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 Microwave cooking > Microwave Terms
Microwave Terms

Microwave Terms Some terms and cooking techniques are different and need to be defined in "microwave language".

Arrangement of Food

Allow space between individual items when arranging food in the oven. When two or more items, place them in a circle, leaving the center free of food. Food should not be piled for cooking.


Some food cooks so quickly they do not have time to brown. The color of hamburgers, steaks, and chops can be enhanced by using gravy browning sauce, soy sauce, onion soup mix, or dry gravy mix on the meat. The color of poultry can be enhanced with paprika. Browning can also be achieved with a microwave browning grille, under the conventional broiler, in a hot conventional oven, or in a skillet on top of the stove. Large cuts of meat will brown naturally while cooking in the microwave oven.

Carry-over Cooking

Whether in a microwave or conventional oven, food will continue to cook after it is removed. The cooking that takes place after the food is removed from the oven is called "carry-over cooking". Food should be slightly under cooked. The food will then finish cooking during the standing time.

Cooking Time

A number of factors can cause the time to vary, such as the starting temperature of the food, the quantity of food, type of cookware, and, of course, your personal preference. If the food is either dry or tough, over cooking is occurring.

It is important to know the internal temperature of meat and poultry to determine when it is done. Remove the food from the oven after the minimum cooking time and insert a thermometer to check the internal temperature. Allow a few minutes for the temperature to register. If the food is not done, remove the thermometer and return the food to the oven for additional cooking.


A cover speeds the cooking and reduces spattering. You can use glass covers, plastic wrap, wax paper, or paper. When using a tight-fitting cover, be sure to pierce before removing to allow excess steam to escape. Be careful when removing covers to avoid being burned from the steam.

Even Cooking

Microwave cooking requires stirring or turning to obtain the most even results. Even cooking is obtained by stirring, rotating the dish, turning the food over, or rearranging the food at least once during the cooking period. When preparing cakes and other foods that cannot be stirred or rearranged, rotate the dish one quarter or one half turn periodically during the cooking period for even cooking.

Roasts, chicken, turkey, steaks, and chops, etc., should be turned over halfway through the cooking period.


As you increase the amount of food to be cooked at one time, the cooking time will also increase.

Shape of Food

The food should be uniform in size, whenever possible. When cooking food that is uneven in shape, place the thicker portion toward the outside of the cooking dish and the thinner portions toward the center.


There is times when shielding with aluminum foil is necessary for even cooking. For example, the leg tips and wing tips of a chicken or turkey are very thin and would overcook by the time the remainder of the food was completely cooked. A small piece of aluminum foil can be placed neatly around the thin area during the first half of the cooking period. Any time aluminum foil is used for shielding, the shielded area must be small in comparison to the whole food item, otherwise the aluminum foil will interfere with the cooking. The foil should never touch the oven walls or another piece of aluminum foil.

Standing Time

During this time the food will finish cooking, for small amounts of food the standing time is very shorts, generally the rime required to get food to the table, for large items, such as a roast or turkey, the standing time is longer, 15 to 30 minutes. Remove food from the oven when it is slightly under cooked. A fork can be used to check for tenderness when cooking meat or vegetables. Meat and poultry can be removed and checked with thermometer. A cake tester or wooden pick can be used for testing cakes, brownies, and quick breads, etc. The tester should be slightly moist, because the food will complete cooking during the standing time.

Starting Temperature of Food

The initial temperature of food will affect the cooking time. For example, frozen items will take longer then refrigerated items, and room-temperature items will require less time then frozen or refrigerated items. Cold water will take longer to boil then warm or hot tap water.


Food heats faster along the outside of containers then in the center. When cooking liquids, sauces, casseroles, vegetables, etc., stir occasionally during the cooking period to equalize the temperature.


As in conventional cooking, meat and poultry require a trivet to hold them out of the cooking juices. An inverted saucer works very well for this. The top of various refrigerator storage containers can also be used as a trivet.

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