What Can You Bake In A Microwave?
You’ve probably seen a Tik Tok or YouTube video of someone claiming to make brownies and even cakes in the microwave at some point. Perhaps you shrugged it off as a hoax or didn’t pay it much attention because you prefer your oven anyway.
Let’s discuss this, shall we? Perhaps your microwave can do more than heat last night's leftovers and pop popcorn!
Can You Bake In A Microwave?
Short answer, yes. It’s a simple concept really. Microwave ovens heat or cook food by emitting microwaves. The turntable inside spins to ensure that food is cooked evenly. Typically, after a few seconds to a few minutes, persons remove their now hot or cooked food.
Stove ovens heat food by either burning propane (gas), or by heating an electrical or metal component to produce heat in the oven’s chamber. This is a slower method of transferring heat to food, but it is generally more consistent.
A microwave is used to bake smaller items, to save you time, energy, and the clean-up effort. Compare using the larger amount of energy it would take to heat an oven to bake four muffins instead of a microwave oven that has a much smaller area, thus requiring less heat energy.
Okay, now compare having to bake seven cakes for a bake sale. It would make more sense to bake them in the oven than a microwave where you would have to repeat that process seven times.
What Can You Bake In A Microwave?
Before we explore what you can bake in the microwave, let’s take a look at the obvious, i.e things you can’t bake in a microwave.
For instance, if you have a 12-inch oven, you can't possibly bake a 14-inch pizza. If you’re planning to bake cookies, you know that the dough spreads and you’ll end up with one giant cookie in such a small space.
How about what you can actually bake? Well, how about some good ol’ lasagna for dinner, or some macaroni and cheese? A microwave is great for making salmon, spaghetti squash, risotto, and baked chicken. You can make some delicious stuffed Irish potatoes, or some sweet potatoes as a side, or a bowl of steaming hot white rice.
Microwaves are perfect for baking light meal options such as quesadillas, enchiladas, or some monkey bread. For a snack, you can make potato chips, tomato chips, and sweet potato chips. Roasted nuts are great for holding you over till your next mealtime, and you can bake those as well as a mini pizza in your microwave oven.
How About Dessert?
Yes, they are perfect for dessert as well. Think “small, and doesn’t require a lot of space”.
So, your list should already include cupcakes, brownies, and mug cakes. It will now include granola bars, fudges, curds, chocolate barks, truffles, puddings, and whatever tiny desserts pop up in your mind.
Is Special Bakeware Needed?
If you have bakeware made out of metal, you will definitely need special bakeware. Microwaves are unable to pass through metals properly and as a result, your foods and desserts won't cook evenly, if at all. It may also spark fires, damage your microwave, and put your life at risk.
If you have silicone molds that are small enough for the microwave, then you might be able to get away with using them once the manufacturer states they are microwave friendly.
Glass cookware can work as well, depending on what you plan to bake, so can a ceramic mug for all those mug cake recipes.
If you're just craving a late-night dessert or want to try out a quick experiment, your ordinary bakeware can work as long as the container is small enough and microwave friendly.
However, if this is something you plan to do often, you may notice certain inconsistencies since ordinary bakeware was never made for that purpose.
The thing is, microwaves produce heat using a different method than regular ovens. Thus, adjustments are necessary to facilitate the difference.
Microwave bakeware is less likely to deform, melt, damage the microwave, or leach toxic components into food than other forms of baking equipment. They allow microwaves to penetrate easily, but the bakeware will not get too hot to the point that the food burns, or is too hot to handle.
Microwave bakeware is generally made of ceramic, glass, silicone, wax paper, parchment paper, and even stoneware. These are typically plain and do not include any form of metallic component, or paints that can leach or start fires.
When buying microwave bakeware, besides the material it is made of, size should be your biggest concern.
Microwave Baking Safety Tips
You may be saying to yourself that it’s just a microwave and you’ve been using one your entire life so what’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is that it’s still an electronic device and if used incorrectly, you risk damage to the device, to property, and even loss of life.
So the first safety tip is to follow the manufacturer's instructions. They typically come with a user manual and may have specific instructions and warnings re certain cooking methods and user practices.
Once you’ve done that, check out these tips directly related to microwave baking:
- Use microwave suitable bakeware- We already outlined that metal is a poor idea, and that ceramic, glass, and silicone are great for baking, but not that not all are made the same.
