Introduction: Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven

Picture of Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven

This Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven is simple and easy to make. We have had it reach temperatures over 170 degrees Fahrenheit on a cloudless 80 degree day. Today is a pretty cloudy low 80s day and the oven still was over 115 degrees.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials


  1. Pringles can or other cylindrical container.
  2. Sharp knife, make sure you can handle a sharp object or ask for help. Kids - ask a responsible adult for help.
  3. Straight edge, we used a cut piece of aluminum laying around but a ruler would be good.
  4. Sharpie marker or other marking pen.
  5. Skewer
  6. Hot Glue
  7. Drill / Drill Bit


Magnet, Plastic Wrap, Tape

Step 2: Procedure

Picture of Procedure

Empty contents. Fat Cat had no problem eating the chips in our cans to "help" us out.

Using a straight edge draw a rectangle on the side of the can. We used this side because there were lines already.

Use your knife to cut the rectangle out. Save this piece for later.

Using your skewer, poke a hole through the plastic lid.

Take skewer out and put plastic lid on to bottom of can.

Mark can where hole should go on the bottom of the can.

Drill hole with drill in bottom of can.

Put skewer through the lid, the center of can, and the bottom hole.

Step 3: Stand

Picture of Stand

Use the rectangle piece we cut out to make a stand. This will help keep the oven from flipping over.

Take the scrap piece and run a bead of hot glue along the center of the piece. Do not put on the shiny side.

Place the scap piece to the can. Try to make sure that when the solar oven is set down that it will be angled at the sun and not straight up or straight forward. We eyeballed it.

If you want to be exact, use a protractor to determine angle. Different parts of the world get different angles of sunlight and an oven angled properly will get more direct sunlight into the oven causing higher temps.

The stand also allows for different angles. Just rotate the can on its side. Experiment with it and you will see.

Step 4: Extras

Picture of Extras

We like magnets. So we put a magnet on the bottom of this solar oven. It helps keep it in place and allows for many different angles. We had it hanging on the back of a metal chair out in the yard. Just seemed to be the thing to do lol.

We added plastic wrap to one to keep heat in. We need to experiment to see which oven cooks hotdogs better.

Step 5: Success?

Picture of Success?

Today was a very humid day and cloudy. When we brought the oven up from the basement, the thermometer read around 70 F after about 10 min it was up over 115 F. Outside temp was 82 F.

I don't know if that was much of a success but I know on a sunny day we had the thermometer reading over 170 F on an 80 F day.

Remember to keep adjusting / moving can as the sun moves.


Coin of Gold made it! (author)2015-01-26

Hey, this is a little bit late, but over the summer, I made the cooker. I had a few problems with the sun not staying out long enough, as well as some condensation building up... Is there a way to prevent that?

Great Instructable by the way! Thanks for sharing!

quas1mod (author)Coin of Gold2016-04-28

I've found that if I do some hard, unpleasant work outdoors, the sun seems to stay out a lot longer.

EricK13 (author)Coin of Gold2016-04-28

usually condensation is from temperature difference and ability for the moisture to stick on the surface. you can "coat" it with something temporarily to prevent sticking similar to swimming goggles, and/or use a dual pane glass/poly-carbonate window instead of shrink wrap...

quartzboy (author)Coin of Gold2016-04-21

line the can with foil with the shiny side up and that will give u
better heat the inside of the Pringles can is kiinda dull and put a few
holes in the plastic wrap so that the condensation has a way to escape

WOW that is nice!!

As far as the condensation building up, we have not found a solution for that. We have built a huge solar oven that could hold a pot or 50 plus hotdogs. Not like this one but with large rectangular boxes. The plastic was always covered with condensation.

We do recommend having the item cooking be as dry as possible by getting rid of any extra water.

Hopefully someone wiser will also answer your question.

Good luck and great oven you have there!

Thanks! Though credit goes to you for creating this Instructable!

That massive oven sounds awesome! I'll take into consideration what you said about having dryer hot dogs. Thanks!

brandt e (author)2014-06-05

It heats up great! I used magnets for an adjustable base.

brandt e (author)brandt e2014-06-10

it only got to about 130ºF but I think it can get hotter. I got it so clear by stretching it out with tape

Thanks for making and posting!!

How hot did yours get? How did you get your plastic so clear? That is how it should be. Great idea with the magnet!

