How to Cook Real Food in a Microwave

A helpful guide for cooks on a tight schedule.

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Microwaves are some of the easiest appliances to use, as long as the food you're making comes with directions. But if you're like many home cooks, you probably stand in front of your microwave scratching your head if you need to microwave stuff that doesn't come in a box, like broccoli or corn on the cob.

Or maybe you run to the internet for help. That's where we come in. We've compiled simple directions for microwaving some of the most common household foods, including veggies, potatoes, and eggs. These instructions will get you delicious results without the hassles of traditional cooking.

1. Steamed Vegetables


It might seem like treason to "serious" cooks, but microwaves are a great tool for quickly steaming veggies. Even celebrity chefs like Rick Bayless do it all the time.

The amount of time it takes to steam your vegetables will vary depending on the plant in question, but the general idea is the same. Simply cut up your veggie of choice, put it in a bowl with some water, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and heat it up.

For broccoli, The Kitchn recommends microwaving florets on high for 3 to 4 minutes, adding just a few tablespoons of water. For other common vegetables and veggie mixes, WikiHow suggests starting with 5 minutes, then adding 1-minute increments as necessary to achieve the desired doneness.

2. Eggs

Believe it or not, you can cook eggs in the microwave—even in different preparations. You can cook sunny-side up, scrambled, or poached. But don't ever attempt to hard boil an egg in the microwave. This can be very dangerous, since there's a good chance the egg will explode.

For sunny-side up eggs, Chow.com notes that the easiest solution is to crack an egg onto a buttered or oiled plate. Then just poke a hole in the top of the yolk (so it doesn't explode), and put it in the microwave for 45 seconds. If the whites are still runny, continue to microwave the egg in 15-second increments.

Don't ever attempt to hard boil an egg in the microwave. Tweet It


If you prefer your eggs scrambled, IncredibleEgg.org has a very simple recipe. All you do is plop a few eggs in an oil-sprayed mug, whisk them, add a splash of milk, and microwave for 45 seconds. The eggs will probably still be a little runny, so give 'em a stir and zap for another 30 to 45 seconds. Then feel free to add cheese or any other toppings you desire.

Finally, if you want fluffy poached eggs to smother with hollandaise sauce, Bon Appetit writes that your microwave will work wonders. All you need to do is fill a bowl with half a cup of water, drop in the egg, cover the bowl with a saucer, and microwave it on high for 1 minute.

3. "Baked" Potatoes


While microwaves can't technically bake food, you can still use them to make "baked" white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Better Homes and Gardens has a recipe for sweet potatoes, while AllRecipes.com has one for white potatoes. Long story short, they're essentially the same.

Simply poke holes all over the potato with a fork and microwave it for 10 minutes, making sure to flip it over halfway through. You should end up with a soft, delicious potato ready to drown in sour cream, butter, and cheese.

4. Corn on the Cob


While we already covered steaming vegetables in the microwave, corn on the cob needs a little extra attention. The Kitchn reports that you can easily microwave corn by leaving it in the husk. You can put in up to four ears of corn and microwave them for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how many ears you put in and how big they are.

Once they're done cooking, let them cool and they'll be ready to shuck and eat.

5. Rice (and Risotto)


This grain has equally simple microwave instructions. According to Real Simple, you can cook 1 cup of rice by combining it with 2 cups of water and half a teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Then, microwave the rice for 15 to 18 minutes. When it's done, fluff the rice with a fork and enjoy.

If you want to get a little fancier, you can even cook excellent risotto in the microwave. We love this basic recipe from AllRecipes.com, which combines butter, garlic, onion, veggie broth, white wine, parmesan, and of course Arborio rice in a dead simple 20-minute, all-microwave process. Delizioso!

BONUS: Bacon

This one's for all my fellow bacon lovers out there. Yep, it might sound sacrilegious, but you can totally cook bacon in the microwave.


The Kitchn recommends lining a dish with four layers of paper towels, with a single layer of bacon on top. Top all that with more paper towels to prevent splatter.

You can add more layers of bacon and towels, depending on how much bacon you want to cook, but you a good rule of thumb is 1 minute of cooking time per slice. If it's not done after that, keep adding cook time in 30-second increments until it's as crispy as you'd like.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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