Everyone that is familiar with freestanding microwaves should also know what a turntable is. It’s the glass disc that turns or rotates the food so that it gets evenly cooked by the microwaves or short frequency radio waves from the magnetron.
However, did you know there’s another way to microwave food without the turntable? There is actually a type of microwave that doesn’t feature the glass disc.
What Is Microwave Without Turntable (A Flatbed Microwave)?
A microwave without a turntable or a flatbed microwave is a microwave that (obviously) doesn’t use a turntable. That much is obvious. What isn’t obvious is that this microwave uses antennas in order to stimulate the water molecules of food with a rotational wave of short-frequency radio waves.
In other words, instead of the turntable method of rotating food like a rotisserie chicken but on a disc instead of a spit, a flatbed microwave works by making the microwaves bounce off of rotating antennas. It lets the microwaves rotate around the food instead of rotating the food.
In fact, this is a more effective method of evenly or uniformly cooking your meals when compared to the traditional method of rotating glass discs. This also results in the turntable having more space to spare compared to its turntable counterpart.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Microwave without a Turntable
Not all flatbed microwaves guarantee perfectly uniform cooking results simply because not all of them are made equal. Some are better at the rotational antenna or hidden stirring blade cooking than others. Pay more attention to the quality of the microwave when push comes to shove.
A cost-effective flatbed microwave is one that fits your budget, that has great reviews on Amazon, and you’ve tried out and confirmed to be a perfect fit for your specific needs.
Just remember that the main caveat of this microwave type is the ability to fit more dishes into the microwave and to improve even or uniform heating on food (with stirring assistance on your part) to reduce hotspots or uncooked portions.
Should I Buy a Flatbed or Turntable Microwave?
Do you have a big family or do you wish to get a flatbed microwave for commercial applications? A flatbed microwave is the way to go. In such scenarios, users don’t have time to clean the microwave after every use.
Therefore, a microwave without a turntable can make it easy for them to clean and prep the inside of the microwave for multiple light-duty, medium-duty, to heavy-duty use.
A turntable microwave is “superior” to flatbeds in personal applications for several reasons, chief among them affordability and power. In a recreational vehicle, you have to limit power usage from 700 watts to under a kilowatt to not overload the vehicle’s battery.
This is also the case with tenants renting apartments that couldn’t afford expensive utilities. They need to limit your power usage and a 700-watt microwave can help them on that end.
It’s nice to be able to clean up spillovers on a flatbed, but the petite turntable microwave is much cheaper to use because it’s not used as much in home settings.
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Advantages of a Microwave without Turntable
There are many advantages to getting a microwave without turntable or a flatbed microwave oven—chief among them increased capacity or a more spacious interior with lots of headroom due to the lack of a glass table and rotating mechanism hogging the floor or bed.
Even Food Cooking
This is an important feature of turntable-free microwaves. Flatbeds definitely benefit from having the rotational antenna design in order to bounce the microwaves around the food instead of making the food rotate around bouncing microwaves. The waves penetrate deep into the food.
Also, there are fewer instances of hotspots or cold spots. Everything has an even temperature more or less. If you rotate the food or stir the sauce in the middle of cooking the more assured you are of uniform heat across the board.
The spacious interior of flatbed microwaves offers them a much bigger cooking volume when compared to the standard turntable design of most freestanding microwaves. They’re likelier to fit bigger plates and bowls too for good measure.
This design gives you even better flexibility, to the point of being able to heat multiple dishes at the same time. You can even fit awkwardly shaped containers with fancy handles or lids and the like.
Fit More Dishes for Faster Cooking
Satisfy your personal cooking needs by easily fitting all sorts of dishes of any shape and certain sizes due to all the extra cooking space afforded to you by the inimitable turntable-less microwave. This also ensures faster cooking.
Why? You can cook more dishes at the same time in plastic or ceramic containers by stacking them strategically instead of being forced to cook every irregular dish one after the other.
It’s easier to clean a microwave that doesn’t have a turntable. Without the rotating motor and glass disc, the flatbed microwave is easier to clean. It’s like cleaning the inside of a metal box. You won’t have to take out the glass disc and plastic wheels for manual hand-washing or machine dishwashing.
There’s less splashing or sloshing of the unmoving food as well now that it’s the microwaves that will be moving around it instead of the other way around.
