Can You Microwave Wooden Bowls? Kitchen Safety Tips

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Wooden bowls are having a major moment right now. They look great on your table or countertop and add a natural, rustic vibe to any space. Plus, they tend to feel a bit safer than materials like plastic since they don’t contain chemicals that could leach into your food.

But just because they’re made of wood doesn’t mean you can treat them like any other dish. There are right and wrong ways to care for wooden bowls that will keep them looking their best for a long time. One of the big no-nos? Microwaving them.

Putting wooden bowls in the microwave is a bad idea for several reasons. In this article, we’ll cover why you should never microwave a wooden bowl, how to care for them properly, and answer some common questions about using wooden bowls in the kitchen.

Why You Should Never Microwave a Wooden Bowl

It’s not just that microwaving wooden bowls is ineffective at heating up your food. It can actually damage or even destroy the bowl, which is exactly what you don’t want happening to your beautiful woodenware.

Here are the main reasons to keep wood out of the microwave:

  • Wood gets extremely hot in the microwave – Wood is an insulator, so it absorbs the intense heat of the microwave very rapidly. Even after just a few seconds, wooden bowls come out of the microwave dangerously hot to the touch. You’re likely to burn yourself picking up the bowl.
  • It can start a fire – Wood and microwaves are a bad combo. If the wood gets overly hot and begins to burn in the microwave, it could spark a fire in your kitchen. Nothing could be more damaging to your home or safety.
  • It damages the wood – Microwaving pulls the natural moisture out of the wood through intense heating. This can lead to cracks, splits, and excessive dryness that ruins the integrity of the bowl.

Simply put, the microwave environment is far too harsh for delicate wooden bowls. It’s just not worth the risk of damage or injury when other microwave-safe options abound.

Can Any Type of Wood Go In The Microwave?

You may think that because you’ve cooked with wood utensils or plates that some types of wood are okay for the microwave. But there is no type of wood that should be microwaved.

Bowls made of bamboo, maple, pine, cedar – no matter the wood, don’t put it in the microwave. Even if it has a special finish or claims to be food safe, wood of any kind has properties that interact poorly with microwave radiation.

Other materials to keep out of the microwave include:

  • Straw or wicker
  • Newspaper or paper plates/cups
  • Gold or silver
  • Wood utensils
  • Recycled paper with metal flecks

When in doubt, reference your microwave’s manual for full instructions. But a good rule of thumb is to only microwave dishes specifically designed for it, such as ceramic mugs or glass containers.

Tips for Caring for Wooden Bowls

Now that you know to keep them out of the microwave, how should you care for your wooden bowls? Follow these tips and they’ll stay beautiful for ages:

Season Them

Seasoning wooden bowls is similar to seasoning cast iron pans. Oiling them regularly keeps the wood from drying out and protects the surface.

Use food-grade mineral oil to season your bowls. Simply rub it all over the inside and outside using a clean rag. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes, then wipe away any excess.

Do this process:

  • When you first get the bowl
  • Every 1-2 months with frequent use
  • Every 3-4 months with occasional use

Seasoning fills the wood pores with oil to prevent moisture from penetrating. This keeps the wood from warping or cracking over time.

Avoid the Dishwasher

The hot, steamy environment of the dishwasher can damage wooden bowls just like the microwave does. Avoid this by always hand washing with mild soap and warm water.

Be sure to dry wooden bowls thoroughly after washing too. Never let them air dry, as the excess moisture can seep into the wood and cause issues.

Use a Wood Conditioner

For added protection, use a wood conditioner made for cutting boards on your wooden bowls. These formulas contain beeswax, mineral oil, and other ingredients to nourish the wood.

Apply a wood conditioner once a month after cleaning the bowl. Rub it all over with a cloth until the surface looks refreshed. Conditioning supplements the mineral oil seasoning.

Buy High Quality Bowls

Not all wooden bowls are made the same. Opt for hardwoods like maple, cherry, and walnut which are dense and durable. Avoid soft woods like pine that scratch and warp easily.

Also, well-made wooden bowls have smooth, even finishes that hold up better over time. Check reviews and buy from reputable brands to get the best results.

With the right care, your wooden bowls can stay beautiful for years to come. Follow these tips and enjoy them as long rustic accent to your kitchen!

