Cooking a thanksgiving dinner in your RV

Cooking a Thanksgiving Dinner in your RV

For most Americans, the Thanksgiving holiday revolves around the traditional meal that most of us enjoy just once per year. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pies, and so many other delicious foods have become staples that are looked forward to all year long. But have you ever spent Thanksgiving in your RV? With less counter space, a smaller oven, a smaller sink, and a smaller fridge, many may see cooking a large meal like Thanksgiving dinner in their RV as an impossible task. However, with some prior planning and some small tweaks, preparing a full Thanksgiving spread in your RV is totally possible. Read on for a full list of tips and tricks for cooking a turkey dinner in your tiny kitchen.

1. Clean out your fridge ahead of time

Although this is not a part of the cooking process, it is essential to ensuring that you have enough room to store ingredients prior to cooking and leftovers after after you have enjoyed your meal. Some newer RVs are equipped with residential-sized refrigerators, but most come with smaller fridges that cannot store as much as a traditional refrigerator. Clearing out your fridge ahead of time will set you up to properly prepare and store your meal after Thanksgiving is over.

2. Cook smaller portions

Since you will likely be working with a smaller oven and fridge, you may need to cook smaller portions than you typically do for Thanksgiving. This way, you will have enough room in your oven to cook everything and enough room in your fridge to store it. Think RV-sized portions instead of traditional-kitchen-sized portions.

3. Make pies, casseroles, and stuffing the day ahead

This is something many people do even if they are working in a traditional kitchen. Making some sides and desserts ahead of time certainly lightens the workload on the day of the holiday. Most pies can be stored at room temperature and can even often be baked at the same time as each other. Stuffing can be made a day or two ahead of time and reheated later on. Green bean casserole, mac and cheese, and any of your other favorite casseroles can also be made ahead of time. This allows for more time to relax and enjoy your time with friends and family on the actual day of Thanksgiving.

4. Set up workstations at the table and/or outside

Because you will be working with limited counter space, you may need to set up various workstations in other areas of your RV. You can easily prep veggies at your dinette or kitchen table, and then assemble the dishes on the kitchen counters. Some people even set up a large banquet table inside and prep on that table. Whatever you end up deciding to do, don’t be afraid to create some extra prep space for yourself. This will make cooking this large meal much easier.

5. Make mashed potatoes and veggies on the stove

On Thanksgiving Day, plan to make your mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables on your stove top. Most RV stoves come equipped with three burners, which means you can make several things at the same time. Cooking these sides on the stove will save the oven space for the turkey. You can also make mashed potatoes and keep them warm in the crock pot or instant pot. You can even cook vegetables on the stove and reheat them later in the microwave. Any combination of cooking methods that keeps the oven free should make cooking this meal that much easier.

6. Save the oven for the turkey (or consider using an outdoor deep fryer)

As stated above, it’s much easier to cook Thanksgiving dinner when you keep the oven reserved for the turkey. Consider brining your turkey ahead of time for a more juicy and flavorful main course. If you have a deep fryer, this is another excellent place to cook your turkey. Frying the turkey gives it a nice crispy exterior with a juicy interior, and it would keep the oven free for casseroles, stuffing and other sides. However you plan to cook the turkey, be sure to start it early enough in the day, as it will likely take three hours or more to cook.

7. Use the convection oven or crock pot/instant pot if you have one

If your RV comes equipped with a convection oven, this gives you even more places to cook your various side dishes. The combination of possibilities is extensive, and having multiple ovens gives you even more options. You could potentially cook your turkey in your propane oven, your stuffing and casseroles in the convection oven, and the vegetables and mashed potatoes on the stove. If you have an instant pot, you can also use that to cook one of the sides. 

Mashed potatoes or even a casserole would cook nicely in an instant pot or even a standard crock pot. This would help clear up additional places to cook. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to set timers for cooking times for different dishes to ensure nothing burns or is under or overcooked.

8. Eat outside 

Since most RV tables tend to be small, you will likely have a difficult time fitting all of the food on the table. If you set up a banquet table or your campsite’s picnic table outside, you will have more room for all the food and also for you and your family. Enjoying this holiday dinner with a scenic view should make the experience even more enjoyable and memorable.

Enjoying Thanksgiving dinner is a yearly tradition enjoyed by most people across America. Living in a smaller home or deciding to travel in your RV over the holiday does not mean you can’t enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal. In fact, experiencing this holiday in a new and exciting place may make it even more fun. Incorporate some of these tips and tricks into your Thanksgiving meal prep for a seamless and fun experience.

Have you cooked Thanksgiving dinner in your RV? What did you do to make it easier? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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  1. Bill
    30th October, 2022

    I cooked a turkey bone in Brest with stovetop stuffing and instant mashed potatoes, they’re really pretty good these days, and microwave veggies. The turkey breast barely fit in the oven of our 27’ trailer and came out great. Even had leftovers for sandwiches later with pie. Worked great for the two of us.

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  2. Greg
    30th October, 2022

    We have a 30 foot travel trailer and the oven has the capacity of a modest toaster oven (at best). Last year we spatchcocked our turkey ( so it would fit in the oven and it came out perfect. Totally agree with prepping the day (or two) ahead.

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  3. Sharil S
    30th October, 2022

    Our tradition for years has been camping at Thanksgiving with family. We utilize outdoor Lodge cast iron to bake casseroles and a smaller turkey so we can save the oven for homemade butter rolls that I make at home and freeze. As much as possible is prepped at home including the dressing which is totally ready in a ziploc bag. Just add broth and bake. Then all we do is take out the rolls, let them thaw and rise all day, and bake them in the rv oven. A little home prep and a lot of cast iron goes a long way.

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  4. Sam Leash
    8th December, 2020

    This sounds fantastic – especially the duck! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  5. Anne
    27th November, 2020

    We’ve done Thanksgiving in our 5th wheel several years. We smoke the bird (duck this year) and do fewer sides. I can get it all done while the meat is cooking and it tastes just as good as if I cooked it at home!

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