How To Make Bread In A Thermal Cooker
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How To Make Bread In A Thermal Cooker

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Today it’s all about how to make bread in a thermal cooker. I have to thank Cheryl T. for this suggestion. I watched a class by Cindy Miller on how to make bread this way, but I never took the time to do it. Cheryl T. shared her tips on how she made it. She used a Wonder Oven.

You may ask what is a Wonder Oven. It’s sometimes called a Wonder Box as well. It’s made with fabric, similar to a bean bag chair. But it’s not a chair, it’s a pillow within another pillow on top where the fabric sections are filled with Small Beads (Polystyrene), or something similar.

It keeps food hot and it keeps food cold as well. My friend, Jamie over at Prepared Housewives has a great post on how to make a Wonder Oven.

In case you missed this post, How To Use A Thermal Cooker

What is a Thermal Cooker?

Anyway, I have had thermal cookers for years, literally. I first heard about them from Amy and Jack Loveless who make thermal cookers called Saratoga Jack’s Thermal Cookers. Mine are in my storage unit so I bought this one to show you how to use them. Tayama Stainless Steel Thermal Cooker, Black,7 Qt. This one is very similar to my other ones.

It’s stainless steel and heavy-duty. The smaller thermal cookers are too small, in my opinion. The 7-quart is the best size for how I use them.

I quote Wikipedia, “A thermal cooker is a cooking device that uses thermal insulation to retain heat and cook food without the continuous use of fuel or another heat source. It is a modern implementation of a hay box, which uses hay or straw to insulate a cooking pot.”

Please remember, it’s not safe to “bake” or “can” anything in mason jars in a conventional oven. This method is baking bread without a flame or electricity. This is a slow cooker without power.

Boil The Water For Four Full Minutes

You just need to bring the contents to a boil for at least four full minutes, then place the inner pan with the lid inside the Wonder Oven, or in my case, the Thermal Cooker. It will “bake” for about 4 hours in either one of these.

Keep in mind, that it won’t have a crust because it doesn’t have air to dry the outside. This is a bonus for those family members who don’t like the crust on their sandwiches.

You can use a Butane Stove to bring the contents to a boil for 4 minutes and then place the contents with the lid into either the Wonder Oven or Thermal cooker. This is a perfect cooking solution if we lose power for days or weeks.

It’s basically a slow cooker that uses very little fuel to get started by boiling for 4 full minutes and then placing it in the outside pan, closing the lid, and it will bake or cook your food.

Another bonus is it will keep your food cold when needed. For instance, if you are going to a family reunion or to the park and want to take your favorite salad, make the salad the night before, place it in the inner pot with the lid, and store it in the refrigerator.

In the morning place the inner pot into the outside pot and close the lid. It will insulate the contents and keep your salad cold for a few hours. As I mentioned, it works with hot or cold food.

Items You Will Need In The Kitchen:

How To Make Bread In A Thermal Cooker

Oven Canning is Not Safe

I quote from Penn State Extension: “Oven Canning is extremely hazardous. The oven canning method involves placing jars in an oven and heating them. In oven canning, product temperatures never exceed the boiling point because the jars are not covered. It is, therefore, not safe to use for low-acid products (e.g. meats, most vegetables) which require temperatures higher than 212°F.

Oven canning is not a recommended process. The glass jars are not designed to withstand the intense dry heat and may shatter in the oven. The danger of breakage and burns while removing them from the oven is also a concern.

Read More of My Articles  How To Make The Best Sugar Cookies Ever

Also, and most importantly, the transfer of heat into the jars is much slower through the air in an oven than in a water bath or a pressurized steam canner. The recipes that we recommend have been scientifically tested using a water bath or pressure canner and should be followed exactly as written.

Otherwise, there is a heightened risk of spoilage or worse, survival of Clostridium botulinum spores, the source of deadly botulism poisoning.”

How To Make Bread In A Thermal Cooker

Step One: Prepare Your Cooker

These are the pieces included in a thermal cooker. It has an outside unit, with two inside pans and one lid. You can use both inside pans or just one like I did today. I used the larger inside pan today with the lid.

Thermal Cooker Parts

Step Two: Gather Dough Packages

I made my favorite bread dough. You can make whatever recipes work for you. I made three jars of bread and two regular loaves of bread.


