Thanksgiving in Your RV: 3 Menus for a Stress-Free Holiday

Nov 9, 2020 | Food & Camp Cooking

Thanksgiving in Your RV: 3 Menus for a Stress-Free Holiday

You don't have to sacrifice flavor when celebrating Thanksgiving in your RV. These holiday menus can be cooked in a tiny kitchen or over a campfire.

By Kerry Sainato

Thanksgiving week is an ideal time to take an RV trip, thanks to bonus time off and beautiful fall weather. But cooking a big holiday meal in an RV has one obvious obstacle: space. You’re likely to have less counter space for prep and fewer burners on the stove. Most RVs have much smaller ovens than at home, and some don’t have an oven at all. And forget that necessary extra room in the refrigerator. 

But even though Thanksgiving in an RV calls for simplicity, you don’t have to sacrifice traditional holiday flavors. With that in mind, we created three delicious, seasonal, RV-friendly Thanksgiving menus that you’ll have no problem cooking in any tiny kitchen space.

In this article: 

Feel free to round out these menus with your favorite sides, or find some local ingredients to add a new-to-you dish or two. 


Traditional Thanksgiving Menu: Dry Brined Turkey Breast, Roasted Delicata Squash Salad, and Pecan Pie Bars

Turkey wing, gravy, squash, pecan bars, and cranberry sauce thanksgiving menu
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Servings

This menu should comfortably serve six people.

Prep Ahead

For this menu, you can do the following tasks ahead of time:

  • Prep and dry rub the turkey breast. 
  • Cut the squash. 
  • Mix the vinaigrette for the roasted squash salad.
  • Bake the pecan bars.

Grilled or Roasted Dry-Brined Turkey Breast

Choose a boneless turkey breast to save space in your refrigerator or cooler. RVers with smaller ovens will have no problem roasting this cut of poultry. And for those who have access to a portable grill (or campfire with a grate), this turkey breast can be grilled instead of roasted. Finally, if you can’t find a boneless whole turkey breast, see if your butcher can debone a bone-in turkey breast for you. As a last resort, deboning it yourself is easy, and you will end up with some bones for making turkey soup. Ingredients

  • 5 to 7 pounds of boneless turkey breast
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • Zest of 1 orange

Instructions

  1. Mix the kosher salt, brown sugar, poultry seasoning, and orange zest together in a small bowl.
  2. Rub the mixture over the boneless turkey breast on both the skin side and the meat side. 
  3. Place into a sealable storage bag or airtight container. Let the herb-rubbed turkey sit for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. 
  4. Once you’re ready to cook, either roast or grill the turkey.
    1. Roast the turkey in the oven on a roasting pan or on a rimmed sheet pan at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. The turkey is done when a probe thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 
    2. If you’re using a covered grill, place the bird meat side down over the heat and cover. Allow the grill to reach 375 F and cook until the internal temperature of the bird reaches 165 F. 
    3. If you’re grilling over a fire, grill over hot coals with the skin side down. Let cook until the skin is browned, then flip and cook until the turkey registers 165 F with a probe thermometer. 
  5. Rest the cooked turkey for about 15 minutes and then slice and serve.

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad

This flavorful squash side dish is delicious at room temperature, so you can make this salad ahead of time and let it sit while your turkey cooks. Delicata squash is also a small and easy squash to prep. You don’t even have to remove the peel since it’s edible, and makes for a pretty presentation.

Ingredients

  • 2 delicata squash
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup roasted and salted pepitas

Instructions

  1. Cut the delicata squash in half lengthwise. Remove the pulp and seeds with a spoon and discard. Cut into quarter-to-half-inch slices. Place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  2. Roast in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Flip the squash every 15 minutes. The squash will be done when it’s fork-tender and slightly browned.
  3. While the squash is roasting, make the vinaigrette by whisking together the shallots, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  4. When the squash is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette, cranberries, and pepitas.
  5. Serve hot or at room temperature. 

Pecan Pie Bars

These bars take the difficulty out of baking pie crust while still delivering traditional pecan pie flavors and textures. They can be stored at room temperature, keeping precious refrigerator space clear for other needs.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon. kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • Zest of ½ orange

Pecan Filling

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup corn syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • 1 egg
  • 8 ounces pecans, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place parchment paper in an 8-inch by 8-inch square pan. Fold the parchment paper so that the paper hangs over two sides of the pan while the other two sides fit snugly in the bottom. Spray the bottom of the parchment paper with non-stick spray. 
  2. Place all of the crust ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Use your fingers to knead the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is fully incorporated. The mixture will look like wet sand when ready. 
  3. Pour the crust mixture into the prepared pan and use your fingers to pat the dough into a smooth, even crust, pushing it to all sides and corners.
  4. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes until the crust is just lightly golden brown.
  5. While the crust is baking, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, bourbon, vanilla, orange zest, and egg until smooth and well combined.
  6. When the crust is ready, pour the sugar mixture on top of the crust and then sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top.
  7. Put the pan back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes until the sugar mixture is just set. Let cool completely before pulling out of the pan using the parchment handles and cutting into squares.

