Cooking overlooking the Atacama Desert

Vanlife Cooking: 4 Awesome Kitchen Utensils You Need for Vanlife

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Just because you are living, traveling or vacationing in a van doesn’t mean your vanlife cooking has to be dull. Cooking on the road is one of our greatest pleasures. Recreating local dishes from local ingredients sourced from a local market is one of our favorite ways to immerse ourselves in a region. To cook great meals you need some basics items. A simple gas burner, pots and pans, and these four kitchen utensils to elevate your vanlife cooking to home-cooking.

Bialetti Moka Pot

The Bialetti Moka Pot, the first expresso maker, is a must need for every vanlife kitchen. This single pot makes a great cup of coffee and does not require electricity, multiple parts or running water. Just a simple stove top burner or even a campfire will suffice to get your morning going. Don’t be fooled by the imitators out there. Make sure you stick with the name brand for this one. The imitators lack the sturdiness of the Bialetti brand and the power to make the perfect cup of coffee.

Bonus: Still interested in taking it up a notch? Grab a hand grinder. Freshly ground coffee takes your coffee game to the next level. We recommend the Java Presse hand coffee grinder. It might take a little bit of work in the morning, but trust me it is worth it.


This sharp plane goes far beyond zesting lemons and limes. A zester adds a new dimension to your cooking allowing you not only to zest citrus fruits but also easily grate cheese or mince garlic and ginger. No more near misses on the tops of your fingers or pulling apart cheese to sprinkle on your pasta. Take it up a notch and elevate your kitchen experience. Plus with the slim designs, you will barely notice the new addition to your utensil collection.

Bonus: While we are simplifying, a lime squeezer, while not essential, is definitely a tool that can elevate your cooking game. But it really earns its place in the drawer when it comes time to make the drinks. Whether it’s fresh OJ for breakfast or margaritas in the evening, a lime squeezer is just the ticket to make sure you get the most bang for your buck, avoid squirting juice in your face and don’t end up with hand cramps!

Vanlife cooking can be a breeze...with the right tools
Vanlife cooking can be a breeze…with the right tools

Cast Iron Cookware

We cannot recommend cast iron cookware enough. Cast iron seasons the food providing for a more flavorful taste. The clean up is a cinch and you can cook almost anything in them. We recommend a small pan and a large pan to accommodate most of your cooking needs. You can even create a Dutch oven on the stovetop with two cast iron pans.

Pro tip: Do not wash cast iron with soap but only a little bit of water. This helps retain the seasoning that gives that extra flavor to your dishes with cast iron.

Cocktail Shaker

Just because you live in a van does not mean that the finer things of life should be left behind. You do take a more minimalistic point of view but somethings you just cannot live without. How are you going to make your own pisco sour when you are in Peru or margarita in Mexico without a decent cocktail shaker? We recommend adding a stainless steel cocktail shaker to the mix. It won’t take up a whole lot of extra room but it will take your kitchen to the next level and will impress your fellow overlanders when you offer to mix up a crafty cocktail.

Bonus: Grab a set of unbreakable wine glasses to add to the mix. We use these for water, wine, cocktails, you name it. You cannot just drink from a coffee mug all day so add these versatile cups to spruce up your vanlife.

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