So you’ve packed the family tent, rolled out those padded sleeping bags that keep everyone toasty warm and stocked up your food supplies. Your big camping trip is fully planned out, with an itinerary at the ready and you’ve printed the route just in case the Sat Nav packs in (it never hurts to be prepared).
But now, you’ve got to think, how will you create those delicious camping meals you’ve been researching for the past month? Investing in the best solar cooker could be the answer with its sustainable power source and a vast range of options available on the market.
To make your decision easier, we’ve rounded up the best solar cookers out there, as rated by customer reviews, to make it easier for you to find the perfect model for your trip.
Best Solar Cooker
Voted as Amazon’s Choice for solar ovens, the Solavore Sport Solar Oven is an easy to use and highly portable option for the avid camper. Made completely in the USA, this heat retaining box design allows you to bake, simmer, roast and even sterilise water allowing you to cook in any condition. Heating up to a temperature between 200 and 300 Fahrenheit, the unique design promises to gradually cook food without the risk of burning and features a rugged recycled nylon casing that is cool to the tough making it suitable for use around children. Supplied with the TR-86 High Performance Reflector, 2 x round Graniteware pots, a thermometer, a Water Pasteurization Indicator and a Solavore Getting Started Guide with recipes.
Best portable solar cooker
Take to the great outdoors with the Suncore Portable Solar cooker which offers a unique alternative to the traditional BBQ. This fully portable oven can be built and disassembled in seconds while weighing less than 11lbs making it perfect for taking out to your alfresco dinner dates. Evacuated tube technology with an added thermometer allows the chef to monitor cooking temperature while ensuring your meals can be cooked to perfection in as little as 20 minutes. Running on just sunlight, this model can completely replace your BBQ with the capability to bake, steam, boil and fry while keeping all types of meat dry and succulent for your dinner guests. Able to function in both summer and winter, the cooker can also retain its heat and continue to cook when the winds pick up.
Best solar oven
Voted the number 1 portable solar oven across the world, the Sunfair Mini Portable Solar Oven can be set up and packed away in seconds. The entire set includes a solar oven thermometer, 1 x trivet, 1 collapsible silicone pot and a carry bag allowing you to cook in all kinds of environments – especially conservation areas where open flames are banned. The world’s lightest and easiest solar oven to function, the unique design allows it to float while folding down into the size of a laptop – the perfect solution for backpackers with limited storage space for their next trip. The resulting temperatures can be compared to those of a slow cooker (180 – 300 F) while also boiling water easily with stovetop temps up to 212 F.
Best solar cooker for camping
Reaching temperatures of up to 550F in full sunlight, the GoSun Sport Portable Solar Cooker is the ideal addition to the avid campers kit. The award-winning patented design converts nearly 80% of sunlight while holding a consistent temperature for enough time to cook your food to perfection without the risk of burns. The stove features a solar vacuum tube chamber that provides high levels of insulation, keeping it cool to the touch and safe for use around small children. Folding down into a 7.5lb clamshell case with easy-grip handles, this fully submersible cooker promises to stand the test of time while bringing those family favourite meals out with you on your excursions.
Best solar cooker for backpacking
Keep luggage weight to a minimum with the unique design of the Silver Balloon Solar Cooker. Eliminate both the risk and weight of glass, metal parts or screws with this lightweight and eco-friendly cooking option which produces temperatures up to 350F using just the available sunlight. Generating enough power to safely pasteurise water while sufficiently warming or cooking meals from scratch, this reusable unit folds up to a pocket size and weighs in at just 6oz. The balloon has been manufactured from durable Mylar funnels that concentrates the sunlight internally while inflating up to 2′ x 2′ x 4′ for reliable cooking power every time.
Best solar stove
Prepare your favourite meals while out and about with the All American SunOven Solar Cooker. Packed with everything you need to begin cooking as soon as you set up camp, this American built solar oven boasts enough power to perform a multitude of tasks including baking, dehydrating of boiling with temperatures that peak at 400F. The lightweight and portable unit comes complete with a dehydrating and baking rack set, 2 x easy stack pots with lids and 2 x loaf pans setting you up for the most amazing meals under the stars.
Best parabolic solar cooker
Designed and perfect by scientists, the Solar Flare Dual Parabolic Solar Cooking System is a versatile and durable solar cooker. Ideal for use in an emergency or during your next camping trip, this lightweight model features a double parabolic reflector panel that focuses the suns energy onto a vertical axis in the centre of the cone. Simply place in direct sunlight and experience the cooking power that will have your favourite meals bubbling away in no time. The entire kit contains 2 x pails with lids, 1 x cooking vessels with lids, 2 x parabolic reflector panels, 8 x twist ties, 4 x greenhouse environmental bags, 4 x plastic riser cups with lids, 12 fasteners and an instruction manual with cooking guide and recipes.
