- There are some things you just shouldn’t put in the microwave.
- Pizza is better heated in the oven.
- Eggs are best on the stove.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
When it comes to kitchen convenience, it’s hard to argue with the speed and power of the classic microwave. Whether you’re warming up some dinner leftovers or just trying to boil a mug of water for tea, this appliance can bring the heat in a matter of minutes … but, as it turns out, some dishes fare better in the microwave than others.
To get to the bottom of this matter, we polled a group of pro chefs to find out which items they consistently avoid heating in the microwave, and our panel came up with nine dishes to keep far away from a microwave.
When heated in the microwave, puff pastry loses its signature flaky texture
Whether store-bought or homemade, flaky puff pastry makes an ideal vessel for strudels, turnovers, Beef Wellington, and dozens of other baked treats. However, if you’re looking to reheat a snack wrapped in puff pastry, the microwave isn’t your best bet.
Chef Valentina Rizzo of Farmacia dei Sani in Ruffano, Italy explained why: “Because [puff pastry includes a] high quantity of butter, [the butter inside the pastry] will melt [in the microwave], making the dough greasy and heavy. Then, [you’ll lose the] many [thin] layers of pastry, and [the reheated product] will no longer be crunchy.”
To keep your pizza crusts crispy and cheese melty, use an oven or cast-iron skillet for reheating purposes
When reheating pizza, we all want to achieve the crunchy crust, melty cheese, and flavorful toppings of a freshly-delivered pie. Unfortunately, the microwave won’t deliver on any of those fronts.
“The double whammy that microwaved pizza delivers is a rubbery, tough outer crust and a soggy, limp center. The best way to reheat pizza is in a hot skillet, preferably cast iron, until the bottom is hot and beginning to crisp. Then, cover [it] for a minute or two to allow the cheese to melt. Once you master this simple technique, you’ll never do it any other way,” New Jersey-based chef and blogger Cathy Roma of What Should I Make For… told INSIDER.
Personal chef Harrison Bader of At Your Table Chefs in Los Angeles, California also chooses to avoid the microwave when prepping leftover pizza, instead advising readers to “reheat it in the oven, broiler, or even toaster oven. That way, the crust stays nice and crispy, while the cheese gets ooey-gooey. No time for soggy, flimsy pizza ever!”
Microwave warming will leave you with dry, crumbly bagels
A warm bagel makes an ideal canvas for cream cheese, lox, or a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich… but don’t try to use the microwave as a heating shortcut.
“NEVER microwave bagels. Microwaves work by reheating the water molecules inside a food item. [If you use them to] reheat bread, [they] takes out all the moisture, leaving [behind] a hard, gross bagel,” cautioned executive chef and owner Daniela Moreira of Timber Pizza Co. and Call Your Mother Deli in Washington, D.C.
Keep it classic by warming your bagels in the toaster, and you’ll never need to suffer through a dried-out ring of yeasted bread.
A perfect quiche requires a delicate touch … which you won’t find inside a microwave
A savoury tart bolstered by pastry and filled with eggy and cheesy goodness, quiche is a brunch darling for good reason. But if you’re hoping to reheat some leftover portions the day after a breakfast blowout bash, the microwave will compromise the quiche’s very specific textures.
“Quiche is one of the simplest dishes you can make, but as with all simple dishes, you must pay attention to how you prepare it (and reheat it). A good quiche has balance between the filling and the pastry crust. The crust is meant to be flaky [and] buttery [with a] subtle-but-important crispy bite. It offsets the egg filling. Microwaving quiche will give you a soft crust. Don’t do it! Oven only, please,” New Orleans, Louisiana-based private chef Gason Nelson of The Chef And The Dish told INSIDER.
… as a matter of fact, just don’t microwave eggs at all
If you’ve ever attempted any type of egg preparation, you’re undoubtedly aware that these little ovals require a lot of oversight, lest they burn/collapse/leak liquid yolk all over the place. For that reason, the microwave isn’t gonna cut it when it comes to cooking eggs in any format.
“Re-cooking a whole-shell-on egg. They will always burst or overcook. Definitely stick to the stovetop when it comes to eggs!” explained chef/instructor Chris Scott of the Institute of Culinary Education.
Heating halibut in the microwave leeches away the fish’s succulent moisture
Of course, it should go without saying that using an office microwave to reheat fish of any kind will immediately turn you into a workplace persona non grata. But even if you’re in the comfort of your own home, certain fishes – such as halibut – don’t withstand the microwave’s concentrated heat very well.
“Halibut should never be put in the microwave. The microwave cooks from the inside out and prevents you from getting the perfect reheat on this beautiful piece of fish. Halibut also gets dried out in the microwave, which ruins the joys of the dish,” said chef Keith Bombaugh of Mirabelle in Washington, D.C.
Steak deserves more TLC than you can achieve by sticking it in the microwave
Certain dishes garner a loftier price at restaurants (and at grocery stores) for their high-quality ingredients, and a well-butchered steak serves as a prime example. For this reason, head chef Yankel Polak of ButcherBox counts microwaved steak among his major pet peeves.
“Please don’t reheat steak! A microwave doesn’t get you any of the key flavour compounds [of a well-prepared steak], whether you cook it or reheat it this way. People build an expectation of how a steak should taste. That first bite should be incredible – salty, juicy, fatty, rich with flavour. Don’t disappoint yourself by nuking it! And then, of course, there’s the matter of respect. You wouldn’t buy a beautiful suit or dress and throw it in the washing machine, would you? You would get it dry cleaned, pressed, [and] treated with respect and care. The same goes for meat. As accessible as steak has become, it still is a luxury item the world over. A steak is worth a bit more attention and care than putting it into a plastic box and pushing a button,” Polak told INSIDER.
Chef Mike DeCamp of P.S. Steak in Minneapolis, Minnesota also wants to put the kibosh on microwaving raw steaks as a mode of “cooking,” explaining that “from raw, I would never microwave a steak! You could never get it to cook evenly, and the texture would be all wrong. Most importantly, you wouldn’t be able to achieve the all-important crust that you can only get from searing a steak, which helps make it so delicious.”
Don’t compromise your soft taco’s texture by microwaving it
If you pick up some fresh and delicious soft street tacos from a local food truck and discover that they have cooled down by the time you get home, resist the urge to nuke them in the microwave.
“I would never reheat any sort of street taco in a microwave. The tortilla on the taco will get hard and the filling would turn into mush,” warned executive chef Fernando Ruiz of The Lodge and Ranch at Chama Land & Cattle Company in Chama, New Mexico.
Take a bit of extra time and use the oven to reheat your tacos, and you’ll be rewarded with tender tortillas and warm fillings that still retain their structural integrity.
The microwave won’t consistently heat baby formula, resulting in the potential for mouth burns
New parents may not know that you shouldn’t put baby formula in the microwave. Chef de cuisine Enrico DeOcampo of Conrad New York in NYC knows this from personal experience:
“I would not recommend heating baby formula in the microwave. I found this out the hard way when my girls were babies. Being the rookie dad that I was, I heated milk in the microwave and [discovered] that this creates inconsistent temperatures throughout the milk, which can burn [the baby’s mouth] when drinking.”
Instead, the Mayo Clinic recommends placing a full bottle in a bowl of warm water and allowing it to sit for a few minutes until it’s lukewarm to the touch.
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