Would You Cook a Steak in a Dishwasher?

December 12, 2016

Well here’s a question to ponder during your Monday meetings. Dishwasher cooking—is it a thing? You bet. Consider this mildly viral video from German blogger COOK WITH ME.AT that came out this past Friday, instructing viewers on how to cook a steak to perfection in the comfort of one's home appliance:

Listen to that groovy music as an anonymous hand casually slips a vacuum-sealed rib eye into a dishwashing rack alongside the usual suspects, like a “plate.” The instructions are simple: You let it glug in there for ninety minutes. Take it out. Mmm. Admire your dishwasher steak. Dab it dry. Put some olive oil on a pan and sear it at high heat. Add butter. Baste the baby! Leave to rest for five minutes. Slice it. Season it. How convenient; two birds, one stone. Well, you've done it. You've made the dishwasher steak.

I don't mean to be dismissive about dishwasher cooking, which, when I first heard about it twelve hours ago, I found an ontologically bizarro practice. It's "a thing." I’ve been revisiting this 2013 NPR paean to dishwasher cooking, wherein Michaeleen Doucleff has fond memories of her mother sticking a salmon in the family dishwasher to the terror of her daughters, only for them to be amazed at the resultant slab of seafood, tender and moist. Huh. Clean a plate, serve some fish. In fact, there's a great wealth of foods, from green beans to lobster, that cook quite nicely in the confines of a dishwasher—as long as they're sealed in airtight jars that shield them from dish soap.

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My question stands: Have you ever cooked anything in a dishwasher? Please let me know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


isw December 13, 2016
Cooking sous vide is all about precisely controlling the water temperature to the exact value you want your meat to be: "rare", or "medium", or whatever. Sure, you can bag a piece of meat and run it through the "extra scrub" cycle, but you'll have no idea what the temperature was.

And don't try it with chicken at all, which, to be safe, needs to reach a higher temperature than most dishwashers achieve.
Barney S. December 12, 2016
I first learned of dishwasher cooking, living in Denver in the mid-70's. Then I believe it was encouraged as an energy saving solution.
Barney S. December 13, 2016
i also seem to remember fish being part of the instructions.
Andy L. December 12, 2016
I first encountered dishwasher cooking in a cooking class in Atlanta in 2005, or thereabouts. The class was fairly elementary, but the one brand-new technique I learned was worth the price of admission: the instructor sealed a sea bass in an oven bag, and ran it through the dishwaser. The fish cooked beautifully.

This reminds me of a favorite story. In 2008, my wife and I were vacationing in Napa. Against all odds, we scored dinner reservations at the French Laundry. During dinner, one of my courses was a piece of perfectly cooked salmon. I asked the waiter how it was prepared. He told me something absurd about wrapping and deep-frying at 300 degrees. I said "I don't think that's what they do." He gave me a look that said "I work at the French Laundry, and you are a rube," but what he actually said, very professionally, was "Let me check."

A few minutes later he came back looking vaguely amazed and said "You were right. They vacuum seal it and cook it briefly in a water bath at 120 degrees." "Oh, OK, thanks for checking" I replied and went back to my salmon. When the waiter left, a lady at the next table tapped me on the shoulder and asked "Did you understand what he was talking about?" I was dimly aware of the sous vide technique at by then and told her "Yes, it's a new technique that involves quite a bit of specialized equipment, but you can get much the same effect by sealing your fish in an oven bag, and running it through the dishwasher."

The entire room burst into laughter. Apparently, my conversation with the waiter had attracted a lot of attention. So I enjoyed 10 seconds of fame, and the waiter invited us down for a kitchen tour after the meal, all as a result of dishwasher fish.
Mayukh S. December 13, 2016
Bahaha. What a story.
catherine M. December 12, 2016
this. is. insane. i'm curious though. let's test it!!
HalfPint December 12, 2016
We 'baked' a cake in a dishwasher. It was a strangely lopsided cake, but still tasty.
Kenzi W. December 12, 2016
Woah. Did you take pictures??
HalfPint December 12, 2016
Sorry, no pictures. We were at a vacation rental in Costa Rica. My travel companions who had arrived the day before, baked this cake in the dishwasher as the rental (a very nice villa with overlooking the rainforest and beach) did not have an oven. There wasn't even a cake pan. They used a tin tray with rather high sides. As I mentioned, 'tasty' if somewhat funny looking.