade of a cook, this one appliance can provide nearly all of your cooking needs. The unit itself is flat and easy to store, but you must not forget to keep space for the pots and pans you will also need for cooking. You can purchase an induction cooktop for around $75.
Electric skillets are very affordable and work to cook a wide array of meals while camping. The best skillet will have three or four-inch tall sides and come with a cover.
- Heats up fast/cooks thoroughly
- Cover keeps splatters down
- Non-stick surface cleans easily
- Can also cook breads/rolls/cakes
- Large profile may be hard to fit in cabinet
An electric skillet is so versatile; even an expert cook will find it sufficient to create exciting meals while camping. A square or rectangle design fits more food than a round one.
Not only can you make the usual bacon and eggs for breakfast, but the skillet can work for grilled cheese at lunch, a casserole for dinner, and when set at a low temperature can work to cook up cornbread or even cake.
Indoors or out, I use my electric skillet all the time. I upgraded to a larger skillet, and it’s worth every inch of space it takes to store it in the camper. It’s so easy to cook meat and vegetables together, and put it on low heat to keep food warm.
I could cook all our food while camping in an electric skillet and forgo all other appliances if I had to. Expect to pay around $50 for a decent size skillet.
- Make coffee anytime
- Use for tea or to make hot water for soup
- Saves money over a camp store or coffee shop visit
- Takes up counter space
- Need to also store coffee, filters, or pods
I initially bought a small 4-cup version coffee maker and quickly found it a hassle and had to buy a 12-cup model.
I was making two or three small pots every morning to satisfy our coffee habit. Less time and frustration during my morning coffee routine made up for the extra counter space I lost when I went to a full-size version.
If you and your travel companions enjoy more than one cup of coffee a day, either buy a full-size coffee maker or invest in a pod-style coffee maker so you can make as many individual cups as you desire.
Buying a version that has a thermal carafe that retains heat is another nice touch that will allow you to enjoy your drink outside or to share with neighbors. Depending on the model you will pay between $20 and $200 for a coffee maker.
Having plenty of ice to cool drinks leads many campers to purchase a portable ice maker. RV freezers are notorious for being weak, and waiting on ice trays to freeze over can be frustrating.
- Continual supply of ice
- Separate compact unit
- Hard to clean
Most units are compact and free up space inside your freezer compartment where you would put bags of ice. Not having to locate and purchase bagged ice will save you plenty of money and time.
If you must have ice at all times, the investment in an ice maker is a good choice, even if some units can be startlingly noisy and are hard to clean. Most portable ice makers cost around $100.
For those who love a smoothie or enjoy happy hour frozen cocktails, having a blender while camping in a must. There are many high-quality, yet low-profile blenders available, with some doing double-duty as a food processor as well.
- Mix healthy smoothies
- Blend up sauces
- Make frozen cocktails
- Chop vegetables or herbs
- May not get enough use
- Hard to clean
- Many parts to store
- Not every model has enough power
The more you enjoy cooking, the more you’ll appreciate having a blender on hand while camping. Expect to pay around $40-$60 for a decent mixer or up to $120 for a food processor.
A portable washing machine can be a life-saver, and many campers don’t even know they exist. Once you have tried one, you may find it’s one appliance you must own.
- Do laundry at any time/anywhere
- No quarters needed!
- Washes small loads
- Must hang wash to dry
Some high-end recreational vehicles come with a washer and dryer, but most of us have to rely on packing enough clothes until we return home, or use the campground or public laundry facilities which can become expensive.
A portable machine can alleviate the hassle of doing laundry while camping. If you don’t mind hanging your articles of clothing to dry, these compact machines do an impressive job cleaning your clothes.
Most portable washing machine models cost under $100, and if clean laundry is a camping priority, this appliance is ideal to own.
If you plan on camping anywhere with humid conditions, plan on bringing a dehumidifier to keep your RV comfortable.
- Keeps air moisture low
- Makes inside of RV feel cooler
- Prevents mold/mildew growth
- Space hog
- Need to empty water tank
The inside of a camper tends to get humid just from a person’s breath. Add in rainy days, or hot and muggy conditions and you have excessive moisture that leads to the growth of mold and mildew.
If you have a small camper and find that only certain areas of your RV feel damp, dehumidifier companies like Eva-Dry offer traditional and rechargeable versions that you can place inside a cabinet that runs around $25. When they are full plug them in outside to discharge, then return them to your RV.
I have two small rechargeable units inside my clothes cabinets that have been working wonderfully for nearly five years. I also run a compact traditional dehumidifier during the most humid months in my main living area. The rest of the year I continually run a fan to keep humidity at bay.
Running a dehumidifier is the only way to alleviate extra moisture inside your camper. The larger your camper, the larger the dehumidifier you will need. Unfortunately, most units cost between $200 and $300, and smaller, cheaper versions mean you will need to buy two or three to handle your moisture issue.
A cold night can be miserable when camping. A small space heater is all you need to stay warm and comfortable and is an appliance you will regret not having when it’s 2 AM and your heater quits because your propane tank ran dry.
- Emergency heat when you need it
- Cannot be left unattended
- Will not heat large RV
I can’t live without my space heater. Even in the Southern US, there are many days with cold temperatures. Many mornings I will run the space heater to take the chill out of my camper.
Watch what happens at a campground the morning after a cold night; a line of campers waiting to fill their propane tanks that ran out during the night. A small space heater can warm an area of your RV quite quickly.
Never leave a space heater running while you are out or if pets or children are nearby, due to possible burns or fires.
If you are looking for a heat source and some relaxing ambiance, choose a unit that replicates a fireplace. I have a heater like this and it doubles as an end table when not in use. You can find a variety of fireplace-look space heaters for around $100. Regular space heaters run between $25 and $60.
Running a small appliance off your camper’s 12-volt system is possible, with several appliances made for use in cars and RVs. These basic units are perfect for off the grid camping.
- Will run off RV or car battery
- Can use off-grid
- Limited selection
- Can only use with a 12-volt connector
- Not very powerful
You can find kettles to heat water or make coffee, a fry-pan for cooking, a stove, slow cooker, or even an espresso maker.
I would only suggest these for those who intend to spend much of their camping time off the grid and want a few comforts of home. These may work off solar power depending on your system.
Finding the best RV appliances for your needs doesn’t have to be confusing. Rely on the experience of veteran RVers when it comes to the appliances you should not be without, so your camping trips can be as stress-free as possible. Watch the below video for even more suggestions on RV cooking appliances.
I hope you find this guide to the 12 most useful RV appliances helpful when you select products for your camper.
What appliance do you find you can’t live without while camping? Share with us and assist other campers in stocking their RV.
Product data was last updated on 2024-02-25 at 16:59.