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Very silly topic, maybe: can you use the self cleaning oven cycle for cooking?

It occured to me when reading a thread on crispy chicken skin when roasting, that, say, tandoori cooking is often around 800-900 degrees Fahenheit. To my read, it's similar to the self-clean cycles in ovens today, temperature-wise. So, does anyone ever bite the "let's-try-this" bullet and see if you can cook and clean the oven at the same time? (Yeah, I know...covered pot, to keep all the icky ash from falling in, and times are important, i.e., can you abort the cycle and restart if the food is finished?) I'm tempted. Anyone with thoughts?

So curious,

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  1. Do you have any cookware that can withstand those temps?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sally599

      Cast iron Dutch ovens, would be my bet, if one cannot abort the cycle and restart. Otherwise...well, what's the inside of the oven made of? Enameled steel? I'm guessing it would survive.

      But still - who knows until we hear from someone who done this :-).


      1. re: cayjohan

        I'd worry some about the seasoning of cast iron being burned away. Of course, food inside the dutch oven could mitigate that some.

        I'm remembering a rock-salt encased roast my m-i-l once made. If I remember correctly there was an initial exposure to very high heat to sorta galvanize the moist salt casing and then a long slow roast overnight. I wonder if the salt insulation would allow a roast to withstand the extreme clean cycle heat (for just how long that cycle is, I'm not sure). And then the long cool down during which the salt retained its heat might act as a carry over to roast the meat through.

        'Course a roast is an expensive way to experiment. But if the meat were overcooked, it might still be shredded and braised in gravy/jus to be useable making me think that pork might be the thing to experiment with.

        1. re: cayjohan

          I think it is counterproductive to think about an oven locked in a cleaning cycle.... what could survive at those temps for that length of time? What would you even consider cooking at these elevated temperatures for very long?
          Pizza is the only thing I know of that requies 800 degrees or more and you cook it for 2-3 minutes, it appears.
          If there were a purpose, like cooking a roast or chicken, I would not use cast iron, for the very reason that it was seasoned; I would use my AllClad.

      2. Cay,

        From what I understand (which admittedly is not much), self-cleaning ovens heat the inside of the oven to temps exceeding 900F and do so for about 3 hours. The oven is self-locking during the clean cycle and the latch on the oven won't open until the oven cools to about 600F.

        Now, if you have something that needs to be cooked at 900F for approxmiatley 3.5 hours, yeah, by all means, go for it!

        And if you try it ... let us know just HOW crispy that bird turns out to be. :-)

        1 Reply
        1. OMG.. I'd be too afraid to use that function to cook anything. Please let us know if you do - but I really want to say - Please don't.

            1. re: grampart

              Yeah, this guy clipped the lock off his oven using garden shears so he could run it on the cleaning cycle. Not that I'm endorsing the idea - nor does he:

              1. re: trentyzan

                Thanks for posting that. I was trying to find it.


              2. re: grampart

                I was going to post this same thread, but you beat me to it. Ive never tried it at home, but I wanted to, just once.

              3. I have a vague memory of having heard of this but I believe it was tricky to do and involved overriding some mechanisms, as hinted at below....

                1. This is just such a hilarious thought, that I need to run with it! My thinking is: since I can abort a cycle (cleaning)at any time, I can still get the 800-900 degree heat for "whatever time" I'm looking for. This is far more than my oven will deign to give me in "regular" cooing. So why not try it?

                  Thank you all for the cautions - and no, I will not have a 800 degree, 3 hour bird! Just trying to use energy wisely, if possibly edgily.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cayjohan


                    Are you sure you can abort the cleaning process? I did that once, but still had to wait forever before the unlocking mechanism kicked in. Another thought is that when I use my self cleaning cycle (love that feature BTW!) it stinks up the kitchen, and my oven doesn't get THAT dirty, either. I would worry that it would affect the flavor. Now, if your oven is perfectly clean it may be worth a shot.

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      Have you ever opened your oven when it's been in the middle of self cleaning mode. Trust me, even if you can abort the cycle, you don't want a smoky house for a couple of hours. (Don't ask, but it was not I who opened that oven door!)

