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It's So Hot In LA You Could Cook A 3-Course Meal In Your Car. So We Did

(Photo by Tamika Adams/LAist)
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You may have noticed it's hot in Los Angeles. Sizzling hot. Perhaps hot enough to bake something on the dash of your car? Spoiler: yes.

Turns out you can cook a full meal -- albeit with almost zero nutritional value -- using your sun-soaked car as the oven. We devised a plan to reinvent a demo Buzzfeed shared about Arizonans baking cookies on their dashboard in the blistering summer heat.

But our Take Two staff wanted to expand on this experiment. So we took a short trip to our local Trader Joe's and created a full dining experience from appetizer to dessert -- perfect for a hungry reporter or radio producer.

A note on food safety: the USDA advises that food should be cooking thoroughly to the temperature of 140 degrees, which keeps it out of the "danger zone." And to REALLY keep yourself safe, food should be kept hot -- at or above 140.

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Using a cookie sheet and tin foil we laid out the bounty.

(Photo by Tamika Adams/LAist)

On the menu:

  • Frozen Thai vegetable gyoza
  • Quesadillas with Mexican cheese blend
  • Glorious chocolate chip cookies

With our courses set, we head to our kitchen, conveniently located in the KPCC/LAist parking lot. The oven is a 2011 model from Honda. She gets pretty good mileage, but can she cook?

(Photo by Tamika Adams/LAist)

At the two hour mark in the midday sun, the dash temperature reached the levels of a standard toaster oven -- about 181 degrees.

We saw that the cheese in our makeshift quesadilla had melted and the gyozas had oil seeping out the bottom. They were nearly done, but the cookies had a ways to go.

(Photo by Tamika Adams/LAist)


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In the span of 4 hours, our four-wheeled oven went from 110 degrees to over 190 degrees on the dash where our tray was cooking.

Time to get the bakes inside for eating.

(Photo by Julia Paskin/LAist)


We checked the internal temperatures of the food to confirm they were safe for eating, then shared them with the rest of our newsroom. Here was the consensus of our cooking:

  • Gyoza - Inside delish but the edges are waaaay overdone
  • Quesadilla - Dry but the cheese saves the dish!
  • Cookies - Tops are baked but the bottoms were soggy. Similar to a microwavable mug brownie. These were the crowd pleaser.


This experiment works best in a black car. The heat absorbs and creates a true hellscape to cook up your goodies.

Maybe steer clear of combining everything on a single tray. Our cookies were a bit messy and touched the other foods.

Make sure you flip the food halfway through to get even cooking top to bottom.

And as always, don't leave a living organism in a hot car. That would literally amount to putting someone in your oven at home.

Southern California heat waves are powerful and dangerous, but it turns out that with a little ingenuity and food safety in mind, you can get something sweet out of it.

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