Food is a big part of the family camping experience. Whether you camp with a large RV, a small trailer or a tent, the right outdoor kitchen setup can take your camping experience to another level. Sometimes an outdoor kitchen acts as your main work space, other times it’s a secondary station to the main indoor kitchen. Either way, cooking outside is the best and it’s even better when you have an efficient kitchen setup that you love.

I designed kitchens professionally for 15 years.  Planning an outdoor kitchen is entirely different: it’s temporary, it’s exposed to the elements and it’s often smaller with only the essentials. The kitchen designer in me always wants a functional space that works with my outdoor space and looks good, too. AND I want easy set up and take down because if a kitchen is only being set up for a weekend, I want to get to the fun stuff!

Some RV’s are equipped with an outdoor kitchen option. These are great to look at for ideas to create your own. Ideally, you want the following main components included in your outdoor kitchen plan:

Countertop / Work Surface

This can be a simple, folding table. Get a height that is comfortable for you to work at. Tables can be easily raised, leveled and stabilized by placing boards under the legs on uneven ground. Think about easy set up and take down. You want a table that is durable enough to hold whatever you are going to be keeping on it.

Cooler or Bar Fridge

Having a way to keep food and beverages cool is essential. You may have this covered with your indoor fridge but having a cooler or fridge outside keeps traffic down inside and lets you keep needed items close by outside. Who wants to go more than a few steps for a happy hour beverage and snack?


An outdoor sink doesn’t require running water and is nice for a few reasons:
– food prep and clean up can be done outside
– it can also function as an outdoor hand wash/clean up station
– fill it with ice and cold beverages

Cooking Surface

I love cooking outside. You can’t truly camp (ok, glamp!) unless you barbecue or cook over a fire or a camp stove so having one of these options is very necessary – especially with kids or a crowd to feed. I camp with a slow cooker/crockpot, as well. Plug it in outside, it’s easy to check on and it keeps food smells out of the trailer.

Other Essentials

For a complete list of everything essential to stocking your indoor kitchen (and items you’ll want/need for your outdoor kitchen), check out our free download HERE.

Some RV’s come equipped with built-in outdoor kitchens. These may include a small fridge, camp stove, sink, TV. Something like this is great for having drinks or snacks readily available for watching the game. For more serious cooking, a foldable table might be really useful. We’ll get to that!

Another example of a built-in kitchen, this teardrop trailer kitchen is incredibly functional. Tons of storage and I love the pull-out cooler.

Another pull-out, this model folds up and slides out. Everything you need and a nice work surface space!

The Universal Camp Kitchen by Fifth Element Camping is super portable, folds down into a small box and is made in the US.

Do you love this table? Even with the legs folded, it still looks like it would take a couple of people to pack and unpack it. But it’s huge and wood and sturdy and I love it. My dream outdoor kitchen work table.

A simple slide-out example, this is a great way to use an outdoor storage space that is otherwise being wasted. Set up an additional folding table with a camp stove and your coffee pot, and you have a great L-shaped space.

Love the stainless. And the L-shaped counter provides a nice large corner for workspace, a coffee pot, toaster, etc.

A little short on work surface maybe and I don’t love the camp stove location, but check out the wire basket countertop for dishes! The bar for hanging lighting and utensils is really smart, as is the lower shelf beneath the sink. Complete with a DIY water system!

A basic fold-up table is one of the best outdoor kitchen essentials you can have. It provides work space and storage for kitchen items that you want easily accessible. With limited space in RV’s, keeping kitchen necessities outside creates a less cluttered interior!

Cabela’s Camp Kitchen provides portable work space and storage and folds all up when you’re done. It doesn’t have a built-in sink, so a tub would work well with this system.

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate with our camping plans! A simple gazebo (tent, canopy, awning) can help with that.

Kitchens don’t have to be large! Folded up, this set up would fit in a small car. Amazingly functional, this kitchen has everything.

Personalize your space! Table cloths, summer dish sets, vintage items, fresh flowers all have a place in outdoor kitchens.

Take some time to plan your outdoor kitchen. Think about your group, the food and meals you want to enjoy and the weather you may encounter. And always respect wildlife – food should be indoors overnight and dispose of all waste properly. If you have a great outdoor kitchen or cooking tip, please share with us!