How to Use a Microwave Oven (2023)

A microwave oven is a fast, effective, and safe way of cooking lots of food items as you adhere to some basic microwave rules.

Like any cooking appliance, it can be hazardous or mess up your meals if you do not use it well. Look at the directions that accompany your device.


  • 1 What is a Microwave Oven?
  • 2 Microwave Oven Accessories and Parts
    • 2.1 Find Out About the Different Things To Cook
    • 2.2 Read the User Manual
    • 2.3 Place Food in The Right Utensil
    • 2.4 Cleaning Up your microwave
    • 2.5 Plug In and Set The Time
      • 2.5.1 Microwave Oven Safety

You should also check the instructions on any packaged meals you prepare to ensure you are using it properly.

What is a Microwave Oven?

This is a quite small, boxlike appliance that raises food temperature by exposing it to a higher-frequency electromagnetic field.

Sugars, fats, water, and specific other molecules absorb the microwaves, whose resulting vibrations generate heat.

The heating hence takes place inside your food, without heating the surrounding air. This significantly helps to minimize cooking time, and baking.

Additionally, other cooking chores that need many hours in a conventional model will be fast in a microwave type.

Because a microwave uses the absorption process for heating, it often cooks specific meals at different rates or uniformly.

(Video) How to Reheat your food in a Microwave(HD Video)

For instance, moist food items cook quickly compared to less moist food items, and moist outer layers often absorb a lot of the radiation before it reaches inner parts that remain undercooked.

Furthermore, a microwave oven cannot crisp or brown food items on the outer part.

Many kinds of paper, polyethylene, glass, and similar materials do not absorb the microwaves and thus do not heat up.

You cannot use metal vessels for cooking food in this appliance, as the metal will block out the microwaves.

A microwave oven is subject to safety standards, making sure that there is minimal leakage of radiation from these appliances.

Also, to make sure such leakages do not cause major health risks.

Microwave Oven Accessories and Parts

All these appliances come with several basic components.

They include a fuse that is connected to the power cord. This fuse helps in switching the microwave off in the event of short-circuit or overheating.

There is also a high-voltage transformer that helps to pass electricity to a magnetron. These parts serve in regulating the microwave levels of radiation, which you need to cook your food.

The radiation generated in the magnetron will move through a wave guide gadget situated above the cavity of your oven where you place the food.

(Video) 10 Tips On Using Your Microwave

After that, the radiation will pass via a rotating stirrer blade and bathes your meal, which causes it to warm up.

The microwave oven’s walls are built with metal to help in reflecting the radiation inward toward your food.

There is a safety switch in all modern ovens to help shut the entire oven’s energy off whenever you open the door.

These appliances feature timers that automatically help in stopping microwaving after a specific time.

Many modern types feature revolving plates for turning food while cooking, digital timers, and clock.

Additionally, a microwave oven has sensors and detachable racks, which stop over-cooking.

If you want to make the most of your microwave, here are specific suggestions and tips you should follow when using a microwave oven.

  1. Find Out About the Different Things To Cook

Most people use a microwave oven to heat liquids and food items; however, you can also use this appliance to cook, bake, and grill.

You might have to find out about the different things you can do in the appliance.

There are specific models that have convention mode that is a beneficial feature as well.

(Video) Why you should not buy a microwave kiln!

  1. Read the User Manual

First, to use the microwave oven correctly, you should read the safety instructions and user manual.

The manual can clarify a number of things that you might not know otherwise, proving quite beneficial.

  1. Place Food in The Right Utensil

You should now add the liquid or food to a microwave oven safe utensil and place it in the appliance.

Make sure you purchase the utensil that is 100 percent microwave oven safe. You may damage the appliance if you use anything that is not appropriate for it.

There is a range of utensils that are safe to use in a microwave oven. These include borosilicate containers, plastic containers, and others.

  1. Cleaning Up your microwave

To use the appliance in the right way, maintaining it frequently is important.

For this, you should clean it not only on the interior but also on the exterior. You can do this by washing and cleaning up the tray by removing it regularly.

Another technic is keeping some water in a utensil that is safe to use in the microwave oven and heat it for a while.

