The Wrong Way (and the Right Way!) to Microwave Leftovers

published Aug 25, 2015
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Have you ever reheated leftovers in the microwave, only to end up with a plate of food that was unevenly heated? You know, super hot around the outside of the plate, but barely even warm in the center?

When it comes to microwaving leftovers, how you arrange food on the plate makes a difference. There’s a better way to do it, with guaranteed even heating every time.

Reheating leftovers in the microwave sounds simple enough, but the way you arrange the food on your plate actually has a big impact on whether it will get heated evenly (or not).

The Wrong Way: Piled High in the Center of the Plate

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

It’s so easy just to dump everything in a pile at the center of the plate, then pop it into the microwave. But this is actually the worst way to reheat food in the microwave. What you’ll get is unevenly heated food, with the outside piping hot while the inside is barely heated.

The radio waves generated by the microwave to heat food don’t travel very far. They’ll easily work their way to food around the outer edges of the plate, but have a harder time working their way through that pile to get to the center.

The Right Way: Arranged in a Ring Around the Outside of the Plate

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Of course, the cook time and setting matter, but the trick to evenly heated food in the microwave is the way it’s arranged on the plate. Instead of piling everything at the center, spread it in a circle around the outer edge of the plate and leave a hole in the center. The more surface area the food takes up, the better. Keep those big-volume piles to a minimum.

And if you’re heating different-sized foods on the same plate, move the larger, thicker pieces to the outside, and smaller pieces to the inside. It doesn’t take any extra time to arrange food this way, and you’ll get an evenly heated meal to show for it.