Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven




Posted in OutsideCamping

Introduction: Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven

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

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


  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

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

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

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?

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.

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

4 replies

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!

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

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

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.

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.

1 reply

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!

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. :)

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.

this is amazing like me at fabiant_levif

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.

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.

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

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?

1 reply

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.

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

Will an arizona iced tea can work?