By Tony Barthel
We recently posted a question on our RV Advice Facebook Group. I asked, “Some of you have been reading my RV reviews over on RV Travel, and one of the things I’ve kvetched about are the small 17″ ovens in so many RVs. But I wonder – if you do have an RV with this small oven, do you use it at all and what do you use it for?”
Your responses to the questions were enlightening so I thought I’d share.
In most RVs, you’ll find them equipped with either a Suburban, Atwood or Furrion range, typically with three burners on top and potentially an oven down below. While some premium RVs come with much larger ovens, the typical RV generally comes with one of these smaller ones.
Do you use the oven?
Many of the respondents on the post indicated that they do, in fact, use the ovens in their RVs… for storage.
For example, Facebook user Nancy S. wrote, “I use my oven for storage now. Bought a good countertop oven which I use daily. Miss the counter space but enjoy cooking again.”
Roy B. wrote, “I removed my oven (because) we never used it. We installed a cooktop. We use the convection part of the microwave oven. Had (drawers) installed where the oven used to be.”
Editor’s Note: This is what RVtravel.com staff member Gail did to her and Chuck’s motorhome too!
Lauren B. E. added, “We have one of those silly too-small-to-bake-anything-in-it ovens. We use it to store our induction hot plate, which we use more than the gas burners.”
It seems that a good number of the respondents paid for something they’re not using and would prefer the additional drawer or storage space.
But those who do use the oven almost invariably talk about a pizza stone in the oven to even out the heat. And many of the respondents said that they make pizza, cookies or cakes in their ovens. But that’s about it.
More complaints about typical RV ovens
The other complaints about the typical RV oven were well put by Vicki L. C., who wrote, “My oven has been used once. It was so hard to light, never again. I had to twist like a pretzel and my old knees had a heck of a time getting up off the floor. Now it’s full of breads and snacks.”
To light most RV ovens you have to get down where you can see the pilot light and then, while holding in the knob on the range, use a lighter to light the pilot light. While it might be bad for your back, it’s certainly entertaining to take a photo of someone doing that. I want to stay married so I won’t share my photos with you.
Oh. And then you have to get back up from this odd position on the floor of your RV.
RV oven tricks
Meet my friend Manya. I met Manya when I worked at Redwood Empire RVs. Manya may be one of the most well-suited RV enthusiasts I know. Not only does she go RVing every chance she gets, but she also builds campfires that astound and uses both pie irons and her RV’s oven to prepare some wonderful meals. You won’t starve if you’re camping with Manya.
Incidentally, she also is a whiz with RV finance, which is her primary job at the dealership to this day.
Manya showed my wife and me that you can actually roast pork in the RV oven by buying a small oven thermometer. She discovered that her 21” oven will maintain 225°F temperature, but since that number is not written on the dial, that’s where having that thermometer comes in handy.
The pulled pork she made, as well as a Christmas ham just a couple of weeks ago, were as good as any I’ve had in a restaurant and better than some. The real secret is even heating and knowing the actual temperature your oven is delivering.
What we use our oven for
My wife and I also use our 21” RV oven to make breakfast casseroles, and my wife often will bake cookies to invite other campers in to tell their camping stories – when it’s not COVID times, of course.
An essential component of using these is also an oven thermometer. You can go very simple and inexpensive such as this one and that’s plenty. I also carry a wireless laser thermometer so you can measure the hot spots in the oven. Note that I also use this for measuring the wheel temperatures outside the trailer.
Evening out the heat in the oven is another important aspect of using them successfully. Almost invariably everybody who said that they do use their oven also mentions putting a pizza stone or other baking stone in the oven. This helps to even out the heat for sure, though you’ll want to protect it from breaking as your RV rattles down the highway.
Some of the newer RV ovens feature a simpler lighting procedure where your past life as a gymnast doesn’t come into play. In fact, some of the newer ones can be lit while you’re standing up in front of the oven!
In my RV reviews, I have often complained about the smaller RV oven as being worthless – which prompted my question on the RV Advice Facebook Group. It turns out that I’m not just a complainer, but the smaller oven really is considered worthless – at least to the respondents of the post.