Caring for Wooden Bowls

Wooden bowls require some special care and handling compared to metal, glass, or plastic dishes. Here are some key tips for keeping your wooden bowls looking beautiful:

  • Season regularly with mineral oil
  • Avoid dishwashers
  • Handwash with mild soap and water
  • Dry thoroughly after washing
  • Use wood conditioner monthly
  • Buy high-quality hardwood bowls
  • Don’t microwave, oven, or submerge in water
  • Gently clean stains with baking soda paste
  • Remove odors with baking soda or vinegar

Following these simple guidelines will help preserve your woodenware and allow you to enjoy their rustic style for many years. With the proper care, wooden bowls are a gorgeous, long-lasting accent for any home.

SeasoningRub mineral oil over inside and outside of bowl every 1-2 months for frequent use. Let soak 5-10 mins then wipe excess.
DishwasherNever put wooden bowls in the dishwasher. The heat can damage them.
WashingUse mild soap, warm water, and a soft cloth to handwash wooden bowls.
DryingAlways dry thoroughly after washing. Don’t let bowls air dry.
ConditioningApply wood conditioner made for cutting boards monthly.
QualityOpt for dense hardwoods like maple and walnut that withstand wear.
Avoid HeatNo microwaving, oven heating, or submerging in hot water.
Stain RemovalMake a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub onto stains using soft cloth.
Odor RemovalSprinkle baking soda into bowl overnight. Can also wipe with diluted vinegar or lemon juice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wooden Bowls

Many people have questions about the proper use and care of wooden bowls. Here are some of the most common FAQs:

Are wooden bowls safe to eat from?

Yes, wooden bowls are safe to eat from as long as you care for them properly. Avoid storing wet foods in them for long periods, as this allows moisture to seep into the wood which can harbor bacteria. But for short-term use, wooden bowls are perfectly safe.

Can you put wooden bowls in the oven?

No, don’t put wooden bowls in the oven. The dry heat of the oven can cause the wood to split or crack. Very high heat can also damage any finish or sealant on the bowl.

How do you clean a wooden bowl?

Clean wooden bowls by hand using warm water, mild soap, and a soft sponge or cloth. Avoid abrasive scrubbers. Dry the bowl thoroughly immediately after washing. Don’t let it air dry.

Can you put wooden bowls in the freezer?

You can place wooden bowls in the freezer for short periods, but don’t store them there long term. The moisture and cold can cause wood to crack or warp.

What happens if you microwave a wooden bowl?

Microwaving a wooden bowl can make it dangerously hot, damage the wood by pulling out moisture, and potentially start a fire. Never microwave wood of any kind.

How do you get stains out of a wooden bowl?

For light stains, clean as normal with soap and water. For tougher stains, make a baking soda paste and gently rub it into the wood with a soft cloth. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Avoid harsh cleaners.

How do you waterproof a wooden bowl?

Waterproof wooden bowls by coating them inside and out with food-grade mineral oil. Let it soak in for 10 minutes, then wipe away the excess. Waterproofing prevents moisture damage.

What oil do you use on wooden bowls?

Use food-grade mineral oil or a wood conditioner made specifically for cutting boards to treat wooden bowls. Avoid vegetable and olive oils which can go rancid. See our tips above for how to season and condition them properly.

How do you get smell out of wood bowl?

To remove odors from a wooden bowl, sprinkle baking soda into it and let sit overnight. You can also wipe the inside down with lemon juice or white vinegar using a cloth. After cleaning, rinse and dry thoroughly before oiling again with mineral oil.

Can you put wooden bowls in the sink?

Avoid submerging your wooden bowls fully in water. However, it’s okay to place them in the sink briefly while washing by hand with warm, soapy water. Be sure to dry wooden bowls right away instead of leaving them in the sink.


Wooden bowls make a lovely addition to any kitchen. Their natural, rustic aesthetic feels inviting and warm. However, these dishes require some special care compared to other materials. Never microwave wooden bowls, as the intense heat damages the wood. Instead, handwash them gently and season regularly with mineral oil to prevent cracks.

Follow these simple guidelines, and your beautiful wooden bowls will remain a fabulous accent piece for many years of cooking and enjoying meals with family and friends. With the proper care, wood’s unique beauty can be part of your home for life.

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!

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