As summer approaches and temperatures start to rise, cranking up the oven seems less and less appealing. Regardless of the season, time doesn’t always allow for a meticulously cooked meal. Enter the microwave—that game-changing midcentury invention that’s good for so much more than popcorn and frozen dinners. In fact, there are a number of common foods that can be easily cooked in the microwave with surprisingly successful results. Keep reading to learn how to microwave foods in a snap.
How to Microwave Corn on the Cob
Leaving the husks on, place one to four ears of corn side by side in the microwave. For one to two ears, microwave for about three minutes. For three to four ears, microwave for about four minutes, with an additional minute if you prefer softer kernels. Remove the corn from the microwave, and then allow the ears to cool before removing the husks and serving.
How to Microwave a Potato
Whether you’re dealing with a regular potato or sweet potato, the rules are similar. First, use a fork to puncture the skin of the potato several times, spacing these out for even heating. Next, cook the potato for eight to 10 minutes (for a sweet potato) or 10 to 12 minutes (for a regular potato). After four to five minutes of heating, turn the potato once. While microwaving times will vary based on the size of the potato, sweet potatoes tend to cook slightly faster based on their shape and the relative thickness of their skin.
How to Microwave Bacon
No guide to microwaving everyday foods would be complete without bacon—a food for which no one should ever have to wait. Lay down two layers of paper towels, and then top them with strips of bacon laid side by side. Place another two sheets of paper towel on top, and then microwave on full heat for four to six minutes.
How to Microwave Eggs
There’s a virtually unlimited number of ways to prepare eggs, and while not all of them can be achieved in the microwave, there are a few key methods that can.
For scrambled eggs, prepare eggs as you normally would: beating them thoroughly with milk, salt, pepper, and any other ingredients you like. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir the eggs, and then microwave for another 45 seconds, at which point the eggs are likely to be set.
Poached eggs can also be cooked to perfection in the microwave. Simply crack an egg gently into water, loosely cover the bowl with a saucer, and then microwave on high for one to two minutes before extracting the egg with a slotted spoon.
While hard boiling eggs in the microwave is technically possible, it’s best avoided.
How to Microwave Spaghetti Squash
When you’re craving spaghetti squash but don’t want to heat up the entire kitchen, knowing how to microwave this common food can be a lifesaver.
Slice the squash in half and place both sides facedown in a microwave-safe dish. Depending on the size of the squash, microwaving on high for 10 to 12 minutes should do the trick, but you can always test the firmness with a fork. Allow the squash to cool completely (for about 10 to 15 minutes) before serving.
How to Microwave Rice
While cooking rice in the microwave isn’t quite as time-saving as other microwave food hacks, it can be done. According to this simple recipe from Kathleen Daelemans of the Food Network, simply combine 2 cups of rice with 3 1/2 cups of water (along with butter or seasoning if desired), and then microwave on high for 10 minutes, leaving the dish uncovered. Next, microwave on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, still uncovered, without stirring. Rice should be ready to be fluffed and served.
How to Steam Broccoli in the Microwave
Chop your broccoli into small, bite-sized pieces. (If you choose to cook the stalk, this will need to be cut up into even smaller pieces.)
Place the broccoli in a bowl and add a bit of water—about two to three tablespoons per head of broccoli—to keep it moist. Cover the dish and microwave on high for three to four minutes.
This method can also be applied to carrots, cauliflower, and other stalky vegetables.
How to Microwave Pasta
Microwaving pasta is surprisingly easy. Simply place the raw pasta in a bowl, cover it with water, and then cook on high, adding about three minutes to the recommended stovetop cooking time. Drain and serve as usual.
How to Microwave Asparagus
Lightly dampen about four sheets of paper towel, and then wrap them around a bunch of asparaguses, forming a loose bundle. Place this bundle in the microwave (seam-side down), and then microwave on high for about three to four minutes.
How to Defrost Chicken in the Microwave
While your microwave can’t cook thick cuts of meat, it can expedite the defrosting process. Simply place frozen chicken (breasts, tenders, or thighs) in a microwave-safe dish, and then microwave for two minutes on the defrost setting. Turn the pieces to ensure even heating, and then defrost for another minute. Continue to rotate once each minute while cooking on the defrost setting until all pieces are fully thawed.