Creative Campervan Kitchen Ideas

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Designing your dream campervan kitchen can be overwhelming because there are tons of choices to make: What’s the best campervan kitchen sink? Propane vs. electric cooktop? What’s the best vanlife refrigerator? Don’t worry — we’ve been there (a few times!) and are here to share inspiration and ideas for all kinds of campervan kitchens.

Campervan Kitchen

Designing our campervan kitchen was probably the thing I was most excited to begin with in our first campervan build. 

I love cooking, and we’ve typically rented places with less than ideal kitchens, so I was excited to actually design my own cooking space. Exactly the way I wanted it.

Since then, we’ve built three (very different!) campervans with various budgets and amenities, and each time I get most excited about designing the campervan kitchens. 

However, with each experience we’ve found out just how overwhelming designing a camper van kitchen can be. 

Your kitchen is likely where you’ll have the most decisions to make of your entire campervan conversion. That’s where we come in! 

In this article we’ll guide you through all the decisions you’ll have to make, plus we’re sharing some fun and creative campervan kitchen ideas to get you inspired!

Campervan Kitchens Guide

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How to design your dream campervan kitchen

When I mentioned there are a lot of decisions to make involving campervan kitchens, I wasn’t kidding… Here’s what I mean: 

  • Water: Do you want running water?
  • Cooking: Propane or electric? How many burners? Do you want an oven?
  • Refrigeration: What is your plan for keeping food chilled?
  • Storage: What type of storage do you plan to build?
  • Countertop: What material would you like to use for your countertop?
  • Placement: Where in your van will you place your kitchen?

That’s a lot to think about, but don’t get overwhelmed! We’re here to walk you through each step of your campervan kitchen design.

We’ll break down the different options as well as pros and cons for each. Plus, we’ll share what we chose for our camper van kitchen and explain why we chose it.

Determine your campervan kitchen needs

Campervan Kitchen

First, consider how much cooking you’ll realistically be doing inside your van. These questions should help guide you in determining your campervan kitchen needs:

1. How much time will you be in your van?

  • Full-time Vanlifer
  • Weekend Adventurer
  • Somewhere in between

2. How many people will you be cooking for?

  • Just me!
  • More than me

3. Which version of cooking sounds more like you?

  • Campervan Chef: chopping lots of veggies, using more than one pot to make your meals, experimenting, and maybe even baking!
  • The Minimalist Cook: opening cans, boiling water, and mixing ingredients in a single bowl that you’ll also eat out of (saving dishes!)
  • Middle of the Road: not totally “chef” status, but you’ll be doing more than just boiling water and heating up canned goods

Understanding your needs is going to help you design the perfect campervan kitchen for you.

A full-time vanlife couple who considers themselves “campervan chefs” are going to need a much different set-up than a solo weekend adventurer that’s more of a “minimalist cook”.

Personal example

We LOVE cooking and experimenting with new recipes. We usually incorporate lots of fresh produce, so we use all the counter space we can get for food prep and cooking.

  • In our first campervan build we were on a shoestring budget, but also planning to live in our van full-time for an entire summer. 
  • For our second campervan build, we have a much bigger budget to work with than our first, so we wanted the kitchen to be the main focus. Plus we were planning to live in our van part-time for longer stretches. 
  • In our third campervan build, we had our daughter to keep in mind. We knew we wouldn’t be spending quite as long stretches of time in our van. 

Campervan kitchen budget

Campervan Kitchen

Another factor to consider is your overall budget, as that is going to shape some of your decisions. We’ve had three very different campervan kitchens, and our budget played a big role in how we built each:

  • Kitchen on a tight budget: Our first campervan had a super basic kitchen that cost us less than $50 to build.
  • My “dream” tiny kitchen: Our second build has a much higher-end kitchen that feels like it belongs in an actual home.

Wanna know how much our fancy campervan kitchen cost (down to the penny!)? We’ve broken it all down right here!

