Whenever you use a microwave oven, you need to make sure that the dishes or packaging you are placing in the oven are microwave-safe. This is very important to ensure your food is safe to eat, and to prevent dangerous accidents. It’s pretty easy to find microwave-safe dishes, and most people probably already own quite a few. There is also a plentiful supply of microwave dishes and containers you can buy in supermarkets, discount and department stores. When it comes to pre-packaged foods, always check to make sure the packaging is in fact microwave-safe, even for specific microwave meals and foods.
Choosing Microwave-Safe Dishes
Follow the guidelines below when choosing which dishes, items and packaging to use when microwaving, to ensure safe microwave use.
Note: It is important to note that certain microwave models may have some differences in which dishes can and can’t be used. A microwave convection oven which can be used for both microwave and convection cooking, may allow for some dishes to be used whilst cooking in convection mode only but not in microwave mode, such as convection oven only dishes. This can get a little confusing, especially if you are using combination microwave and convection modes. You don’t want to accidentally cook in combination or microwave mode with a convection only dish. For this reason, even in convection only mode, I stick to microwave-safe dishes like Pyrex or many glassware or stoneware dishes.
Which Dishes are OK to use in a Microwave Oven?
The easiest way to check whether a dish is microwave-safe is to turn it upside down. Many dishes will have printed on the bottom “microwave-safe, freezer-safe or oven-safe” etc. If this is the case, then you are in luck and the dish is microwave-safe. These are usually porcelain or ceramic plates, bowls and mugs, special microwave-safe plastic dishes, or glass and Pyrex containers or casserole dishes.
When looking at dinner plates and bowls, first check to see if they are labeled as microwave-safe. If not, are they porcelain? Porcelain as well as stoneware are better choices to use than ceramic dishes. Earthenware is another story as well, as it depends on the making of it. With ceramic dishes, there is a chance that they are low fired, and when heated may cause an explosion. So be in the safe side, and use specifically marked microwave-safe dishes, otherwise look to porcelain, stone and glass dishes.
Another surefire way to know if a dish is microwave-safe, is to check the label it comes with before purchasing. For items you already own, glass containers are usually a good option, as most are microwave-safe (look for heatproof glass and dishes made from all glass with no metal).
When looking at plastic dishes, be sure to only use plastic dishes which are clearly labeled as microwave-safe as a lot of plastic is not and can melt in the microwave and can be very toxic. See below for a list of unusable plastic items, but to be on the safe side buy yourself some microwaveable dishes and containers which are clearly labeled if you do not own any. You can also buy microwave-safe plastic wrap, but when using try not to have the plastic touching the food, and leave a small opening for steam to get through when cooking.
Many paper items which are not coated in plastic are usually suitable for microwave use, such as plain white paper plates, paper cups, paper towels, napkins and oven cooking bags. Although to be 100% sure, check to see if it is labeled microwave-safe. Papers such as wax, baking and parchment paper are often ok to microwave, and will be marked as microwave-safe, but it’s a good idea to check.
Microwave frozen dinners and other microwave foods will often be packaged in a heat-susceptor package or tray, which can be used inside the microwave. But it is important to note, that these trays which come with microwave meals are designed to be used only once, so it is not a good idea to keep the trays after use.
Bags can only be used in the microwave if they are oven cooking bags or other specific microwave cooking bags.
Baskets such as those made from wood or straw can usually be ok to microwave, but it is a good idea to use microwave-safe paper towels or napkins to line the basket first. These can be handy for warming up bread rolls.
Which Dishes are NOT OK to use in a Microwave Oven?
A big no-no for microwave use is metal. To be on the safe side, never place anything made out of metal or something which is part metal in your microwave. This includes any metal (including steel and aluminum) pans, trays, and containers of any kind. Remember to be careful not to leave metal utensils in your dish, check to make sure there are no metal ties or foil bits on microwaveable packaging, and avoid the use of aluminum foil.
Plastic is also a concern when it comes to microwave dish safety. Only use plastic dishes and plastic wrap which has been clearly labeled as microwave-safe. And be careful not to overheat these products. Plastic containers such as take-away containers, plastic packages, plastic food tubs, storage bags, grocery bags, plastic coated paper dishes, plastic wrap, and plastic Tupperware not labeled as microwave-safe should not be used.
Some paper items are also not microwave-safe, so be sure to check the labeling. Some paper bags and wrappings are not suitable for microwave use, such as recycled paper or brown bags, as well as newspaper, which is never microwave friendly. You can buy microwave-safe wax, parchment and baking papers, microwave-safe paper plates and cups, paper towels and napkins as well as microwaveable paper bags.
And last, but certainly not least, do not place any foam, partly foam or Styrofoam dishes or packaging in the microwave.
Quick Microwave Dish Check List:
Microwave Suitable Dishes:
- specifically labeled microwave-safe dishes, utensils and containers. – This is your best choice.
- porcelain, stoneware, some ceramic (check), and some earthenware (check) dishes.
- glass dishes – heat-proof
- microwave-safe labeled plastic dishes – be careful not to overheat.
- microwave-safe labeled plastic wrap
- non-coated plain white paper plates and cups (check to be sure)
- most paper towels and napkins
- papers like wax, baking and parchment paper labeled microwave-safe
- heat-susceptor packages or trays like those that come with microwave frozen dinners and other microwaveable foods – can only be used once.
- oven cooking and microwave use specific bags
- wood and straw baskets
Non Microwave-Safe Dishes:
- metal utensils, including steel and aluminum
- metal pans and trays – including steel and aluminum
- aluminum foil
- items with wire ties on them
- steel and aluminum items of any kind
- plastic containers including non microwave-safe Tupperware, mixing bowls, food packaging tubs, take-away containers, or any other plastic item not labeled as microwave-safe.
- plastic wrap which is not labeled microwave-safe
- paper items, bags or wrappings not labeled microwave-safe
- grocery bags
- Styrofoam or foam insulated items and dishes
- food and its packages, containers or dishes which have melted or warped from being heated.
Follow these guidelines for safe microwave use. To make it easier on yourself, purchase or put aside a few dishes, containers, lids, wrap and paper which you know for a fact are microwave-safe. You will then always have something ready and handy so using your microwave oven to cook can efficient and easy.