Some glassware may shatter, and ceramic may crack. Unsuitable silicone will deform and change color easily. Thus, ensure that whatever you put in the microwave has specified that it is suitable for use in the microwave.
- Ensure there is no leakage- Imagine leaving your muffins in the oven to bake and when you come back they are a puddled mess, or worse, have started leaking out of the microwave!
When baking, there is little need for human interaction so chances are you won’t be checking your baked goods or food often enough to stop something like that in its tracks. The best thing you can do is to check your bakeware beforehand to ensure there are no cracks or leaks.
- Ensure the microwave door is shut- While many manufacturers have safeguards against this, meaning the microwave won’t start unless the door is shut, some don’t. This allows increased microwave radiation to escape from the oven, far above “safe” regulation levels, and can have several health effects, primarily cancer.
- Ensure the bakeware fits comfortably on the turntable- If the bakeware can barely fit in the oven, don’t even try it. This will prevent the turntable from spinning and you might end up with unevenly baked food.
This may also damage the turntable as it is not able to overcome the resistance from the container which may damage its sensors or spinning mechanism.
- Bake food in a covered container- When cooking meats, vegetables, and any food items in the microwave, ensure that is covered. This will help to prevent heat from escaping and will help food to cook evenly.
- Always use a food thermometer with meat- The best way to tell meat has finished baking is by checking its internal temperature. A microwave may trick you since outside will be hot, and may appear ready.
Cold spots in food harbor bacteria and other microorganisms that can make you sick. The minimum ideal internal temperature is 165℉.
- Clean, clean, clean - After each meal made, dessert created, or leftovers reheated, it is important to clean your microwave oven. This prevents harmful microorganisms from thriving and contaminating whatever you put in the microwave next.
It will also prevent the odors of older baked items from mixing with the flavors and odors of newly baked items.
Pros and Cons of Baking In A Microwave
By now you’ve probably started wondering if you should ditch your oven completely and start baking all your goodies in the microwave. Well, should you? Check out these pros and cons of baking in a microwave before you decide:
- It uses less energy- It has been estimated that microwaves use about 75% less energy than an oven when doing a similar activity. This is especially great if you have a gas stove.
- It’s perfect for experimenting- If you see a peanut brittle recipe online that you’ve just been dying to try out, a microwave is perfect for a trial run before you make a huge batch for the oven.
- It’s more kid-friendly- Microwaves allow your kids to enjoy baking from a young age with minimal supervision. Many kids are also scared of big, hot ovens and would much prefer a smaller device to make their treats.
- Not all microwaves can be used for baking- While most people have convection microwaves, others have grill or solo ovens which are either for grilling purposes or simple heating and defrosting. The latter are unsuitable for baking.
- You can’t bake large items- Microwaves are limited in terms of space so you can’t expect to bake a huge birthday cake for your kid’s birthday in one. They are however perfect for smaller items.
- They only facilitate single level baking- Even if you only want to bake brownies, you can only do so on one level, whereas an oven has multiple levels for baking. This means you will have to bake again or settle with less baked goods.
3 Simple Microwave Baking Recipes
Interested in trying out microwave baking? Here are 3 quick recipes that anyone can enjoy!
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp Vanilla
- 3tbsp milk
Mix ingredients in a small bowl then add to bakeware. Microwave for 3 minutes or till cooked through.
Cheesy Baked Potato
- 1 large Irish potato
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
- Pinch of pepper and salt
Clean the potato then make small holes or slices with a knife or fork. Place in bakeware and microwave for 5 minutes. Turn over then microwave for 5 more minutes till soft.
Remove, and cut in half without slicing the potato completely open. Add salt, pepper, butter, and cheese.
Microwave for another minute to melt butter and cheese.
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese (grated)
- 6 small boneless chicken breast halves
- 1 beaten egg
- ⅔ cup mozzarella cheese
- Parsley (to garnish)
Combine tomato sauce and seasoning in bakeware, cover, and microwave for 2 minutes on the highest setting, then reduce to medium for 3-5 minutes until it begins to simmer. Mix and set aside.
Grease another baking container lightly, and set aside.
Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, and parsley and set aside.
Drench chicken in the beaten egg and roll in the mixture you've set aside before placing in greased bakeware. Cover, and microwave on high for 6 minutes, turn, then microwave for another 6 minutes.
Pour tomato mixture you set aside first over the chicken, and add mozzarella. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until cooked (juices run clear). Garnish with parsley.