Things that can add up:

  • Refrigerator (these can be surprisingly expensive, though we do have a good budget recommendation for you!)
  • a propane system
  • lumber and hardware for cabinets and drawers
  • some types of countertops (like live edge wood or sometimes butcher block)
  • running water

Money-saving tips:

  • gravity fed water jug instead of running water
  • cooler instead of a 12V refrigerator
  • make curtains for storage instead of cabinets and drawers
  • induction or electric cooktops instead of a propane system
    • Even cheaper still: use a portable cooktop that uses propane
  • Use thrifted cookware (or items you already have). There’s no need to go out and buy new utensils, pots, and skillets if you don’t have the budget for it.
  • Choose a more basic material for your countertop, like plywood

Psst! If you’re on a really tight budget, check out our tutorial where we show you exactly how we built a campervan kitchen for under $50!

Water and plumbing for campervan kitchens

Campervan Kitchen | Water System

Your water system is going to be part of your kitchen that is used for more than just cooking.

You’ll use it to fill up water bottles, brush your teeth, wash your face and hands, and maybe even use it for showering (depending on your van build).

Getting fresh water in your campervan is essential, no matter how you swing it. Here are a few ideas for water systems on different budgets. 

Gravity-fed jug

This was the kitchen in our first campervan build, and this picture shows an example of a gravity-fed water jug. (See below for the link to the exact sink we used.)

The simplest and cheapest option for water is to use a jug of water that sits at the edge of your kitchen sink. Open the spout to get water, and close it when you’re done.


  • super simple set up
  • very inexpensive


  • you’ll have to get a smaller water tank, and therefore will need to fill it pretty often

Foot pump

A step up from the gravity-fed system is to install a foot pedal. Essentially, you will need to step on the pedal and pump to generate the pressure needed to run your water.

Running water

Campervan Sink | Water System

Do you want to turn on your faucet and have water run like it would in a house? If so, it’s going to require a bit of planning and work. But in our opinion, it’s super worthwhile!

These are the components you’ll need (conveniently, we’ve put them all on an Amazon Shop page:

  • Large water tank
  • Strainer
  • Water Pump
  • Accumulator
  • Faucet
  • Sink
  • Drain
  • Gray Water Tank
  • PEX tubing, connectors, and cinch rings

Something to think about: Do you want the option of having hot water? We opted against this at first but wished we had installed one. We ended up deciding to put it in after the fact (6 months after our build).

Doing dishes is easier, but the biggest reason we wanted hot water is for showering. Cold showers are alright on a hot day, but when it’s chilly they aren’t so fun! 

We first installed a Camplux 5L propane water heater for our van, and it worked fine. But since it uses propane, it does need to be properly vented so Carbon Monoxide does not build up in your van. In our latest campervan kitchen setup up, we chose to go with an electric water heater like the Bosch 2.5-gallon Mini-Tank water heater. 

What we chose & why: We chose to have a fully-functioning running water system in our second and third vans. We had done a gravity jug in a past build and wanted a step up. We’re really happy with it! The only change we made was adding an electric water heater, because having the option of on demand heated water (especially for showering) is so much nicer than only having cold water.

Choosing a sink for your campervan kitchen

Campervan kitchens-Lola door way sink

While we’re on the topic of water, let’s talk quickly about sinks. It can be a bit tricky knowing what to look for and finding a sink that is the right size for your small campervan kitchen.

Personal kitchen sink recommendations:

  • Budget option: We had this kitchen sink in our first build and it worked super well. It is actually meant to be a dish-washing basin, but we fitted it with a hose that connected to a bucket where we collected our gray water and it worked great!
  • Farm sink: If you are looking for a classic white farm style sink, you’ll quickly find that most of the options are huge! They’re meant for regular-sized kitchens, after all. But we found one that we love that looks really nice (it is meant for a bathroom).
    • This sink can work well with the front side exposed (like we have it) or having it recessed into your countertop.
  • Buy used: If you have a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, that can be a good place to check for sinks (as well as other kitchen items). Just make sure it’s not too big for your van, since most of the items at these stores come from homes.
  • DIY: You can make a sink by finding a bowl that will work for your basin. You’ll need to drill a hole for a drain and make sure it’s properly sized for the plumbing fittings, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to DIY it.

