Yes, You Can Cook Gourmet Meals in Your RV. Here’s How!
One of the best things about the RV lifestyle is spending time in the great outdoors cooking warm, comforting meals over a campfire. The flavors that a wood burning fire can impart simply cannot be replicated in an oven or on your cooktop. This is why many RVers love nothing more than to channel their inner pioneer by hauling out the cast iron pots and pans to whip up breakfast, lunch, and dinner over the campfire.
While there’s definitely something nostalgic and even empowering about getting all the way back to the basics, there are times when cooking al fresco is not ideal, or even desired. Campfires are great for roasting hot dogs, frying up bacon in a cast iron skillet, and of course s’mores, but they’re a bit too labor intensive when all you want to do is heat up a quick meal. Cooking over a campfire is also not ideal if you’re looking to whip a gourmet meal – getting the perfect sear on delicate scallops without precise temperature controls requires next level skills. And then there’s the weather. Even hard core tent campers will tell you it’s tough to enjoy the experience of grilling a juicy steak over the fire if you’re doing it in a rainstorm.
Fortunately, the kitchens in today’s luxury RVs are well equipped with modern appliances that allow you to concoct everything from a gourmet meal to a quick and easy lunch, all while staying comfortable and dry. In fact, one of the main selling points of an RV is the kitchen appliances. From microwaves to cooktops and ovens, read on to learn more about different ways you can cook while RVing. And, check out our blog on RV refrigerators if you want to know more about the different types of RV fridges.
Cooktops: Propane or Electric
Most travel trailers come standard with RV gas cooktops that use the same propane supply as your furnace and water heater. Today, some manufacturers are starting to swap out 2 and 3 burner propane cooktops for a single or dual burner induction cooktop. Some are even including a single burner propane burner and a single induction burner. Which one should you look for in your next RV? Well, that’s largely up to personal preference and knowing how you plan to use your RV.
Professional chefs and serious home cooks swear by gas cooktops because the ability to immediately change the temperature gives them the control they want. Experienced RVers know that propane cooktops are perfect for boondocking because they don’t require shore power. That’s why Bowlus opted for a two burner propane Italian cooktop that offers both superior reliability and the ability to create gourmet meals, even if you don’t have hookups. Whether you’re sautéing veggies or cooking up some pasta, the Bowlus kitchen has you covered.
If you cook on an electric stove at home, you may be more comfortable with having a similar set up in your RV. You won’t find an RV with the traditional coil burner like you might have at home, but you will see a few induction cooktops on the market. Induction cooking is one of the hottest trends in kitchens everywhere, but it’s not new technology. The concept has been around since the late 1930s. Electrical impulses are sent through a copper coil located beneath the cooktop’s surface. This creates magnetic induction, which in turn heats up your pot. Heating only happens in the pan which means the cooktop remains relatively cool to the touch, though there is some heat transfer between the pan and the cooktop. Because there’s no open flame, an induction cooktop won’t generate as much heat as a propane cooktop will. The smooth surface of an induction cooktop makes clean up easy, but it’s made of glass and needs to be treated with care so that it doesn’t get chipped.
One of the biggest downsides to induction cooking is that your pots and pans must be magnetic in order for the magnetic induction to work. Flat bottomed cast iron, enameled cast iron, and some stainless steel cookware will work, but you’ll want to leave the aluminum and copper pots pans at home if you’re planning on using an induction burner. There is also something of a learning curve when using an induction cooktop. Pans heat up faster, so beginners will want to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn anything. You also need to keep the pan in the center of the burner so that it heats evenly.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of boondocking in your RV, you may want to think twice about a floor plan that only offers electric induction cooking. You’ll want to make sure that your inverter can actually power the cooktop. If so, portable induction cooktops can be a great addition to your RV indoor or outdoor kitchen, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd and need more than 2 burners. A single burner unit is compact enough that it can easily be stowed in your travel trailer.
Microwaves: Traditional or Convection
Microwaves have been a staple of home kitchens for decades, and the convenience they offer makes them a natural inclusion in any RV. A microwave is a great multitasker that can be used for reheating leftovers, cooking quick delicious meals, making snacks, or defrosting meat stashed in your RV’s freezer.
The microwave included in every Bowlus is one of the many factors that make the Terra Firma and Endless Highways Performance Edition the perfect luxury travel trailer for boondocking. Not only can it make mealtime quick and easy, it does so without heating up your entire RV. If you’re running off battery power in the summer, that means you won’t need to crank the AC as high to keep cool – and yes, the best in class lithium iron batteries included as a part of the Bowlus RV power management system can run the air conditioner. They also power the microwave which means you don’t need to be connected to shore power to pop a bag of popcorn.
Some RV manufacturers are including convection microwaves in their units, which can provide even more flexibility for RV cooks. They’re the best of both worlds – a microwave and a convection oven. Anything you would cook in a regular oven can be done in a convection oven – assuming it fits. Since most RV models are the size of a traditional microwave, you won’t be cooking a 15 pound turkey in your convection microwave. But, if you have a hankering for warm chocolate chip cookies on your RV trip, this contraption will do the trick!
If your RV doesn’t have a convection microwave you can always add a small countertop convection oven to your indoor or outdoor RV kitchen. Depending on the model, you can even roast a small chicken or crisp up homemade egg rolls. In a Bowlus, there’s plenty of storage space to bring along convenience appliances like a slow cooker, instant pot, or small convection oven. You can even bring along a small portable BBQ grill.
The biggest downside to a convection microwave is the amount of power needed to run it. They’re not ideal if you’re planning on doing a lot of boondocking as they’ll deplete your battery power faster than a traditional microwave would. Plus, when you’re using the appliance as a convection oven, it’ll heat up your kitchen, just like a regular oven would.
Do You Really Need an Oven in Your Luxury RV?
The question of whether or not you need an oven in your travel trailer is an age old question amongst seasoned RVers. And while we at Bowlus largely believe the answer is “no”, it’s a question you’re going to have to answer for yourself – and it will largely depend on how you’re going to use your RV. Will you be staying in established campgrounds or boondocking? Will you be going for long weekends or living in your RV full time? If you want to bake bread or roast a turkey in your RV oven then after carefully weighing the pros and cons, you may want to consider a large RV with a residential style oven. On the other hand, if you’ll be spending your time around the campfire, exploring local cuisine, or hiking into the wilderness, you probably won’t ever use your RV oven.
Camping meals tend to be less complicated than what you might fix at home, but they don’t have to be. Whether you’re entertaining friends or feeding your family, the flexibility of your Bowlus kitchen appliances will allow you to create simple, satisfying meals or a gourmet feast that will be remembered for years to come. RV life doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to hot dogs, cold cuts, or tacos. With a little meal planning and a strategic trip to the grocery store, you RV meals can be fit for kings and queens.