You cannot have a post about RV kitchen gadgets without following it up with a post about the best RV kitchen appliances. Even more so than gadgets, RVers must be vigilant about the size and weight of RV kitchen appliances. Yes it might be nice to bring a toaster into RV life. But unless you eat toast daily, it likely doesn’t make sense for the space it takes up.
Downsizing a lifetime of stuff to move into RV life is hard. No question. I’ve talked about this before and I’m sure I’ll talk about it again. And downsizing includes getting rid of things you loved in sticks-and-bricks life knowing there simply isn’t room for things to transition into RV life.
But the kitchen was, I found, particularly difficult including my Alaska Cookbooks, a half dozen favorite mugs and my heavy-duty (and heavy) juicer. And how could I possibly get rid of my pizza stone even though Quill doesn’t have an oven?
But, alas, I did. As a side note: if you do have an oven in your RV, here’s an article of RV hacks that includes a creative and helpful use for one (aside from pizza, obviously).
But I made the tough choices and got rid of things. Despite my efforts, I still started RV life with twice the number of kitchen appliances and gadgets than was reasonable for my RV kitchen. So, over the course of the last couple years, I’ve further downsized. I’m now down the essential must-have RV kitchen appliances.
Tips and Tricks for Downsizing
So, before I share what RV kitchen appliances have survived more than four years of RV life, let’s start with a few things I’ve figured out along the way and rules I’ve made for myself. You saw many of these in the recent post about creating more space in the RV.
- No single-purpose item. The toaster is a good example. But there are many.
- If a year goes by and you haven’t used an item, it needs to go. This isn’t an RV idea. I first heard it from the minimalist movement.
- Follow this math formula: One Thing In = One Thing Out. Once you find balance, this guideline ensures things don’t get out of control. It means when you bring a new item into the RV, another item must leave the RV.
When it’s all said and done, I am left with items I love, use regularly and have space for (more or less). So, here is my list of the best RV kitchen appliances.
I came to coffee late in life, my late 20s. Friends and I would often go to the local coffee house. At that time, they were just starting to pop up everywhere.
At first, I only had a coffee once in a while. Visiting coffee houses once in a while turned into visiting them regularly. And that soon turned into me purchasing a coffee pot and making it a home to save money. Now, like so many people, I start the day with coffee.
I talked about my coffee pot of choice in another post about great RV gadgets under $10. While I loved paying only $10 for my coffee pot, price was secondary for me. My first priority was that it be both compact and have no glass carafe. RV life is a bouncy life so the less glass, the better.
The criteria made the single-cup pod coffee maker a perfect choice. I purchased mine in the first week of RV life’ and no longer see find for under $10 but you can easily find a name brand one for a low price. The one I linked to is by Black and Decker, a brand I’ve trusted for other kitchen items. And, in case you missed it, I found a weird coffee hack for making coffee in the pod maker without using a pod.
When I initially wrote this post, I started this section with the proclamation that the air fryer, hands down, was my number two RV appliance. That isn’t as true anymore. Not that I love it any less. Rather, the Instant Pot has gained ground. Today, I say that both the air fryer and instant Pot are, equally, my number two must-have items for RV life.
An interesting thing about the air fryer is that never would’ve bought one for myself. I ended up with it because an RVing friend bought it, loved it and decided she wanted a bigger one. So, I inherited her small one.
Since I was gifted my first one, they have only become more popular. Now your choices are many, in a variety of sizes and several have compartments so you can cook two things at once. When I first heard of them, I couldn’t get my head wrapped around the concept of frying with air. Plus I never had a regular fryer in sticks-and-bricks life so I definitely didn’t feel like I needed one in RV life.
But here’s the thing: they have a terribly inaccurate name. The air fryer really isn’t about frying. If I was naming the thing, I think I’d go for something like the Air Oven. It turns out that’s really what it is and, once you understand that, it makes the appliance especially useful to anyone without an oven in their RV.
So far, it has been great for everything I’ve tried. It makes quesadillas better than the microwave, makes fried tofu without any oil, bakes things like cookies and frozen meatballs, plus roasts vegetables and toasts bread and bagels. I haven’t tried to dehydrate yet.
It’s really unbelievable. They range in sizes from 1.7 quarts to 12 quarts. I had the smallest one (called a mini) and, it is small. I can bake three cookies at a time and a cubed cake of tofu (16 ounces) fries in three batches. Remember the Easy Bake Oven? I do and for some reason, in the most nostalgic sentimental way, the mini air fryer reminds me of that favorite childhood toy.