This will result in steam development that can help get rid of stains and other particles from your oven’s interior.

  1. Plug In and Set The Time

Next, you should plug the microwave oven in. Ensure you don not plug in several appliances together since this might be a bit hazardous.

(Video) How to Use the Microwave (Yes... really.)

Now, based on what you are cooking or heating, set the oven’s timer. It is easy to do this.

All you should do is to either turn the button or press the knob against the time given on the appliance.

Microwave Oven Safety

  • You will find cold spots where your food items do not get hot enough to eliminate bacteria. You should adhere to revolving and stirring directions carefully.
  • It would be best if you stood 3 to 4 feet away from your appliance when it is running.
  • If you have covered your food during cooking, remember to leave a little uncovered or vented portion.

This is to ensure steam does not accumulate and burn you when you remove the covering.

  • Many microwave ovens feature hot spots, and if you eat the meals straight from the appliance, some parts can be scorching and can burn.
  • Never use metal containers unless your recipe especially shows you to.

Remember that microwave ovens bounce off metal. This will result in a fire or arching in the oven’s interior section.

Some recipes might need you to shield your food items, particularly meats, with little cooking oil. This is ideal, provided that you adhere to instructions carefully.

  • Never heat water, recipe, or any other liquids beyond the recommended time. Super-heating will take place when you heat plain water in a clean up for too much time.

The water can seem harmless; however, when moved, it may explode out of your cup.

Never heat the water two times; that can add to the super-heating danger.

Adding coffee or sugar granules to the water can help in minimizing the danger of overheating.

  • Do not operate a microwave oven if the door does not shut securely or it is damaged.
  • You should sit the food items directly in the recipe after you remove them from the microwave oven.

This is to make sure that heat can continue spreading and dissipating.

  • Never operate the appliance while it is empty. This may lead to arching and start flames.
  • The food items will be quite hot when you remove them from your appliance, so use microwave oven pads and take care.
  • Ensure that any plastic wrap, plastic containers, and glass you use are labeled “microwave-safe’.

Do not use too much water to wash the interior of a microwave oven.

(Video) How to use microwave oven

You can use a light sprinkling of mild soap and wet tissue. You will then have to use a dry cloth to clean it up and leave the lid open for at least one hour for the smell of the soap to escape.

If you do short of time, then a more natural technique to clean up the interior of your microwave oven is by using lemon and vinegar.


How do you use a microwave oven step by step? ›

  1. Step 1: Read the Owners' Manual. ...
  2. Step 2: Plug the Microwave In. ...
  3. Step 3: Set Up Turntable. ...
  4. Step 4: Put Food in a Microwave-Safe Dish. ...
  5. Step 5: Choose Setting. ...
  6. Step 6: Start Microwave. ...
  7. Step 7: Microwave Maintenance and Cleaning.

What are 5 rules for using a microwave oven? ›

Food safety tips for microwaves
  • Use only containers, lids, and wraps that are microwave-safe. Remove food from any packaging that isn't microwave-safe.
  • Defrost food completely before cooking it in a microwave. ...
  • Cook food immediately after defrosting.
Oct 1, 2018

What is the best way to use a microwave oven? ›

Top 10 tips for cooking in a microwave
  1. Always avoid metal. Never ever put anything metal in the microwave. ...
  2. Separate foods by cooking time. ...
  3. Cut up larger foods to speed up cooking time. ...
  4. Arrange food properly on a microwave-safe surface. ...
  5. Cover with cling film. ...
  6. Don't overfill your container. ...
  7. Pierce for a perfect poach. ...
  8. Clean up.

What are the basics of microwave oven? ›

A device called a magnetron inside the oven produces microwaves. The microwaves reflect off the metal interior of the oven and cause the water molecules in food to vibrate. This vibration results in friction between molecules, which produces heat that cooks the food.

What not to do with microwave oven? ›

11 Things You Should Never Put In The Microwave
  1. Aluminum Foil. It's nice to see sparks fly, but not so much when it comes to reheating your food. ...
  2. Paper Bags. All paper bags are not created equal. ...
  3. Plastic Bags and Plastic Containers. ...
  4. Travel Mugs. ...
  5. Your Favorite Shirt. ...
  6. Hard-boiled Eggs. ...
  7. Hot Peppers. ...
  8. Styrofoam in Microwave.

