5 Microwave Shortcuts Every Home Cook Should Know

Although there is a virtual treasure mine of cookbooks promising delectable mug cakes, mug meals, and other zappable feasts, I would still not go so far as to suggest cooking entire meals in the microwave. However, you might be surprised by what you can.

Unlike traditional stovetop and oven-based cooking techniques, microwave work by beaming electromagnetic radiation at your food. These waves successfully agitate the food’s interior water molecules at a pace that creates sufficient friction to produce heat.

These 5 uses—which range from toasting nuts to par-cooking potatoes to dehydrating herbs—will silence even the staunchest critics.

Chiles, dried herbs, and other seasonings

Microwaves are the perfect method for dehydrating leftover fresh herbs, scallion greens, tomato skins, and other materials since they specifically target water molecules. Not only does drying these components in the microwave require a fraction of the time that preheating your oven or toaster oven would do, but according to our tests, the microwave also does a superior job of maintaining flavor and color. Once they’re dry, pulse them briefly through a spice grinder or pound them for a few minutes with a mortar and pestle to produce a powdered seasoning that will last much longer than fresh.

Fried Shallots with Garlic

The majority of deep-frying tasks are best carried out in your kitchen or patio. However, thinly sliced alliums, such as garlic and shallots, are sufficiently small and porous to deep fry rapidly and securely in the microwave. It’s a terrific, low-mess technique to quickly make crispy fried shallots or garlic to add to your next batch of XO sauce or to garnish a bowl of noodles. (As an added bonus, the garlic method will produce a batch of garlic oil.)

Pumpkin seeds and nuts on toast

Years ago, I used to roast nuts on the stovetop or in my oven on a sheet pan. I’ve also wasted years throwing away batches of burnt nuts that I accidentally left unattended for a little period of time. But that’s not the only benefit of toasting them in the microwave; it’s also quicker, simpler, and requires less cleanup. Don’t give up just yet if you’ve tried this approach before and were underwhelmed. We’ve discovered that coating the nuts in a little oil before frying them helps them brown and produce the same rich flavor as more traditional techniques.

Make rice.

While using the microwave to cook rice won’t spare you any time, it is more dependable and convenient to clean than a starch-covered pot, and it also frees up room on the cooktop so you may prepare any desired side dishes.

Although it only truly works with white rice and only yields a few servings, I won’t go so far as to say that microwaving rice is superior to owning a good rice cooker. However, it comes in a close second when you only need a small amount of rice and need to use your burners for another use.

Make Corn

It doesn’t get any simpler than this if you’re seeking for the finest indoor way for freshly cooked corn on the cob. Simply cook an entire, unshucked ear of corn on high for three minutes in the microwave.

Did you really think there was more?