There are two types of the microwave oven in terms of how they go about evenly or uniformly heating food—the turntable microwave and the flatbed or turntable-free microwave. The turntable microwave has a glass disc spinning on a mechanical axis doing 360° turns.
Or it could instead do alternating 180° clockwise and counterclockwise motions to turn the food for even heating. The flatbed microwave uses rotating antennas that help redirect microwave radiation over the food in order to evenly heat it.
Does the microwave stop functioning if it’s missing the turntable? Should you get a replacement turntable if you broke the original one?
Can You Use a Microwave without the Glass Plate?
It depends on the microwave. If it’s a flatbed microwave with no glass plate, then absolutely.
It never needed a glass plate in the first place. It uses rotating antennas from below to deflect and surround the food with microwave radiation instead of turning the food around in order to even though exposure.
If it’s a turntable microwave with a damaged or missing turntable disc or plate, then it’s a “Yes, but…” kind of deal.
The “but” here is the fact that without the revolving tray, the food won’t cook as evenly. Make sure that the door glass is undamaged even though the turntable is cracked, broken, or missing. If the door glass is damaged, it’s best to buy a new microwave unit.
You can force microwaving the food without the turntable. However, the results aren’t pretty. You might as well just fire up the stove or the conventional oven to cook it since when it’s microwaved it produces hot and cold spots.
What’s Wrong with Cold Spots in Your Food?
The cold spots inside your food are all bad because that’s where the bacteria will spread and contaminate your food, if not altogether give you stomach flu or food poisoning. When cooking food, the food should be defrosted completely then cooked properly.
If it’s raw or uncooked in parts while super hot in others, it typically results in something that tastes nasty and will give you diarrhea down the line.
Besides this, the hot spots are typically so hot you can barely taste them, The hot spots are so hot they could scald your tongue at best or end up burning your food to charcoal at worst. Charcoaled food is inedible and packed with carcinogens.
Does Your Microwave Stop Work without the Turntable?
If we’re talking about the turntable variety of microwaves—the ones that are supposed to have the turntable—they can still run without the revolving tray, turntable plate, or glass disc (whatever you want to call it). It just doesn’t cook the food that well.
You can make it this turntable-free microwave that’s not flatbed work by cooking or heating your food at 1-minute increments and manually turning the food every minute until it’s evenly cooked. This isn’t an exact science and requires a bit of trial and error to work.
It’s a makeshift way of using a microwave that’s missing a turntable. It works on the same principle as stirring the soup to even out the heat produced by the microwave radiation across the whole dish every minute-long increment.
Isn’t It Unsafe to Use a Turntable Microwave without a Turntable?
Yes. The main danger of using a turntable microwave without a turntable is salmonella or food poisoning. This is because some portions of the food remain uncooked or unheated. If it came straight from the refrigerator, these cold spots can encourage bacterial spread.
You can use the method outlined above to make do with a microwave without a turntable disc though. Turn it yourself in quarter increments every minute-long or half-minute-long microwaving to even out the heat. This way, you’re manually replicating what the turntable does automatically.
Just make sure the door glass isn’t damaged and you’re good to go in using the microwave without the rotating disc. The glass door window missing doesn’t only render the microwave unusable. It makes the device dangerous because the window is what blocks the microwave radiation.
There shouldn’t be a safety issue with running the microwave with the missing glass plate save for cold spot/hot spot formation on the food and bacterial spread risk.
Can You Use a Microwave with a Broken Outer Glass?
No. Get that fixed or get a new unit. A glass plate is fixable or replaceable. The glass window of your microwave door is trickier and is usually a deal-breaker. It’s like a laptop with a damaged motherboard—at that point, your whole microwave safety is compromised so better buy a new one.
The microwave window is a critical part of the device. It isn’t safe to use the microwave with a broken glass door as opposed to a broken glass plate or turntable. You can have the appliance repaired well as new by a repairman or service technician in case your unit is still in warranty.
Further reading: Can You Use a Microwave without The Glass Door?
If it’s off-warranty, you’ll have to risk settling with aftermarket replacement parts, refurbished parts, or used parts to replace your broken door glass (which is risky in and of itself).
What Happens When You Put Glass in the Microwave?
Most thick glass with the microwave-safe label can be used as a microwaveable container. If it’s unlabeled as microwave-safe, test how microwave-safe it is before using it as a food reheating dish.
This is because some types of glass do absorb microwave radiation and can get hot to the point of being superheated and dangerous. Glass that’s not transparent against these short-frequency radiowaves will get so hot that they risk breaking due to thermal shock.
Some glass containers contain tiny air bubbles that get affected by microwave rays. In turn, microwaving them can result in cracking, shattering, or altogether exploding inside your microwave, thus damaging it.
The Summation of Thoughts
You can microwave without a turntable if you’re using a flatbed microwave. If it’s a turntable microwave, you can use it too but with certain caveats and problems to deal with. As long as the door’s glass is undamaged, you can microwave your bagel or pizza.
The main issue here is that the food isn’t rotating. This means that during microwaving, you’ll end up with more cold spots and hot spots compared to a turntable microwave with a functioning disc and turntable.
- “Can You Use Microwave Without Turntable?“, Homex.com, Retrieved August 5, 2021
- “What does a spinning glass plate do in a microwave? What is its functional purpose?“, Quora.com, May 11, 2017