An oven is a cornerstone of a kitchen. They raise cakes, make the perfect pizza and roast any type of meat or vegetables we want. It’s like having a magic box in our kitchen that makes something from nothing. As bakers, we heavily rely on our ovens for bread, cakes, cupcakes, baked cheesecakes – the list goes on! So what happens when we all of a sudden don’t have an oven? Is cooking without an oven possible?
There are many reasons that we could be without an oven; it could break, we can’t fit one in our kitchen, we are travelling full time in a van / RV, or it’s not financially available to us. This doesn’t mean that our baking has to stop though! There are plenty of recipes and workarounds available that will help scratch your baking itch. Here is my definitive guide on how to bake without oven.
Oven Alternatives For Baking
All is not lost when it comes to baking without an oven. There are a few really good oven alternatives for baking that you probably already have in your kitchen.
A Refrigerator and Freezer
Another magic box in your kitchen! Instead of heating things up, this one keeps them cool. Your refrigerator and freezer are great alternatives to an oven. You’ll have to switch up your recipes but you can still create some epic desserts and meals. Dishes that need to be set, chilled, hardened, or marinated are great in a fridge.
A no-bake cheesecake is a perfect example of how you can make a delicious dessert without needing to use an oven. If you have a freezer, the whole world of homemade ice cream, popsicles, and ice cube tray-based dishes is open to you!
Depending on your situation, you might have access to a gas or electric stovetop instead of an oven. You might be in a van or RV, maybe you’re camping for the weekend, or you could have a separate stovetop and (broken) oven in your kitchen.
These are super pieces of equipment and can make a myriad of sweet treats. All you need is your stovetop, a pan, or a pot with a lid and you’re ready to rock it. You can even go one step further and buy a dutch oven or a stovetop oven if you really want to, but you don’t need these to bake without an oven.
Take a look at this stovetop camping oven in action!
Another magic box! While you might just rely on these things to reheat your coffee or leftovers, they are actually great substitutes for an oven when baking. They cook food quicker and help keep the nutritional value in the food as food is usually steamed rather than boiled. Mini sweet treats can also be perfected in a microwave, meaning you can get a double-quick dessert. Mug cakes are an especially popular dessert to make in a microwave.
You could also get a microwave with a convection function which basically transforms it into a mini oven.
Airfryers have become immensely popular over the past few years, mainly due to their ability to bake without using any oils, making them a healthy alternative. An air fryer can literally completely replace an oven altogether.
You can make potatoes, chicken, veg, meatballs and even sweet treats like brownies, cupcakes and donuts!
Things to Bake Without an Oven
Ok, so you might not be able to make the bakes you are used to, but with some simple substitutions, you can achieve greatness without an oven. There are some categories of baked goods that don’t require an oven at all.
Chilled and Frozen Desserts
There are whole books and endless website pages dedicated to chilled desserts, and it’s easy to see why. These recipes focus on chilling one or multiple elements of a dessert that, when combined, make some iconic no-bake bakes. Rocky road, no-bake cheesecake, ice cream, popsicles, and ice cream cake all require some prep and then just time to chill.
The raw / no bake movement is certainly not decreasing in popularity any time soon. This is great news for those without an oven as a lot of these recipes require no baking at all, just assembly and chill time. Everything from brownies to energy balls, banana pudding to cookie dough, can be reproduced without the need for an oven. Expect a lot of dates, seeds, nuts, and nut butter in these recipes.
Pancakes or Crepes
Of course, these were going to be on the list! How can they not be?! A weekend breakfast favorite for many, pancakes and crepes are perhaps the most well-known no bake recipe. So versatile, and sure to please any crowd, these should be part of your baking repertoire, even if you do have an oven! The base is a simple batter of flour, baking powder, eggs, and milk, or mashed banana, dairy-free milk, baking powder, and flour to create a vegan version. Once cooked, these delights can be adorned with any sweet or savory topping you like!
What is the difference between a crepe and a pancake I hear you ask? Good question! A pancake has a raising agent in the batter, while a crepe does not. Crepes are usually larger and thinner, while a pancake is smaller and fluffier. Both are exceptionally delicious!
These are desserts that are for the efficient or time squeezed baker. I call them constructed desserts as they involve just putting ingredients together and then eating or chilling the finished product. Fresh fruit salad, an Eton mess, fresh fruit skewers, and a trifle are all examples of a constructed dessert. Some of these recipes call for meringues or custard, both of which can be bought ready-made.
Homemade Chocolates or Gummy Sweets
These are such wonderful gifts during the holidays, for birthdays, or just as a thank you. Relatively easy to make, homemade chocolates or gummy sweets require very little kitchen equipment. You will need a stovetop or microwave to melt the chocolate and dissolve the gelatin but after that, it’s just assembly and chilling. The result is a super yummy treat that requires no oven whatsoever.
Cooking Without an Oven
I love a savory dish so here are some of my favorite savory meals to cook without an oven.
Pizza and Flatbreads
Believe it or not, you can make a pizza on a stovetop! Yes, you read that right. You just need a frying pan with a lid and you can make a delectable homemade pizza. Just make your dough, let it rise, and then shape it to the size of your frying pan. Cook it on medium for 3 – 5 mins until golden and then flip it. Put on the sauce and toppings, followed by the lid, and cook for a further 3 – 5 mins until underneath is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Perfecto every time!
To make flatbreads, use the same dough recipe as the pizza and either cook it pizza size or mold it into smaller mini pizzas to create a flatbread. Brush with melted butter, garlic, and rosemary for a garlic version!
Too many eggs lying around and can’t make a cake, like one of these, then consider making an omelet. Omelets are made by beating eggs, cooking them gently in a pan, adding fillings, and then folding the mixture over, to create a half-circle shape. They are great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and lend themselves to lots of different flavor profiles
Have you got leftover mash from last night’s dinner? Well just combine it with some flour, an egg, and seasoning, fry it in a pan and you have a potato cake! These are so satisfying and absolutely fall into the category of comfort food for me. Like an omelet, they are really versatile and take different flavors really well.
Here’s another recipe for your leftovers or the dregs at the bottom of your vegetable drawer. Zucchini and carrots, make a great base for a fritter, and you can add in some garlic, corn, egg, and flour to make a delightful dish. They are cooked entirely on the stovetop, by frying them in a bit of cooking oil. Yum!
Break The No-Oven Fear!
So worry not, if you don’t have an oven you can still create delicious recipes using a refrigerator, freezer, stovetop, or microwave. While it might seem daunting at first, once you try it once or twice, you’ll start to embrace all that these oven alternatives have to offer. What’s more, if you are heading away on a camping trip, you now have plenty of stovetop recipes to impress your camping buddies with. I mean, who doesn’t want a pizza by a campfire?