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When we first got our fifth wheel, I had a lot of fun stocking and organizing our camper kitchen. To me it's fun to find nifty gadgets and accessories that don't take up too much space yet provide me with all the cooking and dining conveniences I would enjoy in a regular home. In this blog post I've shared some of my favorite RV kitchen accessories from my own kitchen as well as some others I've found online.
Dish drying mat
I've used several types of dish drainers and drying mats over the years, but I've come to prefer a restaurant-quality rubber bar mat to anything designed for the home. It allows air to circulate under the dishes as they drip (unlike fabric mats), takes up less space than a drying rack, can be left out without making the counter look cluttered, and can simply be rinsed off if it gets dirty.
Unbreakable Soap Dispensers
I think a branded bottle dish soap looks ugly sitting next to the sink, but I also hate the minor inconvenience of having to get soap out of a cabinet every time I do dishes, so I decided to buy a more attractive looking dish soap dispenser. The trouble is, many of them are glass, which makes for one more thing to have to protect before being ready to travel. Also, I like being able to squeeze dish soap into the sink. Finally I found the perfect solution: this rubber bulb-shaped soap dispenser.
Later I decided to also add a second acrylic foaming pump dispenser for quick washing of a single dish when I don't need to run a whole sink full of water.
Countertop RV Dishwasher
Who wants to spend their time on a camping trip washing dishes? With a small countertop dishwasher, you don't have to! Most models require no plumbing to install….you just fill a tank on the back with water and let it drain into the sink.
Collapsible recycling bin
One thing I've struggled with in an RV is finding space for items I want to recycle. My solution was this collapsible bin with zipper lid from Camco, which I keep just outside the door of my RV until it's full and can be taken to a recycling center.
This bin has a variety of potential uses, from storing pool toys to using as an extra trash can while the family is eating outdoors. Of course if you're using it for trash or recycling, you'll want to be mindful of leaving it out at night where critters can get it. It comes in a few different color options (mine is actually just boring black).
Coffee Gadgets and Accessories
Some of my favorite RV kitchen gadgets are the ones I use for making coffee. Below you can see a few of my favorite coffee accessories that I think are perfect for an RV because a) they require no electricity, b) they take up very little space, and c) since they're made of stainless steel and not glass they aren't likely to break if they fall off a shelf while the RV is moving.
I started making coffee with a French Press and ditched my traditional coffee maker back when I still lived in a house and commuted to work every day. Yes, it requires that you boil water and you can't set it to be ready when you wake up, but living in an RV I don't often find myself so busy that I don't have time to boil water. I bought my stainless steel French Press pictured below after a glass one I had broke, and I like it more because it's double-walled and keeps the coffee hot for a long time. I sometimes use it for making tea, too.
I also love my little stainless steel coffee grinder to go with it, as it lets me grind the coffee courser than my cheap old electric one did. It takes less than a minute for me to grind enough coffee for an entire pot of French Press coffee. The one I have is no longer available, but this one looks very similar.
The gadget to the far right is a Moka pot, an Italian style coffee making device that can be used for making stovetop espresso. Pair it with a milk frother and some gourmet syrup (this is our favorite kind of vanilla syrup) and you can make lattes at home. Tip: if you intend to make lattes for just one person, get a 1-cup or 3-cup Moka pot instead of a 6-cup one or else you'll end up wasting a lot of coffee.
Last are my stainless steel Better For Your mugs. They were a gift at an RV event I attended recently, and I've been really enjoying them. I love that the company is owned by RVers, too!
To see some other coffee making gadgets and accessories, check out my blog post Space-Saving Ways to Make Coffee in an RV.
Instant Pot with accessories
No blog post about RV kitchen accessories would be complete without a mention of the Instant Pot, which is probably the electric cooking appliance that's most popular with RV owners.
