The Wonder Box

Originally submitted by Kathryn Pratt - 2008.02.23

It is called a Wonder Box Cooker and originates in South Africa
See end of page for updated information

Click for larger image

The Wonder Box recipes and instructions originated from a booklet published by "Compassion" of South Africa in 1978, 1979 and 1980. "Compassion" registered the name Wonder Box and the logo of the kneeling figure. This information may be freely quoted, acknowledgments being made to "Compassion"

Wonder Boxes work like vacuum flasks, or as some call them, Thermos bottles. In these days when we are being warned of worldwide shortages of food and fuel, this wonder box and it's simplicity is designed to keep food at the temperature needed for cooking. Using very little fuel you only use about 15 minutes of energy to bring the food to the required temperature and then put it into the Wonder box. It makes it as though it were a thermos. On the flip side it will also keep ice-cream cold for around 4 hours.


Boil your food on the stove for 10 - 15 minutes until the food is heated right through. (In practice this is too long.)

Use any cooking pot, provided it does not have a long handle, but do not use a large pot for a small amount of food. The Wonder Box does not work well if there is a large air space. Remember that the more food or liquid you have in the pot, the longer and better it will cook.

Put the lid on the pot before you remove the pot from the stove so the lid can also get hot. Make sure the next in the bottom cushion is ready to take the pot and it is nearby so you do not lose heat carrying the pot around. Place pot into the nest of the Wonder Box, making sure the sides are snug against the pot, so there are no air pockets. Quickly cover the pot with the top cushion, making sure there are no gaps or air pockets. Make sure no one peeks inside. If this happens, heat will escape, and the food will not cook properly.

Do not leave the Wonder Box on a metal surface while it is being used. Metal is a good conductor of heat and may draw off some heat through the bottom.

When cooking anything like a roast or a whole chicken, the liquid around it can boil before the meat has reached the same temperature. Make sure the liquid covers the meat and it has come to a boil. Meat must be covered with liquid! The cooking time seems to be 3-4 hours, or all day. It Can Never burn because it doesn't ever get hotter, and if the meat is completely covered, it doesn't dry out, which also causes over-cooking.

Note: We had chicken which we put in at 9:30 in the morning before church. This single dad prepared the chicken by placing it into an oven-cooking bag. He added spices to the chicken closed the bag completely (no added moisture was added to the bag) then brought a pot of water, with the chicken, to a boil and put it, pot and all, in his Wonder Box. We ate with him at 4:00pm. As he tried to carve the chicken, the steam was really rising from the chicken. It was still so hot he worked with forks to carve it. Note: the opening of the bag was left protruding from under the pot's lid.

The Wonder Box was designed for cooking meals, but it can also be used for keeping food hot, cold, or even frozen, for 3-6 hours depending on what it is. For example, frozen meat will stay frozen longer than a tub of ice cream. Of course, frozen takes too long to thaw even without a Wonder Box.

The cushions filled with polystyrene beads can be washed with hot water and soap and hung on the line to dry.


  • Buy the beads by clicking the links under Advertisements below.

  • Updated information submitted by Cathy Lemmon - 2013.01

  • Wonderbox Pattern (Word doc)
  • Wonderbox Pattern (web/html)
  • Wonderbox_Intro-Sewing_Instructions-Recipes (Word doc)
  • Wonderbox_Intro-Sewing_Instructions-Recipes (web/html)
  • Links:

  • Advertisements help fund our services
    So how about some beads to fill your Wonder Box?
    If the "pillow" of beads doesn't show up, press F5 to refresh your browser.