Should you always cover food in microwave? ›

DON'T leave your food uncovered

It's best practice to cover anything you're cooking in your microwave oven anyway, as it will cook quicker and more consistently. Little pockets of moisture can form in your food and when heated these can lead to explosions.

What are 8 techniques for better microwave cooking? ›

Best Microwave Cooking Tips
  • #1. Use the Right Cookware. One of the most important microwave cooking tips is to use the right cookware. ...
  • #2. Cook Evenly. ...
  • #3. Know Your Microwave's Settings. ...
  • #4. Use the Right Amount of Time. ...
  • #5. Cover Your Food. ...
  • #6. Stir or Flip Your Food. ...
  • #7. Try a Microwave Crisper Pan. ...
  • #8. Avoid Sogginess.

What are the 3 things microwave ovens can be used for? ›

Microwave ovens can be used to reheat and cook food, disinfect kitchen items, make citrus fruits juicier, heat beauty products, roast garlic and de-crystallising honey.

How long should you use a microwave oven? ›

The average microwave oven lasts about seven years with normal use, and even less with heavy use and poor maintenance. A large family may find themselves replacing their appliance every four to five years as they become more reliant on its use to heat up snacks and leftovers, or to defrost meals.

How long does it take to cook meat in the microwave? ›

  1. Place meat in a large glass microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a microwave-safe cover.
  2. Microwave on high for one minute. Use the spoon to break up the meat and recover.
  3. Cook for 2 minutes. ...
  4. Repeat until the meat reaches 160 degrees. ...
  5. Once the meat is to temperature, drain if necessary and season to taste.
Jan 9, 2023

Can you put 2 things in the microwave at once? ›

It's easy. Put your first bowl in the microwave, then put a coffee mug upside down next to it. Next, place your second bowl on top of the coffee mug and voila—a multi-level microwaving system. Now just heat until your heart's content (no more struggling to keep one bowl warm while you wait for the other one to finish).

Should I unplug my microwave when not in use? ›

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends unplugging electrical devices when not in use, predicated on the obvious but nevertheless correct observation that something unplugged can't start fires or shock someone.

Should we stand in front of the microwave oven? ›

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates radiation-emitting products such as microwave ovens, advises against standing directly in front of or up against the oven while it is operating. This will avoid harm from any possible leaks.

Is there a difference between a microwave and a microwave oven? ›

The fundamental difference between a microwave oven and a microwave is their heating method. Microwave ovens use thermal insulation to cook food, whereas microwaves use electromagnetic waves to heat and cook food. Additionally, microwaves are smaller in size and less expensive than microwave ovens.

What food Cannot be microwaved? ›

  • Chili Peppers.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs.
  • Styrofoam.
  • Takeout Containers.
  • Mug of Water.
  • Grapes.
  • Leftover Potatoes.
  • Processed Meats.
Jan 27, 2023

Is it OK to put foil in microwave? ›

Aluminum foil can be safely used in a microwave but certain guidelines must be followed to prevent damage to the oven. The following describes the proper use of aluminum foil when microwaving: Aluminum foil is sometimes used to shield portions of a food item to prevent overcooking.

What is the safest thing to cover food in a microwave? ›

The FDA says those chemicals aren't dangerous. But your safest bet is to check labels carefully and use only the plastic wrap and covers that are specifically approved for microwaves. Want an easier solution? Cover your food with a ceramic plate or with a piece of biodegradable wax paper or paper towel.

Why do you have to leave food to stand in the microwave? ›

Microwave and food manufacturers often recommend leaving food to stand for a few minutes after cooking or defrosting. This is important for safety as it helps to even out the temperatures and eliminate hot spots.

What happens if I forget to cover my food in the microwave? ›

Failing to cover what you're cooking or reheating affects the consistency and heat distribution of the food, potentially leading to unwanted results, explains Today. Because heat circulates inside the oven, lightly covering the plate or container helps the food heat more evenly without overcooking.