Fewer Moving Parts to Worry About
One of the most common repair issues of a turntable microwave is ostensibly accidentally dropping the disc and breaking it. You have to order a new disc on Amazon and sometimes, you’ll end up with the stocks for it sold out.
When dealing with high-volume usage, there’s a good chance that your glass turntable will end up broken by impact or by simple repeated heating and cooling, resulting in what’s known as thermal shock.
Disadvantages of a Microwave without Turntable
A flatbed is better than a turntable microwave at uniform heating due to the nature of its construction and design. However, this doesn’t guarantee perfect cooking results. Its advantages should be tempered with stirring, presence of mind, and mindful incremental microwaving.
It doesn’t follow that just because a model of microwave is flatbed that means it’s good. Pay attention to its other specs. Make sure it got good user reviews. Try it out for yourself and test out its performance capacity-wise and in terms of cooking time.
Don’t force yourself to pay for an overly expensive microwave but at the same time, don’t get an in-budget flatbed with severely reduced capacity, power, and presets.
Home Use vs. Commercial Use
Sometimes, even a humble mini microwave with simple cooking and heating abilities is better than your average flatbed. Why? It’s because flatbeds are typically designed more for commercial use, lunchroom use, or restaurant use.
It might be too pricey for personal use, family use, or mobile home use. Also, the limited power required in smaller kitchens or RVs give the turntable microwave an edge over its bigger, more powerful counterpart.
Expensiveness vs. Effectiveness
A flatbed is more expensive than the average freestanding turntable microwave exactly because of all the advantages it got over its turntable counterpart. It serves more people and cooks faster with its bigger capacity, so you have to pay for all those services.
If you do find an affordable flatbed microwave, check the specs to make sure it’s not sacrificing too much on other factors or features just to fit your budget.
What Is The Best Microwave Without Turntable?
We recommend the Panasonic NE-1054F. It’s no ordinary flatbed microwave. It doesn’t only depend on the lack of a turntable as is a selling point. It also comes complete with features like a dial control timer ($250) or touch screen ($280) version. It’s also commercial-grade and light-duty.
It’s capable of reaching a kilowatt or 1,000 watts of power in order to heat up food fitted inside its 0.8 cubic feet of interior capacity. Aside from that, it comes with heavy-duty stainless steel construction, a countertop installation type, and anti-theft/childproofed password protection.
It’s ideal for use in offices, hotels, cafeterias, break rooms, and full-service restaurants. You’re wasting its potential by using it as an extra expensive home microwave used 3 times a day though.
Further reading: What is the Best Microwave without Turntable Out There?
How to Use Microwave without Turntable?
You can use a microwave without a turntable the same way you’d use a microwave with a turntable. Just put the food in, make sure the lids are slightly open on its microwave-safe container dish, and set the time for cooking. You can choose between presets or manually input the time.
If you’re cooking something complicated for a lengthy period of time, you’ll be instructed to still heat up the food in 1 minute increments with pauses in between for rotating or stirring even if it is a flatbed with a better uniform microwaving design than your average cheap turntable mini microwave.
Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding flatbed microwaves.
What does the turntable button mean in a microwave?
A turntable button on the microwave means you have the option to turn off the turntable function of your microwave. This is found in models like G.E. The reason for this is varied. It might be used for some recipes requiring more manual stirring or turning on your part.
It might even involve advanced microwaves that have both the rotational antennas and steel rotors of the flatbed mixed with the turntable to allow for twin rotations from both the bouncing microwaves and the food itself.
For the most part, a turntable button could be used to stop the turntable in combo microwaves with a grill or convection oven function. Some have that button while others automatically keep the turntable still while in grill or convection mode.
Can you use a microwave without a turntable?
Of course, you can. However, it depends on what type. If it’s a turntable microwave and you attempt to use it without the disc, the microwave might have a safety feature that keeps you from turning it on until the disc is replaced.
Other microwaves can allow you to microwave food without the disc, but it comes with the risk of uneven cooking and hotspots (since that’s what the disc is for). In the case of a flatbed microwave designed to not have a disc, of course you can use it fine without it!
Can I glue the microwave turntable?
