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.

RV OvenI like to make drop biscuits in the oven as a component of biscuits and gravy, and we’ve also used our former bed and breakfast ownership experience to use our oven for quiches.

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.

##RVT982

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Rod PARKER
1 month ago

We have a 17″ Furrion oven in our 2019 Imagine 2600RB that only has 3 3/4″ space above the oven grill for cook space. I have occasionally cooked biscuits. However, the temp on the knob is useless as a setting. I rely on a thermometer I set on the rack. There is 4″ below the oven burner I guess a could be used for broiling. Have not done that.

robert
3 months ago

Our MH does not have a oven but has a convection microwave which we have used once in a while to bake. What we use more is a Coleman camp oven over our grill. We do our own individual pizzas, along with doing biscuts and small cakes. Works well and keeps heat out of RV,

Einar
3 months ago

We use our 21″ a lot. I found a pizza stone that was larger and cut it down with a wet saw to fit with an inch and a half room around all four sides to fit on the bottom rack. It eliminates any hot spots so thing won’t burn on the backside. We leave it in there all the time and we bought smaller pans and trays to use in it. I use to work as a chef and that was one of the tricks we did when we didn’t have a convection oven. Great for pizza night too!

PHYLLIS ANDERSON
4 months ago

We “boondock ” camp ALL the time and are never hooked up to shore power to use anything that needs electric!!! I have a microwave that i use for storage and maybe used once in the 14 years we have had this trailer. Old trailer never had one. Too many people are only going to resort type places to camp and have to have all those gadgets~~~tv, internet,etc. or they can;t camp. Watch GOING RV show and the things that people are looking for amazes me.
they have to have air conditioners, dishwasher, washer/dryers , large bathrooms [ who takes a shower in an RV in only a few day outing??? The idea of “camping” is to be in nature and enjoy it , not sitting in front of the rv watching TV . Have been to places that people only come out to walk their dog and they are in a 40′ unit. If this is what is being taught to children that this is camping then it is such a sorry thing.

clariseb
1 month ago

Love your reply. agree 100 percent

Brenda G
4 months ago

I’ve owned my Lance 1475 TT for almost 2 yrs and just last week had its propane tank filled for the first time to use with an outdoor fire bowl. I have no desire to ever use the stove top nor oven. If I can’t prepare meals with an InstantPot, single hot plate, counter convection oven, microwave, and/or Dutch oven with tripod over a campfire, I don’t need them. I’m seriously considering removing the entire oven/ 3-burner top and utilizing the space for much-needed storage.

TomS
4 months ago

Ours never had an oven other than the microwave/convection oven. Had only used the oven in our three previous rvs a handful of times total.

Bob M
4 months ago

I never realized how small the oven was until I heard you complain. I checked mine and it is small. When we camp we normally use a grill. For breakfast I use a griddle. Luckily, I haven’t got caught in a rainstorm except for breakfast when we needed to cook supper. I can see if your a full time camper needing the oven. I’d rather have a larger oven in case I needed one.

Art M.
4 months ago

We frequently use our small 17″ oven, with no additions like a pizza stone. We’ve done a large family size frozen lasagna that nearly filled the oven and baked evenly enough. We’ve also cooked a large casserole or sweet roles that were evenly baked. We’ve even trusted the temperature dial, which has been accurate enough. More frequently, we’ll make up a large batch of dough to keep in the fridge, then bake a couple of rolls each evening. Fresh bread is food fit for the Gods. We love our oven, despite it’s tiny size.
However, lighting the pilot is a pain! Fortunately I’m flexible enough to get down on the floor without back pain. My wife has lit the oven; but after both hips replaced, she is risking back strain from bending over.

Barbara
4 months ago

Do those gadgets to check air temp (often used for tires) go high enough to use for an oven?

Debbie
4 months ago

Our 25.5-ft RV doesn’t even have an oven, so I’ve learned how to use the convection microwave. My complaint is the location of the microwave…it’s in the same position as an oven would be, and I can’t read the controls without having to sit on a low stool in front of it!

Alpenliter
4 months ago

We’ve lived fulltime in our ‘97 Alpenlite and my wife has used our oven to create wonderful meals. To make it easier to light, I installed a barbecue electric igniter. Just turn on the gas and push the button.

Drew
4 months ago

Well, it looks like the poll approaches nearly half who use the oven for cooking. I’m in that group too. The oven is a little hard to light but you can also choose to let the pilot stay on if you’re going to use it more than once during your outing. I’ve never had a poor heat distribution problem and have always had the oven perform just as our home one does. I’ve never spent any money for repairs to it and it’s always dependable. I’m sad to see them missing in many newer rv’s so those who’ve had bad experiences are having an affect on the market. My opinion is that even though a lot of builders have begun installing larger ovens- they are more complicated and probably more prone to problems down the road.

Crowman
4 months ago

We use the oven in our trailer as much as the one we have at home. I light the pilot when we get there and turn it off when we leave. Instead of a pizza stone I turned upside down a rimmed cookie sheet to disperse the heat to prevent burning on the bottom of whatever your cooking.

Jim B
4 months ago

When we had a smaller Class C, we used the oven a lot. When we started searching for a Class A, my wife eliminated every one that did not have an oven. She baked scones in our A the first morning we had it. We use a pizza stone to even the heat and it works very well. The only thing I have a problem with lighting the pilot, is getting up off the floor.

Thomas D
4 months ago

I use ours all the time
Makes the best pizza because of the small size. Much much better than our humongous oven at home.

wanderer
4 months ago

Good for storing tinfoil and saran wrap, other bulky things. (no I never lit the pilot, so no danger)

Neal Davis
4 months ago

I said that we use our convection oven, but the implication was that we have another oven in our RV; we do not. Our RV is all electric and has a two-burner induction cooktop and a microwave/convection oven above it. We have a drawer dishwasher where an oven might otherwise be. Our convection oven is pretty large and we cook many different things in it, but no Thanksgiving-sized turkeys.

Don Biancone
4 months ago

I voted yes on the 17″ but mine is only 15″. actual inside measurement, makes it difficult to bake a pizza. Only use it occasionally as I live alone.

Laurie
4 months ago

I’ve been RV’n part time over 35yrs and have never had a problem baking anything in my oven. I just allow more time and make smaller portions. I guess I am the minority.

Tommy Molnar
4 months ago

We have always used our ovens, especially in the colder months. I don’t understand all the hate and discontent directed at ovens.