This is going to sound crazy, but I’m going to make the case that you should not use your camper or RV stove and oven. Crazy, right? Your camper comes with a stove and an oven, why not use them?
There are several good reasons.
Cooking In a Small Air Space
The entirety of your camper or RV living space is about the same as most kitchens. Cooking in that air space means you’re going to smell it for long after the meal is over. And, no matter how good of a cleaner you are, you’ll never get all the grease out of it if you fry something. Your kitchen is built with cleaning in mind, your RV is built with cost in mind.
Every so often you may burn something…I went to the same cooking school…that smoke smell will last for days.
Take It Outside
There’s a reason travel trailers started adding outdoor kitchens. It keeps the mess and smells outside and I like the extra elbow room. But you lose a lot of storage to an outdoor kitchen and, to me, it’s not worth the extra money. There are some great options for road cooking now, even if you live in a van. A folding table and $200 worth of gear and you’re off to the races.
In the old days we had hot plates and they’re a hazard in a small space. Induction burners fix a lot of those problems and they are super space conscious. Induction burners work by creating a magnetic field that heats the pan and nothing else. Induction burners don’t get hot and won’t set your camper on fire. Obviously any electric cooking appliance won’t be ideal for boondocking but it’s fantastic for campgrounds and RV parks. Put it on your plastic, folding cooking table or campground picnic table and never worry about leaving a burn mark.
Small Gas Burners
One thing I hate messing with is propane. It’s a pain getting bottles filled or finding a place to exchange them. Whenever possible we heat with electricity and the only thing we use propane for is running the refrigerator when we’re off shore power. But carrying a big grill is a pain…which usually has its own propane supply. Besides, technology has provided a better alternative.
Maybe you’ve seen those new portable butane burners on cooking shows. They use little disposable butane cylinders. The burners cost around $20 and the butane fuel is around $4 each and last for over an hour of burn time. They’re portable and easy to carry outside without the chore of packing a big grill. I discovered these clever little gadgets after getting a wok. The electric burners on our home stove just don’t heat up fast enough. Easy to stow, easy to clean, super for cooking.
Speaking of Woks
A wok may be the single most useful cooking appliance ever invented. The design has been perfected over thousands of years, so that makes sense. I use mine to fry, boil, and steam…far more functional than a frying pan and just as easy to pack away.
Coming in second, just behind my wok, is a good quality, seasoned cast iron pan. If woks ruled in Asia, cast iron pans won the American west. You can fry in it, bake in it with a lid, and the quality of the heat is not duplicated in any other kind of pan. If you do a lot of boondocking, camping in places without supplied power or water, then cast iron will likely be your cooking vessel of choice. You can cook with cast iron over a fire or on any kind of a gas burner.
I kept expecting the air fryer fad to fade away. To me they were just a hair dryer on steroids…then I got one. We haven’t used the big stove since. It’s clean and convenient, perfect for cooking for two. The best part is cleanup requires very little water. Most of the time I clean mine with a paper towel. As for power, you can use it connected with 30 amp service or on generator. The longest I’ve cooked anything is around 30 minutes. Air fryers are fast, efficient, space conscious, versatile, thrifty on
water and power. That makes them nearly the perfect camp cooking appliance.
Obviously, they’re not a great choice for boondocking, when power is at a premium. There you might be better off with a propane grill or outside burner. But, if you do most of your camping at state parks and RV resorts, then get an air fryer. Put it on your folding table under the canopy and your camper will remain free of cooking odors. Even if you use it inside, the contained nature of the cooking keeps most of the grease and splatters out of your camper.
Manufacturers Stuck In Yesterday’s Technology
I’m surprised that only a few RV and camper manufacturers have started including some of these awesome cooking appliances. Induction burners are finding their way into a few models and you’ll see the combo microwave, air fryer in a few high end RVs but those are rare. The reason I’m surprised they’re not more common is because these devices are cheap. You can put together an entire decent outdoor cooking ensemble for less than $200.