Usually, when microwaving anything, the most microwave-safe items around are your chinaware, porcelain plates, ceramic bowls, or glass containers. With that in mind, what about plastic containers? Single-use plastics are no-nos, but what about multi-use ones like Tupperware?
So can you microwave Tupperware? Keep on reading to find out. However, for the most part, they’re okay, especially those with the microwave-safe label.
Can You Microwave Tupperware and Other Plastic Containers?
Can you microwave Tupperware and other plastic containers? Yeah. Tupperware is considered microwave-safe in general, but there’s bound to be exceptions. Make sure they’re marked as microwave-safe though. Otherwise, any random ice cream container or single-use takeout box can be used for microwaving leftovers or cooking fresh new dishes.
Some plastics are safe for use in the microwave oven, particularly the ones marked as microwave-safe. Single-use plastics or microwave-safe plastics with damage on them shouldn’t be used with your microwave oven.
That’s right, even microwave-safe plastics can degrade enough to not be microwave-safe. Any Tupperware that’s discolored, old, and cracked shouldn’t be microwaved. Tupperware is a plastic container meant for long-term use, thus it’s generally considered microwave-safe.
Plastic Tupperware vs. Plastic Wrap
What about a plastic wrap? Is it as microwaveable as plastic Tupperware? Well, yeah. Kind of. Not all of it though. Again, use only heavy-duty plastic wrap made to cover food and not be a single-use container. Use something like Ziploc or something. Those are made to be microwaveable.
Further reading: Can You Microwave Plastic Wrap? (Yes, but…)
The real dangers of microwaving thin plastic include the risk of it burning or melting due to the hotness of the food. Even if it stays in one piece, it could release toxic chemicals or plasticizers that could leach into your food, thus contaminating it.
In the case of Tupperware, they’re also thick, heavy-duty plastics that are FDA-approved to not release dangerous chemicals into your food. Regardless, don’t lay the plastic wrap directly unto the food due to it possibly melting and ruining your dish.
The Ziploc bag should be slightly opened as well so that it serves as a pressure release or vent for hot vapors to escape. The thicker the microwave-safe-marked plastic container is the less likely it will ruin your food when heated.
Plastic Tupperware vs. Paper Plates or Bread Baskets
Most paper napkins, cups, and plates made of paper or special cardboard can be safely used in the microwave for the most part. The exceptions are the really thin paper plates that could get ruined by hot food exposure or the ones with plastic or foil coating on top of them.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the plain white paper plate is the safest material for microwaving as long as they don’t have any printed material on their surface. The problem with foil coating is it causes arcing and plastic because it’s likely to not be microwave-safe.
As for bread baskets, they can withstand microwave heat or hot food for short time periods. This is in contrast of Tupperware that’s seemingly made to deal with such hotness for lengthy time periods. You can warm up some rolls on both your bread basket and Tupperware.
However, in the case of the basket, you can only microwave it for 20 seconds. A Tupperware container can take a bit more hotness, although not as much as a ceramic or glass bowl could. Line either the Tupperware or basket with napkins to help absorb any food or bread moisture.
You may also like: What Are The Things You Should Never Put In The Microwave?
Plastic Tupperware vs. Wax Paper, Pyrex, or Yogurt Containers
Wax paper or parchment paper has high heat tolerance. This makes them microwave-safe. You can use them to prevent splatters in the microwave. Just use them to cover your dish while it’s being recommended.
Regarding Pyrex, it’s a brand of heat-proof glass. It can withstand microwave radiation (or rather, the heat conduction from microwave-heated food since glass has no water chemicals for the microwave to excite). Pyrex cookware includes plates, bowls, and other containers.
The Yogurt container, like the ice cream container, shouldn’t be used as Tupperware alternatives for microwaving. They’re not made for microwaving. Ditto with sour cream, margerine, or yogurrt containers. They’re intended to be used once and they can leach off plasticizers that contaminate food.
Don’t heat up these Tupperware substitutes. In fact, accept no substitutes. They’re not FDA-approved for being heated, which can lead to them releasing chemicals all over your dishes.
How to Tell if a Container is Microwave-Safe?
Around 60 years ago, microwave ovens entered the cooking and kitchen scene. They’re quite the mysterious devices that ultimately altered the way food is prepared and cooked. Microwaves are capable of defrosting meats straight from the freezer at a tenth of the time of regular thawing.
They’re also capable of cooking potatoes quickly or heat up leftovers in a minute or two. If you’re careful with your lid placement, they won’t leave too much of a mess inside your microwave oven or outside your kitchen.
With that said, in order to make sure your container is microwave-safe, look for the microwave-safe label. This is especially true when it comes to multi-use plastic containers like the Tupperware brand of containers. Even if it’s just to err on the side of caution.
Certain Tupperware or Tupperware-like cookware is not heat resistant or microwave-safe at all, thus they don’t have that label. Old Tupperware that’s crumbling to the touch isn’t microwave-safe anymore regardless of its labeling.
Ceramics, porcelain, and glass containers specifically offer the best microwave-safe protection available, even better than the one provided by Tupperware. Once any plastic container degrades, even Tupperware, it becomes a fire or chemical contamination hazard when microwaved.
Also, Take Note
The general guidelines when it comes to microwaving microwave-safe containers have been outlined above. However, watch out for exceptions to the rules by being aware of the rules in the first place.
A plastic marked as microwave-safe is safe for microwaving unless it’s old, discolored, or damaged. Single-use plastic containers are almost never considered microwave-safe even though there are exceptions (but they’re likely multi-use recyclable containers instead).
Check the bottom or back of the Tupperware or Tupperware-like container you have to ensure that there’s a microwave-safe label. Certain cheaper Tupperware plastic container brands aren’t really microwave-safe. You shouldn’t use those for reheating.
- Kitchen Daily, “What You Can And Can’t Put In The Microwave“, Huffington Post, May 31, 2012
- What you can and can’t put in a microwave?“, Whirlpool.com, Retrieved April 16, 2021