18 Ways You’re Using Your Microwave All Wrong

The art of microwaving is about more than just pressing the “popcorn” button. If you’re making any of these microwave mistakes, you’re using your microwave wrong.

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You don't cook your veggies in it

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Believe it or not, the plain old microwave might trump all the chef-y cooking techniques you use to cook your veggies. Vegetables retain their highest nutrient content the less they’re exposed to heat and water. That means nuking your broccoli will preserve more vitamin C and cancer-fighting glucosinolate than pretty much any other method (besides stovetop steaming); plus, it’ll leave you with fewer dirty pans to scrub later. Here are other foods you’re probably eating wrong.

You never use the pause button

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If you’re in a time crunch, delaying your microwave meal is probably the last thing you want to do. But pressing the pause button can actually save you a lot of time down the line when you’re not hugging the toilet for hours. It’s important to stir leftovers and ready-to-eat frozen meals halfway through the reheating process; this allows the food to cook evenly and prevents any cold spots from lingering, which are a breeding ground for bacteria that could make you sick. Here’s the truth about common food poisoning myths.

You reheat hardboiled eggs

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Never, ever reheat a hardboiled egg still in its shell! Doing so could cause a mini explosion, complete with a loud pop and bits of shell and smelly egg splattered all over the inside of your microwave. Peel the egg first, then gently warm it up. Here’s how to make your eggs even healthier.

You microwave plastic containers

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Unless the container says “microwave safe,” don’t put it in the microwave. Many plastic storage and takeout containers contain chemicals (BPA is one) that some studies suggest may be linked to health problems like diabetes, infertility, and heart disease; they can leach into your food during the cooking process. (Related: These are other surprising habits that could cause diabetes.)

You haven't used it to dry herbs

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If you don’t want to wait around for your fresh hanging herbs to dry out when the growing season ends, pop them in the microwave. Sandwich fresh herbs in a single layer between two paper towels. Then microwave in 30-second intervals until they reach your desired dryness.

You don't use it to peel garlic

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Say goodbye to tediously peeling clove after clove of garlic. You can microwave a whole head of garlic for about 20 seconds and the cloves will slip out of their peels effortlessly, without the garlic-scented fingers.

You don't prepare Sunday breakfast in the microwave

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Sunday morning breakfast just got a lot easier and cleaner because you can cook bacon and eggs right in the microwave. Lay bacon between two pieces of paper towel or on a covered plate. Microwave in one-minute intervals until it’s the perfect crispiness; not only does it take less time than the stovetop method, it also saves you a greasy mess. You can also cook scrambled eggs and omelets in a microwave-safe bowl. Zap for about one to two minutes per egg; stir halfway through for scrambled. Here’s how you might be messing up your weekend pancakes.

You don't know its wattage

iStock/Maximkostenko

Not all microwaves are created equal, and if you don’t know your model’s wattage you could find yourself in trouble. Many premade meals require a certain wattage to properly heat up the food; following the recommended cook time could still leave you with undercooked and possibly contaminated food if you’re not heating it at the proper wattage, too. Most midsized to large microwaves are typically between 850 and 1,650 watts, while more compact ones tend to be between 600 and 800 watts, according to Consumer Reports. If your oven is smaller than what’s printed on the package, heat your food for a little longer to ensure it’s fully cooked. And if you don’t know its wattage, this simple test can help you figure it out.

You've never microwaved potato chips

iStock/HaywardGaude

No, don’t dump a bag of chips in a bowl and shove it in the microwave. Make healthy homemade potato chips without ever turning on your oven or the deep fryer. Slice potatoes or sweet potatoes as thinly as possible (carefully use a mandolin if you have one). Spray with cooking oil or brush with olive oil and arrange them in a single layer on a plate. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (and black pepper if you like spice) and heat uncovered for three minutes, then flip and cook for three more. But don’t grab them just yet! It’s important to let them fully cool, since this is when they crisp up into the crunchy bite you know and love. Here are more favorite foods you can make in the microwave.

You're not making microwave lattes

iStock/woolzian

You don’t need a fancy machine to make the perfect latte or cappuccino. Once you brew the espresso on the stove or in a coffeemaker, you can create that creamy finishing foam right in your microwave. Fill a lidded jar about halfway with milk and shake vigorously. Remove the lid and microwave for 30 seconds. Voila! You have warm milk to pour and fluffy foam to scoop on top.

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