You probably use your microwave all the time. But did you know that it can do a whole lot more than pop your popcorn or heat up your leftovers? Some of our favorite microwave tricks make your food taste better. Others make it a whole lot easier to heat up tricky foods in the microwave. Still other great microwave tricks make it a cinch to clean your microwave — or your kitchen.
You don’t want to miss the life-changing microwave tricks ahead. You’ll never look at your microwave the same way — and you may wonder how you lived without them.
1. You can steam milk in the microwave
Does your favorite tea or coffee drink include some steamed milk? Preparing that ingredient sounds so simple, but can easily leave a mess all over your stove if you don’t have a coffee machine capable of doing the chore for you. Fortunately, the Food Network will let you in on one of the best microwave tricks of all: You can steam milk right in the microwave. Just put some milk in a jar. Put the lid on, and shake the milk vigorously. Remove the lid and microwave the jar of milk. Put the lid back on, and shake it some more. (Be careful, and use an oven mitt if you need to!) Then, add it to your tea, coffee, or even hot chocolate.
Next: You can cook this summer cookout staple right in the microwave, regardless of the season.
2. You can cook corn on the cob with no mess
The Food Network has plenty of great microwave tricks, but we’re partial to this produce-centric secret. If you want to make corn on the cob, you don’t need to cook your corn on the stove, the grill, or even in the oven. Instead, just use the microwave. The network recommends just cutting off the wide end, right at the shoulder. Then, microwave for 3 minutes. The corn should slip right out of the husk when it’s finished.
Next: You’ll never look back when you try this before popping that popcorn.
3. You can make the best microwave popcorn you’ve ever had
Corn on the cob isn’t the only kind of corn you can prepare in the microwave. Almost everybody uses the appliance to make popcorn, at least occasionally. As LifeHacker reports, all you need to do to get the best microwave popcorn you’ve ever had is to heat a cup of water on high for 1 minute. Then, quickly swap in the bag of popcorn and heat according to the directions on the package. The humidity and moisture in the microwave will give you the best results, no matter which brand of popcorn you favor.
Next: You can prepare this popular seasoning with no hassles.
4. You can peel garlic with no mess
As First We Feast reports, nobody likes peeling cloves of garlic. The papery skins seem to go all over, and it can take forever to get the smell off of your hands. Fortunately, the publication offers one of our favorite microwave tricks of all time as a solution. Just heat the head of garlic in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then, each clove will slide right out of the skin, with no hassle and no mess.
Next: You won’t have any excuse to skip your vegetables.
5. You can steam your vegetables in a Mason jar
Need another quick way to get some vegetables on the table? Try steaming them in the microwave. The Food Network reports that all you need is a Mason jar. Just put a half-inch of water into the jar, then fill it up with vegetables. (Broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, and carrots all cook easily with this method.) You can season them and add a pat of butter on top, or leave them plain. Then, cover the jar with a small plate or napkin before turning the microwave on. Don’t use the jar’s metal lid! Drain the veggies after they’re cooked to your liking.
Next: You don’t need to use the stove for this component of your sauces and soups.
6. You can prepare a roux for your sauce or soup
Many recipes use a roux, typically a combination of fat and flour, to thicken sauces, soups, and stews. But preparing a small amount of the mixture on the stove is often a recipe for disaster — especially if you don’t remember to check on it until it’s practically burnt. Cook’s Illustrated reports that you can avoid the whole problem by preparing your roux in the microwave. The publication has instructions for preparing a roux with oil, though you can use butter if you don’t mind a little bit more stirring.
Next: Try this the next time you have lemons or limes.
7. You can use your microwave to get more juice out of your citrus
Hoping to get as much juice as possible out of a lemon or a lime? Then you’ll want to add this technique to your repertoire of microwave tricks. The Food Network recommends microwaving your lemons or limes for 20 seconds before you squeeze them. The heat will loosen them up and make them easier to juice. That way, you end up with more juice to use in your favorite dessert or cocktail. Another secret? You can use the same technique to soften up vegetables like zucchini and squash before you put them on the grill.
Next: Your microwave has never looked so clean.
8. You can clean your microwave with a bowl of water
One of our favorite microwave tricks of all? Apartment Therapy reports that you can effortlessly steam-clean your microwave with a lemon, some water, and a microwave-safe bowl. Just fill the bowl three-quarters full with tap water. Add 5 to 10 lemon slices. Place the bowl in the microwave, and set it to high for five minutes. Stop the microwave when the water comes to a boil. Let the steam build up for a minute or two. Then, carefully open the door and remove the bowl. You can then wipe down the interior of the microwave with a damp cloth. It should look as good as new!
Next: Try this for breakfast.
9. You can even make an egg sunny side up
If you’re ever in a pinch and just have to have an egg prepared sunny side up, the Food Network reports that you can definitely pull it off with just a microwave. In one of the most genius microwave tricks we’ve ever seen, the network explains that first, you’ll need to separate the white from the yolk. Microwave the white in an oiled bowl. Then, add the yolk and microwave for just another 5 to 10 seconds to heat it. (Though it’s a little less impressive, First We Feast reports that you can also make scrambled eggs in the microwave by cooking them for three minutes. Just stop them once halfway through to stir.)
Next: Here’s another option for cooking your eggs in the microwave.
10. You can poach an egg in the microwave, too
Food52 reports that if prefer poached eggs, you can also prepare eggs to your liking in the microwave. Just fill a mug with water, then stir in half a tablespoon of vinegar. Crack an egg into the mug, and cover it with a top or a plate. Then microwave for a minute or so — you may need to adjust the amount of time based on the power of your microwave and your preference for the yolk’s consistency.
Next: Try cooking this breakfast food next.
11. You can prepare your bacon
According to FirstWeFeast, eggs aren’t the only breakfast food you can shortcut with one of the publication’s genius microwave tricks. You can also prepare your bacon without getting grease all over the stove. Just turn a microwave-safe bowl upside, and set it on a plate. Drape your bacon over the top of the bowl, and cover with a paper towel. Put it in the microwave for about a minute per slice. You’ll get delicious crispy bacon — sans a lot of the grease, which will run down the bowl and onto the plate.
Next: No need to spend lots of money on fancy dried fruit.
12. You can dehydrate fruit with the defrost setting
Food52 reports of another of our favorite microwave tricks that if you don’t have a dehydrator to prepared dried fruit, you can just use the defrost setting on your microwave instead. You can dehydrate thin slices of fruits — such as apples — in about 30 minutes. Some juicier fruits will likely take longer. But according to Food52, it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to achieve the consistency you want.
Next: Try this the next time you have almonds or cashews.
13. You can toast nuts
Epicurious reports that one of the best microwave tricks is one that enables you to toast nuts without turning on the oven. (That’s especially useful when you’re busy preparing other foods on the stove or in the oven!) Just spread your nuts of choice — peanuts, almonds, pine nuts, and cashews, for instance, all work — on a microwave-safe plate. Then, heat them at 70% strength, starting for 2 minutes. Stir, then continue heating them in 30-second intervals. Stir between each interval, and continue heating them until they look golden and toasted. It should take a total of 3 to 6 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave.
Next: This genius trick can add extra flavor to your cooking.
14. You can infuse oil with your favorite herbs
According to Epicurious, you can also use your microwave to infuse oil with your favorite herbs. (Infusing oil takes a whole lot longer when done the traditional way!) Use the appliance to steep rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, sage, or lemon peel in olive oil. Or, steep tarragon in grapeseed oil, or oregano, kaffir lime leaves, rosemary, or jalapeños in corn oil. Whatever combination you choose, just a half cup oil to 2 packed teaspoons of fresh, whole leaves or stems. Heat for about 2 minutes, then cool to room temperature, and strain into an airtight container.
Next: This easy food makes a great snack.
15. You can make vegetable chips
Want a healthy but easy snack? Epicurious recommends making some vegetable chips! Just use a mandoline to shave thin slices of beets, sweet potatoes, or apples. Arrange the slices between paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Heat for 2.5 to 3 minutes. (Go in 30-second intervals after the first minute, just to make sure that you don’t overcook them!) Finish them with just a little bit of salt for a delicious snack.
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