Microwaves are a huge part of modern life and offer so much convenience, like reheating food and making hot drinks; as long as that dish or mug is safe, right?! Here I look at whether your ceramic dish and mug are microwavable or not. What properties make them safe. What to look for and why some ceramics are a ‘no no’.
There are do’s and don’ts with microwave cooking in general that also serve for using ceramics in the microwave.
Do’s and don’ts – microwave use
- ✔ Do use a microwave-safe marked dish or container, even with ceramic
- ❌ Do NOT use dishes or mugs with metallic trims, e.g. gold or silver embellishments
- ❌ Do NOT use containers with a metallic base, e.g. ceramic coated cookware
- ❌ Do NOT use aluminum foil in the microwave (or anything metal)
- ✔ Do use a microwave-safe cover to prevent splatters and spills
- ✔ Do check that the dish is rotating properly to ensure even heating
- ❌ Avoid microwaving for longer than necessary
- ✔ For long cooking duration, stop and stir the contents
- ✔ Do use recipes designed for microwave cooking
- ❌ Do NOT heat eggs in the microwave while they are still in their shells
- ✔ Do wipe up spills and splatters — a clean microwave performs best
Don’t place anything metal in the microwave — this includes aluminum foil, knives, forks, spoons and the like, as these will produce sparks when heated in a microwave.
Remember that microwaves heat up food from the inside out, so always stir your food halfway through cooking time.
Be careful not to overcook your meal – if you see steam coming off of it, take it out of the microwave right away!
Keep an eye on your food while microwaving so that you don’t accidentally over-cook it. If you want to reheat something quickly, try putting it on high power for 10 seconds at a time.
There are two ways to make eggs safe for microwaving: either break and scramble them in a microwave-safe bowl, or prick the yolks with a toothpick before cooking.
Always use an oven mitt when removing your dish from the microwave – never try to grab it by hand! And finally, a clean microwave is best not only for hygiene but for performance. I find using a reusable food cover helps with this. I have a couple so that if one is soiled, I have another ready to use.
BPA-free food covers that easily keep microwave clean
This one and others like it are available at Amazon
Why use ceramic for microwaving?
Products made of ceramic are usually durable, non-porous, and can withstand high temperatures. Hence why people like to use ceramic, including for microwave cooking.
Microwaves use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range to heat and cook food. This is dielectric heating or radio frequency heating. With this type of heating, you can’t use metal containers as they will spark and damage the appliance.
That leaves plastic and ceramic (or porcelain, stoneware, or pyrex) containers, which are more environmentally friendly than their plastic counterparts.
Dishes made of fired natural materials, such as ceramic, won’t emit harmful chemicals when heated.
And, ceramic doesn’t stain like plastic microwave containers do, nor will they blister and flake.
Can ceramic bowls go in the microwave?
Do all types of ceramics work well in a microwave oven? No, not at all. Play save and don’t use ceramic cookware or containers in the microwave that have metal parts, such as a handle or lid of steel or aluminum, or metallic trim, e.g. gold or silver embellishment. Ceramic nonstick pots should definitely not go in a microwave because they have metal bases.
Ceramics with certain glazes should not go in a microwave. Though food containers are excluded, a lot of ceramics have a type of glazing that contains lead. Thus, avoid any ceramic containers that are not food-grade items.
Avoid using these…
- ❌ Containers with metallic trims or parts metal parts
- ❌ Ceramic containers that are not food-safe
- ❌ Ceramic nonstick pots or dishes in the microwave
I use my ceramic plates and bowls in the microwave. Dinnerware like this (aka crockery) is typically okay, unless it has a metallic trim.
How do I know if my ceramic cookware is microwaveable or not
Is ceramic cookware safe to use in the microwave? Look for the microwave safe symbol that indicates your container is good to go in the microwave. This symbol is usually a series of wavy lines, sometimes shaped as an ‘M’. It can be a square or a round symbol. It can differ depending on the product and country where sold.
Most ceramic ovenware, like the bakeware brands and designs I wrote about, are microwave safe.
Microwave safe symbol
You’ll generally find the microwave-safe symbol stamped on the bottom of ceramic items that can go in the microwave. The stamp might just be wording “microwave safe”, which is okay too.
My dinner plates and dishes have “microwaveable” stamped underneath.
Ceramic containers, including mugs and plates, that are microwave safe are typically labeled as such to avoid confusion in kitchens where there may be mixed sets of cookware.
If you don’t see any indication that a dish can be used in the microwave, maybe err on the side of caution and avoid using it in the microwave unless you find relevant information on the manufacturer’s website or you’re confident it’s safe to use, e.g. you know it’s pure ceramic.
Pure ceramic cookware
A 100% ceramic pot or dish contains no metal.
Xtrema 100 ceramic is an example of an all-ceramic cookware type that can go in the microwave as well as in a conventional oven and on the stovetop (and in the grill).
It contains no lead or other metallics, which would cause sparks in the microwave.
cooking with microwave safe ceramic cookware
Some ways you can use ceramic dishes in the microwave are:
- Cooking noodles, rice, or oatmeal
- Warming up pre-packaged foods like frozen vegetables and microwaved leftovers
- Quickly reheat soup or other liquids.
- Cooking risotto, bacon
- Steaming vegetables
If you want to use your ceramic cookware in the microwave oven, only do so if it has a “microwave safe” symbol on its underside (usually a set of lines forming an M).
My favorite risotto recipe for the microwave — Mushroom Risotto:
- 200g risotto rice,
- 1 1/2 cups water or stock,
- 1/2 cup milk,
- 7 oz (180 g) mushrooms,
- 2 eggs,
- 1 chopped onion,
- 2 oz (50 g) frozen peas,
- 4 oz (100 g) grated cheese,
- and salt and pepper to taste.
Add all ingredients to a good-sized microwavable ceramic pot and mix well. Put the bowl in the oven and cook covered for 5–10 minutes. After cooking stir and let sit for another 5–10 minutes.
You may have to adjust the timing to suit your microwave.
Does ceramic get hot in the microwave?
Ceramic pots or dishes can absorb heat in the microwave and so can get hot to touch. It depends on what you are cooking and the duration as to how how they may get. It’s always a good idea to handle heated cookware with dry potholders or oven mitts when taking them from any oven.
Why are some ceramics not microwave safe?
Some ceramics vessels have glazes containing lead and are not safe to use with food as the lead can leach into food during microwaving. Ceramics with trims that are metallic or have a layer or parts containing metal can spark in the microwave and risk creating a fire that would harm the appliance.
Is a ceramic mug microwaveable?
Not all mugs are microwaveable but most are. To be safe, check the base for a microwaveable label. The mug is heated from all directions and not just from the top. Metal parts or gold or silver embellishments on the mug can spark and harm the appliance.
Can ceramic plates go in the microwave?
Most ceramic plates can go in the microwave. Use ceramic plates if they are labeled as microwaveable. Otherwise check there is no metallic trim around edges that could spark with the dielectric heating and damage the microwave oven.