Did you notice I said “had” in the paragraph above. I had the smallest one. It was great for space, terrible for practicality even for me as a solo traveler. I got to the point where it was time for a bigger one. I gifted my small one to another who was curious about air fryers and bought myself a hefty one. Cooking in reasonable quantities is no longer an issue though now space is. But it is worth it.
My new air fryer is so much more versatile than the basket one I previous had. Space, as I said, is a challenge. Because of the size, it travels in the van on travel days. There is simply no place wide or deep enough to store it in the Oliver. To use it, I set it either on the dining room table, or on the nightstand between the twin beds or I put it on a table outside. Outside is a good option in hot places as it keeps the heat generated out of your RV.
Magic Bullet, As Seen on Television
I didn’t use my blender in sticks-and-bricks often enough to justify bringing it into RV life but I wanted something. The Magic Bullet is compact, lightweight and has multiple uses so turns out to be fantastic for the RV kitchen and replaced both my blender and juicer (more or less).
In addition to smoothies, I use mine to grind coffee beans, nuts, seeds, dried mushrooms and tons of other things. I also use it for small batch items such as hummus, salad dressings and salsa so I don’t have to bring out the food processor which is much heavier, bulkier and stored in a less convenient place.
One note, if you have intense blending needs, you might find the NutriBullet a better choice. It’s from the same company and basically is the same in every way except one. The NutriBullet has a 600 watt motor whereas the Magic Bullet has a 250 watt motor. And if you need even more power, choose the NutriBullet Pro with its 900 watt motor or the NutriBullet RX with 1,700 watt motor.
If I was following my own rules, I’d get rid of my Cuisinart Food Processor. Let me back up and say I used a food processor in sticks-and-bricks so much that I never questioned whether or not it was coming with me into RV life, despite its bulk and weight. It and my Mr. Coffee coffee maker were the only two kitchen appliances I allowed on my counter top. I justified both because of how often I used them.
I did, however, weigh the pros and cons of giving up my 14-cup food processor and getting the more compact lighter weight 7-cup one. But food processors aren’t cheap so I decided getting $10 (maybe) for mine at a garage sale just to turn around and buy a $130 one to save a couple inches of space qualified as a poor financial decision.
In my first year of RV life, I wasn’t very creative in my cooking. I made the same things again and again. Again and again. And none of it involved the food processor.
But I kept the food processor and over time that has changed a bit. Still, it remains an item I often question whether it is a good idea to have in RV life. I think my hesitation to get rid of it is two-fold. First, there is the once-in-a-while I use it where nothing else would be the equivalent to get the results I want. Second, I think my memories of how often I used it in pre-RV life (in other words….nostalgia) also make it hard.
Of course, a food processor has many uses, from chopping to blending, from kneading dough to shredding. The one I brought with me is my second Cuisinart as the first one died after a dozen years of frequent use. I love and am loyal to the brand most known for their food processors.
So, despite the infrequency of use, despite its bulk and weight, a food processor remains on my list of must-have kitchen appliances.
Before I hit the road, every RVer seemed to be talking about the Instant Pot. Like the air fryer, it piqued my interested because of Oliver’s lack of an oven and because it boasted “7-in-1” uses, including yogurt making and dehydrating. I bought mine just before I left Alaska to embark on RV life.
It comes in a variety of sizes. I bought the 6-quart and, though it handles more food, I sometimes wish I’d opted for the 3-quart. There is only one possible place to store it (unless you count the bathroom floor or on the dining room table, which I don’t) and that’s in the closet. But I don’t like that option because of the weight and bulk combined with the small closet door, it is awkward and hard to get in and out. Therefore, I store it in the footwell of my van on the passenger’s side.
Despite the bulk, I pull this thing out at least once a week. More often than not, twice a week, making it a must-have favorite appliance for the RV kitchen.
Would be interested to know your must-have RV kitchen appliances? If you aren’t yet in an RV which sticks-and-bricks appliances do you think you’d bring into a small RV kitchen?
Links to Other Relevant Posts:
- Best RV Kitchen Gadgets
- Creating More Space in Your RV
- Ideal Gifts for RVers and Others
- Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for RVers
- Saying Goodbye to My Alaska Cookbooks
- RV Tips, Tricks, Gadgets and Hacks
- 9 Most Used RV Gadgets Under $10
- A Weird Coffee Hack
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- Valterra Bug Screen for RV Refrigerator Vent
- Camco Durable Sewer Cap with Hose Connection
- Camco Easy Slip Gray Water Seal Sewer Fitting
- AUVON Scissors-Shaped Pill Cutter
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