How to Bake Cookies in Your Car

Have you ever seen a photo like this? Someone crazy enough to try to bake on the dashboard of their car…I’ve always wondered if that really works! We’re in the middle of a major heatwave in Sacramento – it’s been over 100°F over 5 days in a row, so I figured now is a good time as any to give it a try.

I tried it out one day, starting mid-afternoon, thinking it would only take the cookies an hour or 2 to bake through, and ended up leaving them in until 7pm. After 5 hours, the tops of the cookies were crisp, but the bottoms were still undercooked. Honestly, I love an undercooked cookie, so I was happy, but I wanted to tweak a few things and try again to see if I could get them to cook all the way through.

I gave it another go and came out with fully cooked, crispy cookies! Baking cookies on your car dashboard is definitely possible. You just have to do a few things to ensure they bake all the way through. Lucky for you, you can learn from my mistakes and get it right on the first try.

Next time it’s forecasted to be over 100°F (even if it’s over 95°F it might work, see tip #4 below), make your favorite cookie recipe as normal (here is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, which includes a tip on how to make them look picture perfect) and follow my tips below:

1. Start early (and keep your car in direct sunlight)
On my first attempt, I put the cookie dough in the car at 2pm, thinking that was plenty of time. By 5 hours later, the sun was starting to go down in the sky and the car wasn’t in full sunlight. I recommend starting by noon, as the heat begins to peak, and checking the cookies every hour or so, and more often after 3 hours. It will take a total of 3-5 hours, depending on how hot it is outside and if you follow steps 2 & 3.
2. Use small amounts of cookie dough
Measure out dough by teaspoons or at most level tablespoonfuls. It won’t look like much dough, but the cookies will spread (they come out very thin) in the heat, so they will still be a decent size.
3. Don’t line the baking sheet
I tried using a silicone baking mat, which is fantastic for non-stick baking – normally. This time, it was in the way, creating a barrier too thick between the dough and the hot baking sheet. I recommend using nothing at all, but if you have to use something, parchment paper is a better option.
4. Use a thermometer
If you have an oven thermometer or some other thermometer, put it on your dashboard. You want the car to be at least 160°F to kill any bacteria in the dough. (Bonus tip: When you put your thermometer in the car to check the temperature, put the baking sheet in there too to heat up. A warm pan will help the cookies bake faster.)
5. Remove the cookies when done
Check the cookies regularly after 3 hours have passed. You can use a thin spatula to lift up a cookie and see if it’s fully cooked. Once the cookies are done, remove the baking sheet from your car and carefully move the cookies from the pan to a cooling rack or plate. If you don’t, they will continue to bake on the hot pan and will stick to it once they cool.

Do you have any other questions? Leave a comment below! Happy baking 🙂

6 Comments on How to Bake Cookies in Your Car

  1. Felica
    July 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm (9 years ago)

    Nice Job Stephanie! I’m a little north of you in Redding, we had 118 at my house yesterday and the local news tried that as well. I had a text from my nephew asking if “we” could try that. I dont think he’ll have the patience. LOL

  2. Stephanie @ Life Tastes Like Food
    July 9, 2013 at 9:57 am (9 years ago)

    Steph, this is awesome! I’ve totally seen pics like this before and have always wondered if it worked. Not sure if I’ll ever have extreme heat in San Francisco but I wish I would have tried this when I was living in Davis! Great post 🙂
    Stephanie @ Life Tastes Like Food recently posted South America: Puno and Lake Titicaca

  3. Jen
    June 28, 2017 at 2:05 am (5 years ago)

    I tried this in June in Arizona and after 4.5 hours they were overdone. We’re going to try again tomorrow for about 2 hours or 2.5 hours. It was only 107 out too so not even a really hot day. (I mean that in all seriousness). I put them in around 1:30/2 and out a bit after 5/5:30. Our highs usually hit between 3 & 4. They looked perfect but were completely dried out and crisp all the way through. Yes, I managed to burn cookies in my car.


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