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16 Foods You Had No Clue You Could Microwave

Think your microwave is only good for heating frozen dinners? Use these microwave hacks to froth milk, soften sugar, whip up French toast, and more.

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Peel garlic quickly

Nuke garlic bulbs for 15 seconds and the skin will slide off like magic. The water in the garlic steams and breaks down the bond between the clove and the skin for fast removal.

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Rescue stale bread

Oops! If you forgot to completely close your bread or bagel bag, simply wrap the loaf in a moist paper towel and zap it in the microwave for 20-second increments. The moisture from the towel will soak into the bread to make it taste fresh again, but not enough to make it soggy. Note: Not everything belongs in the microwave, especially these 12 things you need to stop putting in the microwave.

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Juice fruit with ease

Before juicing an orange or lemon, microwave the uncut fruit for 10 seconds. The microwave will loosen the fibers inside the fruit and make it easier to juice every last drop.

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Toast nuts fast

Put a handful of nuts in a microwave-safe bowl, toss with a little oil, and microwave in 60-second increments, stirring after each minute. Overall cooking time varies depending on the type of nut, but expect it to take around five minutes. This trick also works for pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Do these tricks make you wonder what else you’re missing about the world? These curious facts will clue you in. 

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De-clump brown sugar

When your brown sugar is as hard as a rock, try this. Moisten a paper towel, place it in the sugar bag, then zap in the microwave for 25 seconds. The moisture from the towel will transfer to the sugar and make it easier to scoop. You’ll also want to read up on these other baking tips that may surprise you.

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Speed bread making

Itching to make homemade pizza crust or bread? Yeast dough can take hours to rise at room temperature, but your microwave can proof yeast dough in about 15 minutes. Place an 8-ounce cup of water in the back of the microwave. Put the dough in a microwave-safe bowl in the center of the microwave and heat on the lowest power for three minutes. Let it sit in the microwave for three minutes. Heat the dough for three minutes more and then let it rest for six minutes. Your dough has now doubled in size and is ready for baking.

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Smooth crystallized honey

If your glass jar of honey has crystallized in the back of your pantry, simply remove the lid, and heat it in the microwave in 30 to 40 second increments until it returns to its original smooth texture. Be sure to not microwave your honey in those plastic bear-shaped containers. And don’t fall for these 18 ways you’re using your microwave wrong, either.

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Peel veggie skin faster

Hard squashes and root vegetables can be tough to peel. To make the job easier, place the vegetable in your microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on low power and the skin should be more pliable for peeling and cutting—just be careful when removing the hot veggie so you don’t burn your fingers. When it comes to preparing other foods, read up on these ways to cook practically everything else faster.

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Slice onions easier

To avoid crying when chopping, wash an onion, trim its ends, and microwave for 30 seconds before cutting. You tear up while chopping onions because the knife damages the onion’s cells, causing the release of sulphuric gas. This gas reacts with tear ducts and irritates the eye. Heating the onion first breaks apart the enzymes that trigger the gas release.

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Cook crispier bacon

Place a bowl upside down on a plate. Drape bacon strips over the bowl, then microwave for one minute per slice of bacon. As its grease drips onto the plate, the bacon will become mouthwateringly crispy.

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Froth milk

Skip buying an expensive cappuccino machine. Instead, pour milk into a mason jar, no more than half full (to leave room for foam). Screw on the lid and vigorously shake for 30 to 60 seconds. The milk will turn to froth. Remove the lid and microwave for 30 seconds so the foam rises. Pour into your favorite coffee. You’ll also be interested in these brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Prepare quinoa

For a quick dinner side, rinse and place 1 cup of quinoa in a bowl. Add 2 cups water. Cover and cook for six minutes. Remove, stir, and heat for 2 more minutes. Allow the quinoa to sit for 5 to 10 minutes to absorb the remaining water.

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Concoct French toast

Care for brunch in five minutes? Rub a pat of butter on the bottom of a mug; fill to the top with chopped bread. In a separate cup, mix 1 egg, 3 tablespoons milk, and a sprinkle of cinnamon with a fork. Pour mixture into the cup and microwave for one minute. Seems like a fancy meal to make in a microwave, doesn’t it? Just wait til you find out what other foods that professional chefs cook in the microwave.

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Soften collard greens

Collard greens make delicious, healthy wraps, but are prone to cracking and splitting when stiff. To relax a leaf for a wrap, wash well and microwave for 10 seconds. It will be just flexible enough to roll easily. But remember that leafy greens are among the foods you should never reheat in a microwave.

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Soak beans quickly

Forgot to soak beans overnight? Place beans in a large dish and add 3 cups water for every 1 cup of dry beans. Microwave on high until boiling (about 12 to 15 minutes). Remove from the microwave and allow to sit for 1 hour. Drain beans and rinse with cool water.

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Flavor butter

Try a twist on classic bread and butter. Microwave 1 stick of cubed unsalted butter for 30-second intervals, until melted. Add a pinch of salt and fresh sage leaves. Continue heating in 30-second intervals until fragrant. Drizzle on bread for an earthy, savory flavor. Now that you’ve learned some cooking hacks, it’s time to reveal which cooking mistakes could actually be making your food toxic.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest