Solar cooking resources and photos

Ready to give solar cooking a go? Here are some additional resources that might come in handy for finding out more about buying, constructing and/or cooking with solar cookers.

Online resources

Among the many articles, blogs and sites, I suggest checking out to find out about different types of solar cookers, plans for making them and the use of solar cookers that is literally saving lives in other countries.


Our solar box cooker was built based primarily on the instructions from the book "The Carbon-Free Home" by Stephen and Rebekah Hren, which is available for loan from Wodonga library.

You can even get solar cookbooks. I have two in my collection - they also have designs for making solar cookers, explanations of the different types of cookers, tips for cooking techniques and yes, recipes!

Photos of our box cooker

I've briefly described our solar cooker's construction and use here and here. Below are some photos to try to help illustrate how it was done and how we use it. 

To create an insulated oven (so that the heat is trapped and cooks your food), this design uses two cardboard boxes, one inside the other, with scrunched up newspaper in the 'walls' and 'floor'.

The inside of the boxes and the cardboard reflector are covered with aluminium foil, to help concentrate the sun into the box and assist with even cooking.

The top 'window' is an oven bag, which allows the sun in, but does a surprisingly good job of keeping the heat inside the box.

Some coathanger wire and cardboard stays allow the reflector to be adjusted to the height of the sun. And when not in use, the reflector folds down on the top and helps to protect the oven bag.

Below, the oven and cooking dish are 'pre-heating' - note the oven thermometer in the dish, so we know when it's ready to cook. As you have to take the lid off to access the oven, it's good to move quickly so as to lose as little heat as possible when adding or checking your cooking.

 And the vegetables are roasting!

Tell me you're not tempted to give this a go! It's not hard and great fun ... I'd love to hear from you if you give it a try.

'Tis the season for solar cooking

Sick of salads in summer, but unwilling to heat up your kitchen by cooking? Maybe you should try a solar cooker. I cook savoury slices, roast vegetables, cakes and even rice in mine, and the kitchen stays cool.

What is a solar cooker? There are many types; all use the sun’s energy for heat instead of gas, electricity or wood. The heat is concentrated around or onto a cooking vessel. You can buy commercially made models or you can make your own.

I started solar cooking with just a reflector (like a car windscreen protector) and an oven bag. I was astounded when it worked! My current ‘solar cooker’ is more than five years old. It’s made from a couple of cardboard boxes, one inside the other, with newspaper between them to provide insulation. The inside and an adjustable cardboard reflector are covered with foil, to help ‘collect’ the sunlight. At the top, an oven bag provides a window where the sun shines in but the heat is trapped. Fancier versions have glass or Perspex. A black cooking pot or tin can help absorb the heat, but isn’t mandatory.

To cook, I place the oven in the sun to ‘pre-heat’. An oven thermometer placed inside helps me track the temperature. Typically my box cooker will operate at around 110 degrees in summer. This makes it like using a slow cooker. However, dishes that are usually cooked at higher temperatures can also be made; they just take longer. For example, zucchini slice that could cook in 40 mins in a conventional oven might cook for 2-3 hours in the solar box cooker. I adjust the orientation of the oven during cooking to track the sun. It’s no big deal if you forget that you’re cooking either – it’s virtually impossible to burn anything in this type of solar cooker.  

As for other solar cooking accessories, don’t forget you’ll still need your oven mitts (the dish will be over 100 degrees!). Sunglasses also come in handy or else you’ll need to stand between the sun and your oven to avoid the glare.

For more about solar cooking and photos from me see here.

Solar cookers are fun to make, portable, use a free and plentiful ‘fuel’, can be used during total fire bans, and can cook food in hot weather without heating up the kitchen … no wonder I’m hooked! 


This article appears in the Living Lightly column of the Border Mail today.

The archive of all Living Lightly articles can be accessed online at