21 Camper Van Kitchen Essentials (Plus Some Awesome Extras)
Updated: Jan 26
Your camper van doesn’t have a toilet? No problem, your campsite probably has bathroom facilities. Don’t have a shower either? Not a worry – there’s a shower block with warm water just over there. But what’s that? Your van doesn’t have a kitchen?
Well, you better start rubbing two sticks together, or get used to eating cold baked beans straight from the tin…
How well you eat on the road will be determined by your camper kitchen, and you can’t call your van a true home on the road if you aren’t able to enjoy a nice, home cooked meal inside it.
What does a good kitchen look like? To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 21 items that make for an awesome camper van kitchen where you can cook almost any dish.
You need heat to cook, and a gas cooktop is the best way to get it. Choose a cooktop with a minimum of two burners so that you can cook breakfast and make coffee at the same time.
You need a fridge to keep your food safe to eat, and happily there are a huge amount of camper van kitchens on the market, each built for a different purpose. Normal front opening fridges are a popular choice, although a top opening unit can be a little more secure on the road.
After the cooking comes the cleaning, so a small sink is a must for your camper van. Ideally it will be plumbed to a water tank. It’s also wise to install an easy-wipe splashback behind your sink and cooktop.
Space is a finite resource in your van, but having room to store and prepare food is one of the most important uses of it. Make sure that you have enough room to fit all that you need, and to chop, grate, pour, sieve and serve.
5. Shelving/hanging space
Once your cupboards are installed, consider installing hooks and open shelving on any available wall space. Perhaps you could put a spice rack above your cooktop, or could hang dish towels on the side of your cupboard.
Less a must-have than a nice-to-have, you’ll be shocked at how many different dishes an oven allows you to cook, particularly in combination with your cooktop. If you’re looking to ‘wow’ your fellow campers, pulling a roast turkey out of the oven might just do it!
Another nice-to-have, a microwave makes heating water and reheating food easy. Be aware that this piece of equipment (and the oven) need a fair bit of power to operate, so you may need to beef up your battery arrangement for it to work.
A good set of knives makes all the difference in a camper van kitchen. Consider hanging them on a magnetic strip to save space.
9. Chopping boards
Choose flat and flexible chopping boards that can be stacked or rolled away to save space, and that ideally have a grippy bottom so that they don’t slide around too much.
The perfect set of camper van cookware is stackable (to save space), non-stick (to make cleaning easy, saving water), and high-quality (to last for the long haul). It’s worth considering buying a cast iron skillet too, as these are multi-use, become non-stick over time, and can be used right on top of a fire.
If you religiously start your day with a coffee, investing in a proper kettle for your cooktop is more than worth it, as it whistles when it’s ready, and makes pouring easy.
12. Plastic plates and bowls
Your camper van is not a place for fine china. Invest in a high quality and durable set of plastic plates and bowls, and remove the worry of breaking plates when you turn too sharply.
While metal utensils are an option, be aware that they may clink together while you’re driving, so a high-quality plastic set might be better.
14. Plastic wine glasses
A nice set of stemless plastic wine glasses are utilitarian enough to be used for juice in the morning and water during the day, while still being fancy enough for the glass of Napa Valley red in the evening!
15. Stackable/collapsible Tupperware
The ability to store leftovers is important on the road, as it means you don’t have to cook three meals a day. But empty storage containers can take up a lot of room… unless you choose the stackable or collapsible type!
16. Quick-dry dish towels
Quick-dry dish towels are small, lightweight, and will be able to dry in even the most humid weather.
17. Spice containers/rack
A hanging spice rack can be placed almost anywhere – on your wall, on the side of a cupboard, on the inside of a cupboard door – and by choosing square shakers (old Tic Tac containers are perfect) you can save even more space.
For ultimate space-saving choose a colander that is collapsible. Ensure the holes are small enough for it to be used with rice as well as pasta.
A flat grater can be stored in the same cupboard as the rest of your kitchen utensils.
20. Can opener/corkscrew
The Swiss army knife of the kitchen, a combination can opener and corkscrew will ensure you can get into any tin (without ruining your lovely set of knives), and that you can enjoy a nice bottle of wine with dinner.
21. Drawer liners
An absolute must-have for any camper van kitchen, drawer liners keep your cookware and utensils in place while you’re driving. Ensure every cupboard and shelf features a grippy pad for items to sit on.
Want to become an on-road Gordon Ramsay? Contact the friendly team at Drifter to discuss your perfect camper van kitchen today!