Which foods are most successfully cooked in a microwave oven? ›

The microwave is perfect for foods that have a high water content, including fruits, vegetables, and fish. “I have also had success with fish steamed in a bag with white wine and vegetables,” Chef Vellante says.

What is the most important part of cooking foods evenly in a microwave? ›

Instead of placing food in the center, spread it in a circle around the outer edge of the container or plate. The more you spread it out, the better. This makes it easier for the microwaves to reach in and create enough friction to heat the food evenly.

What is the most common use for microwaves? ›

Probably the most frequent everyday application of microwaves is in microwave ovens. The microwave oven relies on the fact that the water molecules present in all different kinds of food actually absorb microwaves of a particular frequency, 2.45 gigahertz.

What are two common uses for microwaves? ›

Applications of microwaves

They are used in communications, radio astronomy, remote sensing, radar, and of course, owing to their heating application, they are used in cooking as well.

What three types of dishes are safe to use in the microwave? ›

Glass and ceramic dishware are usually safe for microwave use, but there are exceptions like crystal and some handmade pottery. When it comes to glass or ceramic plates, bowls, cups, mugs, mixing bowls or bakeware, you should be in the clear as long as it doesn't feature metallic paint or inlays.

Are 30 year old microwaves safe? ›

If you take good care of your microwave up into its old age, there's a low risk of harm, but if it's damaged in any way you may want to get it checked out. If you've looked after it well, there's no reason why a vintage microwave should be dangerous.

How do you know when a microwave is done? ›

If you think your microwave's power is starting to wane, give it a test. Cook one cup of water on high power for two minutes. If it's not piping hot, it may be time to consider a new microwave.

Is a 10 year old microwave safe? ›

The first indicator that your microwave is better off replaced is the five-year lifespan. Microwaves can last a long time, but they have the shortest lifespan of household appliances. If your microwave is over 6 years and especially if it's approaching 10 years old, you're likely better off with a new microwave.

What meat is best to cook in microwave? ›

We've found that the meats that cook best in the microwave are the less tender beef cuts, such as chuck pot roasts, stew meat and rolled rump roasts. Microwave cooking, a moist cooking method, works better for these cuts than for tender cuts, which stew in their own juices and become tough and lose flavor.

Can I cook raw hamburger in the microwave? ›

It is safe to cook ground beef in the microwave if cooked to the safe minimum temperature, 165F degrees. Cooking at a lower power will allow the meat to cook from the center. If you cook it at full power, it will likely burn too quickly on the outside leaving you with a pink center.

Can you put raw meat in microwave? ›

Cooking raw meat in the microwave is safe but the food must reach proper temperatures. Raw beef, pork, and lamb should reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground meats should reach 160 F and all poultry should reach 165 F.

Can you cover a bowl with a plate in the microwave? ›

Covering with plastic, class, ceramic, cardboard does not stop microwave energy. Covering just keeps the steam inside the container, and reduces “spatter". Covering with metal stops microwave energy (and stops the cooking process, too.) The food is completely safe.

How much longer does it take to microwave 2 items? ›

To heat two servings of something, it takes less than twice the time required to heat one.

What metal can go in microwave? ›

Stay safe with metal

Thin and jagged edges can cause a build-up of electromagnetic energy, causing sparks and, in severe cases, fire. This can easily be avoided by only using smooth tin foil, as wrinkled foil has those pesky jagged edges, which is why you can safely use a spoon in the microwave, but not a fork.

Is turning off a power strip the same as unplugging it? ›

Surge protector power strips typically have such switches and help protect your appliances and electronics If you plug all of your products into a power strip and flip off the power strip when these items are not in use, they are truly off. Unplug Your Products.

Is it OK to run a microwave with nothing in it? ›

Answer: Running a microwave while it is empty may cause damage to the unit. When food is in the oven, it absorbs a large fraction of the output from the microwave transmitter. When the oven is empty none, or almost none of the microwaves are absorbed.

Should you unplug everything at night? ›

By getting into the habit of unplugging your computer every night, you'll not only save energy, but you'll also protect your computer from serious damage, as power surges caused by lightning can fry your computer. Better yet, put your home office equipment (computer, printer, scanner, etc.)