                    2. My manual says to remove the racks before running the cleaning cycle. Mine is an older oven with spot-welded racks that would surely melt at thost temps. So I wouldn't have anything to put a pot on.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nemo

                        My setup makes you remove the racks and the side parts that hold the rack.

                        1. re: nemo

                          The racks should hold up to the temperatures. The reason they suggest you remove the racks is that they will discolor and loose the shinny chrome appearance.

                        2. I've heard that the self cleaning cycle on some brands of ovens cause the electronic pilot components to fail prematurely. I don't use the self cleaning cycle.

                          1. Jeffrey Steingarten wrote about his experience doing this in an effort to make pizza. If I remember correctly, I don't think the result was entirely successful. I think this essay is in "It Must Have Been Something I Ate".

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: littlegreenpea

                              The result was initially successful, in that his pizza cooked beautifully. But then he was unable to cancel the cleaning cycle and watched his perfectly done pizza incinerate into ash. Brilliant article, originally appeared in Vogue's August 2000 issue. It is reproduced in "It Must've Been Something I Ate," Random House, 2002.

                              1. re: jnstarla

                                Thanks for clarifying. I agree that it was a brilliant article.

                                1. re: littlegreenpea

                                  No problem! That article is seriously one of my favorite pieces of food writing of all time.

                                  On topic, I think he eventually had success achieving very high temperatures on a charcoal grill of some sort. Maybe try and roast your chicken in that? Grilled chicken is never great for skin though. IMHO, it gets too burny to eat.

                            2. It's called a self clean cycle for a reason :) Why would you want to do that?

                              1. Thank you all so very much! I must be getting punchy and bored with my own cooking after a very tedious and long winter. Still - it was an intellectually tickling thought.

                                I did run my self-clean cycle to test when I could open the door upon cancelling. Yes, to all who cautioned: much too high! Ah well, there goes another high-falutin' idea. :-)

                                I must hunt up the Steingarten article for the sheer amusement. Or is it shadenfreude?

                                Still, I sincerely want to know what could possibly be cooked in this (self clean) environment. Since the vote is in to NOT, I'm curious, still.


                                5 Replies
                                1. re: cayjohan

                                  All I can say it I'm glad you decided against doing it. I was worried that you wanted to try that high temp, regardless. I'm sure you can come up with another high-falutin' idea.....

                                  1. re: cayjohan

                                    Now I have heard that seasoning a new cast iron skillet in the self clean mode works well. Sounds a bit safer, Cay! Maybe you could try that since you have an "itch to scratch!"

                                    1. re: danhole

                                      Not for seasoning the cast iron, but for cleaning very cruddy cast iron. I did this with a couple of very old, very crusted cast iron skillets, and they came out like brand-new cast iron. I then seasoned them in the regular way by oiling and heating on lower heat in the oven. Worked great.

                                      1. re: k_d

                                        I frequently buy old, cruddy cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens at yard sales, etc. The best way to prepare them for seasoning is to run them thru a self-clean cycle in the oven. Rust and crud turn to dust and clean up quickly. Then they are ready for a good, thorough seasoning. Then i sell them for a handsome profit on eBay!

                                        1. re: 1stmakearoux

                                          ...though cast iron fanatics (the ones who join CI societies) caution against super-high heat (or cold) for old skillets as they can explode, either during the high heat cleaning, or later, during cooking use.

                                          I build a good oak fire in either the fireplace or BBQ, then put the old pan over the coals, turning once or twice. Does the trick w/o being too hot. then steel wool to remove rust scale, and reseason with bacon fat.

                                  2. Some who has an old oven should try it. I know, lets all write to Alton Brown and have him do it!!! Really, get a tough cut of meat, put it in a dutch oven with plenty of liquid, and see how it turns out.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: jcattles

                                      Jeez, jcattles, I must second you there. I'm far too curious for my own good sometimes. It's nice when "someone else" might find out how things work outside the norm! You want to write, I'll write too!


                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                        Heck Yeah!! I'll do it now. Let's keep each other updated if we find anything out!

