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How To Bake Without An Oven

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Now, there are loads of reasons people don’t have or have access to an oven. But, does that mean you’re out of alternative options? Can you still bake, or has that ship sailed?

Luckily, it is still possible to make some baked goods without this appliance.

But how exactly do you bake without an oven? It depends on the item you are baking — you have to use an alternative that applies mostly dry heat at the correct baking temperatures. For making bread, you can use a bread maker. Cookies are trickier — the air fryer is your best option. Cake is the easiest to make without an oven; use a microwave.

Today, we will explore each of these alternatives in great detail and explain exactly why they would and wouldn’t work for certain goods.

What Happens During Baking?

There are many different cooking methods out there. So, to understand whether you can swap them out for each other, you need to first understand what they do and how they function.

Today, we will look at whether you can bake without an oven, and how to do so. So first, you need to understand what baking is.

Baking is traditionally performed inside an oven. This can be a conventional oven, a convection oven, and even a gas oven. Any type of oven will allow you to bake items.

How ovens work is that they apply dry heat to the item being baked at very specific temperatures. The heat starts on the outside and gradually penetrates deeper into the center of the baking item.

As more of the item heats, more of the texture changes. Ultimately, you are left with a soft sponge item that is now edible.

Now, how does baking differ from other oven-based cooking methods, like roasting and grilling?

Roasting generally uses much higher temperatures. When you bake items, you will use roughly 300-360ºF (150-180ºC). Anything higher is usually considered to be roasting.

When compared to grilling, you look at where the heat comes from. Grilling also uses very high temperatures, but the heat comes from the top heating element. When baking, heat is applied from all elements and possible sides.

Can You Bake Without An Oven?

So, the answer is simple, however, there are a ton of “but” additions. You can effectively bake without an oven. But!

  • You have to apply heat from all sides.
  • You need to try and use a technique that applies dry heat only.
  • Your baking vessels need to be compatible with the new cooking technique.
  • The technique has to be able to reach the required baking temperature.

These are only the most important considerations you have to make. Even then, the cooking method you choose for your specific item (even a specific recipe) may not work effectively.

At the end of the day, don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work the first time — an oven has been specifically designed to perform this very specific function. So, replacing it with another technique might require some experimentation!

How Do You Bake Without An Oven?

So, now you know you can bake without using any type of oven. What can you use instead?

The best appliances you can use to bake without an oven include:

  • Microwaves
  • Crock Pots
  • Air Fryers
  • Stovetop Cookers
  • Rice Cookers
  • Bread Makers

Now, even though each of these will work in some way, they may not work for all types of baked items.

For example, when baking crispy cookies, a microwave causes them to steam more than bake. But when baking a small, moist sponge cake, a microwave is one of the best techniques to use.

The same goes for something like a bread maker (hence the name). A bread maker is great for baking bread, but it won’t necessarily be able to bake a souffle.

Again, this is all part of the journey. But, to make your life a little easier, we have assembled a comprehensive guide on what to use when baking specific goods without an oven! 

We will be looking at the best alternatives for baking cakes, cookies, and bread. Plus, we’ll also look at how you should use each of these techniques.

How To Bake A Cake Without An Oven

Cakes are surprisingly easy to bake without an oven! The key is temperature control and applying the right type of heat.

That being said, almost all types of cake recipes will still bake beautifully when a little bit of moisture is used.

The final result may just not be exactly what it should be when using an oven, but we guarantee it will be edible and tasty!

1. Microwave

You’ve all heard of mug cakes before? Well, it works for bigger cakes too! For baking a cake, a microwave is surprisingly the way to go.

Why? Because a microwave can apply instant heat that mimics that of a preheated oven. So, the baking powder (or a different leaving agent) is immediately activated. The cake will instantly begin to rise as it does in an oven.

Another benefit of using a microwave for baking cake is that it creates a relatively consistent temperature when it’s heating (or in this case baking) food.

So, the biggest mistake people make is not using a microwave-safe container. We recommend a ceramic option if you can, not plastic. But never use metal cake pans!

2. Air Fryer

Now, an air fryer is almost just as good as an oven. In fact, many of these appliances even have a baking setting built in!

Air fryers are known for their super effective, even heat distribution that ultimately makes items bake, roast, or fry much faster.

They are generally much more energy-saving than ovens. You also don’t need to preheat an air fryer for very long and most of them switch off automatically when the baking time has elapsed.

So, why isn’t it higher on our list? Two reasons. The first is that not everybody has an air fryer at home. Even though it has become a lot more accessible and affordable, many still prefer to just use a microwave instead.

The second reason is because of the air fryer’s capacity. Even the “XXXL” options aren’t always big enough to make the size of cake you want. And then again, not everyone has the XXXL-sized air fryer.

Our air fryer at home is “XL” and we are just able to fit a 9-inch round cake pan in there. And if you are baking cupcakes or muffins, you’ll have to purchase special individual silicone muffin cups.

Other than those two downsides (which may not be an issue for everyone), an air fryer is a fantastic alternative to an oven.

3. Crock Pot

A crock pot differs from a slow cooker in that it gets heat from all sides. A pressure cooker only applies heat from the bottom heating element.

So, as you may have guessed, more uniformly applied heat is much better when it comes to baking cakes.

Furthermore, many crock pots have built-in temperature settings and cooking times. It does however become a little challenging when you only have terms to work with like “low” or “medium-high”.