Klappstuhl (author)brandt e2014-06-06

Isn't the heat somewhat bad for the magnets? Just wondering.

capjbadger (author)Klappstuhl2014-06-06

You'd have to get them a LOT hotter to hit the Curie point of the magnet to ruin it. :)

Shimon - Stan (author)2017-08-03

Nice idea. Have to try it with the grandkids.

I agree with the suggestion of lining it with aluminum foil to get better reflection.

A few suggestions for improvement:

1) Instead of putting the skewer through the center of the can, put it half way between the center and the back of the can (away from the opening. That is where the sunlight is going to focus. So it will get absorbed by the hot dog and turn into heat.

2) Instead of cutting the rectangle out completely, leave it attached along the bottom edge and fold it down so that it reflects more sunlight into the can and heat it up more. It's best to try to adjust the angle to aim the reflected light onto the hot dog.

3) Condensation will always show up when there is a cold surface adjacent to hot moist air. The whole idea is for it to be hot inside and the hot dog will make it moist. It should help to use a double layer of plastic wrap with an air gap between them. Thick double sticky tape is one way to accomplish this.

4) Instead of a skewer use a meat thermometer. That way you'll know the temperature inside the hot dog where it really counts.

kencasey made it! (author)2017-07-18

My grandson and I made and used this design today. The weather was mostly sunny, 82-degrees, and we set the cooker out for over an hour. The highest temperature we got was 140-degrees, as we moved the cooker to follow the sun in South Jersey, at 39.6285° N, 75.4985° W. Great design! We'd like to try to tweek it to get the full 170-degrees that the designer had gotten. Thanks for the cool idea, and happy instructabling!

pennerwolff (author)2017-05-30

cool hi michael

lisac191 (author)2017-05-19

I'm doing a day camp with a 100 cub scouts, I would love for them to have their own ovens to each cook a hot dog but something tells me I shouldn't be eating that many pringles... I was wondering it I take a paper cup (think a McDonalds large) basically do the same thing but line it with tin foil and poke the skewer through the lid, that should work right? We're in Texas so we'll easily hit 100 degrees.

Hi. We did a camp with a bunch of kids. We took the Pringles out of the cans, stored in zip lock bags, and snacked on them for the week. Also, it might be interesting to show the cub scouts how the Pringles chips burn.

I am sure anything that traps the sun light will work to heat up the inside. The Pringles cans have a nice reflective curve that reflects the sun's radiant energy onto the hotdog. In theory it would heat the hotdog faster and more thoroughly. The curve of the cups, being larger at the top, would be a concern.

Any cylinder shape should work with foil. I am not sure with the cups as they are more cone shaped. I hope I helped. Good luck!

Infectednuke (author)2016-05-09

My dad wint cime back

jyjyok (author)2016-05-07

Wait, wouldn't the plastic wrap melt, therefor poisoning the hot dog when it drips onto it? Just wondering, I'm no science expert, so if anyone could help me out that would be great. :)

Farmer Bean (author)2016-04-29

How about we spray the outdide of the can with a lil black paint. Might help absorb more of the suns rays and help heat it up more.

fabiant_levif (author)2016-04-29

this is amazing like me at fabiant_levif

Lavoz24 (author)2016-04-28

you don't want condensation to form, do what the big household oven manufacturers do, put a few holes in it. Being that heat rises put the holes on the bottom. Not a lot, try a few first and work with it to see how many holes work best. Also, putting aluminum foil in it works even better because the foil helps to generate the heat. If you were to use a small mirror facing the sun directed at the foil inside the can you will see it will get pas hot as 300 degrees Fahrenheit or more. I did this as a science project when I was a kid and it worked well. I was able to cook eggs, hot dogs and even warm things in it.

meisenbaugh (author)2016-04-28

Sweet! It makes sense on how it works. Imagine even in a zombie apocalypse you can still have a hot dog cooked. In a pinch it's great but if I had too, I'd take large reflective surface materials and build a oven of sorts.

quartzboy (author)2016-04-21

line the can with foil with the shiny side up and that will give u better heat the inside of the Pringles can is kiinda dull and put a few holes in the plastic wrap so that the condensation has a way to escape

beachumali (author)2016-04-16

I am wondering how long it would take to cook? i am doing a marshmollow challenge by making a solar cooker and seeing who can melt it the fastest... how long did you guys take to cook the hotdog?