Propane vs. electric cooktop

When it comes to choosing a cooktop, there are a handful of options. But one major factor to consider is whether you’d prefer cooking over gas or on an electric burner. We’ll go over the options below.

Portable cooktop

Budget Campervan Kitchen

If you’re on a tight budget or don’t want to spend much time on your build, the simplest (and cheapest) way to cook food in a campervan is with a portable propane stove. These come in one or two-burner options.

We used a 2-burner propane camping stove in our first campervan, and it worked well. We were always sure to open a window while cooking.

Electric cooktop

Electric burners are a popular choice for campervans, as they don’t come with the same safety hazards as propane does. That said, using your electric system to cook can drain your power quickly, so you’ll need to monitor your batteries.

Alternative: Induction Cooktop

Induction cookers use electricity, but they cook your food differently. Instead of heating up the burner itself, they use electromagnetic radiation to transfer heat to the pot you cook with.

We don’t have experience with these in a campervan, but they do tend to heat up faster which may mean you use less power to cook your meals. The downside is they tend to be more expensive, and you will need cookware specifically made to pair with an induction cooker.

Propane burner

Campervan Kitchen Propane Stove

If you like cooking over gas burners, it’s possible to install a propane system in your campervan build. That said, it is extremely important that you follow some very specific guidelines in order to install it properly.

What we chose & why: We chose to do a 2-burner propane cooktop in our second and third campervan kitchens because we really prefer cooking with gas in general. Plus, we didn’t want to worry about draining our battery when cooking.

Campervan refrigeration

Deciding how you plan on keeping your food refrigerated is a pretty important decision. Here are some options:


Campervan Kitchen | Cooler vs. Fridge

In our first campervan kitchen, we simply used an inexpensive cooler and filled it with ice every few days. In case anyone is curious, we spent $66 in 3 months on ice. Yes, we’re huge nerds about tracking expenses. (Mostly so we can share with you!)

Psst! Wanna know how much other parts of daily life in a van cost? We broke down our vanlife budget here.

It’s not a perfect solution, as we had to find places to get ice, and we had to empty and clean it out every so often so it wouldn’t smell. Plus, it required a bit more attention than a regular fridge so that our food didn’t go to waste.

Refrigerated chest

A (big) step up from a traditional cooler is to get a refrigerated chest. At a glance, it might not look all that different from a regular cooler, but it has a 12V connection, allowing it to actively refrigerate food. This means no need for ice!

In short, it does the job of a refrigerator but looks like a cooler chest.

These are often priced better (but sometimes not) than 12V mini-refrigerators, but serve the same purpose. The downfall to these is that you will specifically need to design your kitchen around a chest, making it accessible from the top.

We’ve seen some vanlifers install these in a very heavy duty drawer (they’re not lightweight, especially when filled with food!). We’ve also seen them built into a bench seat.

12V Refrigerator

Campervan fridge-Pearl
Campervan kitchens-Lola fridge 1

We had no idea how expensive 12V refrigerators were until we started looking… So we’ll warn you that this is one piece of your kitchen that can (surprisingly) cost a lot.

Why can’t you just buy a mini fridge? (They are a lot cheaper, after all!)

Technically, you could (if you have an inverter), but refrigerators draw a lot of energy. A LOT. If you went with a regular mini-fridge, you’d likely only be able to run it in increments to avoid draining your battery.

The 12-volt options on the market are much, much more efficient. But they are also generally much, much more expensive. We’ll walk you through the best 12V refrigerators on the market as well as a budget option that we personally chose (and really like).

Budget 12V refrigerator

We opted to go with a lower-budget 12V fridge (it’s really difficult to find inexpensive ones!), but we’re pretty happy with it. Our fridge draws more energy than the more expensive models would, but so far it has worked great and keeps our food very cold.

Insider Tip: If we’re running low on battery, we turn it off while we sleep, and turn it on in the morning (when we can draw solar power). This was never an issue, and our food was typically still very cold when we opened the fridge in the morning.

In our latest campervan kitchen, we upgraded to an Isotherm 12V Fridge so it was more efficient with energy usage. Dometic is also another brand we would recommend if you can’t find an Isotherm supplier in your area. 