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Menu: Turkey and Biscuit Bake, Creamy Green Beans and Mushrooms, and Cranberry Upside-Down Spice Cake

Turkey and biscuit bake, green beans and mushrooms, cranberry upside down spice cake thanksgiving menu
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Servings

This menu should comfortably serve six people.

Prep Ahead

For this menu, you can do the following tasks ahead of time:

  • Roast turkey thighs and pull the meat off of the bones.
  • Boil the green beans.
  • Bake the cake.

Turkey and Biscuit Bake

This turkey pot pie derivative combines many Thanksgiving dishes into one: turkey, potatoes, gravy, and biscuits. The casserole is impressive enough to replace a whole bird as the centerpiece on your dinner table. Turkey thighs are inexpensive, flavorful, and easy to roast ahead of time. If you’re really looking for convenience, swap in the turkey for shredded rotisserie chicken. You’ll get the same comforting flavors with a little more ease.

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in turkey thighs
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for taste
  • 1½ tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced small
  • ½ large onion, diced small
  • 1 stalk celery, diced small
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 5 cups turkey stock
  • 2 large russet potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2¼ cups Bisquick baking mix
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine one tablespoon of kosher salt and one tablespoon of poultry seasoning in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over turkey thighs on both sides. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes to an hour until the internal temperature registers 175 degrees on a probe thermometer. Set aside to cool. 
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery plus a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onion turns translucent. This should take about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add one-half tablespoon of poultry seasoning and butter. Cook until the butter melts and then add the flour. Stir well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Then whisk in the turkey stock. 
  4. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes. The gravy should also thicken during this time.
  5. While the potatoes are cooking, mix together the Bisquick, one teaspoon of poultry seasoning, milk, and cheddar cheese. Also use this time to pull the turkey off of the bone, removing and discarding the skin. Shred the turkey into large, but still bite-sized, pieces.
  6. When the potatoes are cooked, give the dish a taste and add salt and pepper if it needs more seasoning. Stir in the turkey meat. Then drop the Bisquick mix in quarter cup portions evenly over the gravy.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

Creamy Green Beans and Mushrooms

Inspired by a classic Thanksgiving side dish, green bean casserole, this can be cooked on the stovetop so it doesn’t take up oven space—which you’ll need for the turkey and biscuit bake. This dish might even be better than the original because the lighter cream sauce lets the flavors of the green beans and mushrooms shine. But don’t worry, it still requires a hefty topping of crunchy onions.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 15 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup crispy French fried onions
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook just until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until the mushrooms start to brown. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft and translucent.
  3. Add the heavy cream and grated parmesan cheese. Stir and let the cream reduce slightly. Add the green beans and toss with the mushrooms and sauce. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. 
  4. Transfer to a serving platter and top with crispy French fried onions.

Cranberry Upside-Down Spice Cake

Move cranberry sauce off of the dinner plate and into dessert. Cranberries paired with a spice cake couldn’t make for a more holiday-forward dish. This recipe minimizes your ingredient list by taking advantage of a boxed cake mix and canned cranberry sauce. Add freshly whipped cream for the proverbial icing on the cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce box spice cake mix
  • 1 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or maple syrup)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a standard loaf pan or 8-inch round cake pan by laying a piece of parchment paper at the bottom. Spray with no-stick spray.
  2. Prepare half of the cake mix according to the directions on the back of the box.
  3. Spread the cranberry sauce at the bottom of your cake pan. Top with the spice cake mix. Bake according to the directions on the box (likely about 22 to 24 minutes). The cake is done when a toothpick or paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  4. Allow the cake to cool for about 5 minutes and then flip onto a wire rack or plate to cool completely. 
  5. While the cake is cooling, add the whipping cream to a medium bowl with the sugar. Whisk until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Spread over the cake before serving and sprinkle with dried cranberries.

Campsite Thanksgiving Menu: Turkey Burgers with Cranberry Mayo and Brussels Sprouts Slaw, Crispy Skillet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions, and Dutch Oven Apple Crisp

Turkey burgers, slaw, potatoes, buns, and cranberry sauce Thanksgiving menu
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Servings

This menu should comfortably serve four people.

