If You’re Not Using This Microwave Button, You Need To Start

When it was invented, the microwave was a total game changer in the kitchen. Yet, over time, scores of home cooks have relegated the appliance to reheating duties only. Unfortunately, it has the potential to be so much more. One reason people are hesitant to use the microwave to its fullest is that they’re uncomfortable with the features, and at the top of that list is the power-level button. Think of adjusting your microwave’s power level the way you would adjust the heat on your stove or oven. You wouldn’t cook everything under your broiler or on high heat on the stove-top, so why use the same power level to cook all foods in the microwave? Microwaves default to cooking at full power (Level 10), but some foods come out better if they’re cooked at 50% power. Here’s a quick lesson in how to use the power-level button. 

  • Power Level 1-4 (10%-40% power) — Use for defrosting foods; softening butter, cheese, and ice cream without melting them; and warming up bread and other baked goods without overheating or burning them. 
  • Power Level 5-9 (50%-90% power) — Use for steaming grains like rice and quinoa, cooking cheesecake, and cooking meat, chicken and fish without drying them out. 
  • Power Level 10 (100% power) — Use for heating convenience foods or leftovers. Foods with a high water content, like soups and vegetables, will cook better on full power.