How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner in Your RV


Lisa New

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When people think of Thanksgiving, they think of big gatherings and tons of food. So, how do you host an RV Thanksgiving when space and kitchen commodities are at a minimum? Don’t worry, it’s as easy as pie.


Turkey in an oven

Let’s be honest, the turkey is the main event. You can have your favorite sides in all their different variations, but the one thing that is mostly constant throughout American Thanksgiving meals is that there is a turkey as the main dish. Some people have thrown caution to the wind and gone for a completely different animal, but for the sake of staying with traditional, let’s assume you are opting for a turkey.

How Do You Deal With Size?

Most people have the biggest challenge with having enough space to cook their turkey. How do you cook such a big bird in your RV? There are actually several different solutions to this problem.

Smaller Portions

If you are expecting to use your turkey as a centerpiece and want it to be golden brown and look like it’s from a Norman Rockwell painting, then cutting down your bird might not be the solution for you. However, if you are planning on carving the turkey ahead of time and you don’t really care how it looks as long as it tastes great, then consider portioning it out before cooking. You can store the other parts in your freezer until you are ready to use them.

While this might cut back on the amount of leftover food you have, you will be able to have Thanksgiving at least three times over with that one bird! Freshly cooked turkey is always better than leftover anyway.

Turkey Breast

Did you know that grocery stores don’t just sell whole birds? You can cut down nearly half of your poundage and cooking time by buying a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. For those of you who don’t particularly like dark meat, this could be a life-changing option for you.


It was mentioned earlier that this was going to be a strictly traditional Thanksgiving, but chickens are so similar in taste and look, that you can’t resist having this as an option. Chicken is much smaller than turkey and can be a lot easier to cook because it doesn’t dry out so easily.

Buy a Small Turkey

Some RV ovens can accommodate a small turkey, and you don’t have to buy a huge one at the store. Try to find a small enough turkey to easily fit in your oven while still providing plenty of meat for everyone around the dinner table at Thanksgiving.

How Do You Cook It?

stove burner flame

You can always use the oven in your RV, but if you want to free up space, here are some other options.

Slow Cooker

You can use a slow cooker if you make the meat small enough. This is a great option because the meat will stay moist and fall off the bone tender.

Deep Fryer

You could also use a deep fat fryer, which has been popular in recent years. You do need to be a bit cautious with this method. If your turkey is not thawed and you haven’t dried off excess moisture, you could run the risk of it not being cooked all the way or your fryer exploding. If you opt for this method follow the instructions to the letter and be careful.

Dutch Oven

Dutch ovens make everything so tasty. You can absolutely cook your turkey in a Dutch oven over a campfire, but it can be difficult to keep your fire going strong and giving off the right amount of heat for three plus hours to fully cook the turkey.

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes being rinsed for mashing

You will be happy to know that mashed potatoes can be refrigerated or even frozen with excellent reheating results. Just put your mashed potatoes in a casserole dish with foil on top and reheat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warm through.

So if time is an issue for you, you can make the potatoes ahead of time. However, the stove is much less busy than the oven on Turkey Day, so if you’re not crunched for time, this is a great side to make the day of the meal.


Freshly baked dinner rolls

If you are someone who cannot stand to have anything but homemade rolls for Thanksgiving, then not to worry! You have options.

Of course, you can try using your oven to make the rolls, but if you happen to be using it for your turkey, there are some amazing Dutch oven roll recipes. It is much easier to make rolls in a Dutch oven than a turkey because it takes about a half hour to cook rolls versus the three-plus hours it could take to make a turkey.

You can also just make the rolls the day before and heat them (or not) in the microwave before dinner.


Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a few pies. Pies can stay good for a couple of days, so you can make these ahead of time. The custard pies shouldn’t be made more than one day ahead of eating, to make sure they don’t get a rubbery texture.

Baked pies can be made a day or two in advance, however, there is nothing better than a pie fresh out of the oven. The best thing you can do is assemble the pie a day in advance and put it in the refrigerator.

If you pop it right into the oven when dinner starts, it will be ready just as you are clearing away the plates. You can also make it a month or two in advance, freeze it, and do the same thing. However, it will take about twice the amount of time if you are heating it from frozen.


Thanksgiving in a small space is completely doable if you create a schedule that will work for you and your family. If you are planning it on your own, here is a sample schedule that will be helpful for you to follow.


  • Clear out your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible.


  • Get all the shopping done.


  • Rolls
  • Assemble pies
  • Assemble any casseroles


  • Turkey (with roasted carrots and onions)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Heat up any casseroles
  • Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Heat pies

No matter the size of your kitchen, you can pull off an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. You may have to adjust your expectations, but you can get the essentials done. If you are having any sort of gathering at all, ask people to contribute. Even if you can just knock one item off your list, it can take a whole load of stress off your shoulders. Make sure to brush up on fire safety before cooking in an enclosed RV kitchen.

Have you ever had Thanksgiving dinner in your RV? What was it like? Leave a comment below.

  • Comment (2)
  • Peggy says:

    We purchased an electric roaster last year for cooking our turkey while Camping. It was great and I have continued to bake in it while on the road. It keeps the heat out of the camper in the hot summers. Have baked meats, meatloaf, squash, potatoes, frozen fries, brownies, pizza, biscuits, cookies, strudel and homemade bread.

  • Gregg says:

    Yes, we have had both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in our RV. space is tight, however if you prepare everything at the appropriate time, it can all come together great. I found the ONLY issues we had has been seating arrangements and refrigerator space (prior to cooking and for leftovers). We found it better to sit outdoors ( if weather permits) or casual. As far as leftovers go, we found it best to give a good portion of them to our guests to take home and only keep a small portion for ourselves. If it is just the wife and I eating we don’t cook at all, we will go get a couple made meals from TGIF, Boston Market, Ralphs….. or somewhere like that. Because it doesn’t matter where you cook, you still have a mess to clean up afterwards. We have cooked our Turkey traditionally stuffed and in the RV oven, in the outside smoker, in the electric dutch oven and enjoyed all of them. I think the best way is in the electric Dutch oven, because it frees up counter space (by cooking it on the kitchen table or even outside on the picnic table) and you can still make it traditional while freezing up the oven for something else like a casserole or brown and serve rolls. This year, traditional stuffed Turkey in the electric Dutch oven, and use our RV oven, oiless Fryer elite oven and stove for everything else.

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