Why do people put microwaves above the stove? ›

One of the biggest benefits of an over-the-range microwave is that it also doubles as a vent, essentially functioning as two appliances in one. This is the perfect solution for the average home cook, but for people who do professional cooking in their home kitchens, an over-the-range microwave might not cut it.

Where should you not put a microwave? ›

  1. Never Place a Microwave Too Close to the Window. Any experienced kitchen designer can tell you that placing a microwave oven at a window's frame is a bad idea. ...
  2. Keep a Microwave Out of a Corner Cabinet. ...
  3. Don't Put a Microwave Next to a Refrigerator. ...
  4. A Microwave Next to a Sink Is Asking for Trouble.
Apr 21, 2022

Why do microwave doors have holes? ›

Microwave ovens are designed to keep in radiation. Against the glass, there is a protective mesh screen dotted with tiny holes. These holes are spaced appropriately so that the long microwaves are kept bouncing inside the chamber, while also allowing you to peer through and view your food, explained Jorgensen.

How long does it take to heat up a microwave? ›

Start off heating the leftovers for 2 minutes on high in your microwave, allowing it to sit for at least 1 minute after. If you feel your meal still isn't warm enough for your liking, reheat for an additional 30 seconds on high.

How do I know if my microwave oven is working? ›

How to Test a Microwave for Power Issues
  1. STEP 1 Fill Containers. Pour two cups of water into each glass container. ...
  2. STEP 2 Measure Starting Temperature. ...
  3. STEP 3 Run the Microwave. ...
  4. STEP 4 Measure the Heated Temperature. ...
  5. STEP 5 Find Your Microwave's Wattage Output. ...
  6. STEP 6 Compare Wattage with Advertised Power.
Feb 13, 2023

How do you reheat food in the microwave? ›

Just place the food in a microwave-safe container, add a splash of water (or cover with a damp paper towel) to maintain moisture, and zap it for a minute or two.

How long is 3 minutes on a microwave? ›

How To Convert Microwave Time? Therefore, 3000 seconds is equal to 3 minutes on a microwave. 3 1/2 minutes on a microwave is the same as 210 seconds.

When the microwave is not heating? ›

If your microwave isn't heating food, it's likely that the magnetron in your appliance is broken. Unfortunately, a burned-out magnetron can't be repaired, it has to be replaced. Other issues that can lead to food not being heated, includes a broken diode or a faulty door switch.

Should you put water on food before microwaving? ›

Moisture can help

One way to help get the most out of your microwave is to adjust the moisture of the food you're heating up. To avoid drying food out, you can cover it with a damp paper towel, or sprinkle some water directly on it.

What happens when a microwave runs with nothing in it? ›

Answer: Running a microwave while it is empty may cause damage to the unit. When food is in the oven, it absorbs a large fraction of the output from the microwave transmitter. When the oven is empty none, or almost none of the microwaves are absorbed.

Is a 20 year old microwave safe? ›

If you take good care of your microwave up into its old age, there's a low risk of harm, but if it's damaged in any way you may want to get it checked out. If you've looked after it well, there's no reason why a vintage microwave should be dangerous.

Why is my microwave heating slowly? ›

You may have multiple appliances on the same circuit, which could affect the cooking wattage. Microwaves with low cooking wattage (400-500w) will produce slow results. A 400 watt oven requires approximately 60% more time than a 650 watt model. Ensure that the power level is set correctly for the food being cooked.

Should you cover food when reheating in microwave? ›

It's best practice to cover anything you're cooking in your microwave oven anyway, as it will cook quicker and more consistently. Little pockets of moisture can form in your food and when heated these can lead to explosions.

What is the best way to heat up leftovers? ›

The toaster or toaster oven is usually my go-to reheating appliance because it provides even, gentle heating. If you're worried that food will dry out, just cover it with foil. Aim for a low-temperature oven (no more than 350°F), and check on your food once in a while until it's heated through.

Is it better to reheat food in microwave or? ›

Some nutrients break down when they're exposed to heat, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Vitamin C is perhaps the clearest example. But because microwave cooking times are shorter, cooking with a microwave does a better job of preserving vitamin C and other nutrients that break down when heated.


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