Thermal Cooking aka Hay Box Cooking

What is thermal cooking? Well it’s like a slow cooker, but it does not use electricity at all and all the magic happens inside the insulated pot. The short and sweet of it is that food is heated to boiling for a period of time 5, 10, 15 minutes and then put into an insulated structure. The interior covered pot will retain all the heat and the food will slowly continue cooking for several hours.This cooking concept is not new. While doing some research I found a newspaper article from the late 1890’s describing the same method. I also found a drawing in the book Experiment Station Work, XLI from 1907. If interested in reading the article it can be found over on the Internet Archive.

Well my cooker is not made from wood but the concept is the same. I was able to duplicate the method using a lidded pot and a cooler. Considering the cooler took up so much counter space and the hot pot warped the plastic on the inside of the cooler I finally decided to purchase a small crock pot sized thermal cooker.

It’s very simple to use and there is no worry from leaving an electric appliance plugged in all day.

Hay Box Cooking – Thermal Cooker


Save money and save time using this method of cooking.  The past few days I’ve tried a couple of soup recipes and can say that I’m really pleased with how they turned out.

The first recipe I tried was my own take on a chunky chicken soup. It’s more like chicken and dumplings, but without the dumplings.

Hay Box – Chicken Ranch Stew

Chicken Ranch Stew
Chicken Ranch Stew


  • 3 Large Chicken Breasts (Remove skin)
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 32oz Chicken Broth
  • 1 packet Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 Medium Onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup Carrots (small whole or chopped)
  • 5-10 Small Red Potatoes (quartered)
  • 1 Small Can Sliced Mushrooms


Step 1
Brown chicken slightly with a little olive on in the pot. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil and simmer until everything is hot. Let simmer about 15 minutes.
Step 2
Cover pot and put into thermal cooker for 4-5 hours.
Step 3
Remove chicken from the pot and remove bones. Shred chicken and return to the pot.
Step 4
Salt and Pepper to taste. Mix a little corn starch and water to thicken the soup.

Then again then last night I did a venison vegetable soup.

Hay Box – Venison Vegetable Soup

Venison Vegetable Soup
Venison Vegetable Soup


  • 2lb Venison (ground (beef can be used instead))
  • 1 Medium Onion (diced)
  • 2 cans Can Mixed Vegetables (15 oz cans)
  • 1 can Lima Beans (15 oz can)
  • 1 can Niblet Corn (15 oz can)
  • 1 can Sliced Carrots (15 oz can)
  • 4 cans Diced Tomatoes (15 oz cans)
  • 2 cups Water
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)


Step 1
Brown the meat with the onions.
Step 2
Mix all the ingredients into the pot with the meat and onions.
Step 3
Mix thoroughly and bring to a boil.
Step 4
Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Step 5
Place the covered pot into the thermal cooker. Let cook for 4-5 hours.


The fun part is that once these soup mixes get heated up and placed into the cooker there is nothing left to do. After 4-6 hours dinner is ready! On the plus side I have plenty of soup that will end up in the freezer since I made so much! I put 4 quarts in the freezer for later this year!


Remember that this method takes time to cook, so start early!

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