Prep Ahead

For this menu, you can prep the following ahead of time:

  • Season the turkey and shape the burger patties.
  • Mix together the cranberry mayo.
  • Make the Brussels sprouts slaw.
  • Pre-cook the potatoes.
  • Caramelize the onions.
  • Mix together the apple crisp topping.

Turkey Burgers with Cranberry Mayo and Brussels Sprouts Slaw

These turkey burgers pack all of the flavors of a turkey dinner into a flame-broiled patty, topped with cranberry mayo and Brussels sprouts slaw. 

Ingredients

Cranberry Mayo

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce

Brussels Sprouts Slaw

  • 20 Brussels sprouts, cleaned and cut into thin slices
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Turkey Burgers

  • 1 pound ground turkey (85% lean, which is a mix of white and dark meat)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 hamburger buns

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and cranberry sauce. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, shallot, granulated sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts, apples, and cranberries. Toss to coat and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground turkey, poultry seasoning, and kosher salt until just combined. Don’t over mix. Form into four burger patties. 
  4. Grill the burgers until cooked through. The internal temperature should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  5. Build the turkey burgers by spreading the buns with cranberry mayo and topping with a turkey burger and slaw.

Cast Iron Skillet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

What’s a burger without fries? And what’s Thanksgiving without potatoes? These crispy skillet potatoes with caramelized onions are simple but big on flavor and a perfect side for this holiday meal in the great outdoors.

Ingredients

Caramelized Onions

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced 
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Crispy Potatoes

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet. Add the onion, shallots, and a pinch of salt. Cook slowly for about 30 minutes until the onions are softened and turning golden brown. Set caramelized onions aside.
  2. Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the pot, run under cool water, and dry. Cut the cooled potatoes into half-inch chunks. 
  3. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are crispy on all sides. Taste and add more seasoned salt if desired. 
  4. Top potatoes with caramelized onions and serve straight from the skillet.

Dutch Oven Apple Crisp

This apple crisp bakes nicely in a cast iron Dutch oven, and the crispy topping might even be tastier than pie crust. Bake it while you’re eating dinner and you’ll end up with a warm, comforting dessert that’s a perfect ending to a Thanksgiving day camp-out.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats 
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick butter, cut into small cubes
  • 8 apples, cored, peeled, and diced into ½-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
  • ½ tablespoon apple pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the butter and use your fingers to knead the butter into the dry ingredients, forming a crumbly dough. 
  2. Place the apples in a 12-inch cast iron Dutch oven. Add the sugar, maple syrup, apple pie spice, and cornstarch. Toss to combine with the apples. Crumble the oat topping over the apple mixture evenly. 
  3. To cook, light 24 charcoal briquettes and let them heat up; they will turn ashy when ready. Find a clear, safe spot on the ground to lay eight coals down in an even circular pattern slightly smaller than. If your Dutch oven has feet, place it over the coals; if your Dutch oven doesn’t have feet, find a way to elevate it so it’s sitting close to, but not on top of, the coals. You can use rocks, a grilling grate, or a cast iron trivet. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and add the remaining 16 coals on top, spread evenly across the lid. Cook for 45 minutes, rotating the bottom and top of your cast iron Dutch oven about 30 degrees every 15 minutes.

Thanksgiving Decorations for your RV

Outdoor table place settings and fall-themed decorations
Photo: Hannah Busing

Once you’ve picked a menu, it’s time to get creative with your Thanksgiving table decorations. Join the kids on a scavenger hunt to find natural objects that you can use for decorations. Fill mason jars with acorns or rocks and top with tea lights for festive candle lighting. Go leaf-peeping and pick up bright colored fall leaves to spread in the center of a tablecloth.

Research local farm stands in the area to find small pumpkins and gourds to make a centerpiece that will fit well in a small space. Or, weather permitting, simply utilize your campsite’s picnic table and eat al fresco enjoying all of nature as your decor.

With these menus and tips, an RV Thanksgiving can easily be a relaxing way to spend your holiday, getting out in nature, and visiting a new (or favorite) destination without giving up the holiday tradition.

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Kerry Sainato

Kerry bought a tiny teardrop trailer on a whim over four years ago and is now an enthusiastic RV traveler. She spends most of her camping nights in New England, but is working on plans for a year-long cross country journey with her husband. Kerry also owns and operates a cooking blog, cookwithkerry.com, and loves cooking over the open fire during her camping adventures.

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