What we chose & why: In our second van, we chose a Smad 1.7 cubic feet 12V refrigerator because we liked the idea of being able to open the door like a regular refrigerator. It is a bit more budget friendly compared to an Isotherm, but we did have to monitor our battery levels when it was running. 

A van usually has a small footprint and it can be difficult to find a spot where we could put a refrigerated chest. So the upright design worked a lot better with our compact layout. Plus, I like being able to stand things up and organize them like I would in a regular refrigerator rather than a cooler style.

In our third build, we upgraded our fridge to a Isotherm Cruise 65 with a freezer, and we love it! It’s so quiet and energy efficient, however it does come at a major cost. 

Want to learn how to build and install your solar-powered campervan electric system? 

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Storage space in your campervan kitchen

Unlike some of the other categories where you need to make one big decision, you’ll likely choose a few of these storage options.

It’s a good idea to start brainstorming your vision, as the storage space is going to shape your overall kitchen design.

Tip: Think about what items you’re actually going to be storing so you know how much space you’ll need. If you already have the items, it can help you visualize and cut down any that aren’t necessary.


This is essentially the “bones” of our campervan kitchen. We then added faceplates to the drawers and a cabinet door to make things look nicer.
This is essentially the “bones” of our campervan kitchen. We then added faceplates to the drawers and a cabinet door to make things look nicer.

Cabinets are simple(ish) to build and can be made to fit your needs (deep, shallow, short, tall). Also, while wooden doors with hinges are most common, you could also cover them with curtains.


Campervan Kitchen Ideas

Drawers are super handy for smaller items like silverware and miscellaneous items, however, they can be a bit difficult to build from scratch. Not impossible, but they do require some patience. (We speak from experience!)

Insider Tip: Getting some shallow containers for more organization in your drawers is key! We have this bamboo organizer and really like it.

Upper shelves (open vs. closed)

Having overhead storage helps take advantage of vertical space. Consider if you want them to be cabinets that open and close, or an open shelf.

Creative storage ideas

Campervan Kitchen Storage | Mason Jars

Truthfully, the options are endless. We’ve got an article with all sorts of campervan storage ideas that you can check out to get more inspiration, including a few of our own kitchen storage ideas that we think are super cool:

  • a hidden drying rack
  • a narrow pantry that makes use of vertical space
  • under cabinet Mason jars (good for bulk rice, quinoa, lentils, etc.)
Campervan Storage Ideas

Campervan Storage Ideas: Creative Solutions for Your Van Build

Figuring out how you’re going to fit everything into your tiny home on wheels can be overwhelming, but lucky for you, we’ve got tons of campervan storage ideas just for you! We’re sharing our own storage solutions as well as creative inspiration from other vanlifers so you can come up with the best campervan storage for your needs.

What we chose & why: We did a combination of drawers, kitchen cupboards and an open shelf. We also included some creative storage options, as described above.

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Kitchen countertops

While a countertop may seem like an afterthought, it is kind of an important piece of your kitchen. 

If you’re spending a lot of time and money on your build, you probably want a countertop that “fits” your aesthetic. But if you’re all about function over looks, you could save quite a bit of money in this category.

Unlike many kitchens in houses, you’ll want to steer clear of granite-esque counters, as they will be incredibly heavy. Instead, most vanlifers opt for wooden counters. But the decisions don’t stop there. Keep reading for some different countertop options at a variety of price points.


Our first campervan kitchen was nothing fancy so the plywood countertops were perfect. They were very functional and inexpensive. Tip: We always kept that blue cutting board in place with an exposed screw that we’d place the handle over.
Our first campervan kitchen was nothing fancy so the plywood countertops were perfect. They were very functional and inexpensive. Tip: We always kept that blue cutting board in place with an exposed screw that we’d place the handle over.

If you’re not into aesthetics, your countertop can be a good place to save some money.

A simple piece of plywood will be functional, lightweight and cheap. This is what we chose for our first campervan build and it worked fine (though it wasn’t super pretty!).