Step Three: Knead Dough

Knead the dough and let your bread rise. You can mix your bread in a bowl or use your mixer. It’s the same recipe for bread that you use right now. If you rather try others, I have some of my recipes below.

Knead the Bread Dough

Step Four: Cut Dough

A helpful tip is to always cut your dough with a dough scraper or a knife. Please don’t stretch or pull your dough. The recipe I used was my two-one-pound loaves option. I made two regular smaller loaves and then divided the dough into three sections that I could put in the jars. I filled the jars about 1/3 full.

You don’t need to let them rise again. You may ask why. In my first batch, I filled the jars halfway up and covered them with plastic wrap.

Yes, they did rise to the top, but the lids popped off when I was bringing the water to a boil for 4 full minutes. I had to discard the dough and start over. This is why we practice when we aren’t in the middle of a disaster.

Be sure and spray vegetable spray in your jars before placing your bread dough in them so the small loaves will come out more easily.

Divide the bread dough

Step Five: Put Dough In Jars

These are filled about 1/3 full and I put the lids and rings on them. I didn’t let the dough rise again. These are ready for the thermal cooker pan.

Fill the Jars

Step Six: Put Jars and Water In Pan

I did learn you need a trivet in the thermal cooker, much like water bath canning. Fill the water 1/2 way up the side of the jars in the thermal cooker pan. Bring the water to a full rolling boil for 4 minutes. Here is where a Butane Stove would be perfect to bring the water to a rolling boil. Butane Stove

Boil for 4 Minutes

Step Seven: Put Pan In Thermal Cooker

Hopefully, you can see the steam from the jars as I place the boiling pot of water with the jars in the thermal cooker. You quickly place the pan with the lid inside the thermal cooker. Close the outside cover/lid on the thermal cooker.

Place the Hot Jars in the Thermal Cooker

Step Eight: Close & Start Cooker

Here is the thermal cooker with the jars baking inside. I let the thermal cooker sit on the countertop for four hours.

Close the Lid

Finished Product

You will need canning tongs to lift the jars out of the steaming water in the Thermal Cooker. Let the jars cool a bit and the loaves of bread just slip out of the jars. You can slice the small loaves and eat this warm bread with butter and jam. You can also make some small sandwiches. Life is so good!

How To Make Bread In A Thermal Cooker

Make Some Sandwiches

This was a cartwheel moment for me. No, I couldn’t do a cartwheel, but I would if I could. LOL! I love making this bread!

Peanut Butter and Jelly

White Bread Recipe Made In A Bowl

4.84 from 6 votes
Homemade Bread
Heidi’s White Bread Recipe Without a Bread Mixer/Maker
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Knead & Rise
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 40 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 Loaves
Author: Linda Loosli
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups bread or white flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry instant milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (let soften)
  • 1 tablespoon SAF Instant Yeast
  1. 1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a Danish whisk or large wooden spoon.

    2. After mixing, scoop the bread dough onto a floured countertop and knead for about 7-8 minutes.

    3. Place the bread dough in a greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.

    4. Let the dough rise until doubled in size.

    5. Punch down the dough and divide the dough into two loaves and place these in greased pans (this recipe makes two-1 pound loaves).

    6. Let the dough rise once again (using the same plastic wrap) until it doubles in size.

    7. Preheat your oven to (350°F) = 176°C). Remove the plastic wrap. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until baked through. Let cool on cooling racks. Enjoy.

White Bread Recipe In A Bread Mixer

4.84 from 6 votes
White Bread
Heidi’s Bread Machine Recipe/TWO one-pound loaves
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Knead & Rise
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 40 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 Loaves
Author: Linda Loosli
Zojirushi Bread Mixer Instructions
  1. Add the ingredients listed to the Baking Pan in the order listed. Press the COURSE button and select Course No. 11 (for DOUGH ONLY) and press the start button. After it stops, remove the dough from the Dough Bread Pan. Use a dough scraper to cut the dough into two equal-sized pieces for the two loaves of bread. I use bread pans this size: 7.75 x 3.75 x 2.5 Inches. Grease your bread pans and place the dough in them and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until double the size. Remove the plastic wrap. Preheat your oven to (350°F) = 176°C). Bake for 28-30 minutes or until baked through.


