Food & Nutrition

10 Foods That You Shouldn’t Reheat in a Microwave

We already know better than to nuke plastic—or heaven forbid, aluminum foil—but certain foods can become downright toxic when blasted in the microwave. Here’s what you need to know.

Modern kitchen interior with electric and microwave ovenBATMANV/Shutterstock

Some 30 years ago, American kitchens received the gift of the microwave and quickly became dependent on it for lightning-fast heating. Younger generations can’t even imagine making oatmeal, hot chocolate, or popcorn without it. And yet so many of us are using the microwave incorrectly for reheated foods. Sure, we know to never zap aluminum foil, metal, or plastic, but there are equally dangerous risks involved in nuking certain foods.

For starters, a microwave does not cook food evenly, which often means that any bacteria present in the reheated foods will survive. Then there’s the problem of microwave blasts directly contributing to the production of carcinogenic toxins. To minimize the microwave risks, don’t use it to cook or warm these ten foods:

Hard-boiled eggs

hardboiledchattanongzen/Shutterstock

Shelled or unshelled, when a hard-boiled egg is cooked in a microwave, the moisture inside creates an extreme steam buildup, like a miniature pressure cooker, to the point where the egg can explode! Even scarier, the egg won’t burst inside the microwave while it’s being heated, but afterward, which means the scalding hot egg can erupt in your hand, on your plate, or even in your mouth. To avoid turning your egg into a steam bomb, cut it into small pieces before reheating, or better yet, avoid putting it in the microwave altogether. 

Breast milk

Baby-formulaPavel Ilyukhin/Shutterstock

Many new mothers freeze and store their breast milk for later use, which is great, as long as it’s not reheated in a microwave. In the same way that microwaves heat plates of food unevenly, they can also warm a bottle of breast milk unevenly, creating “hot spots” that can severely burn a baby’s mouth and throat. Then there’s the carcinogen hazard that comes with reheating plastic. The FDA recommends that breast milk and formula be thawed and reheated in a pot on the stove, or using hot tap water. As a workaround, you could heat a cup of water in the microwave and then drop the bag or bottle of breast milk in it to thaw. Check out these other 12 things you should never put in the microwave.

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