How To Prevent Food Exploding in the Microwave

Microwaves are essential tools in the kitchen today, as they make it so much easier to reheat food and prepare other dishes. However, many people struggle with food exploding in the microwave. If you’re frustrated with exploding food, there are ways in which you can prevent it.

To prevent your food from exploding in the microwave you can poke holes in whole foods to let out steam and place lids on loosely to prevent any liquids from exploding and causing a mess. The explosion is caused by a build-up of steam within the food that explodes.

Exploding food in a microwave can be annoying, wasteful and hard to clean so read on for tips on how to stop food from exploding in your microwave.

Learn What Causes Food To Explode

Before you can prevent microwave messes, you need to understand that a buildup of steam causes them. Microwave ovens use microwave radiation to heat your food, which is not harmful to people, but they can lead to messes when trapped water is in your meal.

As the food heats, the water inside also gets hot, causing it to transform into its gaseous form. Since microwaves can reach through to the center of your meal, it causes inner water to transform. When the steam can’t get out of the food, the expansion causes it to burst.

Have you ever tried to cook an egg in the microwave? Eggs have a very high concentration of water, which causes them to explode easily. 

Steam is why you often see frozen meals with the step “poke holes in plastic cover.” These holes allow the steam to exit the dish so it doesn’t splatter all over the inside of your appliance. 

You can easily apply this method to anything you want to heat in your microwave oven.

How a Microwave Oven Works

Microwaves still work the same way they did 50 years ago, although they look nicer now. The oven works by transferring microwaves into your food, which is how the appliance got its name. 

The waves come from inside a magnetron and travel into your meal, which causes energy to build up in the water molecules, which then heat the rest of the food. However, if heated too quickly without a way to escape, the water turns into steam, causing a mess.

This short video explains how microwave ovens work in detail:

Methods To Prevent Food Splattering

There are many different methods to prevent food from exploding in your microwave oven. 

Poking your food with a fork is an easy and efficient way to do it. Piercing your meal and leaving holes gives places for the steam to escape. Instead of creating a mess, the moisture will simply exit through the holes.

While this is the most straightforward and most convenient method, there are a few other ways to prevent food from exploding in the microwave.

Stop and Stir

Another easy way to prevent an explosion is to stop and stir any food in a bowl. 

You might be heating rice, oatmeal, veggies, sauce, or even soup, but make sure to mix it. You should wait until halfway through the cooking time or sooner before stirring it.

Stirring your food frequently helps steam escape and disperses water throughout the meal. In addition, this method prevents bubbles from building up in food like oatmeal as well, so you don’t need to worry about serious splattering in the microwave oven.

You can even make a bowl of scrambled eggs in the microwave if you stop and stir them every 30 seconds.

Use a Splatter Cover

You can also use a microwave splatter cover. These kitchen tools are reusable and easy to clean. While they won’t prevent an explosion, they will make dealing with one much simpler. 

To use the cover, place it over the top of your plate or bowl.

Splatter covers come in many shapes and designs, but you probably just want something simple to use at home. These items comes in different sizes as well and isn’t hard to clean at all.

Use Plastic Wrap

A reusable splatter cover is more efficient than using plastic wrap. 

However, you might not have one yet to cover your food. In those cases, you can opt for plastic wrap that you can lay over top of your plate and put in the microwave.

Again, plastic wrap prevents splatter from getting everywhere in the oven. It won’t completely prevent an explosion but is still a good option if you want to make cleaning up easier. If you don’t have plastic wrap, you can place a napkin or paper towel sheet over your meal to catch any messes.

Microwave Slowly

We tend to think of microwaves as a faster method, which can cause us to ignore the unit as it runs. To avoid a food explosion, you need to go slowly and watch your plate as it cooks.

If you’re worried about a splatter, only run the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, then check on the food. When you notice bubbles building up or the food expanding, make sure to stir or poke it with your fork. 

Then, cook it for another minute. 

Stopping to check the food can be a hassle. However, microwaving slowly will prevent a food explosion since you’ll usually catch it before it happens. Also, it helps if you take note of the cooking times before you finish since you can use that information the next time you reheat that meal.

Don’t Put Certain Foods in the Microwave

You can prevent explosions by not putting certain foods in the microwave. 

You want to avoid anything with a high concentration of water or tough skin since it traps steam. Some common foods like this include eggs, potatoes, and hot dogs. You can easily avoid a mess by cooking these items in a conventional oven. 

However, you can still use the fork method to cook most of these foods in your microwave if pressed for time.

Reheating Food in a Conventional Oven

It’s simple to reheat food in the oven safely. You will want to use it when your microwave could potentially cause a huge mess. Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 200 to 250°F (90–120°C).
  • Put the leftovers on a tray or in an oven-safe container. You’ll want to thaw frozen food out first.
  • Cover the container with aluminum foil, as it prevents your food from drying out.
  • Allow the food to heat for about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the amount you’re reheating. Make sure to check on it if you’re unsure how long to leave it, but the center should be warm.

Foods That Are the Most Likely To Splatter in a Microwave

To avoid a mess in the future, it helps to know what food items are risky to cook in the microwave. These are some of them:

  • Potatoes
  • Uncracked eggs
  • Tomatoes or tomato sauce and soup
  • Citrus fruits
  • Oatmeal
  • Hot dogs
  • Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Baked beans
  • Pasta with sauce
  • Dips, such as ketchup, mustard, or ranch

You will want to avoid putting most of these foods in the microwave. 

However, you can still heat some of them in this appliance, but you need to stop and often stir or poke the food with your fork many times beforehand.

For some, it can be too stressful to use the microwave on risky foods. Make sure not to put anything with thick skin and high water content in the microwave. You can reheat your food in the oven for those cases.