Step-By-Step Instructions (Additional Help)
  1. 1. Set the Baking Pan into the Main Body and close the lid.

    2. Insert the Power Plug into an electrical outlet.

    3. Press the "COURSE" UP button until it reaches Course #11 (for DOUGH ONLY), this is what I did today.

    4. Push the Start button.

    5. You'll also see the word "Rest" next to #11 telling you that it is in the "rest" phase as the unit warms up the ingredients.

    6. This "rest" phase should last about 20-25 minutes.

    7. You'll hear the unit move into the "knead" phase as the kneading blades start spinning to knead the dough.

    8. The screen will change from "rest" to "knead" during this period.

    9. After a few minutes, the unit will make a buzzing sound and you'll notice the word "add" flashing on the screen. This is the appropriate time to add things you want in your dough, like nuts, raisins, etc. You can open the lid, add the desired additional ingredients, and then close the lid without changing any of the settings.

    10. Once the knead phase is complete you'll see the word "rise" on the screen next to #11. This is the phase where the yeast kicks in and does its thing.

    11. When there are approximately 30 minutes remaining in the dough-making process, you'll see the time setting change from the estimated completion time to 30 minutes, which means there is that much time remaining. This clock setting will change in 1-minute increments until the dough-making phase is finished. When I could see the dough was ready through the glass opening in the lid, I skipped this step. I turned off the machine and unplugged it.

    12. After it stops, you remove the dough from the Dough Bread Pan.

    13. Use a dough scraper to cut the dough into two equal sizes and then mold them into two loaves of bread. (I use bread pans this size: 7.75 x 3.75 x 2.5 Inches.)

    14. Place the loaves into your greased bread pans, cover with plastic wrap and let double in size.

    15. Remove the plastic wrap.

    16. Preheat your conventional oven to (350°F) = 176°C) bake for 28-30 minutes or until baked through.


Saratoga Jack’s Thermal Cooker

Mark and I have two of the 7-liter Saratoga Jack units, as well as the 5.5-liter model. The latch on the 5.5 Liter unit is a challenge for me. It’s hard to open and close for me. I have one of the original 7-liter units as well as one of the new more heavy-duty models they have now. They are great units, if you can find one, but the one I purchased for this article is cheaper and still worked great. I would recommend either style.

Butane Stoves To Boil The Water

You have heard me before recommending you have a butane stove with extra canisters of fuel in your preparedness stash. I gave all four of my daughters one for Christmas years ago. Here’s the deal, you need a way to boil water either for drinking water, washing dishes, washing clothes, personal hygiene, or fixing a hot meal after a disaster when the power goes out. This unit is perfect for bringing the pot to a rolling boil for 4 minutes, I know because I have done it. Butane Stove with Extra Fuel.

Can I cook frozen food in a thermal cooker?

No, you cannot, it will not be able to get the temperature up to a safe temperature while it bakes from a frozen state.

In case you missed these bread posts:

Final Word

I hope you enjoyed my post on how to make bread In a thermal cooker! There is nothing better than the smell of homemade bread! It’s amazing how many different ways we can make bread these days.

Please try a variety of ways to make your bread so that you have the option to cook bread whether in a conventional oven, thermal cooker, bread machine, or Dutch oven. May God Bless this world, Linda

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  1. Linda,

    That is so cool. I will print this out, for emergency use. I have an oven that goes on the wood stove, but this is even better. Thanks.

    1. Hi Janet, I have used thermal cookers for years to make meals while traveling, at ball games, and at family reunions. They keep the food warm (like sloppy joes) or food cold if you put the inner pan with the food (salad) in the frig the night before and then place it in the unit and close the lid. It’s really awesome. Wood stove ovens would be awesome! Linda

  2. 4 stars
    Hi Linda, I have been learning to use a camp crock for the past few months. I wish I had known about this cooker with the inside liner before I bought mine, that has no liner, but never heard of it before today. My question is, do you think it would work the same if I put the jars in to boil in a different pot and then transferred the jars and boiling water into my crock? I am gluten free so will have to experiment on that part of this idea already. Thanks for any help.

    1. Hi Josal, I’m sorry, I can’t recommend that you do that because what you have is not a thermal cooker. It doesn’t hurt to try, bread dough is pretty cheap. Linda

  3. Thanks so much for this recipe! I’m going to give it a try. I’ve practiced with my thermal cooker and butane stove but never even considered trying to bake bread!

