woman using microwave in the kitchen

What to use a microwave for

Lots of people are turning to air fryers at the moment due to their reported lower running costs than a normal oven. Using a microwave more could also be cheaper (and faster alternative) for many uses.

We don’t have space for an airfryer (although I have been tempted). But I use our microwave regularly. The OH would happily gain the space back, but I’d struggle without one.

One of the great things, other than the low running costs, are that you don’t have to spend a lot to buy one.  Ours tend to last a long time as well.  I’m not sure where it appeared from, but on my recipe book shelves, I have an old 1970s microwave oven recipe book which has some classic old fashioned recipes in.  I’m not sure I’d cook many of the meals they suggest in the microwave, but there’s a few tips in there which work fine.

microwasve uses

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Microwaves are also really good for single portions. Shorter time to cook, and you can just cook or heat through as and when you need a single portion.

There was some chatter on twitter asking what people use their microwaves for, and whether they’re worth it. So if you’re one of those people who don’t use one but are debating getting a microwave, here’s some of the uses.

Microwave uses

Reheating.  If you batch cook and freeze, you can defrost and heat through in the microwave.  Reheating leftovers is also good.

Defrosting. If you’ve forgotten to defrost something in time, you use your defrost setting.

Warming going stale croissants/pastries through – not so long that they go soggy, but enough to soften them slightly.

Steaming veg – with a tablespoon of water in the bottom of a microwavable bowl, cover and cook for a few minutes.

‘Steamed’ sponge pudding – rather than spending hours steaming a pudding on the hob, instead microwave sponge puddings with jam or syrup.

Porridge – Easy to cook, and fast, plus a pyrex or other microwavable jug is likely to be easier to clean than a pan.

Scrambled eggs – the bonus is that the bowl’s easier to clean. You do need to keep an eye on the eggs to avoid drying it out too much, but also cooking it enough. I always do scrambled eggs in the microwave.

Poached eggs – poached takes more practice, and timings will depend on the wattage of your microwave oven. I use Gu pots to poach eggs, but a higher pot would probably be better to avoid egg exploding everywhere.

Jacket potatoes – fast, and you can then crisp the skins up after giving a first blast in the microwave. If you don’t like crispy potato skins, then microwaving them are the way to go.

Salmon – put salmon in a dish with some butter, cover with cling film, and microwave for a few minutes until cooked through.

Rice – I tend to boil in the bag on the rare occasion I cook rice. Although it still takes quite a while compared with on the hob, I find it’s more consistent to get the right texture.

Buttered leeks – so easy and tasty. Use a microwavable dish, and gently cook sliced leeks in butter.

Cheese sauce – I love making cheese sauce in the microwave. It can be faster, and as long as you keep an eye on it boiling over, there’s no taste difference, and less faffing preventing it burning in a pan.

Blancmange – go retro and make chocolate blancmange. Just watch the milk regularly.

Fudge – it’s so easy to make microwave fudge with just chocolate and condensed milk before setting it. You can check out my fudge recipe variations.

Meringues – ok, so they’re not like proper meringues, but they work fine crumbled in Eton Mess, or over fruit salad for added texture.

Popcorn – no need for bags of microwave popcorn, you can make it from kernels either in a paper bag (make sure it’s folded over well), or in a large bowl covered with a plate.

Melting chocolate – less messy than melting in a bain marie, just do it in short bursts to avoid burning it. 

Heating up milk – for hot chocolate, to add to coffee, make sauces. If you have a tendency to burn milk while warming it on the hob, try it in the microwave. 

Make lemon curd – ready to set in under 5 minutes.

woman using microwave in the kitchen

Mug cakes – if you want a fast single pudding, a mug cake is a perfect solution. They’re fast and can be made in the mug.

Warming tortillas – just to heat through for fajitas, or you can even heat a wrap in the microwave for a short time to melt cheese filling. Try my pizza wraps. 

Heating wheat bags/microwave warmers  – don’t worry about hot water bottles, if you’ve a wheat bag or warmer, a microwave will heat them through fast. 

Warming plates – when our aga isn’t on to heat plates, I use the microwave.

Repurposing candles – you can melt down old bits of candles to reuse again, just keep an eye on the temperature of the wax, and work in stages.

Re-setting dehumidifying bags – I have one in my car to try and avoid condensation. After a few months, they need resetting, and the microwave is the way to do it. 

My favourite dishes to use in the microwave

Don’t forget to keep an eye on any liquids that might overflow, and lightly cover (don’t screw lids on). And obviously don’t put metal in a microwave.

What else do you use your microwave oven for?

Like this post, try these other tips for nearby days out.

microwave fudge tips
sponge pudding
lemon curd
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  1. I have been thinking about getting an air fryer but we don’t really have the space either. I use our microwave at least a couple of times a day, it’s a really handy thing to have with so many uses. x

  2. I love my microwave and always use it for my porridge in the morning – only takes 2 minutes! I prefer eggs in a frying pan but I will occasionally do them in the microwave, too. I didn’t know you could use one to melt down bits of candle, though! Not sure I’d trust myself not to cause an explosion haha!

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