Why and What Foods Explode in The Microwave? (11 Foods)

Categorized as Microwave Cooking
why and what foods explode in the microwave
milk exploded splash in the microwave. Make it dirty to cleaning up the massive mess in the kitchen.

Have you ever experienced a food explosion in your microwave? One minute your innocent-looking meal is in there, and the next, your entire kitchen is covered in a mess! While it can be frustrating, there’s a scientific explanation for why some foods are prone to exploding in the microwave.

In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating science behind this culinary catastrophe and learn which foods are most likely to cause a microwave meltdown. Whether you’re a culinary wizard or a novice cook, understanding the reasons behind microwave explosions can help you avoid future kitchen disasters.

So grab a snack (one that’s not prone to exploding in the microwave, of course), and let’s dive into the exciting world of food science!

Why Do Certain Foods Explode When Microwaved?

Foods with high water content, such as eggs and potatoes, can explode in the microwave because the water inside expands and turns to steam, creating pressure that builds up until it explodes. Other factors that can cause microwave explosions include metal objects, improper containers, and uneven heating.

It’s worth noting that the likelihood of microwave explosions can vary depending on the food being cooked. Certain foods, such as those with high-fat content, have a greater steam-producing capacity, making them more prone to explosions. Moreover, foods like hot dogs or sausages can develop hot spots that can cause them to burst and explode.

Another crucial aspect to consider is the microwave’s power level. Higher-wattage microwaves can generate more heat, causing steam to build up faster and raising the chances of an explosion. For optimal results, it’s best to start with lower power settings and shorter cooking times to prevent overcooking and reduce the risk of explosions.

Understanding the reasons behind microwave explosions can help you avoid such incidents in the future. To minimize the risk of food exploding in the microwave, use microwave-safe containers, cover the food with vented plastic wrap, stir or rotate the food frequently, and adjust the power and time settings according to the food being cooked.

By taking these simple precautions, you can ensure that your food is heated safely and without any unpleasant surprises.

11 Foods That Explode In The Microwave and How To Prevent It

To make sure you don’t have a disastrous time in the kitchen, here are some foods you may want to avoid microwaving.

Eggs are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. From light omelets to flavorful, creamy pasta sauce, the egg is capable of many different things.

1. Eggs In The Shell

There are also various ways that eggs can be cooked, from being boiled to frying and poaching. Ultimately, you will never be short on ideas for how to use eggs.

Nevertheless, despite their versatility, there is one method that you should definitely avoid: cooking them in the microwave.

When you cook an egg in the microwave, the heat will cause the moisture inside the egg to turn into steam. Naturally, it tries to escape from the shell but is blocked from doing so by the egg’s tight shells.

The steam then accumulates inside the egg, and as it continues to build up the pressure, it eventually reaches the point where the shell cannot contain it anymore and the egg kablam.

Most recipes for microwaved hard-boiled eggs say to prick the egg’s shell with a pin to help release the steam. But that didn’t do me any good the one time I tried it.

I still ended up with a watery, gooey explosion all over the inside of my microwave and nothing edible to show from it. The only difference is that poking the shell with a pin created a larger hole that caused the egg white to start spewing out right away.

If you want to hard-boil an egg, you’re better off doing it in a pot of boiling water or your instant pot. It’s a lot safer and better way to do it.

If there is a lot of leftover cooked eggs after making a meal, you can peel them and put them in a Ziploc bag or container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

The next time you want to use that leftover eggs, just put them in the microwave for about 60 seconds, and they’ll be perfect to use for egg salad sandwiches or egg drop soup. Don’t forget to prick them on all sides with a fork to be safe.

2. Potatoes

Potatoes are a staple in many kitchens for a good reason.

They can be served with nearly any meal, and they can be customized with a variety of different seasonings to make them taste great. Whether you’re looking for a side dish or something to eat as the main course, potatoes are always welcomed in all kitchens.

Now the problem with potatoes, whether white or sweet potatoes, is they have steam-trapping skin that prevents the streams from escaping.

However, unlike shelled eggs, making lots of little holes on the potato skin with a fork seems to work well in venting out the steam before it becomes a big problem.

3. Red Pasta Sauce or Any Other Tomato-Based Sauce

When I was in college, my roommates and I would often make large batches of pasta to eat.

One of our favorite recipes was for a simple red pasta sauce that could be whipped up in just minutes with ingredients we always had on hand. The sauce was flavorful and hearty, perfect for satisfying our hunger after a long day of classes.

Up to this day, it never ceases to amaze me how many different dishes you can create with just a few simple ingredients like pasta sauce and noodles. Whether you’re in the mood for a creamy alfredo, a cheesy bolognese, or a spicy arrabbiata, there’s a perfect pasta dish for everyone.

And with such a wide variety of pasta sauces on the market these days, it’s easy to find one that fits your taste preferences.

However, there is one thing that you should be careful of, and that’s cooking your pasta sauce in the microwave. Chucking a pasta sauce into the microwave is a recipe for disaster. You’ll end up with a mid-sized eruption of sauce splattering on your microwave walls and ceiling.

During my quest to find a way to keep my pasta sauce from exploding in the microwave, I had come across a couple of odd methods that didn’t work at all except for one.

What I found to work best is to stir the sauce frequently while microwaving it. This promotes more even heat distribution and stops the bubbles from forming and exploding.

And if that didn’t work? Well, you can always get one of those splatter guards. While they won’t stop the sauce from exploding, they will make dealing with the aftermath a whole lot easier.

4. A Mug of Water

If you’re in the mood for hot cocoa on a cold winter morning or you just want a quick cup of tea in the afternoon, you might think about microwaving a mug of water to get the job done.