  4. The material that I gave using my Wonder Oven, works well with wheat bread, too. That is what I used . Linda’s recipe for making 2 loaves was my first attempt. Great when the power goes out!!

    1. Hi Cheryl, I will make wheat bread next time, this is fantastic!! You were so awesome to help me JUST DO IT!!! Thank you, my friend!! I love knowing how to make bread in it. It’s so easy and such a great way to make bread when the power is out. I LOVE it! Linda

        1. Hi Candice, yes, I figured you would not pressure the food, you would bring the jars to a boil for 4 full minutes and close the lid and unplug it. And wait the 4 hours. It would be interesting to see if it would work. The Wonder Oven cooks or bakes the food in a pot inside the bag. I would try it if you feel comfortable. I use a thermometer when cooking meat in my thermal cooker after 4 hours to make sure it is safe temperature-wise. You could do the same. Linda

    1. Hi Shirley, yes, you can. You can make white bread, whole wheat, sourdough, or even banana. That’s why the Thermal Cookers or Wonder Bags are so awesome. Linda

  5. This is something I have never tried. I can make a bread in a cast iron skillet (with the lid on) over a fire pit and even on husband’s barbecue grill. There are a lot of variables involved of course, but I definitely want to investigate your method more!

    1. Hi Paula, I live in Utah and taught food storage and emergency preparedness classes at Honeyville Grain. This unit is a game changer. You can not use frozen food, I need to go add that. You can even take popsicles to a park if you put the inside container in the frig or freezer. Yes, it’s awesome for salads, bread, sloppy joes, or pulled pork. I will be doing more posts using it. I love it! Linda

  6. This seems like an easy way to make “hamburger buns” on camping trips or at multi-day family gatherings as a way to subtly incorporate emergency preparedness in a way to introduce and teach others a “new” technique of cooking. I know of a couple of cousins who would love this as their power goes off a lot during storms because of how remote they are. I might just buy them each one for Christmas. Nothing says “I love you and wish you well” more than a preparedness gift.

    We have a family gathering at the end of this month which would be enough time for me to buy one to practice with before time. Thanks for this post!

    1. Hi Ravenna, that’s a thought. They may not look like hamburger buns but you could slice the bread for sure. YOu are so right about “Nothing says “I love you and wish you well” more than a preparedness gift”. You know I totally agree with this gift idea, anything for preparedness is awesome! Linda

      1. Linda, my cousins live in a hurricane-prone location and that is why I plan on gifting them one this Christmas. Most of the people that I know who live in that type of location do not evacuate, but instead, just hunker down. Providing them with items to help make that time more bearable gives me peace of mind.

  7. 5 stars
    Love this! I’ve been trying to use my thermal cooker in a variety of ways. I can’t wait to try your recipe! Thank you sooo much for sharing! I’ve loved all of your recipes that I’ve tried…❤️

    1. Hi Camille, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend! I wish every family could have one when driving kids to and from lessons or ball games. You can make hotdogs in the bottom pan and keep them warm in the outer pan for several hours. Linda

  8. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this! It’s always good to have several options available to make bread! I’m glad it can be used for several different types of bread as well!

  9. 5 stars
    I have never heard of a thermal-cooker. I don’t know if I could get the hang of them.. I know my husband bought me one of those electric pressure cookers so many women are using these days but I never could get the hang of it. I plan to give it to my daughter in love but I don’t know if that will happen either my daughter might like to have it. Right now I am having too many problems to worry about anything like that. When I get over whatever the Covid gave me I will think about things like that.

    1. Hi Jackie, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend. It’s all good, we can only do so much each day. I gave my InstaPot away because I liked my Fagor (Now Savor) brand so much better. The InstaPot is too confusing to me. Life is so good! Linda

  10. This was cool and interesting but I think I’ll stick with my Sun Oven if I want to bake bread without using electricity or gas. I doubt there’s a dozen days a year where it’s too cloudy to do it here in my part of AZ.

  11. Linda, on the Sun Oven website they claim their oven will reach baking temperatures so long as there’s enough light to cast a shadow. Even on a somewhat cloudy day mine works. It just takes longer because you end up baking at a lower temp.

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