Insider tip: Make it pretty! We’ve seen some people get creative with “fixing up” their plywood countertops. We’ve seen some people layer pieces of scrap wood in an interesting pattern and then covering it all in epoxy. You could stain the plywood or paint a cool design, and seal it up. Just be sure that whatever treatment you do, it is food safe.

Butcher block

Campervan kitchens-Lola countertop

Butcher block is a popular choice in campervans because it is easy to work with, durable, relatively inexpensive, and looks nice.

This is what we chose for our second van build, and we love it!

Insider Tip: Don’t forget wood oil & wax!

If you decide to go with a butcher block countertop, or a different type of unsealed wood, you should get a bottle of wood oil and/or wood wax. The staff at our local lumber yard (where we purchased a slab of maple for our hand-carved table) suggested Walrus Oil, and we’re big fans now.

What’s the difference between wood oil and wax?

  • Wood Oil: Conditions the wood and keeps it from getting dry and cracking. You’ll feel a big difference when you put a layer of wood oil on your countertop.
  • Wood Wax: This helps to keep the wood somewhat water-resistant. If water is spilled, it’ll bead up instead of soaking in.
Campervan Kitchen | Wood Oil and Wax

How to use them: We use both oil and wax to keep our butcher block countertop and our maple table healthy. If you choose just one product, we’d recommend the oil to at least condition the wood so it doesn’t dry out. If you use both like us, oil it first and let it soak in overnight before applying a thin layer of wax. Over time, you’ll need to apply these products less and less.

Live edge

Using a piece of live edge wood as your kitchen countertop is one way to make your van completely unique. Live edge wood is stunning, but unless you have a connection, it can be quite expensive. We were quoted $600 by a local seller.

If you go this route, be sure you have a plan for planning it (to get it completely straight) as well as sealing and installing it. The man who we inquired with offered these services at an additional charge.

What we chose & why: We ended up going with a butcher block countertop because it is beautiful and on the more affordable end of the spectrum. Originally, we wanted a live edge countertop, but it would have been much more expensive than the butcher block we picked out at Home Depot.

Placement and layout

Here’s a process shot as we were close to completing our first (very simple!) campervan kitchen.
Here’s a process shot as we were close to completing our first (very simple!) campervan kitchen.

When it comes to planning your campervan kitchen layout, it’s not a question of whether you want a big kitchen or a small one (all campervan kitchens are small!). 

Instead, think about what appliances you plan to include as well as where in the van you’ll place the kitchen.

Next Step: Once you’ve determined the placement of your kitchen, you can start to piece each part together. For example, will the sink go to the left or right of the stovetop? Where will the refrigerator sit?
We have a whole article describing the process of how to design your dream campervan layout, so be sure to check that out.

Campervan Layout | Tips and Advice

Campervan Layouts: How to Design your Dream Van Build

This is the ultimate guide to designing your campervan layout, no matter your budget or the size of your vehicle. We’re walking you through essential questions to ask so that you are able to determine what’s most important and design the perfect van for your needs! Let’s start the journey to designing your dream van conversion!

Here are some ideas for kitchen placement:

Along the wall behind the driver’s seat

Campervan Kitchen

This won’t block the sliding door and you’ll easily be able to get from the cab into the back of the van.

This layout is what we’ve chosen for both of our first van builds and it has been a good use of space.

Along the passenger’s side wall

Campervan kitchens-Lola van layout

If you have somewhat limited space and are planning to install a shower (likely behind the driver’s seat), it can work to put your kitchen against the opposite wall (behind the passenger seat). If you choose this design, be sure you give yourself enough room to get in and out of the sliding door.

We choose this layout for our third campervan build because we had to put a bench seat for our daughter to ride along and wanted to install a proper bathroom with shower. Putting the kitchen on the passenger side allowed us to add extra counter space built into the door opening.

Directly behind the driver and passenger seats

This will create a barrier between the cab and the back of the van, but it can be a good use of space in a smaller vehicle.

Out the back of the van

Campervan Kitchen

If you have very limited space or a standard roof that doesn’t allow you to stand fully inside your van, placing the kitchen out of the rear door can be a good idea.

