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The 4 best solar ovens

Camping, eco-consciousness, off-the-grid living — there are several reasons why you'd want to invest in one of the best solar ovens. Different models reach different peak temperatures and can handle varying capacities, so those are both factors you'll need to consider before you buy. However, if you've never cooked your food using the power of the sun, there's a bit of a learning curve.

First, know that even in direct sunlight, most larger solar ovens can't reach especially high temperatures; as a result, you'll likely be "slow cooking" a lot of your meals with whatever temperature the unit can manage. (The exception here is the All American Sun Oven, which will allow you to customize the cooking speed.) For most affordable models, a range of 250 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit is standard.

Next, figure out how many people you'll be cooking for on a regular basis. The larger the solar oven, the bigger the pot it can hold and the more food it'll be able to cook. Larger groups will definitely want a larger capacity. Campers or survivalists, on the other hand, might want to sacrifice capacity for compactness so that the solar oven travels more easily.

Regardless of your budget or cooking requirements, these are the four best solar ovens under the sun.

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1. The all-in-one solar oven set

  • Peak temperature: 285 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cooks for: 4 - 8 people
  • Includes: solar oven, four trays/racks, three pots, and a carrying bag

It might not be the cheapest on this list, but the Sunflair solar oven gives you the most bang for your buck. That's because, in addition to the 1-pound oven, it also comes with almost everything you need to get cooking: a solar oven thermometer, two heat-conducting trays, two dehydrating racks, an enamelware pot, and two collapsible silicone pots, all of which fit in a convenient carrying bag. This solar oven can do everything from boil water to slow-cook an entire chicken, so it's a great starter kit for most people.

One reviewer wrote: "This is an extremely well designed portable solar oven. It folds up to a very easy to store size. We have used it traveling in a small camper for the past month and have cooked the majority of dinners with it. [...] I purchased the deluxe version and would replace it asap if anything happened to it."

2. The budget-friendly one

The Haines 2.0 Solar Cooker doesn't have a ton of frills — but it's simple, compact, and most importantly, affordable. Each order comes with a 30-inch-diameter solar oven and a 4-quart stainless steel Dutch oven, which you can use to cook meat and vegetables or bake breads and cakes. On top of that, it has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon and dozens of positive reviews.

One reviewer wrote: "Great solar cooker, reasonably priced and includes pot! [...] I find the Haines 2 Solar Cooker a great addition to my cooking appliances and a very good value for the price. Now I wonder what I’ll cook next?"

3. The splurge

  • Peak temperature: 360 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cooks for: several people
  • Includes: solar oven and leveling rack

Because it's bigger than many other units, the All American Sun Oven can accommodate almost any pot, pan, or Dutch oven in your kitchen. As a result, it's a great option if you plan to cook for a large group. Thanks to its free-swinging leveling rack, it can bake, boil, steam, dehydrate, and roast without hassle — and it has wind-resistance as well as sun-tracking indicators. Rugged and rust-resistant, this is the only option on this list that allows you to choose between fast and slow cooking speeds.

One reviewer wrote: "This oven is amazing. The first day I cooked crescent rolls then a cake and finally a beef stew with carrots, onions and potatoes. Next day I did a roast chicken with white rice. [...] I've invited most of my family over to try everything and got all compliments. The oven is super easy to use, to set up and to put away. Thanks for a wonderful product."

4. The compact one

  • Peak temperature: 550 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cooks for: 1 - 2 people
  • Includes: solar oven, reflectors, EVA frame, stainless steel cooking tray, silicone pans, stand, cleaning brush, and cookbook

Due to its compact size, 2-pound weight, and easy-to-carry design, the GOSUN solar oven is the one of the best options for campers or survivalists on the go. Able to reach higher temperatures than any of the picks on this list (550 degrees, to be exact), it can cook meals in as little as 20 minutes inside the glass tube oven. The set comes with almost all the tools you need to cook a meal for yourself, and when you're done, simply wash the accessories, zip up the oven, and put it in your pack.

One reviewer wrote: "I am a believer in solar ovens, for fun, preparedness and camping. [...] I wanted something small and packable to take hiking and the sort. The Gosun Go fits that bill."