Build a DIY Solar Oven

How to build a DIY solar oven

What if you found yourself without electricity for several weeks? If this ever happened, solar cooking can come in handy. It would allow you to cook things like rice, hot dogs, and soups (among other things). As you can probably guess, it revolves on harnessing the sun’s UV light to cook food. Pretty simple concept, wouldn’t you agree? Once you build your solar oven, you’ll be able to reheat foods with no electrical power. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty cool! Let’s look at the materials required and steps for building a DIY solar oven.

DIY Solar Oven – Things You’ll Need

For this solar cooker project, I’m going to teach you how to build a solar oven out of a pizza box. You can actually build a solar cooker out of a lot of things, but for the sake of simplicity (and since it’s arguably the easiest one to build), we’ll cover the pizza box method.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cardboard Pizza Box
  • Scissors (or a Box Knife)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Tape
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Black Construction Paper
  • Ruler
  • Glue
  • A Black Marker

As you can see, you won’t need anything too expensive. In fact, you’ll probably have most of these items lying around your house. Perhaps the hardest thing to get out of all this is the pizza box! Once you’ve gathered the necessary materials, you’re ready to begin your solar oven project.

Solar Oven Project Steps

I understand that some of you may be better at reading instructions, while others may be better at “watching” and copying. For this reason, I’m going to write out the steps to building a homemade solar oven, followed by showing you a video on how to do it. Here’s what to do:

  • Step 1: Using your scissors (or box cutter), cut out a square flap in the lid of your pizza box. Cut along three sizes while making sure that you leave about one inch of space between the edges of the lid and the sides of the flap. Fold the flip to a standing position.
  • Step 2: The next step in this solar cooker project is to cover the insides of the flap with inner foil. Why is this step important? Well, the aluminum foil is the thing that’s going to be reflecting the sun’s rays. Wrap the aluminum foil tightly around the flap, and secure it using tape.
  • Step 3: By this point, your DIY solar oven is starting to come together, but it’s not finished yet. Now, get your clear plastic wrap and create an airtight window for sunlight to enter the box. Place the plastic wrap over the original opening you made in step one.
  • Step 4: Using your black construction paper, line the bottom of the pizza box. This will allow your DIY solar oven to absorb the heat required for cooking. The amount of paper you use will depend on the size of your pizza box.

And…that’s it! I can’t promise that you’ll be able to cook a turkey with your new DIY solar oven, but you will be able to do things like melt cheese, make s’mores, and heat up cans of soup.

How Hot Will My Homemade Solar Oven Get?

On a sunny day, a well-built DIY solar oven can reach about 200-degrees Fahrenheit. Because it maxes out at this temperature, it will take longer to heat things compared to a traditional oven. While solar cooking does take longer than traditional cooking, it’s a lot of fun and is very easy to do. Plus, it’s pretty cool to think that you’re cooking your food using nothing more than the energy from the sun. The peak hours for cooking are from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. when the sun is high overhead. If you live in an exceptionally hot state, like Nevada or Arizona for example, then your homemade solar oven will become super-hot.

By preheating your DIY solar oven, you’ll save a lot of time when it cooking/reheating your foods. To do this, simply leave it in the sun for about an hour prior to cooking. As it accumulates more and more sunlight, your solar oven will become incredibly hot. I recommend using a pie plate so that the bottom doesn’t get dirty. Also, having a thermometer is good idea so that you can measure the temperature of your DIY solar oven. If it gets hot enough, you may even be able to cook a hot dog! I’ve even heard of people baking cookies in their solar cooker. Not bad for something that requires minimal time and building materials.

Tips on Using a DIY Solar Oven

Here are some tips to keep in mind when using your DIY solar oven:

  • Wrap Food in Aluminum Foil: If you take something like corn on the cob and wrap it in aluminum foil, it will cook much more efficiently.
  • Pre-Heat Your Oven: This will help you save a lot of time since solar ovens take a lot longer to heat up compared to conventional ovens.
  • Stir Liquids: To ensure that your soups (or even rice or fondue) cook evenly, stir them at least once every 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Follow the Sun: Repositioning your solar oven ensures that your oven is always achieving the maximum amount of sunlight possible.

Remember, this a homemade solar oven (especially ones made out of pizza boxes) isn’t designed to kill bacteria. For this reason, it’s not suitable for cooking things like fish, pork, or chicken. You can, however, cook things like rice, hot dogs, soups, cheese, s’mores, and maybe cookies depending on how hot you get it. Overall, it’s a fun project to do with the kids and can definitely come in handy if you’ve lost electricity.

Bottom Line

As you can see, this solar oven project is super-simple to do. As I mentioned earlier, you probably have most of these materials lying around your home (minus the pizza box). Just keep in mind that you need plenty of sun to use it. It won’t work somewhere that’s constantly cloudy, rainy, etc. If you’re looking for another fun DIY project, check out my article: How to Build a PVC Bow. Thanks for reading!

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 (Source:; April 18, 2016;

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