We strongly recommend to not glue back a shattered microwave plate or disc if you broke it or if the repeated reheating sessions led to it breaking care of thermal shock. It’s much safer and better to buy a replacement turntable disc than to use a compromised disc.
This is especially true of certain glues that literally become unglued when exposed to microwave radiation. This is also an issue with cardboard takeout boxes that’s been glued together.
Can you use a microwave without the glass plate?
A flatbed microwave obviously uses rotational antennas to microwave food, so it can work without the glass plate just fine. If you’re talking about turntable microwaves that come with a glass plate, then technically, yes.
Some turntable microwaves, as mentioned earlier, won’t even start without the glass plate or disc put onto it the same way they automatically stop when you open them suddenly in the middle of microwaving something. This is a safety feature, after all.
For more primitive microwaves that function even with the glass disc in the dishwasher, this usually results in food that’s unevenly cooked—hot on one side, cold on another. You need to have that glass plate replaced if you want to use your turntable microwave!
Do Inverter Microwaves have a turntable?
Panasonic’s Inverter System claims to have a controlled power system that provides a continuous heating stream to ensure food is uniformly cooked. The Inverter System is usually paired up with their flatbed models instead of their turntable models.
The rotational blades or antennas of the flatbed design apparently works best with an inverter microwave compared to the simpler microwave-distribution design of a typical standard turntable microwave.
Inverter microwaves are more often than not flatbed microwaves the same way flatbed microwaves are more often than not commercial-grade light-duty to medium-duty microwaves. Each and every design aspect complements one another.
Can a microwave turntable be repaired?
Nah. Get a new one. It’s like a broken dish or plate. You can glue it together all you want. You might even use Japanese gold repair to fix it. However, in the end, the dish or glass plate has been forever compromised with parts of it ready to unravel at the slightest bump or impact.
Heating up a cracked glass turntable will only result in breakage down the line. A gummed-up or malfunctioning rotational device under the turntable almost always requires the replacement of the whole unit.
The glass disc is at least replaceable as long as such parts are in-stock. If the turntable mechanism itself isn’t spinning, you might have to spend almost as much in repairing it as you would in buying a brand-new model!
Does it matter if the microwave doesn’t spin?
Yes and no. For a standard turntable microwave, a microwave with a non-spinning turntable means uneven food cooking and heating. For a flatbed, there’s no turntable and glass disc to spin because it uses hidden blades or antennas to distribute its microwave all around and into the food itself.
In short, while a flatbed can work without spinning, a turntable microwave with a non-spinning turntable requires more stop-and-go microwaving to do some soup-stirring or manual food rotation on your part.
Even so, some recipes of quiche or soup bowls will recommend to you to rotate or stir the dish to evenly distribute the parts of the food that’s already been heated since the rotating turntable can only control so much microwave ray distribution.
Why do microwaves have turntables?
Microwaves have turntables because turntables help rotate the food to ensure even cooking. Unlike ovens that have all-encompassing conductive heat in order to cook food from the outside to the inside, the penetrative short-frequency radiowaves of a microwave heats food up inside-out.
This can result in more hotspots and cold spots than the sun itself depending on where the microwave rays are bouncing inside your metal box of a cooking machine. Ergo, you have a glass plate connected to a rotational mechanism that turns your food around rotisserie-style.
A convection combo microwave can reduce uneven heating with convection fans but for the most part, all non-flatbed microwaves depend on the rotating turntable style of cooking.
Keep in Mind the Following
A flat rotating disc is usually ineffective when it comes to microwaving food evenly. Or at least it attempt to since this technique of rotating the food in alternating rotations of clockwise and counterclockwise.
A flatbed microwave does microwaving in a more even, constant, uniform, or holistic fashion. Instead of moving the food 360° like the earth rotating on its own axis, it’s the antennas that bounce the microwaves all over the food.
Like an orbiting satellite or the moon around the earth, the antennas distribute the short-frequency radiowaves all around the food item evenly.
- What is the Best Microwave without Turntable Out There? , microwaveninja.com, 2021
- “Flatbed Microwaves vs Turntable Microwaves: Which Is Best?“, MyBudgetRecipes.com, Retrieved May 29, 2021
- Zoey Luke, “Microwave Without Turntable: Pros & Cons, Top Picks and More“, HomeMicrowave.com, May 29, 2020