It’s also a good idea in vehicles with low roofs, since placing the kitchen outside will allow you to stand while you’re cooking.

The negative to this is if it is rainy or windy, you won’t have much protection from the elements. It’s also not a great option for cold weather.

What we chose & why: For both of our first two campervan builds, we placed our kitchen along the wall directly behind the driver’s seat. We preferred cooking inside our van (most of the time) just to give us a little more privacy and not have to move too many kitchen items in and out of the van. 

In our third campervan, it made more sense for our layout to have the kitchen extend into the sliding door space because we had our daughter’s car seat right behind the driver. Having this layout allows us to use the kitchen faucet to hose off any gear (or our daughter!) before entering the van. 

Psst! Want to save yourself the headaches and hours of research we went through and get straight to building the campervan of your dreams?? Learn more about Van Conversion Academy

Campervan kitchen pods

Campervan kitchen pods Google image search
A Google image search to give you an idea of what all kinds of different campervan kitchen pods look like

While we think DIY-ing your campervan kitchen is the best way to customize it and get exactly what you want in your van build, there is a growing trend on the internet selling kitchen pods. 

These are essentially prefabricated campervan kitchen units you can buy to install in your campervan conversion. 

We don’t personally recommend this option as they are quite expensive and allow for less customization. 

However, if you are on a tight timeline or just don’t want to put that much thought into your van kitchen, a kitchen pod might be a good alternative. 

Campervan kitchen essentials

Campervan Kitchen

There are seemingly endless options for campervan kitchen gadgets and accessories.

If you’re on a tight budget, this is an area you can go very minimal. Thrift as much as possible or use what you already have.

If you want to make your kitchen as functional as possible though, we’ve got some suggestions for worthwhile accessories and gadgets.

Campervan kitchen “appliances”

Campervan Kitchen Omnia Stovetop Oven
This is how we use our Omnia stovetop oven
  • Big Berkey: This water filter allows you to drink fresh water from the tap with confidence, no matter where you’re parked. It eliminates 99.9% of toxins and bacteria, plus it improves the taste too. Just be sure to have a way to secure your tank when you’re driving. (We use a bungee cord and an eye hole hook).
    • This is our #1 kitchen appliance recommendation!
  • Omnia Stovetop Oven: This handy device allows us to bake on our stovetop (no oven required!). It looks somewhat similar to a bundt pan and comes with a secondary bottom piece that creates a hot air chamber so food bakes instead of burning.
  • Portable blender: If you want a way to have smoothies on the road, but don’t want to commit to a large kitchen appliance, this handy little device is a great option! No cords or electricity needed. It has a USB port so you can recharge it, and we are surprised by how powerful it is!
  • Instapot: We personally don’t have one of these, but we know some vanlifers who swear by it. It takes a bit of energy to cook, so make sure your electric system can handle it.

Coffee essentials

Campervan kitchens - Camping-Coffee

We are coffee addicts, and have a couple different options depending on what kind of morning it is…

  • French Press: This is what we use for our daily brew. Simply heat up water in a tea kettle and pour over grounds.
  • Wacaco Nespresso: We recently discovered this device that allows us to make espresso from inside our van. No coffee shop needed!
  • Aeropress: We know a lot of vanlifers who swear by their Aeropress. It’s compact and makes great coffee, but we usually drink a couple of cups each morning, making a French press more practical for us.

