8 Things You Should Never Put in a Microwave

Frustrated woman with microwave
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Home cooks probably know what can heated in a microwave oven. But do you know what can’t?

Well, for one thing, don’t put any metal in the microwave, cautions Wendy Treinen of GE Appliances. That’s her No.1 no-no.

I learned this the hard way. In the 1980s, my Catholic girls’ high school had no kitchen, just rows of vending machines and microwaves that smoked more cigarettes than some seniors. Every week or so, someone microwaves a burrito wrapped in foil or a piece of metal in it.

The result: a broken microwave oven and some very displeased nuns.

Here are a few more things to keep out of your microwave oven.

1. Chinese food containers

Couple eating leftover takeout
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The microwave is great for heating up leftover fried rice or kung pao chicken. But pay close attention to those takeout containers. If the handle is metal, break it before placing the container in the microwave.

Alternatively, transfer the food to a microwave-safe plate, suggests Jill Notini, of the Home Appliances Manufacturers Association.

2. Twist ties and staples

Twist tie food wrap
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Look for twist ties or staples and remove them from food packaging before you heat food in the microwave.

Even tiny bits of metal in the twist ties can cause sparks in the microwave. Hunt for any metal, even something as small as a tea bag staple, and spit it out.

3. Nuts, seeds, and eggs in their shells

colored eggs
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Never cook eggs in their shells in the microwave, Notini told Money Talks News. Here’s why: When steam forms inside the shell, the egg can explode.

Unshelled nuts and seeds can also explode.

Notini’s rule of thumb: “If it’s in the shell, don’t put it in the microwave.”

4. Non-microwave popcorn

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Microwave popcorn comes in special packages made for use in the microwave. But microwave popcorn after putting it in a plain brown bag is not safe.

“It can catch fire,” Notini said.

5. Wine

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It’s fun to watch YouTube videos showing the fiery results when wine is cooked in the microwave. But still watch the video. Don’t try it yourself.

The wine is sealed in a tight skin. Their microwave creates havoc, minimally, and can start a fire in a worst-case scenario.

6. Bread


Bake bread in a conventional oven if you don’t have a toaster. Don’t use the microwave. Microwaving bakery products makes them moist and soft… before baking.

Avoid microwaving any food that’s supposed to be crunchy, including fried chicken and french fries, Treinen of GE Appliances told Money Talks News.

Let me add pizza to the list too. People do it every day, but pizza reheated in the microwave is soggy and sad. Instead, try this:

  • Warm the leftover pizza briefly in a nonstick skillet on the stove.
  • Once the bottom of the crust is crisp, add a few drops of water to the pan and cover with a lid for about a minute.

Mmmmm… Melting cheese, hot toppings and crispy crust.

7. Milk or formula for babies

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Microwaves are a lifesaver for new parents who are too tired to make their own dinner. But don’t use your microwave to heat breast milk or formula.

“Studies have shown that microwaves heat milk and infant formula unevenly,” warns the US Food and Drug Association. “This creates ‘hot spots’ which can scald a baby’s mouth and throat.”

The FDA recommends that you always stir baby food after heating, let it sit for 30 seconds and taste for yourself before feeding.

8. Nothing

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Turn off the microwave if there is nothing in it.

“You’re dealing with energy here, and that energy has to go somewhere,” Notini said. “It could (go) into the wall or even into the little bits of plastic under the turntable. It can melt or burn.

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