I am by no means an expert when it comes to RV cooking. But, we have been on the road for a little over a month now and I have had some successes and failures when it comes to cooking. There was and still is a learning curve. I went from cooking will all electric and no gas to all gas with no electric. Plus, an RV oven is much smaller than a traditional oven (at least most are smaller). Here are some tips that will hopefully make your RV cooking experience a little less frustrating!
Tip #1 – Oven rack position
This is my #1 tip because it is the #1 most important aspect of RV oven cooking in my opinion. I never really worried about oven rack position in our electric, normal size oven back home. Unless I was broiling, the rack was positioned in the same spot most of the time. That is different in the RV oven. We have three rack positions in our oven. The lowest rack is right above the heat source. The heat from the oven comes from propane gas and there is a strip of heating elements at the bottom of the oven in the middle. Because of that, if the rack is positioned on the bottom, you are closest to the heat source and the middle portion is going to be hotter than the rest. I have had success with using the bottom rack, but most have been failures. Once successful bake was a meatloaf that I turned ¼ every 20 minutes or so. Failures included taco shells and cookies. I find the middle rack works better for casseroles and the top rack works better for cookies and brownies. In those positions, it heats more evenly since it is further from the heat source.
Tip #2 – Oven thermometer
I never knew that ovens had to be calibrated and the temperature on the dial was sometimes not the actual temperature of the oven (after it preheats of course). I guess I have never noticed an issue with previous ovens although it apparently can be an issue with regular ovens and RV ovens. I started to notice some problems with some of my recipes so after finding an article about oven calibration, I decided to try an oven thermometer. I am a convert now! I can tell you 100% that an oven thermometer is necessary for a RV oven. Our oven runs about 50 degrees different from the knob setting. If a recipe calls for 350 degrees, I have the knob close to 400 before the thermometer will register 350 (after allowing for pre-heat, see below). Without a thermometer, I had no idea that my temperature would be off as much as 50 degrees! That can make a huge difference on any dish! Thermometers are inexpensive and worth it. Here is the one we use.
Tip #3 – Pre-heat the oven
I bet most of you pre-heat the oven at home – a RV oven is no different! You must pre-heat and check the temperature with your thermometer! It can take a little while for the RV oven to pre-heat, but you have to be patient. Your dish will not turn out the same without a pre-heated oven! It is a must do.
Tip #4 – Bigger is not better!! Pan size matters!
The oven in our RV is 14×14 which from what I understand is a decent size for a RV. Being in a RV means we have little room for excess pans and dishes so we have a choice few pans from which to choose. You must to be careful when purchasing pans because of the lip of the pan. I had a heck of a time finding a 13×9 that would fit in the oven. The reason is 13×9 is the measurement of the bottom of the pan, but many pans have a lip to make it easier to grab the pan. That’s great until the lip makes the pan 14.5×10 or something greater than 14! I did finally find a 13×9 that will work on our oven. Here is the pan we have. Of course, I have not used it yet since we barely have any room in the refrigerator for leftovers! For RVers with more than 2 people, this pan would be fantastic for casseroles for the family. I have been focusing on the oven, but the pan size on the stove is important too, especially if you plan to use more than one burner at a time. It can get pretty cramped up there if you have bigger pans.
Tip #5 – Live and learn and don’t get frustrated
It takes some time to get use to RV cooking. Just try recipes out and see how it goes! Happy cooking and if you have any tips message us below!