Kitchen storage essentials

Campervan Kitchen Essentials | Storage Containers
  • Oxo Pop Containers: These containers have an airtight seal and are PERFECT for storing stuff in a van. We use one to store coffee, and we have two others that we use for storing leftovers, veggie sticks, etc. in our refrigerator.
    • This is the only reasonably-sized container we’ve found that fits well in our fridge. It says they should only be used for dry storage, but we’ve used them for leftovers and it works just fine. (FYI the link above is the exact size we use, short 1.7-quart rectangle).
  • Mason Jars: These are great for storing bulk items like rice, quinoa, lentils, and cous cous. Instead of buying new ones, you can always use an old mayonnaise or pickle jar and upcycle it!
  • Magnetic knife holder: We chose this affordable magnetic knife holder and love it. It has a powerful hold and our knives stay right in place. Plus, it was a fraction of the price of many others ones we saw.
  • Bamboo organizers: We have this cutlery organizer in our drawer, as well as a few other shallow plastic trays we thrifted. They keep all our miscellaneous items organized (which is clutch)!
  • Fruit hammock: This is one of the most popular “vanlife” items, and we can understand why — it’s pretty cute! Plus, it keeps your produce in place.
  • Mesh produce bags: Instead of a fruit hammock, we opted for this 4-pack of mesh produce bags because we use a lot of fruit and veg, and that little hammock just wouldn’t cut it for us!

Kitchen dining and utensils

Campervan Kitchen Essentials | Magnetic Knife Rack
  • Dining set – The classic blue set is our favorite!
  • Knives – If you already have knives you like, there’s no need to get new ones. However, we didn’t have any, so we bought this set of three. They’re beautiful and they work really well!

Cleanup essentials

Campervan Kitchen Essentials | Trash Bin
  • Slim trash bin: This trashcan is awesome! Not only does it fit in the super narrow space between our kitchen wall and the driver’s seat, but it fits much more trash than we thought it would. We typically only need to empty every 3-4 days (or sometimes even longer!).
    • At $25, this one is on the more expensive side, and there are certainly cheaper options. Just be sure to look for one with a lid, which will keep it from spilling when driving and will keep the smell minimal (which is important in a tiny space).
  • Dish drying mat: This super affordable mat is awesome because it protects our butcher block countertop from excess moisture and doesn’t slip and slide around.
  • Dr. Bronners biodegradable soap: We’re longtime fans of this versatile biodegradable soap.
  • Dish scrubber: We fill this with some Dr. Bronners and it makes doing dishes simple!
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Cooking in your campervan kitchen

Camping Food Ideas

It can be a little tricky at first to get adjusted to making meals in a tiny kitchen, and your capabilities depend on the kitchen setup you go with. 

However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll find cooking a delicious meal in your campervan kitchen isn’t as hard as you might think. You should be able to recreate lots of your favorite meals (perhaps with a few minor tweaks).

If you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve created a list of some of our go-to healthy & easy camping recipes that we make a lot in our van. Most of them use just one pot (which is nice when you have little space!). 

Additionally, most of these recipes can be made vegan and gluten-free, or you can add dairy and protein options.

Vanlife Cookbook | Two Wandering Soles

Campervan kitchen ideas

Looking for some more campervan kitchen inspiration?

We’ve gathered some seriously cool kitchen designs so you can start brainstorming your own layout!

Which is your favorite?

The L-Shaped Kitchen

L-Shaped Campervan Kitchen | Image by: @carpenteringram
L-Shaped Campervan Kitchen | Image by: @carpenteringram
L-Shaped Campervan Kitchen | Image by: @carpenteringram

This designer made use of the front of their van to install an L-shaped countertop for the kitchen space. This kitchen features a sink, mini-fridge, and 2 burner gas stove.

Using innovative storage solutions, you are able to stock the shelves and cupboards below as well as the upper cabinets with kitchen necessities. The gas, electrical and water lines are all hidden beneath the countertop and out of sight. 

Who’s it for: People who prefer a lot of prep space in their kitchen.

Why we like it: We love the way they secured the open shelves with elastic so things don’t get jumbled while the van is in motion. Having an opening upfront allows some of the natural light to come in from the window and a pass-through to the driver. 

The Backyard Kitchen

Campervan Kitchen image by @kris_lunning
Campervan Kitchen image by @kris_lunning
Campervan Kitchen image by @kris_lunning

This popular design for smaller vans moves the entire kitchen prep-space to the back of the van. Stored on a pull-out that can be retracted into the under bed “garage” space, this kitchen has everything you need to make use of the outdoor space. The only downside is you can only access it when parked. 

Who’s it for: People traveling in warmer climates (outdoor kitchens in sub-zero temps are not a great idea!).

