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The Best Appliance For Camping and RVing

Instant pot at a campsite.

Would you take an Instant Pot to a hotel to make a home-cooked meal instead of room service? What about out in the woods camping instead of hot-dogs-over-the-fire?

I’m all about both of those options, so let’s talk today about taking an Instant Pot camping and why it’s so easy!

Whether you’re camping in tents or an RV, the Instant Pot is an awesome gadget to have along:

  • easy to pack
  • encourages healthy food
  • hands off so you can enjoy family time in the great outdoors
  • doesn’t heat up the RV (you can even cook outside)

Where to Buy an Instant Pot

This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!

If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. My full Instant Pot review and buying guide for features, size, and model.

If you’d like to shop directly at Instant Pot’s website instead of Amazon (or just compare prices), check them out here.

You can even get a carrying case to travel with it! See my review of the Instant Pot carrying case we have.

If you’re still on the fence about adding an Instant Pot to your kitchen appliance arsenal here are my Instant Pot pros and cons.

And before I get too far, let’s address the fact that pressure cooker or not, you NEVER have to succumb to hot-dogs-over-the-fire just because a campfire exists. Check out my eBook detailing how to take a 100% real food camping trip (also packed with tips on how to go deep woods camping with young children and enjoy every minute!).

RELATED: 10 Basic Instant Pot Techniques

Cover of the family camping handbook - real food in the big woods


The Best Way to Pack an Instant Pot for Camping

The worst part about camping is that NOTHING is there when you arrive! You’re generally hungry and ready to relax, but you have to set up camp.

With an RV, that can go pretty quickly, but if you’re tenting it like we do – it’s a 2-hour process.

Traveling as a family with real food in real life is a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. Learn from my experience packing a family of 6 up in a van for a two-month road trip. See what we brought with us, what we left home, how we ate healthy for cheap while we were away from home, and most impressively how we fit everything we needed for two months in the van with all 6 of us!

Print the Road Trip Packing List: Your Guide to Stress-Free Packing

The first time I brought my Instant Pot to the campground, I thought it was Heaven, I’m not kidding you. THE smoothest set-up experience EVER!

Here’s what I did that made it so magical:

  • Pack your Instant Pot full of food. (Don’t have one yet? Here’s how to decide which electric pressure cooker is right for you!)
  • This carry case that I have is awesome (extra storage space, available in both 6-quart and 8-quart size and also many other brands) but you can just lodge it carefully toward the bottom of your vehicle’s luggage space and make sure the valve doesn’t get crushed by anything, and it’s really okay. Remove the valve and put it in the glove box if you’re nervous about it, placing something soft like a folded washcloth over the opening to protect that. (Just don’t forget it’s in the glove box!)
  • For food safety, I simply froze certain parts of the meal: the meat and the beans in this particular case. As long as you know your drive time, and it’s just a few hours, this should not get to dangerous temperatures. Obviously, use your own discretion and make your own good choices.
  • Plug in the Instant Pot using an extension cord and a provided picnic table, or just on the ground if it’s that kind of camping (love it!), and turn it on as soon as you arrive. You can now set up camp knowing that dinner will be ready as soon as you are!

We were able to get both of our tents set up, everything organized, and even take a walk to the beach before dinner, returning in time to throw some cheese on top, grab some paper plates, and dig in.

RELATED: Bethany even lists “travel more” as one of the 5 healthy resolutions the Instant Pot is helping her keep!

Boy at a campsite and an Instant Pot

Instant Pot Recipes Perfect for Camping or RV Trips

The first time we took the Instant Pot camping, I wanted something easy, hearty and filling, and preferably a one-pot meal for that Arrival Day Magic. This lentil lasagna (or the Mexican lentils and rice version) was absolutely perfect. I don’t really like leftovers when camping, so I made a half batch.

Here are some other Instant Pot camping recipe ideas, but remember that most recipes you already love will probably translate well to The Great Outdoors when you pack your Instant Pot.

Check out our healthy camp food meal plan (created before I owned an IP) and the gluten-free camping version as well (with my near-disaster pancake mishap!).

Cleaning the Instant Pot While out Camping

Because the stainless steel insert comes right out, the Instant Pot really isn’t that hard to clean. You won’t need to do anything more difficult than you would to clean any other pot while out camping.

One safety note: it is tempting to put the Instant Pot insert over the fire or on a grill to heat dishwater right in it and wash other dishes, but I recommend bringing a separate pot for that purpose. If the Instant Pot bottom warps at all, it won’t come into contact with the heating plate inside the unit, and you won’t be able to use your appliance anymore. Not something I’m willing to risk!

In case of a stubborn spot or perhaps some burned on cheese, I do recommend bringing a scraper like this one and some steel wool… But those are always on my handy camping checklist anyway as you will see in the Family Camping Handbook!

I love hearing Instant Pot stories, so spill the beans… Where have you taken your IP lately?

I just took mine up to a family summer gathering, and I ended up only using it for rice but it was still worth it because I could be out playing and know that the rice would be ready whenever I needed it — without me having to time things perfectly. I also got the pleasure of grinning from across the room as my uncle, a wonderful cook, peered and poked at it like it was from an alien planet. Open-mouthed smile

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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3 thoughts on “The Best Appliance For Camping and RVing”

  1. Hi! I’d love some ideas for power sources for the instant pot while camping. I don’t think I’ve ever been camping where there has been an electrical outlet. Thanks! Great ideas!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hmm, that’s tricky Madi. I looked into it and saw some people on camping forums talking about hooking up solar power, battery packs or generators to run an IP, but the option that works for you will depend on the size of your IP and how long you’re planning to run it. Many people said they opt for non-electric cooking when they’re camping with no power. A CanCooker was mentioned several times as a good alternative although it’s not a “set and forget” appliance like an IP is.

  2. That’s a great idea. We go camping almost every summer. We use a tent too. We didn’t have an electric site this year so I could not of done this. I do make some stuff ahead of time. Veggie soup, spaghetti sauce, etc and pout them in mason jars. Our first day after we set up I heated up the soup on the camp stove. It was quick and easy. Going to keep this in mind if we ever get an electric site.

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