Best Solar kettle
Slightly outside of the brief but still highly impressive, the Total Survival Portable Solar Kettle allows you to create those steaming mugs of tea or coffee that your mind dreams of when camping in the chilly wilderness. Using the power of sunlight, this scratch and weather resistant kettle has a thermal, shock-proof evacuated thermal glass tube with pressure release valve and screw down lid. An ideal choice for campers or backpackers, the kettle weighs in at just 2.6lbs and can also be used to boil sourced water to reduce the risk of harmful chemicals or natural additives. If you’re cooking your food with sunlight, why not make your drinks with it too?
Homemade solar oven video
If D.I.Y is your thing, why not consider making your own solar oven. In the video below, Youtube user vuaeco shows you how he created his homemade solar oven that heats up to an impressive 350F. Using just natural woods, aluminium, porcelain and glass, his solar oven reduces the risk of harmful chemicals that could both taint food or affect the health of the user. This 20-minute video gives a fully comprehensive guide explaining how you can create your own solar oven to showcase your skills and bring delicious meals to your friends and family.
5 Reasons To Own Or Use A Solar Cooker
The most obvious, taking a solar cooking with you on your next camping excursion completely eliminates the need to carry additional fuel sources. You’ll be creating delicious meals for the entire family without putting any strain on the earth’s limited resources and using natural light instead to power your daily meals.
When all you’ve got is your trusty backpack, space is limited so being able to transport your cooking apparatus without considering whether that last pair of socks can be vetoed for your fuel canisters is a definite plus. Solar cookers also enable you to create delicious and wholesome meals anywhere you’d like! So if you’re feeling peckish at the top of a mountain, that steaming bowl of Grandmas soup no longer needs to be a mirage.
- Native Cooking Style when living off grid
Those that choose to turn their backs on conventional power supplies and embrace off the grid living may find a solar cooker the answer to their prayers. Using just the lights natural power, these cookers easily fit into a native way of living while still allowing the entire family to enjoy those hearty meals they’ve always loved.
- Emergency Backup
Should you find yourself without electricity at any point, from a power cut or other circumstances, a solar cooker is a great backup tool to ensure everyone continues to be fed appropriately. Pack it away with all your emergency gear and get out to charge when needed and you’ll be able to keep on top of one aspect of modern life even with no electricity.
Why not take a step away from the norm and use your solar cooker at the next BBQ meet up? Your friends will be amazed when you whip out this wireless contraption and begin frying up those minted lamb chops or marinated chicken breasts to perfection.[/alert-announce]
Solar cooker information
- How Solar Cookers Work
The majority of solar cookers work on a basic principle – they convert sunlight into heat energy which is then retained for the purpose of cooking. Solar cookers usually need to be continuously rotated towards the light source and require protection from strong winds to keep the temperature consistent. A transparent heat trap is usually used in the form of a clear heat-resistant plastic bag, large inverted glass bowl or an insulated box to allow the sunlight in but maintain the heat food cooking. This heat trap will be surrounded by one or more shiny surface that reflects the sunlight into the pot to increase and then maintain the heat.
There are three different types of slow cooker – Solar Panel Cookers, Solar Box Cookers and Parabolic Solar Cookers.
- Solar Panel Cookers
A solar panel cooker uses reflective panels to direct sunlight onto a central pot. Working best in full sunlight, these cookers are usually inexpensive to purchase and create good cooking temperatures in a short space of time.
- Solar Box Cookers
A solar box cooker has an insulated box at its centre that is usually covered with a transparent glass or plastic cover. The box is then surrounded by reflectors that help focus light onto the box to heat it. Temperatures within the box can reach high levels (around 400F) and food can be left to cook in the same manner as a slow cooker.
- Parabolic Solar Cooker
A parabolic solar cooker (also known as a curved convection solar cooker) concentrates the suns heat onto the bottom or sides of a pot in a similar way to a stove. The temperatures generated here can easily fry foods or cause popcorn to pop. With its fast speed, this unit also heats up to the touch making it unsuitable for use with small children.
Solar Cooker Best Practices
- Use black cooking pots or canning jars that have been painted black (with non-toxic paints)
- Start cooking early to achieve the best results
- If in doubt, cook vegetarian meals to avoid the risk of food poisoning
- Parabolic solar cooker can get very hot so avoid use around children or animals
- Turn your slow cooker during the day to allow the most sunlight onto your reflectors
Tips and Tricks
- When cooking in bright sunlight conditions, you don’t always need to rotate your box to follow the sun. Consider the cooking time and the intensity of heat needed when choosing whether to put the effort into turning it.
- Use dark pans to absorb as much light as possible. Specifically for frying, use a pan without a lid and allow this to touch the interior glass.
- Make your reflector the same size as the lid of your pan
- If making vegetable soup, add the hard vegetables first to give it time to soften
- To increase cooking temperature during use, rotate the unit towards the sun often
- Don’t cover cooking food with aluminium foil, this will redirect heat away from the cooking pot
- Solar cookers generally won’t burn your food so don’t be afraid of starting your cooking schedule early.
- Solar cookers can also be used to kill wild sees and insect bugs in gardening soil. You can also use these cookers to sterilise ceramic pots and wooden flats for gardening purposes.