Can You Use Your Car as an Oven? I Try to Find Out

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One day while wandering the internet at work, I saw an idea at Baking Bites that was so crazy that I simply had to try it.

I work in suburban Virginia, where my car sits in a parking lot all day.  While most days I choose to park in a shady spot, on a recent 100+ degree Friday, I put my car in the sunniest spot I could find to (what else) bake cookies in it.

My main concerns were humidity and timing.  I wasn’t sure how the muggy climate of Northern Virginia would affect the cookie recipe, and I was worried that I might get caught up in my actual work and not be able to check on the cookies at the appointed time. Oh, and I also worried what my co-workers and building security might think of my odd behavior! None of these concerns proved to be problems.

I chose to make both Baking Bites’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and a peanut butter cookie recipe, as my boss is allergic to chocolate.  I made the dough the night before, rolled it into a log, wrapped the logs in parchment paper, and brought them to work, along with the following:

  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Cookie sheet
  • Additional parchment paper
  • Potholder

I cut even slices of cookie dough and placed them on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  I then placed peanut butter on the front dashboard and chocolate chip in the back window.

I completely forgot Baking Bites’s helpful suggestion of placing a dish towel under the cookie sheet so as not to permanently burn a rectangle into your dashboard, but luckily, that did not happen.

I took the peanut butter cookies out after 2 ½ hours.  They were soft and warm, but still had enough firmness to pick up the cookie by hand, rather than with a spoon.

I moved the chocolate chip cookies up to the front dashboard (equivalent, I figured, to rotating them in your oven).  I removed them from the car/oven after 3 hours and 15 minutes, mainly because people were asking for them.

They were also soft, yet firm enough to grasp.  The cookies had a buttery taste and lots of chocolate.  Were they as good as oven-baked?  No.  I missed the crispy edges that can only come with an oven.  But they were good enough that my co-workers devoured the whole plate within an hour.

A couple tips from my experience:

  • Remember the potholder!  Metal gets hot in the sun, especially when you have to carry cookies through the parking lot, into the building, and then up four flights in the elevator.
  • Don’t worry about the timing.  The cookies bake so slowly that it would be almost impossible to burn them.  They really only need to be checked once an hour for the first hour, and then every 30-45 minutes.
  • Remember that you’ll only be baking one sheet of cookies (two if you have a sedan, and thus, 2 places for cookie sheets) so don’t advertise cookies to too many people!
  • You’ll have leftover cookie dough, which you can go home and bake in your oven later.
  • Sadly, your car won’t retain much of a fresh-baked cookie smell.  I had a bit of a yeast-like odor, but it didn’t last long.

In short, I thought this was a great use of my otherwise-idle car on a hot day.  Is it time-efficient?  No.  But it is energy-efficient, as you are not using any additional energy sources.  If your car is already sitting there holding heat, why not?



  1. I’m going to try this next time we go on camp… or for a day at the beach… or just parked outside our house!

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