For a long time I avoided getting one because I already had a crock pot and didn't mind just using the stove for cooking meals quickly. But I finally decided to get one when my husband became interested in doing some of the cooking because I thought it would encourage him to make things like rice that normally take a while and require a little more skill, and I was right. He got so good at making rice in the Instant Pot that for a while we were having rice with our lunch every day. 🙂
I ended up choosing the smallest size of Instant Pot, just 3 quarts, and it's usually fine for just two people, but there have been some recipes (usually for soups) that ended up not fitting, so if you like to cook a large amount of food at one time, either for a crowd or so you'll have leftovers, I would recommend getting at least a 6-quart Instant Pot.
Also, I kind of wish I had chosen an Instant Pot Duo instead of the cheapest model of Instant Pot. I didn't know the difference at the time, but my Instant Pot doesn't have the “yogurt maker” feature, and I wish it did so that I could make homemade paneer. But if you aren't interested in making homemade paneer or yogurt, the Instant Pot Lux, which is the cheapest model, is probably fine.
The are many Instant Pot accessories you can buy depending on your cooking needs and habits, but the ones I use most often are my stackable pots. I like them because they allow me to cook more than one thing in my Instant Pot at one time. You just have to be careful when buying Instant Pot accessories to make sure you get them in a size that are made to fit in the size of Instant Pot you have (I found that out the hard way!).
Stick blender with accessories
If you enjoy making smoothies or milkshakes, or if you like making soups that require blending, a handheld immersion stick blender makes both easy to blend without requiring you to sacrifice space for a full-sized blender.
My stick blender, pictured above, is very basic (and inexpensive) and does just fine for my needs, but if you get one that comes with various attachments like the one pictured below, you may even be able to use it to replace a food processor or milk frother.
Update: I now have the tiny food processor, and I use it all the time for making sauces and blending small quantities of things.
Another RV blender option to consider would be a small smoothie blender, like this one:
Toaster oven and accessories
One thing I got rid of when we sold our house and later decided I wanted to have in my RV is a toaster oven. Personally I prefer to reheat food in a toaster oven instead of a microwave, and it's also nice for roasting and baking when I don't want to heat up the regular oven for something small.
One thing you might want to get for your camper kitchen is a set of small toaster-oven sized bakeware. Not only will it come in handy if you do use a toaster oven, but you'll also find it fits better in a small RV oven or convection microwave. You might check Dollar Tree, too, as they sometimes carry bakeware that's smaller than the standard size.
Food Storage Containers
One of the best ways to save space in an RV kitchen is with items that are stackable or collapsible, such as these collapsible silicone food storage containers:
As much as I love the idea of the silicone containers, we use so many containers that I decided to go a different route in my RV and instead use clear plastic deli containers. I like them because you can stack a whole bunch of them and they still take up very little space, and best of all, they all take the same lid, so no searching for the right size of lid. I got all of mine for free by purchasing foods from bulk bins at the grocery store or taking home leftovers from restaurants, but you can also buy a set of them on Amazon.
In addition to storing leftovers, I also use these containers to store dry food in my pantry cabinets. Some “must have RV accessories” lists recommend square food storage containers because they maximize space better, but for the difference in price I feel I can make do with the round ones! 🙂
Nested Pots and Pans
Pots and pans are another type of item that can take up a lot of space in an RV kitchen. In my RV I hung a pot rack from the ceiling (which you can see in this “tour of my RV” blog post), but if this isn't an option in your camper or motorhome, you can purchase nested pots and pans to save space.
If you enjoy cooking with non-stick cookware, Ninja sells a set of nesting saucepans with lids that fit neatly inside:
I'm partial to stainless steel cookware, so I think this set is really cool. It comes with a universal lid and removable handle that both fit all of the pots.
Collapsible Over-the-Sink Strainer
Another cool space-saving item is this collapsible colander. Its handles expand to fit your sink while you chop veggies or drain pasta, but it can easily be stashed out of the way when not in use.
Check out my blog post all about collapsible RV accessories to see a bunch more cool stuff like this!
