A built-in Maytag® microwave

How to Use a Microwave for Cooking, Reheating and More

Whether you’re cooking, reheating, baking or more, microwaves can help put dinner on the table fast. Get the most out of your microwave by learning how to use it properly, as well as a few cooking tips. Read more to learn how to use a microwave.

What is the proper way to use a microwave?

There are a few important steps to using a microwave properly.

Step 1: Consult your owner’s manual before use.

Step 2: Use microwave-safe containers, and never use your microwave to boil water.

Step 3: Contact an expert for repairs.

Shock Panel Shock Panel

How to Use a Microwave Step-by-Step

When using a microwave, it’s always best to start with your owner's manual. After review, find a grounded three-prong socket to plug your microwave into. Finish assembly by placing your microwave turntable over the hub. To cook, insert your food in a microwave-safe dish. Select settings, time to cook and press start.

  • Microwave-safe container

  • Water

  • Dish soap

  • Cloth or sponge

A built-in Maytag® microwave

Step 1: Read the Owners’ Manual

Every microwave is a little different, which is why it is best practice to consult your owner’s manual before cooking. This is the time to review the most important settings and features of your microwave, as well as note any specific setup instructions your microwave requires.

A microwave turning on

Step 2: Plug the Microwave In

When deciding where to place your microwave, it is important to select a location in your kitchen that has a grounded three-prong outlet. Using an extension cord or adapter could negatively impact the grounding of the microwave, so if your kitchen is not properly outfitted with the right outlet, consult an expert.

Fitting dishes into a microwave

Step 3: Set Up Turntable

Setting up the turntable is often the first step in assembly required for your microwave. For many models, the turntable should be guided into place over the hub. When the microwave is on, the hub and rollers will push the turntable. If it is not installed correctly, it will not rotate.

Placing a dish into a microwave

Step 4: Put Food in a Microwave-Safe Dish

Using a microwave-safe dish is best practice for microwaving your food and avoiding damage to your microwave. Before microwaving, it is important to first know what can and cannot be heated in a microwave. Additionally, if you are heating a liquid, place a lid loosely over the food to avoid splatter.

A finger making a selection on a microwave

Step 5: Choose Setting

Microwaves are versatile kitchen appliances that allow you to cook, reheat, defrost, melt and more depending on your needs. These techniques are available via your most microwave’s settings; before pressing the start button, choose the correct setting as well as the right power level for your dish. Setting options will vary by appliance model.

A finger pressing a button to start a microwave

Step 6: Start Microwave

Once you’ve selected your settings, you can run your microwave. Choose the time to cook and press the start button. Your microwave will run until it completes its cook time, then shut down. Depending on your model, this will trigger a noise, display or another indicator to show that cooking is complete.

The internal machinery of a microwave

Step 7: Microwave Maintenance and Cleaning

Microwaves are one of the many kitchen appliances that require routine maintenance for proper functioning. For example, if your microwave comes with a filter, it will be important to routinely change it. With that being said, cleaning your microwave is also an essential practice to help prevent past meals from affecting your future food.

Shop Maytag® Microwaves

Built to stay strong and last long, Maytag® microwaves ensure you can look forward to leftovers. With intuitive settings and multiple power level options, you are able to reheat your favorite dish, such as steaks, exactly the way you like.

A finger making a selection on a Maytag® microwave A finger making a selection on a Maytag® microwave

What are the settings on a microwave?

Microwave power settings will vary depending on the model, so consult your product manual before cooking. However, there are a few common settings you should be aware of, including: the defrost setting, convection setting, soften/melt setting as well as various power levels that will affect your cooking process.

A woman removing a bag of popcorn from a microwave A woman removing a bag of popcorn from a microwave

How can I tell if something is microwave-safe or not?

A key way to tell whether something is microwave-safe is whether it has a symbol indicating it is microwaveable. Here are some of the different versions of microwave-safe symbols featuring:

  • Three to four wavy lines

  • A microwave icon

  • A dish with wavy lines above it

  • Three wave lines above the word “micro”

Removing eggs and bacon from a microwave Removing eggs and bacon from a microwave

What should you never put in your microwave?

There are a few things you should never, under any circumstances, put in your microwave. Aluminum foil and other metals do not absorb microwave radiation. In addition, styrofoam and some plastics melt quickly when exposed to radiation. If microwaving plastic, ensure it is microwave-safe, first.

A kitchen filled with smiling people A kitchen filled with smiling people

Microwave Cooking Tips and Ideas

There are many methods to be aware of when cooking in a microwave. For example, many users do not know that it is possible to microwave multiple items at once. These tips and ideas will help you expand what is possible when microwaving.

How long should microwaved food stand before being served?

According to the USDA, microwaved food should always be allowed a standing time of at least three minutes to complete the cooking process. Additionally, it is important to never partially cook certain foods because any bacteria present may not  be destroyed.

Can you put two or more things in the microwave at once?

You can put two or more things in the microwave at once; however, it will take longer and your heating will not be as precise. For best results, make sure to place each item separately in a high heat-absorbing container, such as glass. Allow ample space for the microwave tray to continue rotating.

What foods are good in the microwave?

Many foods are good in the microwave, including common items, like corn and eggs, and less thought-of items, like queso or ramen. Additionally, microwaves can be used to preheat food, such as potatoes, before baking them in the oven or frying them on your cooktop. Some microwave innovations also allow you to complete more complex cooking tasks such as crisping, browning and convect baking.

How do you preheat and bake in a microwave?

Although microwaves may not have initially been designed with baking in mind, they can still be used for simple baking processes (especially when built for convection). Note: Unlike an oven, you do not need to preheat your microwave, nor should you run it while empty.

Shop Maytag® Microwaves and Microwave Hood Combos

Designed to do more, Maytag® microwaves serve up the right settings and temperatures for cooking and reheating dishes. Whether you’re looking for a countertop microwave to fit your kitchen counter or an over-the-range microwave to ventilate the kitchen while you cook, Maytag brand microwaves have the capacity and power for any meal.

Learn more about microwave cooking from Maytag

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