Although most of us can’t imagine functioning without one, it’s no secret that the microwave gets a bad rap as a cop-out method to reheat leftovers or nuke a mediocre frozen meal. Yes, there are some foods that just aren’t as good when reheated in the microwave versus the oven (looking at you, last night’s pizza delivery), but the fact is, there are plenty of foods and recipes that taste just as good microwaved as they do cooked over a stovetop. Here are 10 new food tricks to try in the microwave. For more cooking advice, meal prep tips, and easy weeknight recipes, subscribe to the Eat This, Not That! magazine—and get 50 percent off the cover price!
According to Shauna Sacco, RD, certified personal trainer in Houston, microwave cooking actually conserves the most nutrients compared with other cooking methods. “On such example is microwave-steamed broccoli. Cut and trim a head of broccoli and place in a microwave safe bowl, add 1-2 ounces of water, cover with microwave-safe plate or cover. Microwave on high for two minutes, stir, microwave again for 1-2 minutes or until desired softness. Dress with a pinch of sea salt and the juice of two lemons for a simple and delicious healthy side,” she said.
You can similarly also cook steamed corn on the cob in the microwave. According to chef Matt Abdoo of Pig Bleecker and Pig Beach restaurants in New York City, if you leave corn in the husks and microwave on high for three to four minutes before letting it rest for two minutes, you’ll have perfectly cooked corn that has been “steamed” in its own flavor. “This trick is great because all the flavor of the corn stays in the corn and doesn’t dilute into a giant pot of boiling water,” Abdoo said.
Making a salad dressing? Nuking your lemons before adding them to your dressing will help. Place your lemons in the microwave for 10-20 seconds before squeezing them. “This trick will actually allow you to squeeze out a lot more juice,” Sacco said.
“If you’re in a pinch and want fewer dishes to clean, you can microwave your scrambled eggs in the same bowl you’ll eat them from,” Sacco said. For a quick and flavorful recipe, simply whisk three eggs in a microwave-safe bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper, one-ounce of half-and-half (optional), one-ounce grated cheddar cheese, and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Microwave on high for one minute, stir and repeat until eggs are fluffy.
As a semi-competitive long-distance runner, my current favorite pre-race and pre-long run breakfast is oatmeal, and my current go-to recipe happens to be microwaveable. This is a huge advantage when you might be staying in a hotel without access to a stove, and, as with the scrambled eggs, it also makes for fewer dishes to clean.
You might be skeptical about this tip, but Rich Vellante, the executive chef of Legal Sea Foods restaurants, says that microwave cooking is definitely preferable to grilling or steaming lobsters. “Microwaving allows the flesh to steam in its own juices and the lobster meat is rendered juicy, tender, and exceptionally flavorful,” he told Reader’s Digest. “Cooked in a microwave, the meat retains its brininess and stays firm, yet is very tender and juicy…the cooking happens from the inside out versus conventional cooking.”
Lee Anne Wong, a chef at Koko Head Café in Honolulu shared this quick snack tip with Epicurious. Simply spread nuts such as peanuts, almonds, pine nuts or cashews on a microwave-proof plate, and heat at 70 percent strength for two minutes. Stir and continue microwaving in 30-second intervals—stirring in between—until the nuts are golden and toasted. It takes about three to six minutes before enjoying them lightly salted or incorporating them in another recipe.
Abdoo recommends layering pepperoni slices on a paper towel and microwaving them for crispy meat bites. “These are great to use as a low-carb chip for any dip or cheese accompaniment,” he said. “The paper towels absorb all the excess fat and make them healthier to eat as well.”
Poke a few holes in a medium-to-large beet using a fork and microwave on high for eight to 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, per Abdoo’s advice. “You will have perfectly cooked, oil-free beets without the time commitment of roasting for hours,” he said.
Mix your favorite standard boxed cake mix and pour about four to six ounces in a large 14- to 16-ounce mug, Abdoo says. Microwave on high for three minutes for a light and light and fluffy cake. Pull from the microwave and top with a scoop of ice cream for a perfectly portioned individual cake and ice cream in a mug.
Chef Thomas Chen of Tuome recommends brushing fresh herbs with a bit of olive oil before microwaving them for one minute on each side and then topping them on the dish you’re preparing. This will help bring out the herbs’ natural flavors to further enhance your dish.