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How To Use Your Wonderbag

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

The Wonderbag, a non-electric, proudly South African slow cooker has been a saving grace for many.

Especially during loadshedding

Not sure how to use your Wonderbag? Scroll down for tips and advice, including from fellow cooks like you.

A woman selling Wonderbags at the 73@Strand market in Strand

How it works

After bringing a pot of food to a boil and placing it in a Wonderbag, the food will continue cooking for up to eight hours without any additional energy source. It uses heat retention technology, saving up to 70% on your cooking/electricity bill per month.

Cooking tips

  • Use the right size pot for the amount of food (the pot should be mostly full). This step helps maintain proper cooking temperatures.

  • Use a stainless steel or glassware pot with short handles. Don’t use clay or ceramic.

  • Use a tight-fitting lid.

  • Bring food to a gentle boil and simmer it before covering it with a lid and placing it in the Wonderbag. Simmering times will vary, but the rule of thumb is that the amount of liquid in the pot will stay in the pot once it’s in the Wonderbag. It reduces ever so slightly as the steam is trapped in the sealed pot. A good 10-minute boil on the stove with the lid on gets it going well.

  • Heat is retained more effectively when the pot is mostly full and sealed with a tight-fitting lid, and you don’t open the lid to check on the cooking food. Opening the lid will lower the temperature of the food. If you need to check, bring your pot of food back to a simmer before putting it back in the Wonderbag.

  • Place the boiling pot immediately from the stove onto a trivet, wooden chopping board or tea towel inside the Wonderbag. This step helps to prevent the interior fabric from burning.

  • If cooking meat, try starting with smaller pieces rather than whole joints. Understanding your Wonderbag cooking times before experimenting with large pieces of meat is useful – large pieces often require longer cooking times.

How To Cook Your Food In The Wonderbag

Using the Wonderbag is simple and convenient, just follow these steps:

  1. Bring the food to a boil on a stove and let it simmer (see table below).

  2. Place a tea towel at the bottom of your Wonderbag.

  3. Carefully put the pot with its lid on into the Wonderbag.

  4. Close the Wonderbag tightly using the drawstring.

  5. Allow your food to cook to perfection for up to 8 hours.

Below are some guidelines for the recommended cooking times to help you with planning your cooking according to loadshedding schedules:

Type of food

Boil time on the stove

Wonderbag cooking time

Chicken and meat on the bone

​15-30 minutes

At least 2 hours (the longer the more tender)

​Boneless/skinless chicken and meat

10-15 minutes

​At least 1 hour (the longer the more tender)

​Rice (white, brown)

​5 minutes

​At least 45 minutes

Pre-soaked dried beans

15 minutes

Small beans: 2-3 hours; Large beans: 4-5 hours

​Root vegetables

15 minutes

​At least 1 hour

So versatile

“My sister Teslynn Jacobs gifted me with Wonderbags. The first time I used it was on Christmas Day when we had no electricity for 36 hours. I cooked my paella on the gas stove and left it to steam in the Wonderbag. Today I used it to proof my dough, and I must say that, on this overcast, rainy day, the dough rose very quickly.” – Carmen Siologas

“It works well with soups, stews, curries and making bone broth – food that is only needed later in the day or the next day. Once your stew or soup is ready for the Wonderbag, you leave it in there the whole day if you’re prepping in the morning, or overnight if prepping in the evening. I had beef bourguignon cooking that needed another hour in the oven when loadshedding struck, so I used the Wonderbag. It works just as great to keep things cold. For example, you might need to get perishables from the shops if you don’t go straight home, or to keep ice-cream cold on a picnic.” – Pamela Court

“Wonderbags are the best. Please read your instructions as the hoedjie goes inside the bag on top of your pots, and then the bag gets tied. It’s not decor for the top.” – Teslynn Jacobs

“I use mine when we braai to keep the food warm while finishing the rest of the meat.” – Jane Jonathan

“Put a plate underneath the pot to help with spills or spoils. I also put my dough in a bowl in the bag to proof, which works beautifully.” – Delphine de Voss

“Even a piece of cardboard at the base works. I host Wonderbag distribution events, and it’s one of the first things we tell people to do to protect their bag and ensure an extended lifespan of the product.” – Wyomia Mouwers

 “I bring rice to a boil and put it in the Wonderbag. I don’t cook rice any other way.” – Avril Murphy



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