Why we like it: By moving your kitchen outdoors to the back, you can tuck it out of the way when it’s not in use and it eliminates clutter in your van. 

The Sideyard Kitchen

Campervan Kitchen image by @roamingwithrob
Campervan Kitchen image by @roamingwithrob

Similar to the “Backyard” kitchen, this outdoor kitchen set up pulls out the side access door. This is another great kitchen design idea for smaller vans.

Everything is stored on a pull-out that can be retracted into the in-van cabinet space. This kitchen has everything you need to make use of the outdoor space, the only downside is you can only access it when parked. 

Who’s it for: People traveling in warmer climates (outdoor kitchens in sub-zero temps are not a great idea!).

Why we like it: By moving your kitchen outdoors, you can tuck it out of the way when it’s not in use and it eliminates clutter in your van.

The Door-Side Kitchen

Campervan kitchens-doorside kitchen in Lola van
Campervan kitchens-Lola doorway outside

This unique kitchen layout makes use of the space in front of the access door. While this space is generally left open for easy access to the van, this couple added a fold-down insert to connect two sides of their kitchen countertop that frame the doorway. They also have unique storage solutions for all of their spices and kitchen essentials tucked into the opposite wall. 

Who’s it for: People who like connecting their indoor space to the outdoors. 

Why we like it: Putting your kitchen near the doorway is great for ventilation, and gives you the added bonus of a view while chopping your veggies. 

The Forward-Facing Kitchen

Campervan kitchen image by @theindieprojects
Campervan kitchen image by @theindieprojects

This kitchen design takes up just the wall facing the front of the van. A small sink is tucked into the corner while a mini-fridge and stove/oven combo make up the rest of the kitchen appliances built into the cabinets. 

Who’s it for: People who prefer their kitchen to take up a small space from the overall van layout. 

Why we like it: By adding a cut-out above the stove, it gives the illusion of a kitchen window you’d find in most homes. 

The Back-Facing Kitchen

Image source: @vananahammock
Campervan kitchen images by @vananahammock
Campervan Kitchen image by @vananahammock

This unconventional kitchen design has the smallest footprint of all the in-van kitchens shown. With a sink tucked in the corner and extra counter space for food prep on the opposite side of the van, they’ve created the ultimate tiny kitchen.

Who’s it for: People who prefer their kitchen to take up a small space from the overall van layout. 

Why we like it: By adding a half wall as the backsplash behind the sink, they are able to maximize the space in front of the bed.

The Single Wall Kitchen

Campervan Kitchen image by @stinsonvans
Campervan Kitchen image by @stinsonvans
Campervan Kitchen image by @nikkibigger
Campervan Kitchen image by @nikkibigger
Campervan kitchen image by @voyage_on
Campervan kitchen image by @voyage_on

This is probably the most common kitchen design as you can see by the multiple examples pictured. Planning your kitchen to run along the length of the van wall gives you a lot of options for variation and design.

Most of the time your sink and stove top will be built in, and you can decide whether you want your fridge on the same side or stored elsewhere in the van, based on space. 

Who’s it for: People who want to be able to put their own spin on a classic (and easily copy-able).

Why we like it: Having your entire kitchen on one side of your van allows you the freedom to utilize the other side for whatever you need most: floor space, seating, dining, or storage.

If you want more vanlife inspiration, check out our van conversion ideas article where we round up all sorts of campervan layout styles, from budget builds to super bougie!

Campervan Conversions: Inspiration for Your Van Build

Van Conversion Ideas: Design Inspiration for Your Campervan Build

When planning your campervan design, you’ll want to do some research to see what’s out there. We’ve rounded up tons of inspiration and van conversion ideas for all styles and budgets. 

Are you thinking about living the campervan life?

We have TONS of resources on converting your own campervan and living the #vanlife. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Van Life for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.

Interested in engaging with others about all things #vanlife? Join our Vanlife Facebook community!

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Campervan Kitchen Ideas
Campervan Kitchen Ideas

We want to hear from you!

What do you think is the biggest obstacle in designing campervan kitchens? Which of these campervan kitchen ideas would work best for you? Comment below and we’ll do our best to get back to you!

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