                                    2. A friend who was (once -- not now) a very bad cook inadvertantly turned her oven on to "selfclean" while attempting to make brownies.

                                      It made for quite a fire.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                        Did she save the burnt parts to play hockey with??


                                      2. My oven is 4 months old and it states in the manual to remove the oven racks. I wouldn't recommend attempting it. I think if you added liquid to the dish it would evaporate before you would be able to open the door. It locks for a reason. Safety foremost.

                                        1. You sound like the kind of person who might be interested in cooking with the exhaust manifold of a car....

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: lgss

                                            IIRC Alton Brown did that too.....

                                          2. Wouldn't cook ... but seriously the oven self-clean cycle is a terrific way to clean your outdoor barbecue-grill rack. Like a wonder!

                                            1. There's been some buzz about this lately, elsewhere so I will be trying this in a few months. I am remodeling the kitchen so our 1980's oven will be a guinea pig...I have a woodshop so I have several 220 volt outlets. The modifications sound easy enough and I have a thick piece of sheet metal I intend to screw over the window are from the inside. This will be to prevent a drip from shattering a very hot piece of glass! I'll get a high range thermocouple to keep track of the oven temperature (about $20) and disconnect and rewire as needed.

                                              At 800 degrees I don't think racks will be hurt. They may suggest you remove them for cosmetic reasons; they might warp or discolor.
                                              I have a one inch thick stone I already use in the oven to even out heat and cook on.
                                              I will be back with results! I wonder if I can do some low-fire raku?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                Throw nan dough on the oven sides or crank the oven up for a tandoor.

                                              2. I suspect you could get the same results with a lot less trouble by just opening a bag of charcoal briquettes and popping one in your mouth! Seems to me that if there was anything to be gained from this, every self-cleaning oven's owner's manual would give some recipes. '-)

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  Naw, you're not understanding that (in a normal oven), the cleaning cycle is automatic and you can't get at anything, unless perhaps you switch it off or flip the breaker. Then you probably can't open it until it gets below 500.
                                                  What we're talkin' here is aftermarket "engineering". Bypassing all the safety features so it runs like a scalded ape! "Scotty, give me all it's got!" This is liken to a nuclear reactor on self-destruct. After two minutes, nothing survives! Your lights will dim when you turn it on... I'm so excited about doing this! All kinds of crisp things! Crisp ice cream?

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    Yeah. NASA's "space" ice cream. Ever tried any of that? I'm still trying to figure out what could be cooked in a clean cycle. Put anything in that has any moisture content and you may very well induce an explosion. Or at the very least blow the seals on the door. Put anything in with much fat content, and it's going to render into a pool (of flames!) in the bottom of the oven. In order to have anything left at the end of the clean cycle, you have to have a huge chunk of whatever. Soooo... Anyone have an oven big enough to roast a dehydrated fat free dinosaur?

                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                      Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here.

                                                  2. I think that this is a bad idea. The oven locks, the food catches fire, you override the cleaning cycle. Then what? The oven is still locked and the food is still on fire. Alternatively, you break the lock and get into the oven, just in time to be burned by superheated air whooshing out of the oven. Then your dish towels nearby catch fire. There's a reason the engineers at General Electric (or whatever) installed a lock--to prevent you from burning down your house!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: gfr1111

                                                      Jeff, Have you read the articles about doing this conversion to cook pizza? You defeat the lock and you can turn off the oven and open the oven whenever you please.
                                                      Yes, engineers design it so you can't COOK at the 900, or whatever degrees. The cleaning cycle takes a while so no food would survive at that temperature and duration.
                                                      Let's be clear: There is nothing from preventing any fool from putting food in an oven and starting the cleaning cycle. The problem, beyond the obvious ones is control. Without modifying the oven, your food is stuck in there until it cools enough for the sensors to release the door lock. Thus you have lost control.
                                                      A car or a kitchen knife is a bad idea, in the hands of the wrong people. Anyone can burn themselves by sticking their head right above the oven door when they first open it (at normal baking temperatures).
                                                      I am in no way suggesting that anyone do this modification to their everyday oven. Left unattended, a built-in oven, modified like this, could very well cause a fire; without food in it.

