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Have you ever been stuck leaning over a pile of sticks and kindling, hitting two stones together thinking that there must be another, easier way to cook your food while out in the wilderness? If only there were a way to use nature to cook your meals - oh wait, there is! Solar cookers use the sunlight - the epitome of nature, some might say - to heat up your food and provide you with lovely meals without almost any effort.
As long as there’s a bright sun in the sky, you can use a solar cooker to create a wide array of dishes. Opposed to cooking over a fire where you may only be able to make some beans or soup, you can use some solar cookers to make elaborate things such as cakes, stews and pasta. What’s more is that the design and premise is so simple that solar cookers are not actually that expensive pieces of gear, so you’ll be able to find a model within your budget. Below we’ll have a look at how portable solar cookers work, as well as seven of the best options to choose from on the market right now.
The Seven Best Solar Cookers on the Market
There are many different designs on the market for portable solar cookers, so it can be difficult to know which ones are the best to choose from opposed to which ones are going to leave your food cold and inedible. That is why we’ve created our list of the seven top solar cookers available right now, so you can leave all the guesswork behind and know that your purchase is a smart one.
As we mentioned above, solar cooking is a great way to conduct your outdoor meals and feed your friends and family without a conventional oven or having the mundane task of collecting wood for the fire. Gone are the days of carrying a heavy gas canister around - now you can simply rely on the sun! Let’s get right into our list so you can get the dinner on.
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Best Portable Solar Cookers - Comparison Table
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Best Portable Solar Cookers - Reviews
Starting off our list is the All-Season Solar Cooker from Sol Cook. This model is affordable and easy to use, so it is ideal for people of all skill levels and experience. All of the reflectors featured on this model are made of flexible material so you can easily fold them into each other after each use and store it in small spaces. This is an upgraded version of Sol Cook’s previous portable solar cooker in which they have updated the design and usability of the model so it is much more efficient and user friendly.
The All-Season Solar Cooker is large enough to hold a turkey roaster, so it is definitely big enough to accommodate all sorts of pots and pans, such as cake pans, fry pans and large cooking pots. The benefit here is that you don’t have to worry about purchasing specially designed cooking instruments to be able to use your solar cooker - you can just grab whatever you desire from your own kitchen.
If you use the sunlight most efficiently, you could keep cooking your meals throughout the day from 10am to at least 3pm. Thanks to the super portability of the All-Season Solar Cooker’s design, you can easily keep repositioning the cooker in direct sunlight as the day goes on. You can choose to lie the reflectors completely flat as to make the most of the midday sun, or you can prop them up to attract all the slanted sunlight. Alternatively, you could also adjust the angle of the reflectors down to the millimetre to maximize the efficiency.
- Lightweight and portable solar cooker.
- Easy to use and improved design.
- Low price point.
- Large cooker allows you to cook larger meals for your whole family.
The Haines 2.0 Solar Cooker and Dutch Oven Kit is made of stainless steel panelling which surrounds a Dutch oven pot with a tempered glass lid. This is especially good for crock pot recipes, however you can cook a range of meals with this solar oven, including bread, vegetables, beef, potatoes, eggs, cake and beans. Essentially you can make whatever you and your family or friends are feeling that day, just like a conventional cooker.
You can take this model apart for easy storing and put it back together by snapping the parts back together again. This may sound like a lot of work, however in reality it takes mere minutes to complete. All of the stainless steel reflectors are adjustable so you get the most out of the bright daylight sun, and it is a breeze to adjust them according to the sun's different positions.
The Haines 2.0 Solar Cooker is able to boil two cups of water in just 40 minutes. Along with the cooker you’ll also receive the Dutch oven pot, some tips for cooking with solar power and a plastic storage bag to keep all the parts in so they don’t get lost. Speaking of parts, this whole solar cooker weighs in at a mere 1.8 pounds, which makes it an incredibly portable model to take with you on all your outdoor and off the grid adventures.
- Very lightweight and portable model.
- Comes with Dutch oven pot.
- Durable stainless steel reflectors.
- Ideal for use with many different recipes including cakes and souffles.
Next up in our list is the GoSun Portable Solar Grill, which uses only the power of the sun rather than any fuel or charcoal. Looking at this model, you wouldn’t think that it was a grill - but that just makes it all the more impressive. Although it is called a grill, you can also bake, fry, steam and much more with it, so you’ll be able to make pretty much everything that you could make in a conventional oven at home. Instead of your home cooker, however, this model is very lightweight and easy to carry around with you.
