For people who love camping out and hosting backyard picnics, the solar oven gives out most jaws dropped... and for good reason.
Solar ovens let you cook without gas or electricity. Instead, these awesome inventions (that has been around since the 18th century) use non-polluting, free energy from the sun.
In many parts of the world, solar ovens are the norm and are life-saving devices. They cook meat, vegetables, breads, soups and everything else in solar ovens.
If you want your own solar oven for camping, outdoor cooking, or even for emergencies when gas or electricity isn't available, you have a couple of choices. Traditional box-types reach up to 300 degrees F (or hot enough for most meats), while the parabolic cooker can go up to 400 degrees F (ideally for baking bread and frying food). For something more portable, the smaller solar panel cooker and tube cooker does the job without the bulk of box or parabolic cookers.
Interested in checking out what kind of solar cookers are out there and which brand has the best solar oven for you? Here are 13 solar ovens we’ve hand-picked from hundreds of brands...
BEST SOLAR OVEN UNDER $50
BEST SOLAR OVEN FOR BAKING AND COOKING
BEST SOLAR OVEN OVERALL
The Haines 2.0 Solar Cooker and Dutch Oven has everything you need to start solar-cooking. Like the much-loved original Haines, the 2.0 has been used for educational classes in schools and far-flung villages, but also as an addition to residential cooking.
This solar oven kit includes a circular widescreen, thermometer, cooking sleeve and a 4-quart pot, which is super useful for beginners who do not own any cookware ideal for solar cooking yet. And like any other solar ovens, just leave food in the pot and you won't have to worry about burnt food.
Unlike other solar ovens with reflectors that just go around like a box, the Haines 2.0 solar cooker and Dutch oven is designed with petal-like reflectors that can be adjusted to follow the sun and heat up all sides of your pot quicker than the older models.
The cool thing about the Haines 2.0 solar oven is that it can even accommodate households that experience intense winters with just some insulation hacks in place. It's very portable, easy to assemble/disassemble, and operate.
The American Sun oven looks like a traditional box-type oven, which means it isn't like most of the best solar oven cookers we'll be featuring on this list. However, it is still powered by the sun and is made with rust-proof, mirror-like, highly polished anodized aluminum reflectors.
This solar oven can cook an entire chicken from morning until afternoon, right in time for dinner. Unlike other solar ovens that are not enclosed, American Sun's 14x14-inch box design means the heat can be trapped and used for cooking the whole day. And because of its unique design, outdoor elements like dirt, dust, insects and even small animals can't go into the oven so quickly.
The downside to this kind of design is that the "reflectors" of this solar oven are not flexible. They're fixed to the same position, which means there will be limitations in terms of size of pots and repositioning it to the sun.
At first look, the Sunflair Portable Deluxe Solar Oven looks super-small than other solar ovens, but it actually has the perfect size for cooking meals.
Included in this set is a two-layer rack, a collapsible silicone pot, solar oven thermometer, a very useful carry bag and a cookbook to explore everything this solar oven can do.
This Sunflair solar oven weighs only 1 lb and 2 ounces - you can hand-carry it as part of your hiking gear, or use it for tailgating, boating, camping and other outdoor activities. It could serve as an emergency oven for home use, or even exclusively for drying fruits and crafts like candle making or baking sculpted clay.
Designed with closed-cell insulation, the Sunflair solar oven can reach temperatures of up to 285 F. Of course, this will depend on the user's location and current season.
The included silicone pot is microwavable and dishwasher-safe. These Sunflair pots can collapse to 2 cm. Note that the solar oven can accommodate any other pots, as long as they fit the cooking space.
Many people who first take a look at the GoSun Sport solar cooker were skeptical mainly because the design doesn't look anything like other solar ovens in the market. But once you try any of GoSun's solar cookers, you'll realize that the company has developed something special.
The biggest feature of GoSun's Sport solar cooker is its ability to cook food so quickly, even on cloudy days. This is made possible because of its award-winning design. It consists of parabolic reflectors outside the tube that helps bring up the temperature onto the cooker and the glass vacuum tube that converts up to 80% of the sun's rays to usable heat.
The combination of the glass vacuum and outside reflectors bring the temperature inside high up to 550 ⁰F, which is high enough for frying, boiling vegetables, stewing meat, grilling and even baking muffins and other small pastries.
In summer and humid locations, the GoSun Sport solar cooker can easily fry bacon and eggs in just several minutes. In fact, users of the Sport were so used to the slow-paced cooking of solar ovens that they’ve burnt some of their first recipes done on this cooker.