If your crock pot doesn’t have specific temperature options, you will need o research what temperatures the different terms mean.

For example, what is a “low” cooking temperature? What is a “medium” cooking temperature? You get the drift.

The cooking time for crock pots is also usually a lot longer. But, the cake will rise and it will be baked. And, it is at least a low-maintenance method because of the low temperature.

Another benefit of using a crock pot is that you can put the cake batter directly into the pot. They are almost always made from a non-stick material like regular cake pans are.

Sure, the cake won’t always be the shape and size you want. But if that isn’t important to you, it doesn’t matter.

How To Bake Cookies Without An Oven

Cookies are arguably one of the hardest basic baked goods to make without an oven. That’s because there are many, MANY, different kinds of cookies!

Some common examples are chewy chocolate chip cookies, hard shortbread biscuits, and crunchy caramel wafers.

See where we are going with this? Cookies are the most likely baked good to fail on the first oven-less baking attempt.

So, does that mean it’s an uphill battle? Yes, and no. For generic cookies (chewy, soft ones), you can relatively effectively use the methods we discuss below.

However, some types of cookies just won’t work as easily with some, if not all, of these methods. Nevertheless, give these techniques below a try before giving up!

1. Air Fryer

For cookies, an air fryer is your best bet. Yes, not everybody has one, but that’s about the only downside to this option. 

Air fryers are big enough to at least make almost a dozen regular-sized cookies at a time. So, you’ll need to work in small batches. But cookies also don’t take very long to bake. So, it’s a longer process, but not the end of the world!

Again, an air fryer will provide instant heat to the unbaked cookies, which will instantly activate the leavening agent. The cookies can start rising immediately and set in place after a couple of minutes.

An air fryer will also bake at very specific temperatures and can set a timer for cookies as well. Some fancy air fryers even have built-in cookie baking settings for your convenience!

2. Crock Pot

Crock-pot cookies are also a low-and-slow method. But, it’s still one that we cannot pretend doesn’t work, especially for chewy soft cookies.

To make cookies in a crock pot, you will need to first line them with non-stick baking paper or aluminum foil. Then, add the shaped cookies or scoop dollops of cookie dough on it. Make sure to leave enough room for the cookies to spread.

Then, on a low setting, your cookies may take as long as 2-3 hours to bake. But, at a higher temperature, it will be a lot quicker.

Again, if you have a crock pot with adjustable specific temperatures, try getting it as close to your original recipe. This way the cookies will bake in virtually the same amount of time.

3. Stove-Top Cookies

This technique is a little more involved than any of the others we have discussed before. So first, you’ll need a stovetop with a relatively stable temperature. Then, you need some type of non-stick pot or pan.

What you need to do is first add some oil or butter to the pot or pan. Use medium to medium-high heat.

Then, add your shaped cookies or cookie dough dollops. The dollops need to be flattened to create an even layer of cookie dough. Cook them for about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove them from the heat and cool them on a wire rack.

This method should work for many chewy cookie recipes. But again, it won’t work for all. It’s a very unconventional technique, but if you don’t mind an altered texture, you’ll still enjoy the flavor.

How To Bake Bread Without An Oven

Last, but not least, let’s look at how to bake bread without using an oven!

Now, some bread can use different methods. But others cannot.

For example, a baguette won’t fit into any other appliance you use, while a sourdough needs to be baked with a ton of steam and at very high temperatures.

So, just like cookies, some of the below-mentioned options won’t work for all types of bread!

1. Bread Maker

If you know what a bread-maker looks like or own one yourself, you can immediately tell what it will be capable of baking (in terms of shape and size at the very least).

Bread makers are special appliances designed to bake loaves of bread. Naturally, they work at the correct baking temperatures and have built-in timer functions. Many can also inject a certain amount of steam to help the loaves rise more.

While they are incredibly effective, they still won’t give you crusty bread as an oven does. And, they also work best for denser types of bread, like a farmers’ loaf or rye loaf.

So, you may be pretty 50/50 on this option. But, for making bread without an oven, it’s hands-down your best alternative.

2. Air Fryer

Here we are again with the good old air fryer. It is a very versatile appliance to have around the house and it is energy efficient.

While we have already listed the benefits and downsides of using air fryers for baking, how do they apply to loaves of bread?

Well, the air fryer will be able to make smaller loaves of crusty bread or buns. They apply dry heat very effectively and can change temperatures quickly. They are also almost the perfect size to bake a single loaf of bread or a couple of buns.

But, the downside is that they cannot bake big bread (because they won’t be able to rise as much) and they cannot bake long loaves of bread.

3. Stove-Top

And finally, bread can be baked on a stovetop. However, we don’t recommend this option if you don’t have a Dutch oven. The Dutch oven is the tool that makes this technique work.

It helps evenly apply dry heat around the entire dough and bake the bread slowly. Again, few other techniques will give you super-crusty bread, but a Dutch oven will at least help it rise beautifully and have a soft tender crumb.

Use medium-high heat and preheat the Dutch oven first. You also have to lubricate the inside and it won’t hurt to add a layer of non-stick baking paper.

Then, once it’s heated, add the dough and close the lid. Then, lower the heat to medium and bake the bread.

You will need to check the progress of the bread around the halfway mark. Don’t be surprised if the loaf burns a little at the bottom — you can easily cut it off and eat the rest of the delicious bread.

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