19 Van Life Kitchen Essentials We Love for Campervan Cooking

Wondering which cooking supplies to bring with you on your van life journeys? We try to keep our campervan kitchen simple. Here are the top items we use and love every day.

If there’s one thing I do often while living in my campervan, it’s cooking! We love boondocking in far-off locations, which means having enough food on hand to cook delicious meals for up to a week. A campervan is a small space, so you will have less room than in a house kitchen.

That’s why I am very selective about which gear I keep in my campervan kitchen. I’ve vetted and used all of the van life kitchen essentials mentioned in this post. If I don’t like something, I get rid of it.

Hopefully, this list will help you cook the best meals in and outside your campervan, even with limited space.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy for more info.

A Good Camp Stove

A bright orange camp stove sitting on a picnic table, one of our favorite van life kitchen essentials
This is our GSI Outdoors two burner camp stove

We have two camp stoves in our van. One is a two-burner propane portable cooktop that we use outside only, and the other is an induction stove for inside cooking. We truly love the induction cooktop as it allows us to sit inside our cozy van, especially when the nights get darker in winter. You will need a large battery bank to cook with induction as it takes a large amount of power.

A good two-burner propane camping stove is a good buy for outdoor cooking on a table. Having two burners means you can use two pots and make more elaborate meals. We love cooking outside on warm summer evenings, especially frying vegan sausage or tofu.

A Camp Table

A large roll top camp table with a two burner camping stove on top of it
We love our Camp Roll table by REI

When we cook outside, it’s important to have a sturdy camping table for your stove, cutting board and cooking utensils When we lived in the Chevy Astro van, we had a tiny table that fit a one-burner stove. When we upgraded to our Sprinter van, we purchased a larger roll-top table from REI. The extra space made such a difference that I can’t believe we lived with such a tiny table before.

One Large Cutting Board

woman cutting food on a large cutting board inside a campervan
My favorite cutting board from Epicurean

Since we don’t have a lot of space, we only have one cutting board in our campervan. We chose a large Epicurean cutting board from Sur La Table, which covers half of our table when I’m preparing dinner. It’s made of a paper composite material that’s durable and easy to clean. The groove captures liquid from veggies like tomatoes, preventing spills on my van’s floor. I love this and recommend adding it to your van life essentials checklist.

A Pressure Cooker

stovetop pressure cooker inside a campervan kitchen on an induction cooktop

We only keep one large pot in our van, a stovetop pressure cooker. This All-Clad Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker is high quality, with a built-in timer and different settings depending on what you’re cooking. Not only do we pressure cook items like dried beans and potatoes, but we also use the pot for our daily oatmeal and soups. This is a versatile pot that I can’t imagine living without in my van.

A Cast Iron Skillet

The second pot in our camper van kitchen is a cast-iron skillet from Staub. We use this hardy pot to grill vegan sausages, cook eggs and hashbrowns, and fry gnocchi. This pan is the perfect accompaniment to our pressure cooker, and we haven’t felt any need for additional pots and pans.

A Cast Iron Griddle

We mainly use our cast iron griddle when cooking outside with our two-burner propane stove. We’ve used our Staub griddle to cook pizza, grilled-cheese sandwiches, vegan sausages with onions and bell peppers, vegan burgers, etc. It’s also great for pancakes and eggs in the morning. 

Staub Cast Iron Griddle

We love our cast iron griddle both as a sailboat accessory and for using in our campervan. It's fun to spread it across our two burners, making eggs and hashbrowns, grilled cheese sandwiches, or pancakes.

Cooking Utensils

Our cooking utensils are minimalistic, just like our two pots. We have one stainless steel flipper and one rubber spatula. We use the stainless steel tool and our rubber spatula to get sauces out of our pots for storage or eating. 

A Refrigerator or Cooler

If you’re living in a van full time, you’ll want a fridge in your campervan. We’ve had a refrigerator since 2019 and can’t imagine returning to a cooler. The fridge doesn’t need ice, is energy-efficient, and can store a lot of food. We prefer top-loading fridges for their capacity and ability to keep food colder, but some van lifers prefer front-loading fridges more like you’d find in a dorm room. Plus, with a fridge, you’ll always have cold drinks waiting for you after your hike!

One Good Quality Knife

Van life is an exercise in minimalism, so we only keep one knife in our van. My favorite knife is my Santoku-style knife from Wustof. I’ve had this knife for over ten years and get it sharpened once or twice per year. A good knife will make you more excited to cook in your campervan, plus, its safer than a dull knife.

