You CAN Use Foil in the Microwave

November 19, 2009 at 4:45 am 25 comments

Yes, foil can be used in your microwave and I’ll bet you’ve already done it without knowing.

I discovered this, and I’m ashamed to admit it, when I actually read the manual for my Microwave.  Most people don’t believe this because they’ve always been strictly warned against using metal in the microwave — warned they’ll have to call for appliance repair if they do.  I can’t blame them, even fellow blogger, Tinfoil Chef suggests that tin foil not be used in the microwave and there are lots of videos on youtube (like the one below) of foil being used incorrectly in the microwave.

But, there is good reason to use foil in the microwave and most people aren’t doing it.

First, let’s take a step back.  Your food is heated by absorbing microwaves, but tin foil does not allow microwaves to pass through it.  In other words, tin foil shields your food from microwaves.  That can be used to your advantage!

This microwave user manual (pdf) suggests, “Thin areas of meat and poultry cook more quickly than meaty portions. To prevent overcooking, these thin areas can be shielded with strips of aluminum foil. Wooden toothpicks may be used to hold the foil in place.” [Page 25]

The next time you put a frozen mini pizza in the microwave, look closely at the top of the stand that the box turns into.  That silver sheet under the pizza actually reflects microwaves so the pizza cooks more evenly with a crispier crust.

If you buy microwavable soups that have a peel back metal lid, there is a rim of metal left over.  The side of the carton comforts consumers by saying, “Remaining metal rim is microwavable.”  They have to say this, because most people don’t believe you can put metal in the microwave.

Some microwaves come with a metal probe that you can use inside the microwave to monitor the temperature of your food.  Some microwaves even have metal shelves inside of them!  So, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t use metal in your microwave, the key is to know when and how to use it.

The USDA has guidelines for safely using foil in the microwave here.  Before trying it, be sure to check your microwave’s manual for official warning and usage guidelines.

Entry filed under: Despite Popular Belief, Food and Drink, ProTips.

The Secret Marks on McDonald’s Cups

25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aluminum Foil Retainers « Broken Secrets  |  April 13, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    […] no surprise there are a lot of aluminum foil secrets. For example, most people don’t realize there is a proper use for aluminum foil in the microwave, the FDA even has guidelines for […]

  • 2. Nikola Malesevic  |  November 19, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Happy birthday, first broken secret!

  • 3. OHT  |  March 20, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Well, you can, but it won’t always turn out too well. It can cause a fire.

  • […] you’ve all read Chad’s previous posts about aluminum foil retainers or how to properly use aluminum foil in the microwave. The post about aluminum foil retainers is a life […]

  • 5. Archippo Rizzo  |  October 8, 2011 at 3:30 am

    This is really a nice blog. I really very interested to read this blog.Again I will back to this blog soon.

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  • 6. 'Lia  |  January 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    weird video

  • 7. Sheogorath  |  May 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    This article reminded me of when various things got microwaved with explosive results in Brainiac: Science Abuse. I wonder why they never tried microwaving thin air? According to Wikipedia, microwaving nothing will also lead to an explosion.

  • 8. binnos  |  June 21, 2012 at 6:06 am

    haha this site is hillarious.. a whole story about that. Enthralling stuff.

  • 9. Ron  |  March 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    We use stainless steel nails to bake potatoes. They heat the potatoes much more quickly and evenly.

  • 10. Joe  |  August 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I burned out my microwave by thinking that the dripping wet just-cleaned-glass could be dried by running it empty for a minute. DUH!

  • 11. CSharp  |  September 24, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I’m not sure I feel safe taking advice from someone who believes that grey stuff microwave pizza companies put in the packaging actually crisps the crust. I have NEVER had anything cooked on or under that stuff ever get crispy. NOTHING. I do, however, have a bridge I’d like to sell the author of this article…

    • 12. edthlion  |  April 9, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Did you ever use crisper sleeves?

  • 13. edthlion  |  April 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    I discovered that a spoon in my coffee cup didn’t do anything a few years ago but that is not general knowledge and someone might jump all over you if you happen to leave your spoon in your coffee or tea cup in the microwave and they find it. Yes, SIR!

  • 14. sea won above  |  June 13, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I opened your pdf and page 25 was nothing about aluminum foil. In fact it advises to remove twist ties to prevent sparking and those barely have a thin bit of aluminum

    • 15. Chad Upton  |  June 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      I just checked and there are 13 references to foil in the PDF, try using the search function to see all the recommendations around foil.

  • 16. sea won above  |  June 13, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Even more suspicious is that the usda link goes to usda and says page not found.

    • 17. Chad Upton  |  June 13, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Not suspicious at all. This was written five and a half years ago and the USDA just changed the location of that page. I’ve updated now so you can go read the USDA guidelines around using foil in the microwave without sparks.

  • 18. J. Williams  |  March 14, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Those silver disks under pizzas, the paper ‘pockets’ for Hot Pockets, and similar silver colored packaging for microwave heated items are referred to as susceptors. The don’t reflect microwaves, in fact they are designed to absorb microwave radiation and get hot. For items in contact with the material, the heat is conducted to the food item. If the silver-colored material is not in contact with the food, it will get very hot and radiate infrared radiation that ‘browns’ the food.

  • 19. smntha  |  March 23, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Um. I microwaved foil before. It caught on fire.

  • 20. Job Fellas  |  March 26, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I remember seeing a Home Economics class video about using foil in the microwave 20 years ago. They used strips of it to keep portions of a plate of food from getting heated. Just don’t let the foil touch the walls or bottom of the microwave

  • 21. Judy O'Hare  |  April 13, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    If an aluminum pan is wrapped in paper or put in a cardboard box, like a cracker box, can it be used in the microwave? I believe I’ve done this in the past with good results……….wondering if anyone else has tried it?

    • 22. Rodney Stockstill  |  October 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Im not sure about paper but back in the day when all TV dinners were still in aluminum trays you would have to place it in the box it came with before microwaving. I remember buying a microwave safe TV dinner and getting home to find it an aluminum pan. I thought it was crazy but I read the instructions and put it back in the box to cook. There were no sparks and it cooked fine in the microwave.

  • 23. Anna- Grace  |  June 27, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Thank you Broke n secrets. Great info. More ways to protect our bodies while eating

  • 24. Toni Kinney  |  November 3, 2017 at 8:51 am

    After complaining to my husband to NOT use foil while warming our tamales in the microwave he did it anyway. He wrapped them in foil and put in a steamer with a lid for 3 minutes. No fire an no problem. This tells me you are correct and foil is ok if used properly.

  • 25. Der Bengel  |  March 18, 2019 at 2:17 am

    You say tin foil, but most foil out there today is aluminum foil. So, which do you mean?


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