Aside from the durable, Borosilicate-evacuated Glass Tube cooking chamber and the industrial-grade anodized aluminum parabolic reflectors, the GoSun Sport solar cooker also comes with a stainless steel cooking tray, scrubbing/cleaning tool, cookbook and user's manual.
The major downside of GoSun Sport is its limited cooking space because of its tube-like shape.
If you're not picky about brands and just want a durable, solar oven for your camping trips or as backup cooker for emergencies, the JWN Green solar oven bag cooker will do the trick. In fact, this kit looks identical to the Sunflair deluxe cooker I featured above, except this JWN counterpart comes without any accessories and is significantly more affordable.
The JWM solar oven comes in a green bag, which opens up into a 26.8-inch by 15.7-inch vacuum aluminizing sheet reflector. Get a pot and put it in the middle of the solar oven. Like any other solar oven, this one runs on solar energy, so it uses the sun's rays to heat the oven and eventually cook the food.
This solar oven kit doesn't come with any accessories, which is why it is the most affordable of all ovens on this list. You can use any pot, but a thin but dark cookware provides the best results because black traps heat more effectively.
Note that if you're new to solar cooking, give the JWM solar oven a chance because there's a learning curve to using any solar cooker.
SolCook's ASSC Camper looks very like the original model, except that this newer Camper can cook an entire turkey or fit two pots inside. The cooking space allotted is definitely bigger with a capacity of two one-gallon pots. And since The Camper is designed with a cooking bag, it can hold varying shapes and sizes of pots without any restriction.
This SolCook Camper is a panel-type solar cooker, which means you have the freedom to use any kind of cookware from baking pans to 12-inch fry pans.
Although this solar cooker looks like most solar ovens with the reflector bags, there are three distinct features that separate SolCook's All-Season Solar Cooker Camper with the rest:
The SolCook's All Season Solar Cooker Camper may not look like it at first, but this solar oven is virtually indestructible and highly efficient in cooking big batches of food.
It may be a bit unfair to compare the GoSun Fusion hybrid solar oven against some of the best solar oven cookers on this list, especially since the Fusion is the world's first solar oven that can also be plugged in at night or during cloudy and rainy days when solar heat is unable to cook your food.
If you've came from the GoSun Sport, which cooks for only 2 to 3 people, the Fusion model is definitely a step up in terms of cooking capacity. This hybrid solar oven can feed up to 6 people.
Because this solar oven could heat up to 550°F, meals are cooked much quicker when compared to other solar ovens. This model can do everything from frying to steaming, baking to roasting and everything in between (except for boiling water).
Like the other GoSun solar ovens, the Fusion is made with extremely durable materials, such as the anodized aluminum reflector frame and stainless steel tray. At nighttime and days without sunshine, you can plug this solar oven and use the 150-watt heating element built into the device for cooking.
If you've been a fan of GoSun solar ovens, you'll love this offering by ETE ETMATE but at a cheaper price tag. It has similar tube design, along with the upper and lower reflectors, except the ETE ETMATE solar cooker has extra reflectors on both sides of the tube.
In terms of capacity, the ETE ETMATE solar cooker can accommodate 4.5 liters of meat, veggies, or even bread. And since it can reach up to 550°F during full sunshine, this solar oven can cook a meal as quick as 20 minutes. (Note that like other solar ovens, the sunlight output would directly affect cooking time)
To operate, just pull the stainless tray from the side, put in your food for cooking, push the tray back in, and wait. You'd have to leave the reflectors open, since this helps in absorbing the sun's UV rays, which is then converted into heat suitable for cooking.
As with most GoSun solar cookers, the GoSun Go is designed with an impressively-made glass tube placed at the center of the cooker, embraced by parabolic reflectors on top and bottom. It features a vacuum tube as 'cooking pan' that works as an insulator converting up to 80% of the sun's rays to heat.
The entire thing may look pretty small (it measures only ), but GoSun’s Go solar oven has the ability to steam, roast or bake a meal. It can even boil liquids - something many solar cookers cannot do. In favorable weather conditions where you can get direct sunlight for up to 8 hours, the GoSun Go solar cooker could reach temperatures as high as 550°F.
If you're buying this for disaster preparedness or for camping with a family or group of friends, this won't fit the bill because of its size. GoSun has oth
Solavore's Sport solar oven looks massive, but it actually just measures measuring 12 1/4"high, 27 1/4”long and 17”wide. This particular set comes with two 3-quart capacity graniteware pots, which are made of carbon steel with a porcelain surface for non-stick cooking.
