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Do you wish for more from your microwave?

Microwaves are a gadget found in almost all kitchens. While they’re meant to be a convenient way to get the cooking done, are they really as good as we all think?

Most of us use our microwaves either for heating up meals or defrosting. But do you find your microwave sometimes doesn’t quite deliver on these relatively simple tasks?

Maybe when you defrost, some food remains frozen while some starts cooking. Or when you heat up a meal, some parts are burning hot while others are still cold. Perhaps, rather than gently melting, your butter turns to liquid. Or maybe your scrambled eggs turn grey.

Don’t try this at home

A couple of years ago my oven conked out and left me trying to cook a roast with just my microwave (I wouldn’t recommend it!).

I always find that with a conventional oven, knowing when things are done comes with experience – it’s easy to see your roast turning brown and crisping up. But with a microwave, it’s just not as easy. And when you’ve got a solid piece of food, there’s no option of stirring to help distribute the heat.

I ended up cooking my chicken for too long, as I definitely didn’t want it underdone – especially after reading our campaign on Campylobacter in chicken. I’ve since learned that cooking on a lower setting for longer would probably have resulted in a more enjoyable dinner. But, like with any kind of cooking, practice, experience of your microwave and trial and error count for a lot.

Your microwave irritations

For an upcoming feature in Which? magazine, I’d like to know what irritations and annoyances you regularly come across when cooking with your microwave. I’d especially like to know if you’ve worked out how to get round these problems.

Do you have any great tips for microwave cooking that you can pass on to us?

MsSupertech says:
7 February 2015

Many supermarkets clearly prefer to pack ready meals in rectangular container because it’s a space-efficient way to transport them. Unfortunately this tends to cause food in the corners to overcook. It can happen in conventional ovens but the effect is much more pronounced in a microwave oven. Round containers are preferable for microwave cooking.
I gave up scrambling eggs in the microwave, it’s just easy too overcook then, the timing varies so much with size and number. On the hob I’m much more in control!


I keep several round dishes beside my microwave for this reason, so anything in a rectangular container is transferred before cooking or re-heating.

I also freeze food in Pyrex bowls, which is inconvenient for storage in the freezer and I have to use several layers of cling film to cover them. Only once have I managed to buy a bowl with a plastic lid. Defrosting and heating are easy and the bowls stack easily for storage when not in use.

Glass jars and bottles often break when frozen but I have never had a glass bowl crack. The reason is that the bowls have sloping sides.

Bobb says:
7 February 2015

We have a Samsung combi microwave, and the thing that I find most irritating is that it sports two thermostats which’re nowhere in agreement! It’s far too late to do anything about it, and I’ve adapted to the thing’s oddities, but surely the manufacturers should check the devices over before delivering them to the market? Oh, and many items are to be cooked from frozen, but I’ve learned that the oven is quite unable to maintain the required temperature for long. It’s better to dump the frozen item in the microwave for a while & then bring the oven up to the required temperature again – in the hope that it’ll then cook the meal!

David Russell says:
7 February 2015

We’ve had a perfectly satisfactory microwave oven (John Lewis brand, around £200) for 4 years. The door release push-bar has always been a bit “edgy” in use. Now it has failed completely with a problem that appears to be broken plastic something inside a completely sealed unit. The something stops the push-bar going far enough to open the door. Thus a sophisticated, otherwise fully-working, machine is rendered useless by a simple mechanical fault the local mender doesn’t want to know about (in terms of time to fix, thus cost, and difficulty of getting replacement parts).
Solution? A cheap and cheerful from Sainsbury for £40.

Andrew Heathcote says:
7 February 2015

My favourite way to cook potatoes is boil them, in their skins, (small are best) ;if you want to peel them it is easy, but be careful not to burn your fingers if you want them hot

Rev Ron O'Toole says:
7 February 2015

We recently purchased the Russell Hobbs 17litre model RHM1714B microwave.
The cooker is so unbelievably complecated that after a week we still don’t use it. We even thought of taking it back to Waitrose where we purchased,but my wife said we should persevere
Why oh why sell such a machine.
We’re used to iPads,mobile phones,laptops, all the technology of the 21rst century,but this Tussell Hobbs beats us.


When my conventional microwave wore out, I bought a Panasonic Inverter model. The medium and lower power levels are proportional, (rather than pulsed between full on and off). This is ideal for cooking slowly since the food does not intermittently boil over.


A simple microwave oven controls power by varying the percentage of the time that it is on full power and producing no heating. As Xohper says, this can cause problems.

An inverter model allows the power to be varied rather than just switched on and off frequently, so it’s a lot more than one of the pointless features that manufacturers are keen on introducing. The main concern is that inverter microwaves are more complex and expensive, and there is more to go wrong. It’s worth trying to find reviews if buying an inverter microwave to find out about reliability.


My oven is now nearly 8 years old and has been faultless. It also cost a reasonable 80 pounds, which was competitive, compared with other makes of the same capacity. Although agreeing with what you say, I will buy another inverter model when this one wears out.