You could pick this solar cooker out of a line up easily thanks to its unusual shape and design. In between the reflectors is a cylindrical chamber in which you’ll need to place the food that you want cooked. The reflectors redirect the heat into the chamber, and the tube creates a compact space in which the heat cannot escape. This mimics the feel of a real cooker, giving you more consistent results and meals without any potentially dangerous cold spots.
The fact that the GoSun Portable Solar Grill creates an atmosphere similar to a conventional oven puts your mind at ease instantly. If you’re like us and often end up overcooking your chicken because you want to make sure all the bacteria is killed off and there is no pink coloring left, cooking with a solar cooker may be a little daunting to you. However, as the chamber acts like a real oven, some of this worry dissipates and you can spend more time enjoying yourself in the sunshine.
What’s more is that there is almost no cleanup thanks to using only the sun as heat. Moreover, you only need to wipe down the reflectors and wash the chamber which won’t take much time at all.
- Easy usability.
- Lightweight and portable design.
- Unique shape to make the most out of the bright sunlight.
- Ideal for outdoor cooking.
The SolSource Sport Solar Cooker is a portable solar cooker designed and created by One Earth Designs and is considered one of the best models on the market right now. There are lots of interesting and unique features to marvel over, including the high quality reflectors that redirect the heat from the sunlight back onto your food. These are made up of self-heating polymers which prevent any heat being lost or absorbed by the material and ensure all the heat is pointed at what you’re cooking.
The SolSource Sport Solar Cooker can deliver high temperatures consistently and reliably, so you won’t have to stare at your food the whole time to make sure it is still cooking. In fact, this solar cooker can reach up to 285°F if positioned correctly and the sunlight is strong. Thanks to this high maximum temperature, the SolSource Sport cooker is very similar to cooking in a conventional oven. One Earth Designs boasts that their solar cooker could boil 20 cups of water in a mere 20 minutes.
One Earth Designs has created their solar cooker to be both lightweight and super portable, as when not in use the cooker can fold down small enough to fit into the included 2.5ft³ carry bag. The whole cooker weighs only 10 pounds so you’d barely feel the added weight whether you were carrying it onto the beach or storing it in your campervan.
- Carry bag included for hassle-free transportation.
- Lightweight at only 10 pounds.
- Can reach temperatures of up to 285°F.
- Simple to clean without tricky parts to reach.
Another solar cooker made primarily of flexible materials, the Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe is a great choice for anyone who wants to cook their meals off the grid. The flexibility of the reflectors allows this model to take up minimal space in your campervan or RV, so you can essentially forget about it until you need it again.
The Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe weighs only 2 pounds - yes you read that right! Using this model will make you question why domestic cookers are too heavy to adjust slightly, while you can pick this cooker up with two fingers. It’s also incredibly easy to use, all you have to do is place it under the sun and wait for it to do its magic.
What’s more is that this portable cooker comes with a number of kitchen essentials to prevent you realizing too late that your pots and pans are too big for the cooker. The silicone pans can be folded up to keep within the space saving theme, so there won’t be any bulky kitchen utensils cluttering up your small space.
If you position this solar cooker just right, and provided that the sunlight is strong enough, you can expect the temperature to reach as high as 285°F. However bear in mind that this is likely to be achieved only in the right climate and when the sun is at its strongest, perhaps midday.
As we mentioned earlier, the Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe is greatly portable thanks to the flexibility of the design and the slight weight. The cooker measures in at 19 x 15.5 x 2 inches when it is folded and put away in the storage bag, so you’ll barely be able to notice it when not in use.
- Super lightweight and flexible design.
- Made of durable materials.
- Various cookware included with the cooker.
- Temperature can reach up to 285°F.
- Very easy to use.
The main difference between the All-American Sun Oven Camping Cooker and the other models we have looked at currently is the appearance of the design. Instead of shiny reflectors that can be folded into each other, the All-American Sun Oven features a number of anodized aluminum reflectors which are extremely durable and rust resistant. The manufacturer has upgraded its previous model into this newer version, so you can marvel in the knowledge that the cooker has undergone renovations and has been redesigned to be more user friendly and impressive.
