Why Does Microwaved Food Taste Bad? (Answered)

Categorized as Microwave Nutrition
Why Does Microwaved Food Taste Bad

We’ve all been there – we heat up our leftovers in the microwave, only to take a bite and be hit with the unmistakable taste of disappointment. Why does microwaved food so often taste bad?

In this article, we will explore the most common reasons why microwaved food sometimes has a different (and sometimes unpleasant) taste than food cooked through other methods.

I will also provide some tips on how to make microwaved food taste better.

What Causes Microwaved Food To Taste Bad?

If you’ve ever microwaved food only to have it come out tasting terrible, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a pretty common occurrence. There are a few things that can cause microwaved food to taste bad.

One is that food with low water content, such as meat, can quickly lose moisture during the microwaving process, resulting in dry, brittle, and unpalatable food. But if you’re short on time and have to use the microwave, you can add a little water to your meat before reheating it to help prevent this from happening.

Remember that I only recommend using the microwave to reheat meat that has been cooked thoroughly.

Don’t try to cook raw meat in the microwave, not only will it taste bad, but it can also be dangerous. The meat will cook unevenly and may not reach a safe internal temperature, leading to the growth of foodborne illness-causing bacteria.

Another common issue is that the food doesn’t heat evenly, leaving some parts cold and others overcooked. This can happen when the turntable in your microwave isn’t working properly.

Finally, some people believe that microwaves cause changes to the structure of the food molecules, which can alter the taste. However, the last one is more of a myth than anything else.

According to the Healthline website, at its most basic, microwaving is just a way of heating up food using waves of low energy. That means that there aren’t any major molecular changes happening when you nuke your lunch – contrary to popular belief.

How To Make Microwaved Food Taste Better

If you’re stuck with microwaving your food, there are a few things you can do to make it taste better.

1. Avoid Putting Food in the Center of the Microwave

Instead of placing your food right in the center of the microwave, you can spread it out so that it cooks more evenly. This way, the waves will hit the food at a more consistent rate, making it less likely to overcook or undercook in any one spot.

2. Add Moisture

Adding moisture to your food can help to retain its flavor and prevent it from drying out. One way to do this is to put a glass of water in the microwave with your food. The steam created will help to keep your food moist as it cooks.

3. Steam Your Vegetables

Steaming vegetables in the microwave is a quick and easy way to cook up a healthy meal. Just add a few inches of water to a microwave-safe dish, then place your veggies on a steamer basket.

Cook on high for 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. For extra flavor, try adding some herbs or spices to the water.

4. Pop Your Popcorn Perfectly

As any popcorn lover knows, cooking popcorn in the microwave can be a bit finicky. If you don’t cook it just right, it can end up being either burnt or soggy.

Luckily, there is a simple trick that can help you get perfectly cooked popcorn every time.

Just put a glass of water in the microwave for a minute before adding your popcorn kernels. The water will create steam, which will prevent the popcorn from drying out or burning.

5. Pick Round Containers Where Possible

If you’ve ever found yourself in a heated debate over whether to use a bowl or a square glass tray in the microwave, I’m here to set the record straight: always go with the bowl.

Yes, the tray might seem like the obvious choice, given its flat surface and lack of curves. But appearances can be deceiving.

The shape of the bowl means that it will distribute the microwaves more evenly, resulting in more consistent cooking. On the other hand, the flat surface of the tray can cause hot spots, leading to uneven cooking.

What Foods Should You Never Microwave?

While microwaves are perfectly safe to use, there are some foods that are better off not being heated in one.

1. Whole eggs

You might be tempted to cook a whole egg in the microwave to save time. But trust me, that’s a mistake you don’t want to make. Microwaving whole eggs can result in a exploded, sticky mess that’s definitely not fun to clean up.

And even if you manage to avoid a kitchen disaster, your eggs are likely to come out rubbery and flavorless. So save yourself the trouble and stick to cooking your eggs on the stovetop. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.

2. Frozen meat

No matter how hungry you are, never microwave frozen meat. The process of defrosting meat in a microwave is notoriously uneven, leaving some parts frozen while others are cooked through.

Not only is it unappetizing, but it can also be dangerous, as partially cooked meat may harbor harmful bacteria. If you’re in a rush, it’s always better to defrost meat in cold water or in the fridge.

3. Chicken

If you’re looking for a quick way to ruin a perfectly good piece of chicken, then microwaving it is a surefire way to do it. The microwave will cause the moisture in the chicken to evaporate quickly, resulting in dry, rubbery meat. A pan or an oven is always a better choice.

4. Seafood

Just like chicken, seafood is best heated with a conventional method like stovetop cooking or oven baking. The microwave can cause fish to dry out or become rubbery. So if you want your seafood to be moist and flaky, it’s best to avoid the microwave.

5. Chillies

If you’re a fan of spice, then you might be tempted to zap your chilies in the microwave to release their flavor. But that’s a mistake you’ll quickly regret.

Microwaving chilies can cause them to release their capsaicin, the compound that gives them their heat. And when that happens, the chili will release a noxious gas that fills your kitchen and irritate your eyes and throat.


There are a few reasons why microwaved food might not taste as good as food cooked through other methods.

One is that the food can lose moisture during the cooking process, leading to dry and unpalatable food. Another is that the food might not heat evenly, leaving some parts cold and others overcooked.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make microwaved food taste better. These include adding moisture, avoiding putting food in the center of the microwave, and picking round containers where possible.

By following these simple tips, you can make sure that your next microwaved meal is a delicious one.

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!