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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?


It is hard work stirring a Christmas cake or other heavy fruit cake, but if the cake mixture is warmed on low power, the job is very much easier.

My second tip is to use the lower power settings, especially when re-heating or warming food. That makes the timing far less critical and food does not splatter over the inside of the oven.

My annoyance is that it is often necessary to dismantle a microwave ovens just change the lamp. Hopefully new microwaves will have LED lighting that will outlast the appliance.


We bought a Panasonic that included a grill only because it was a “Best Buy” , but have never used the grill / conventional oven feature. An insurance in case the main cooker fails.

So it gets used for cooking some vegetables (in very little water), appropriate ready meals (good for Indian and Chinese plus rice), making night-time milky drinks (no mess left in a pan), reheating a cup of tea, softening butter if we’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge, quick-ish at real porridge – again without the mess sticking to a saucepan. Defrosting of course.

Wouldn’t use it for potatoes (they soften too quickly on the outside).

So we make limited use of it for a small range of tasks. Is it essential – no. Is it convenient – yes I’ll be interested to see what we could be doing better from others.

I wonder if Patrick ever got one?


It is generally agreed that a conventional microwave oven is not the best way to ‘bake’ potatoes but if you microwave them at low power, the outside does not become overdone before the centre is cooked.


No, still microwave-less. Don’t miss it in the slightest.

Brian J says:
9 February 2015

Use our combination microwave a lot – baked potatoes with crisp skins in 15-20 mins microwave & grill/oven, pizzas cook OK too although have to be done one at a time and just on grill + oven. Otherwise used daily for heating/reheating various liquids and steaming vegetables. Didn’t half miss it when it needed a part and we were without for a few days!

BTW We use a 3 tier microwave steamer so all is ready at the same time as the layers are added with those needing less steaming added in stages, and you can even put any vegetable infused water left after steaming in your gravy to add to the flavour.

Carrie says:
26 May 2015

Has anyone had problems with Panasonic microwaves. I have always put a jacket potato in the microwave for 5 mins before putting in the oven. I put it in the middle of the plate. It has now started to leave an overlooked hard spot underneath the potato at the centre of the plate. I have put the potato on another plate on top of the microwave plate and it still does it. I have been cooking the potatoes like this for years and never had this problem. Also put a container of mash in and had the same result.


I hat cleaning conventional ovens so invested in a Panasonic Micro/Convector/Combi oven which I couldn’t live without. I cooks lovely chicken on the combi setting, casseroles and spaghetti bolognaise, scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, vegetables, pizza, instant coffee, ready meals when I am too tired to cook, on the microwave setting. It also saves on energy and time and is comparatively easy to clean.

On the downside I do have trouble replacing the glass plate when it becomes dislodged and as the light has now stopped working and is difficult to replace I have to keep opening the door to make sure the porridge doesn’t boil over. Also I have to remember to insert the metal plate when cooking on the combi/convector setting and removing it again for microwave cooking.


Oops!……and I hate cleaning it and it cooks not me!