This "Sport" solar oven from Solavore is designed with durable BPA-free rugged nylon plastic, along with closed-cell foam for insulation. Outside the box, the massive TR-86 high-performance reflectors do their magic as its mirror-like surface takes in the sun's rays and converts it into usable heat for cooking.
Because this solar oven was designed to stand on its own (without a table or any other rack), you can keep it near the ground and operate more effectively. You do need additional time for set-up and take-down, since the solar oven must be folded completely with the reflectors removed before storage.
American Educational's Solar Oven is designed for classroom experiments of grades 3 to 9 (or around 8 years old to 15). This solar oven even comes with a 'Teacher's Guide' to assist educators on proper use and functions.
Unlike some of the best solar oven cookers on this list, the purpose of American Educational Solar Oven isn't to impress and be used for rugged camping trips. It is best used a couple of times a year for presentation. If you plan to use this regularly, it’s better to choose another solar oven from this list.
The design of the American Educational Solar oven is pretty simple. It is made with reflective surfaces, which concentrate heat radiation into the cooking chamber and traps heat for cooking. The cooking space can be pretty snug, even for a 1.5-quart round Pyrex dish. Make sure you have cookware that could fit into this solar oven because it doesn't have any pot or pan included.
One of the biggest design flaws of this solar oven is the lack of warning not to cut off the box while unpacking. This is important because the reflectors are actually connected to the inner side of these boxes and cutting them off would basically damage the entire thing.
Sunflair's mini portable solar oven does live up to its name. It weighs just 1 pound and 12 ounces, then folds down to the size of a three-ring binder. This was designed specifically for campers, hikers, fishing hobbyists, RV-ers and other people who love the outdoors.
The Sunflair Mini portable solar oven comes ready with a solar oven thermometer, a trivet, a carry bag, and a black, collapsible silicone pot, which can accommodate up to 3 and a half cups of liquid. This set-up can easily cook beans, rice, eggs, and other basic fry-foods like bacon, eggs and hotdogs.
Built with advanced closed-cell insulation, this solar oven can heat up from 180 to 300º F, depending on the season, time of day and location. And because you're using the power of the sun, instead of other alternative heat sources, you can cook even in areas where open flames are not allowed. Some users even swear of trying to cook food inside their cars during traffic - how crazy is that?
If you've been eyeing the GoSun solar ovens for a while now, but have no extra cash to accommodate this wonderful device, you can get the next best thing with cheaper alternatives like this offer from NICECHOOSE.
The NICECHOOSE portable solar cooker is pretty straightforward. It is designed with a mirror aluminum plate that reflects sunlight down to the cooking tube, a built-in stainless steel roasting tray with wooden handle, and folding parabolic reflectors protecting the tube as you cook. Because the vacuum glass tube traps the heat in naturally, the food on the tray receives enough heat even without full sunlight.
During sunny days, you can cook a meal within 30 minutes. It is perfect for roasting, boiling, steaming and baking. It's a fuel-free BBQ stove, which means you can tailgate or camp successfully without the smoke that comes with traditional grilling.
As you might expect for having a low price tag, the reflectors can be delicate, so you need to be extra careful when handling the NICECHOOSE solar oven. There also is no instructions included in this kit, so you'd have to Google basic operations if you're new to the world of solar cooking.
Aside from the types of solar ovens (box, tube, or parabolic cookers), you also have to consider different things, such as:
Price wouldn't be much of an issue because most solar ovens are inexpensive. However, durability would be a better weighing factor since higher-priced solar cookers are made with better (and sometimes more expensive) materials.
The best solar oven for you will depend on your location, preferred cooking method, and whether you need it portable for camping, tailgating or other outdoor activities, or just for your backyard and backup oven for emergencies.
If you're new to this world of solar cooking, you can try out a solar oven without breaking the bank - choose the super-affordable, yet highly effective JWN Green Portable Solar Oven Bag Cooker.
However, if you’re serious about outdoor cooking, the best solar oven is something like Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe with Complete Cookware, which includes the pot, thermometer, and everything else you'll need to begin cooking under the sun.
Note that if you plan to bake outdoors during seasons other than summer, skip the Sunflair model and go for the SolCook's All Season Solar Cooker Camper, which provides better temperature range for grilling, steaming, boiling and baking.