There are a lot of variables. Outside temperature, angle of the sun, etc. When in Florida, on vacation, in 80 degrees it took a lot less time then in Ohio at 85 degrees F. While on vacation the family made these. Kids from 5 to 17. The older kids were able to build them a bit better and were conscience about moving them out of the shade. All the kids could do it but the opening and angles were different along with the little kids not turning the cooker toward the sun lol.

The hot dogs ranged in cook times from 30 min to 2 hours. Pretty sure the 2 hour ones were done but when the little kids would check on the ovens the sun had moved and the dogs were in the shade. The 15, 16, and 17 year-old ate theirs and said they were warm just less then 30 min.

Just last week, Fat Cat took his fourth grade class outside to cook in their pizza box solar ovens and almost all the boxes were over 140 degrees F. Outside temp in Ohio was 55 and sunny. One student actually had a marshmallow turning a golden brown. Less then 20 min.

Good luck and let us know what your findings are.

nyony (author)2016-02-02

hey Brilliant Cats ! Great Instructable with simple things . Best out of Waste . Thanks for " insprirational " sharing .

AlyssaS12 (author)2015-11-11

Will an arizona iced tea can work?

nissan0712 (author)2014-06-06

nice to see that my idea in Boy Scouts bout 25 years ago is still out there. I made this same thing back in Boy Scouts for a project. haha. nice. I didnt take pics back then though. Too bad i didnt.

Wscarborough1 (author)nissan07122015-10-25

Nothing under the sun, Horatio!

Do you still have the can? ;-) That would be pretty cool to see the old cans.

JackyL (author)Cats Science Club2014-12-17

How does this work and why does it work?

Also how hot dose this have to be to cook?

i seriously wish i did. back then i never thought of videoing or taking pics of everything i made or came up with. not like today when 9 out of 10 people are bloggers for food, cars, gardening, etc. hahaha.
i still believe i came up with the donut hamburger first. i created mine in 1984. the official one came out in like 2004. the LUTHER BURGER. cause it was made for luther vandross at a baseball stadium. and BATTLESHOTS. battleship with shot glasses. i made my first game back in HS in wood shop. still got the original ships somewhere.

ardrhi (author)2015-07-18

Save one of those silica gel packets (the ones that say "do not eat") from opening some electronic gadget, one small enough to clip to the inside of the lid. That may cut down on some of the condensation, by drying out the air inside a little.

Wscarborough1 (author)ardrhi2015-10-25

"Do not eat" for a reason maybe? How about a small cheesecloth bag with rice in it?

rebecca.sipe (author)2015-10-25

Very well done! Just make sure your tape is not 'seen' by the foil. Nobody likes tape flavored food or the chemicals that may come from overheating the tape with the sun reflecting from the foil unto the tape.

Lindaawise (author)2015-05-26


GaryG11 (author)2015-05-11

here we go. Hope you can see them well enough. Thanks for the inspiration.

Very Cleaver! Thanks for sharing!!

GaryG11 (author)2015-05-10

we made a couple of changes.

1. Used a tennis ball can for the window . Cut the ends off and then cut a long wise. Fit like a cuff. Hot glued it to the Pringles can.

2. Instead of a legs/stand . Used a shoe box with notches cut on each side on the top of the sides . The stick fit perfect to suspend the cooker and I could change the angle of the window with ease

That sounds really cool. Could you add a picture?

SEO-Vancouver (author)2015-04-08

10/10 would eat the pringles again.

Just kidding this was great!

DavidC46 (author)2015-03-21

Got it to 115 F on a 70 F day in less than 10 minutes!!! Thank you so much!!


Pretty easy huh?

Yes! very easy. Thanks again.

DavidC46 (author)2015-03-20

This is awesome!!!!! Great Instructable! Thanks!!!!!

Barbara Pevafersa (author)2015-03-18

Brilliant idea, can you cook other things in it?

JackyL (author)2015-01-22

PLEASE ANSWER ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

My Q:How hot does the oven need to get to cook a hot dog

Cats Science Club (author)JackyL2015-01-23

Hot dogs can be eaten raw. There is no set temperature they have to get to to eat safely. I hope that answers your question.

But I need a temperture for my sc project

Unless you live near the equator or the southern hemisphere, getting high temperatures in the oven is going to be difficult at this time of the year.

About This Instructable




Bio: Science Geek! Been to Space Camp 3 times and want to go again!!
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