One Measuring Cup

Our van only has one measuring cup, a 2-cup stainless steel measuring cup. We use this as a measuring cup and a ladle for soups, stews, and sauces. We like finding van life kitchen essentials with multiple purposes, if possible. Some van lifers prefer collapsible measuring cups, but we’ve found we don’t need measuring cups of all the various sizes. The 2-cup one is good enough for guesstimating! 

Insulated Plates and Bowls

Insulated plates with vegetarian food on them, one of our favorite van life kitchen essentials

We are obsessed with our insulated plates and bowls from REI. You can serve piping hot food on these plates, yet still hold them on your lap while sitting outside. We use the insulated bowls (with lids!) for our daily oatmeal, soups, and stews.

Stainless Steel Cups

I have two cups in my campervan, which are both stainless steel with a spill-proof lid. I must admit that I only sometimes use the lid, but these cups are great for wine, juice, and cocktails. Both are insulated, so would work well for hot drinks like a cup of tea on a chilly evening. 

Insulated Mugs

We have an insulated mug for our morning coffee, along with the stainless steel cups. Tom loves his backpacking mug, and I really like my small mug from Pakt. The GSI Outdoors is great because it has a dual purpose; you can even use it to eat soups!

​Radius Outfitters Kitchen Organizer

We have a Radius Outfitters kitchen organizer hanging from the back of our van’s driver seat. This unique storage solution comes in handy, as it holds our plates, silverware, and cooking utensils. It’s even possible to remove the kitchen organizer, buckle it up and carry it around without fearing items falling out. 

A Way to Boil Water (JetBoil or Electric Kettle)

In our Chevy Astro van, we didn’t have much battery power, so we used a backpacking JetBoil stove to boil water for coffee or ramen. Now that we live in a Sprinter van full-time, we upgraded to four lithium-ion Battleborn batteries, which can handle an electric kettle. Just like the induction cooktop, an electric kettle will use a fair amount of energy, so be sure to watch your battery percentage if you’re using an electric kettle frequently. The one we chose is sold out, but it’s easy to find a good electric kettle on Amazon. 

Pourover for Coffee

Pouring coffee in a campervan with a view of the ocean
This is the kit I use, which has been discontinued for now

We know many van lifers who love the Aeropress for making coffee, but after one exploded hot grounds all over my chest, I decided to stick to the Melitta pour-over. This handy device sits on top of your coffee cup. Add a paper filter, your coffee grounds, and hot water. The Melitta pour-over makes a good cup of coffee and is easier to deal with than the Aeoropress or a French Press, which requires you to deal with goopy grounds that can be hard to rinse. 

If you’re a coffee snob like me, you may like to have your own hand-cranked coffee grinder. I recommend the 1ZEspresso Hand Coffee Grinder. It’s worth investing in if you love a delicious cup of fresh coffee!

Food Storage Containers

Some van lifers opt for collapsible food storage containers, but we prefer to store hot food in something other than plastic. Instead, we use a combination of these stainless steel containers and a couple of glass containers. We do own just one plastic food storage container for cold foods. 

Egg Storage Container

If you don’t want to deal with a gooey mess of broken eggs, you may want one of those plastic egg storage containers. These are awesome for a crowded camping fridge, especially if things are jostling around when you’re looking for that perfect boondocking spot. We have one that fits a dozen eggs. 

A Solar Shower

This is a weird thing to list in a post about van life kitchen essentials, but we use our solar shower daily to wash our hands and dishes. We hang the shower off the passenger or driver’s side mirror, and it works like a charm to rinse or wash dishes. We don’t yet have a working sink in our van, so this will have to do until then. You can also opt for a collapsible kitchen sink for a wash basin.

​Our Campervan’s Kitchen Essentials are Limited

As you see from this list, this is every item we use in our campervan kitchen. It’s not a lot, right? This might seem like a tiny list if you’re coming from a house with a full kitchen. But like us, you’ll most likely fall in love with the minimalistic aspect of van life cooking, and you’ll learn to cook nutritious meals with less. 

We hope you enjoy the cooking equipment mentioned in this post, and I’d love to know what YOU use and love that I didn’t mention here. We’re always looking for more ideas! 

Other van life posts to check out:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Pingback: 11 ways to find public showers when living in a campervan - The Wayward Home
  2. Pingback: Composting toiles: The best of 2019 for camper vans, RVs and tiny homes
  3. Pingback: These car camper conversion kits will change your life - The Wayward Home
  4. Pingback: Small camper vans: The top 6 tiny vans for living the van life
  5. Pingback: DIY campervan: Tips from the experts on building a van in 2019
  6. Pingback: The best portable toilets of 2019 for camping, van life and RVing

Similar Posts