I understand how alluring this idea maybe for most people. After all, it’s a lot faster just to nuke water in the microwave than it is to boil a pot of water on the stove, right?

Well, you’re better off doing the latter. While microwaves are created to heat food up quickly, there’s one big problem here when water is involved, and that’s the superheating effect.

You may have heard about the hazards of microwaving water. When very clean water is heated in a microwave inside a very clean cup, it can reach a state known as “superheating.”

This state occurs when the water is boiled to a very high temperature without showing any signs of boiling.

As you can guess, this is a very dangerous situation because if the water is receiving any kind of agitation while in this state, it will instantly transform into a violent boiling state, and the water will start splattering at high speeds.

In a worst-case scenario, it can cause permanent injuries and burns to anyone standing near it.

Although I have to add that the chances of this happening are low, it’s still a possibility that you should be aware of.

The solution? If you’re concerned about the possibility of superheating in microwaved water, just save yourself the trouble and boil your water with a kettle.

5. Whole Grapes

I don’t know who first started this dumb fad, but all I know is that it got out of control and quickly became a popular internet sensation. People were fascinated by the way that the grapes would explode and create a plasma-like effect.

While this may seem like harmless fun, there are some dangers to microwaving grapes.

Just check out the video below:

Since grapes are mostly water, you may think they won’t cause much of a reaction when microwaved. But, the reality is, as you have watched from the video above, microwaving grapes can cause them to catch on fire.

6. Spaghetti Squash

Earlier, I told you guys about my horrible experience with my spaghetti squash in the microwave.

With potatoes, you can simply prick the skin with a fork and microwave them to keep them from exploding. But with spaghetti squash, the skin is too thick to do that. So, what should you do?

Well, there’s a simple solution to deal with this problem. All you need to do is cut your spaghetti squash in half horizontally and put the squash cut-side down on a microwave-safe container. These simple tricks will let enough steam escape while keeping the flesh inside moist.

7. Oatmeals

I have been an avid oatmeal eater for years and enjoyed all kinds of flavors, from the classic maple syrup to chocolate chip. Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast. It’s full of healthy ingredients like fiber and protein, which makes you feel fuller longer.

Traditionally, you make oatmeal on the stovetop. But if you’re in a rush, is it possible just to pop some in the microwave and be done with it?

Yes and no. You can cook oatmeal in a microwave, but you need to do it right, or else you will end up with a huge mess and the most disgusting oatmeal ever inside your microwave.

And no one wants that, right? So what are we supposed to do?

While browsing through the internet and cooking blogs, I came across several methods that were supposed to help you cook oatmeal in the microwave.

Adding copious amounts of butter was one way to do it. Another method was using chopsticks and placing them on top of the bowl. And the third method was stirring the oatmeal frequently.

After trying all those three methods, the only method that I found yields good results is stirring the oatmeal frequently. But there is one caveat with this method; you need to watch the oatmeal like a hawk.

You can’t leave it unattended, even just for a few seconds; otherwise, don’t be surprised if your oatmeal suddenly starts bursting out from the bowl when you get back.

8. Eggplants

The internet is full of recipes for cooking eggplants in the microwave. While microwaves can be a fairly quick and easy way to cook eggplants, you still want to take a few precautions if you want your kitchen to stay intact.

The first is to prick each eggplant’s skin with a fork before microwaving. This will prevent any kind of explosions that might occur due to the weird reaction that microwaving can have on a high water content vegetable.

The second is to cover the eggplant with a splatter cover. While this kitchen tool won’t prevent an explosion, it will make cleanup a bit easier and protect your microwave from strange splatters of eggplant goo.

9. Carrots

Carrots are one of the worst vegetables you can put in the microwave because of their high explosive potential.

They are rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, and selenium. When these minerals come into contact with the intense heat and radiation of the microwave, they can cause a highly explosive reaction.

No matter what you do with your carrots and no matter what types of carrots you use, there is no workout you can use to prevent your carrots from bursting out and causing mayhem in your kitchen.

So, if you’re planning on cooking carrots in the microwave container and all, don’t. Just stick with the pots and pans.

10. Green Beans

Like carrots, the high amounts of minerals they contain can cause a negative reaction with the microwave, which ultimately leads to a whole slew of tiny, green eruptions inside your microwave oven.

Listen to me when I say the pots and pans are definitely your best friends when it comes to cooking green beans.

11. Hot Peppers

Last but not least, we have hot peppers. Nothing good can ever come out of microwaving these little demons as they combust as soon as they come in contact with the waves.

Well, technically, these vegetables won’t actually explode. However, they do release capsaicin that can turn your whole kitchen (or house) into a hot, fiery furnace in a matter of seconds.

You can imagine what would happen when you open the door—stinging and burning eyes and throat. So, unless you’re up for some sort of spicy surprises in your future, keep these peppers and all of their relatives out of the microwave.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s why some foods explode in the microwave – it’s all about the pressure created by the steam. But not all foods are prone to this kind of explosion. Foods with higher water content like eggs are more likely to explode than foods with lower water content.

Keeping burst-prone foods from exploding in the microwave is all about controlling the water content in them. But, the best way to do that depends on the food.

The most common way is to poke the food with a fork. The other method is to stir the food frequently. To know which one works best for the food you are going to microwave, please refer to the list above.

If you’re curious about other foods that can explode in the microwave, be sure to check out our other posts on the topic! We have tips for avoiding disasters with salmon, soup, butter, and potatoes. Stay safe in the kitchen – and enjoy your microwaved meals!

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!