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How Do I Choose the Best Microwave Cookware?

By Kay Paddock
Updated May 16, 2024
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Microwave cookware allows you to make a variety of meals, snacks, and desserts quickly in your microwave oven, but unfortunately, not all cooking and serving dishes can be used safely in a microwave. The best microwave cookware needs to be completely safe to use and be in sizes with which you commonly cook. A big benefit to some types of glass microwave cookware is that it can also be used in an oven or on a stove top. You can choose between plain cookware and a number of specialty pieces that are each designed for just one purpose.

Food safety is important, so first check the cookware to be sure it is microwave safe. Metal pans, for instance, can not be used in a microwave because the waves bounce off instead of penetrating their surfaces. Glass and plastic are the most common materials used in microwave oven cookware. Not all glass and plastic dishes are safe, however; while most glass is suitable, many plastics can be dangerous to use in a microwave.

You should never reuse disposable plastic containers, such as those you purchase filled with butter or whipped topping. Microwavable plastics such as those found in frozen dinners and other products should also never be reused. In fact, any plastic bowls or containers that are not specifically labeled as microwave safe should not be used, as these can melt in varying degrees, allowing potentially dangerous chemicals from the plastic to leach into the food.

Most glass cookware should be safe and can generally be used in a regular oven or on the stove top as well. Most packages will state that the glass is microwavable and indicate whether or not it is suitable for oven and stove top use. Some glass cookware does not mention microwave ovens one way or the other, but you can usually test any dish you already own by microwaving it empty for about one minute. Add a small microwave-safe container of water next to the dish to help protect the oven. Glass cookware that is safe to use should still feel completely cool to the touch after the oven stops, but if you are in doubt, it is probably safest not to use it for cooking.

Once you determine which microwave cookware pieces are safe, you can choose the sizes and designs you want, keeping the size of your oven in mind. Not all microwaves are the same size, so a large or long dish might not fit properly, and it is important to note that cookware should not touch the walls of the microwave. In addition to basic cooking pans, you can choose from a variety of colorful designs to match your kitchen. You can also opt for several pieces of specialty microwave cookware, such as bacon cookers, popcorn poppers, egg poachers, water kettles, and other items. Some of these may be worth adding to your cookware collection if you plan to use them regularly.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Nov 24, 2013

I usually use plastic, microwave safe cookware in the microwave. In addition to being labeled as microwave safe, I also make sure that the cookware is made with safe plastic. The ones that have a triangle with the number five inside on the bottom are made from safe plastic. Other types of plastic are dangerous for health.

I should warn those who use plastic cookware in the microwave however, that the lids of some are actually not microwavable. So it's not enough to check the cookware, the lids need to be checked too.

I recently bought a plastic cookware set and saw that the lids had the non-microwavable sign on it. I was shocked at first, but realized that it's just the lids. The actually cookware is microwavable. It's good to know.

By fify — On Nov 24, 2013

@SarahGen-- I use porcelain cups and bowls in the microwave but mine are labeled as "microwave safe." You can probably use yours, but it might be a good idea to call the manufacturer to double check.

Or do the microwave test with a microwavable mug filled with water and the porcelain. Let the microwave run for thirty seconds and then one minute. If the porcelain is hot and the mug is cold, the porcelain is not microwavable. You can do this test with any questionable cookware.

I specifically bought microwavable cookware for this reason, because I don't want to have to test all the cookware I have.

By SarahGen — On Nov 23, 2013

Is porcelain microwave safe? I bought a porcelain cookware set that I really like. But I'm not sure if I can use it in the microwave. The box doesn't mention anything.

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