Even though they're heavier and more prone to breaking, I really prefer using glass dishes for eating and drinking. Also, when we sold our house and moved in our RV, I didn't see the point in spending money to replace perfectly good dishes (including glasses I had hand-etched myself) if I didn't have to, so I decided to go ahead and keep my glass and replace it if it broke, which so far it hasn't!
To protect my glassware during travel, I use mesh liquor bottle sleeves on glass bottles and drinkware.
I also line my shelves with rubber shelf liner, and I use small tension rods to keep items on wire shelves. (The liquor bottle sleeves work well for protecting glass bottles in the cabinet, too, as well as actual liquor bottles!)
As you can see, I have far more mugs and glasses than two people really need. I have enough space to afford to keep a nice selection, but if I was in a very small camper, I'd get unbreakable, multi-use drinkware, like this stainless steel stemless wine glass tumbler. It's the right shape to use for wine, but since it's double-walled and comes with a travel lid it's great for hot tea and coffee as well as cold beverages:
As for protecting glass plates and bowls, one option is to place quilted cases like the ones below in your RV kitchen cabinets or drawers. You can also cut pieces of rubber shelf liner to place between each dish.
A popular choice with RVers looking for camper-friendly dishes is Corelle dinnerware, which feels like glass but is less prone to breaking.
If you've been reading this and wondering who in their right mind would ever want to do dishes in a camper instead of just using paper plates, you might appreciate having a paper plate dispenser on the bottom of one of your kitchen cabinets.
Update: I've since written a whole article about how to secure your belongings to keep them from moving while you're on the road!
Gadgets to help you organize
I love adhesive caddies for creating a place to store small items on the back of a cabinet door. The sponge caddy pictured below is made by Command and features a drip tray you can remove and clean.
I was worried that this acrylic adhesive organizer might not stay put, but as soon as I stuck it to the door I realized it wasn't going anywhere! You can get acrylic caddies and like this one in several different sizes.
A basket hung over a cabinet door is an easy way to make use of space that would otherwise go to waste. We usually put fruit in this one, which I spray painted gold.
I do have a tip for using this type of basket, though: These baskets can slide around while an RV is in motion, and even though the hooks are lined with foam, the edge can scratch the wood. To resolve both problems, I lined the inside of the hooks with acrylic mounting tape, which holds the basket firmly in place and provides extra padding.
Below is another type of wall basket I really like and enjoy having on the wall next to my stove where the spices and oils I most frequently use while cooking are easy to grab. I screwed this one into the wall since I knew there was just empty space behind this wall next to my fridge, and it is so sturdy I can set heavy items in glass containers in it and it won't budge.
I started to screw this basket into the wall as well, but my drill bit ran into metal which scared me, so instead I decided to try hanging it with my favorite type of adhesive hooks instead. So far so good! It's been up for nearly a year now in both hot and cold temperatures.
The only issue with hanging the basket above with adhesive hooks is that it tilts slightly forward since the back isn't flush to the wall the way it is when it's screwed in, so if you're interested in a basket like this but don't want to use screws, I would probably go with one that's designed to be adhesive, like the one below:
Hooks and magnets
I love hanging as many items in my RV as possible. Not only does that make them easier to grab and put away where they'll be safe during travel, it also makes use of space walls and other vertical surfaces that might otherwise go to waste.
One cool accessory for adding hanging storage to an RV kitchen is a utensil bar like this one:
If you prefer not to drill holes in your RV walls, you can try an adhesive utensil bar one like the one below provided the items you hang from it don't exceed the manufacturer's recommended weight limit:
One of the best places to find space for hanging things is on the refrigerator, as I've done in my RV:
You could also use acrylic mounting tape to stick a cookie sheet to the front of your refrigerator as a cheap, easy, and removable way to create a magnetic surface!
More ideas for your RV kitchen
For more RV kitchen ideas, click here to check out some of my other blog posts!