                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                        Ovens don't kill people, people kill people.
                                                        The NRA (The National Range Association)

                                                    2. I can make a fairly decent pizza with the oven set to maximum (550) in about 6-7 minutes. I would think that if you required higher heat than that, maybe rigging a cooking surface in an outdoor grill that would lower right up against some really hot charcoal would be safer to cook with. Or build yourself a tadoori oven in the back yard.
                                                      I just know I got my charcoal grill so hot last summer that the disposable aluminum grill surface cover was dripping molten aluminum onto the coals. I think I might have overestimated the charcoal needed for the job.

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: podunkboy

                                                        I havn't tried the grill, but I understand jfood and others have. I only have a gas grill full of the lava-like rocks.
                                                        I believe the issues are heat distribution and convection, so that you get a good crispness going on the bottom without burning the top or having it undercooked in the middle.
                                                        I just want to be able to make a good clam 'za like Pepe's does it. Then I won't have to go to Wooster Street....
                                                        Could you imagine a new pizza joint in New Haven, where a Texan makes good apizza and also serves Texas style Q and Texas Red? Naw... but I can fantasize, can't I?

                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                          What, no tacos al pastor? Can I be your first customer?

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            Can jfood have a reservation for 12 at 7PM on Saturday.

                                                            On the grill, you need to "list" the pizza fromthe grates. Three empty cans does the trick. Crank that gas grill up until the temperature gauge is flat against the highest number then quickly open insert and close.

                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                              Now, everybody stop it! Me and my big mouth...

                                                              El Trompo Cabeza

                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                Get a Big Green Egg and you have a coal fired oven like the big boys in the Northeast have. I can get mine up to about 1000 degrees and cook a pizza in 6 1/2 minutes that, looks-wise, rivals anything out there. Taste-wise I just don't have the dough making skills.

                                                                1. re: amini1

                                                                  let the dough develop slowly for better flavor

                                                                  1. re: amini1

                                                                    I guess I could just buy, or have built, a wood fired oven, too. Those Big Green Eggs, and their competition, are not cheap! I have a very nice, big Weber grill.
                                                                    When I remodel the kitchen my "new" pizza oven will be FREE.

                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                      Eh, just build a wood fired oven yourself. I recently finished building one in our backyard, and have no previous masonry experience. It might not be the prettiest thing on the block, but nobody's going to stick his or her head inside the dome to check out my brickwork while there's a roaring fire going. ;-) I was pregnant for most of the build, too. If I can do it, anyone can!

                                                                      The experience cooking in the oven is absolutely brilliant, too. SO cool. Er, hot. Whatever. 90 second pizzas that are far better than anything I've ever pulled out of the regular oven (even with the same ingredients), and rival the pizzas we had in Naples a few weeks ago. With retained heat, I can cook roasts and artisan breads the day after a pizza fire. The third day after a pizza fire I can make low, slow cooked items, like brisket and pulled pork. The dome shape of the oven creates natural convection, and it's a more moist heat. Everything that comes out of it tastes better than my conventional oven, and I consider myself a pretty good cook.

                                                                      The build was fun. Cooking in my WFO is fun. Entertaining and always having an activity (and menu plan!) for having friends over is fun. Fire is fun. The increased home equity is fun. Love love love.

                                                                      1. re: modthyrth

                                                                        I love women's hot talk! Fire is fun!
                                                                        Actually a good friend built his own a year ago. We went over and cooked pizzas in it one evening. It is very cool (I mean, "It's HOT!"). He did a nice job building his. Where did you get plans or how did you do it?

                                                              2. Cover your dutch oven with space shuttle tiles. That way it wont burn the food. Uh oh NASA wants their tiles back. Why do we want to cook this hot?

                                                                1. Already done this myself :-) works a treat for pizza's and tandoori foods (both of which require extremely high heat)

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: infernooo

                                                                    Can you elaborate on results infernooo?


                                                                    1. re: infernooo

                                                                      And are there foods you cook between 550 and 900? Come to think of it I don't think I have ever used an oven over 450! So I revise my question to between 450 and 900...