The All-American Sun Oven Camping Cooker wasn’t joking when it said ‘all-American’ - there are a number of interesting American features to be seen within the design. Not only do you get the cooker with this purchase, you also receive a few pots, loaf pans and a baking rack set to ensure you have enough cookware for whatever you’re in the mood for each day. What’s more is that this cooker is actually cheaper than the other leading portable cookers on the market.
Speaking of portability, this cooker weighs only 7 pounds, which is rather surprising when you look at the design of the model. Moreover, this model measures in at 24 x 15.5 x 20.5 inches so it won’t take too much room out of your storage space. The most impressive feature is that under the right light and in the right climate, you could see temperatures of up to 400°F cooking your food in a flash. This fact alone makes this an excellent choice for your new solar cooker, especially if you’re wanting one more durable than a flexible designed model.
- Made in America.
- High quality materials, such as anodized aluminum, used to make this model.
- Comes with a number of accessories.
- Can reach a maximum temperature of 360 to 400°F.
- Lightweight design.
Although we’ve already looked at a solar cooker from GoSun earlier in our list, we had to include the more advanced option in case you thought the previous model was lacking something. We still maintain that both models are ideal choices, so it’s really up to you which you think sounds better for your individual lifestyle. Looking at the image for this 2148
model, you can see that the unique model is actually of a cylindrical shape rather than the typical boxy look.
The reflectors wrap around the chamber where the food sits to give more efficient performance from this model. The sun can reflect back up onto the bottom of the pan to better mimic how a conventional oven works. To further this mimicking, on a really sunny day you can expect to see the highest temperature of 550° F, which is extremely impressive. You can use this model to roast, sauté and bake almost anything that your heart desires, as well as much more with this solar cooker, and the best part is that most foods can be cooked within 20 minutes in the brightest sunlight.
Going back to the design, there is a cooking chamber within the reflectors that features a tube with a wooden handle. This ominous sounding tube is actually just a place to put the food when you want it cooking. The tube ensures that your food keeps its flavor and nutritious value intact, so your food should taste as good as it would if you were to cook it in your oven at home - it might even taste better.
Finally, let’s look at its portability. In short, there’s nothing to complain about here - the reflectors fold down to make the model small enough to carry wherever you need. The weight is a reasonable 8 pounds which isn’t too bad compared to some other models, and the performance of the GoSun Sport Portable Solar Cooker more than makes up for the weight.
- Clamshell case with handle to make the model very portable.
- Can reach temperatures of up to 550° F.
- The parabolic reflectors can be folded up to keep the cooker compact.
- Glass tube cooking chamber to keep the food flavorful.
- Ideal for use off the grid or in an emergency situation.
Best Portable Solar Cookers - Buyers Guide
How Portable Solar Cookers Work
At a first glance a portable solar cooker may be confusing to comprehend. When you first hear the word cooker you imagine a white box with hob rings and large metal doors to open and put your food in - not a piece of shiny silver material wrapping around a rack, right? However, once you know how they work you’ll be wondering how you ever had a problem figuring it out in the first place.
The process is not dissimilar from a solar panel - the sunlight is attracted and drawn in, and the panels generate energy and heat. For a cooker, the reflectors attract the sunlight, but instead of absorbing the heat and creating something else, the reflectors redirect the sun's heat onto the food in between the reflectors.
Seems simple enough, and it is quite easy once you get the hang of cooking with a solar oven. Having said that, you have to be vigilant and keep an eye on what you’re cooking as well as the sun position, as you need the strongest amount of sunlight to make your cooker as effective and efficient as possible.
That concludes our list of the best portable solar cookers on the market today. Hopefully you’ve found out a little more about the design and how they can be used most effectively - maybe you’ve even found your new piece of outdoor equipment. Solar cookers are a great option for people who like spending time outdoors or off the grid. Cooking away from home, perhaps on a camping trip or for a picnic, is an ideal opportunity to spend time with friends and family in the sun. However, some places don’t allow fires and therefore you’ll need to come up with another method of cooking your meal. That’s where solar cookers come in!
Another use for solar cookers is in an emergency situation where you find yourself without mains power. Any solar powered appliance proves very handy to keep in your emergency kit, just in case the worst happens. These can include solar panels, solar generators and solar power stations.
Coming back to solar cookers, whether you plan to use it for off the grid living or keeping it in your emergency kit as a security blanket, you should definitely consider purchasing your own model. You never know what could happen, and it’s always worth being prepared.