Feature Friday: Apple Box Oven

So, have you begun wondering yet how you’re going to actually cook all this food you’re going to have if there’s no electricity? No worries! We’ve gotcha covered. A while back I came across the idea for what’s called an Apple Box Oven. Did you know you can make your own homemade oven out of a cardboard apple box (or really… any cardboard box)?! It’s so cool! Okay, and I confess… I have yet to try this because I’m saving up for a solar oven and wouldn’t need this. BUT I’m tempted to try it just for it’s coolness factor!

Anyway, I originally found the idea HERE, at The Idea Door, but it didn’t have any pictures. So I also found THIS tutorial from the BYU website, that isn’t as complete in it’s directions, but has some good pictures. So anyway, I’ve pieced the two of them together and added my own notes for clarification purposes to hopefully give you the best of all worlds. Enjoy! And let me know if you try it and how it works for ya!

How To Make And Use An Apple Box Oven

An Apple Box Oven is a great way to bake when an emergency situation exists. All you need is your oven, charcoal and matches and you will be able to bake anything that you could bake in a conventional oven. It is also economical as you are not using electricity and it actually uses almost half the charcoal as Dutch oven baking. You can bake bread, pies, casseroles, cookies… anything that you want to bake!

*Important Note: Although this picture shows the apple box oven inside a house, you would NEVER use it inside because of the charcoals. This is for outdoor use only!

Constructing the Apple Box Oven
You will need:

  • 1 sturdy cardboard apple box (20 inch x 13 inch and 12 1/2 inch high.)
  • Heavy Duty aluminum foil
  • Plastic roasting/cooking bag (for optional window)
  • Aluminum/Metal tape (likely found in the hardware department. It looks like duct tape but is shiny–like metal.)
  • Spray adhesive (optional)
  • Cooling rack and 4 soda cans filled with rocks (or a converted portable grill cut to fit)
  • Blanket for insulation (optional)

-Cut out a 4″ x 9” window at the top of one of the sides of the apple box, if desired (note: some heat loss will likely occur through the window). Cut a 1″ x 4” hole on the bottom of both ends of the box to allow air to get to the coals (see the arrow in the picture above). Tape a piece of the plastic cooking bag (double layer it) over the window area. If there are any other holes in your apple box (i.e. where there might be handles or something), cut extra cardboard to make a patch and cover the holes. Cover the ‘cardboard patch’ with metal tape on both sides of the box (inside and out).
-Cover the box completely with aluminum foil inside and out. This works great by spraying the box first with adhesive, attaching foil, and securing with the aluminum tape. The trick is to make sure that none of the cardboard is showing, as it will burn. So cover it well. Also note, you want the shiny side of the foil to be the side you end up seeing. The matte side should be what you stick to the box.

Baking with Your Apple Box Oven
You will need:

  • More Heavy Duty aluminum foil
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Matches
  • Long handled tongs
  • 1 inch rock

To Bake:

1. Place a sheet of heavy duty foil (make sure the sheet is longer than your box), shiny side up, on level ground.
2. Space soda cans on foil so as to support the cooling rack.
3. Position the cooling rack so that only the very corners are resting on the soda cans. Check to make sure the cans are not spaced too far apart to prevent the apple box from fitting over them.
4. You will regulate the temperature of your oven by the number of briquettes you put in it. One briquette=aprox. 35 degrees F. (Example: for 350 degrees, use 10 charcoals.)
5. Using tongs, place hot briquettes on foil, spreading them out evenly between the cans and across the middle.
6. To preheat the oven, place the apple box over the hot coals and empty rack and let it stand for 5 minutes. The charcoal will become whiter as the heat spreads.
7. Once preheated, carefully lift the apple box straight up off the coals and rack, taking care not to tilt it, and place it beside the ground foil, face down. (This holds trapped heat in the box.)
8. Quickly place your food on the cooling rack that is on the soda cans and replace the box over the coals. (Make sure that the pan you are using fits on the center of the rack since the heat will not bake any food that is directly over the soda cans.)
9. The charcoal will burn for about 35-40 minutes. When longer cooking times are required, you can add more hot charcoals by slightly lifting the box and slipping them in with long tongs. We found that if a recipe calls for 45 minute baking time and it is warm outside, no additional charcoals would be needed.

REMEMBER: One briquette-approx. 35 degrees F (350 degrees=10 charcoals)

GOOD ADVICE: You will not want to use lighter fluid to start your charcoal since it may affect the taste of your food. We have found that if you use a charcoal starter, your charcoals light faster and are ready to use within 5 minutes time. They are ready to use when there are white spots on them the size of a dime. As the cooking time goes on, they will become whiter.

And here are the pictures:

Happy Baking to Ya’ll!