Cooking in your dishwasher revisited for the modern, eco-friendly millennial

Dishwasher cooking
This technique could be an eco-friendly way to cook in the kitchen.
(Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet)

There are plenty of unusual cooking techniques and tools being used to prepare food at restaurants around town. Under the general umbrella of molecular gastronomy, there are sous vide machines, dehydrators, hot-infusion siphons and smoking guns to name a few, but what about your dishwasher?

The idea of using your dishwasher to cook a meal has been around since the ‘80s. It’s been used to cook many proteins, mainly fish. The Times ran a recipe on dishwasher poached salmon back in 1986. The recipe says to wrap the salmon in foil then run it through a full cycle without using any soap.

Sounds like a fun dinner-party trick but not exactly a good way to decrease your carbon footprint. Using water and electricity to run a load without actually cleaning anything sounds like a waste of time and money. 

But a recent segment on NPR suggested the technique could be making a comeback. It may have a little something to do with a tweak to the original cooking technique that could prove attractive to a new, eco-friendly, convenience-focused generation in the kitchen. 


Lisa Casali, an Italian author, wrote a book on dishwasher cooking that’s actually meant to save energy. The book, “Cucinare in lavastoviglie” suggests recipes for meals cooked in airtight sealed jars during a regular dish cycle, with detergent. 

The book is in Italian, but she has some instructional videos with English subtitles on Vimeo, including one for cooking couscous with vegetables in the dishwasher.

A little salmon in a jar poaching next to last night’s dirty dishes doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but when you get past the initial “huh?” factor, it does make sense for the busy parent or college student looking to save time.    

Will we see dishwasher-poached fish on a restaurant menu anytime soon? Probably not, but sounds like it’s worth a try. Let us know if you’ve used your dishwasher to cook or if you’re willing to give it a try in the comments below.  



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