Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

Can you cook dinner in your dishwasher?

Salmon cooked in your dishwasher may sound flaky, but does it work?

Dishwasher cooked honey soy salmon fillets
Last updated: 08 March 2024

We've been hearing stories of people cooking food in their dishwasher for years.

So, armed with a recipe for honey soy salmon with rice, spinach and mushrooms (and custard with fruit compote for dessert), we set out to test, scientifically and with an emphasis on food safety, whether it's possible to prepare an edible two-course dinner in a dishwasher.

Can you cook salmon in a dishwasher?

Yes! When we plated up (on dishes washed in the same cycle), our salmon had an internal temperature of 53.7° C.

Despite the temperature fluctuations during the cooking process this was well within the safe temperature range for cooking salmon, so we hung up our instruments and sat down to lunch.

How did we do it?

We share the full recipes below, but the basic idea is simple.

Firstly, choose foods that can be cooked at a relatively low temperature and that don't need to be seared (anything you could sous-vide is generally appropriate).

Then, make sure you seal all the food tightly in ziploc bags (we double-bagged) and place them in the top rack of your dishwasher.

Fill the bottom rack with dirty plates, add your detergent and choose a wash cycle that's going to be around 55° C. 

Then just sit back and wait for dinner to be served.

salmon rice spinach mushrooms finished meal on plate

Our dishwasher dinner all plated up on freshly cleaned dishes.

How did it taste?

It was, in a word, delicious. The salmon was cooked through, flaked nicely but wasn't soggy and tasted great, although admittedly it was a little overcooked.

The rice was hot and fluffy, but the real standout was the spinach and mushrooms – we expected the spinach to be a little wilted, but it held its form and even maintained a little crispness.

The long cycle time also gave the cooking juices a chance to develop in flavour, and it made an excellent finishing sauce when poured over the fish. And no, none of the wash water leaked into the food during cooking.

The salmon was cooked through, flaked nicely but wasn't soggy and tasted great

And because the best part of any meal is dessert, we rounded out the meal with a fruit compote and hot custard, also cooked in the dishwasher.

The fruit compote was delicious, but unfortunately the custard, while tasting great, came out a little too runny.

We suspect the cycle we used wasn't hot enough for custard, so we'll continue to refine our recipe, but in the meantime you could always serve the fruit with ice cream.

Want to try it for yourself? See our 'dinner in a dishwasher' recipes below.

Why does it work?

Think about your oven. It's a big box with a heating element in it that makes raw food very hot (in other words, cooking).

Now think about your dishwasher. It's also a big box with a heating element in it. Sure, it also sprays a lot of water around and you're a little limited when it comes to choosing time and temperature settings, but there are definite parallels with your oven (or because of the water, your sous-vide machine).

So it's not too much of a stretch to imagine cooking all sorts of things in one once you've overcome a couple of rather significant hurdles:

salmon and rice packages in dishwasher

We put the ingredients in ziploc bags to protect them from wash water and detergent.

  • All that water. The thought of your dinner soaked with wash water, detergent and gunk from your dinner plates is pretty unappealing. But popping your ingredients in a ziploc bag protects them from all that (just to be safe, we double-bagged everything). Running the dishwasher to cook also means you can wash your dirty dishes while cooking your dinner – so you can plate up on pre-warmed plates from the same cycle! In fact it's a good idea to pop some crockery in the dishwasher, because the fuller your machine is, the more stable the temperature, and stable temperatures make cooking easier.
  • Low cooking temperature. Your dishwasher doesn't get as hot as an oven, so your food won't brown. Depending on what you're cooking you may want to give it a quick sear in a pan before plating (a common step in many sous-vide recipes). Or, if you're a fishwasher purist like us and want to go direct from dishwasher to plate, use a dark coloured marinade or seasoning like soy sauce to bring a bit of colour to your meal.
  • Temperature fluctuations. Although your dishwasher will get hot enough to cook in, its internal temperature fluctuates throughout the cycle and you don't get a lot of choice when it comes to temperature settings or cooking time. This means you should lean towards foods and recipes that are going to be a little forgiving if time and temperature are a little bit out. For example, we chose salmon because it cooks at a lower temperature than many other proteins, and because it's safe to eat if not completely cooked through.

Why should I cook in a dishwasher?

There are a few scenarios when you might need to cook in your dishwasher:

  • You're craving a hot meal but your oven's broken and your landlord won't fix it.
  • You've got to run the dishwasher anyway, but the rising cost of electricity means you don't want to run two appliances at once.
  • You want to cook for a large group, and the roominess of your dishwasher means you can cook everything at the same time.
  • You're a uni student living in a share house, everyone's drunk, and it seems like a good idea at the time.

OK so realistically, other than as a fun experiment, there's very little reason you'd ever want to cook in your dishwasher. If you have any other option then we'd actually recommend you don't, a position backed by the manufacturer of the dishwasher we used, Miele, who are very keen to stress their dishwashers are not designed for use in food preparation and they do not condone or endorse doing so.

So why did we?

Because occasionally we get the opportunity to do something a little different. We also tend to get hungry...

Also, unlike others who have tried dishwasher dining, we wanted to take a uniquely scientific approach – using temperature, water and energy logging instruments inside the dishwasher to see exactly what was going on at every stage of the washing, sorry, cooking cycle.

Realistically, other than as a fun experiment, there's very little reason you'd ever want to cook in your dishwasher

We found that it maintained around 55° C for around half an hour, dipped briefly during the first rinse cycle, then climbed up to 70° for the second rinse cycle. (Why so hot? Because your dishwasher uses the final rinse cycle to build up a heat load in your plates so they can dry through evaporation).

It then slowly dropped back to 50° over the following 40 minutes as our crockery dried, and the salmon finished cooking.

Our recipe for a dishwasher dinner for two

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.