Microwaves are dependable when it comes to quickly heat and cooking food. This device type is also quite easy to use. Just put the food in, set the time, set the power, and microwave away! With that said, you should be careful when it comes to the size of microwave you have.
This is because it directly affects microwave capacity or the bigness of the microwave cavity.
What size does microwave fit a 9×13 pan?
A 0.7 cubic foot microwave from G.E. has a 12-inch wide, 12-inch deep, and 83/16-inch high microwave cavity. That’s an inch short of what you need in order to fit in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. A 1 cubic foot microwave can fit a 9×13 pan.
Many turntable microwaves should easily accommodate a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Anything below 1 cubic feet of interior space might be too small a fit for such a large tray. This is especially true of turntable microwaves that need to turn the food in order to even out microwave radiation exposure.
Flatbed vs. Turntable Microwaves
An 11-inch dinner plate can fit in even compact 0.7 cubic feet models. However, you need large capacities of 1 cubic foot and above in order to fit a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish (preferably a non-metal one).
If you’re looking to fit that pan in a microwave with a smaller cubic feet capacity than 1 cubic foot, then get a flatbed microwave with no turntable to give you the extra space you need for the tray without the requirement of turntable rotation.
See more: What is a Microwave without a Turntable (A Flatbed Microwave)? Things To Consider Before Buying
What’s the Best Capacity for a Microwave?
The 0.7 cubic foot mini microwave might not fit the 9×13 baking pan (microwave-safe plastic or ceramic), but it is a serviceable microwave capacity size for RVs, trailer homes, semi-trucks, and campers. It doesn’t use up all the AC/DC offered by your inverter, for example.
You can go as low as 0.5 cubic feet, but that’s practically the size of your daughter’s Easy-Bake Oven. An extra-large 2.2 cubic feet microwave is more of a commercial-grade one used to reheat multiple dishes or a whole pan pizza for a restaurant and whatnot.
Home or consumer-grade microwaves typically have a cubic foot of space and above inside them for all your family-sized serving needs. Yes, they’re large enough to accommodate the 9×13 baking pan to allow the turntable to spin.
What’s the Best Wattage for a Microwave?
The best microwave wattage you should purchase on average should (kind of) match the cubic feet of microwave capacity you should purchase on average as well. So that’s 1 kilowatt or 1,000 watts of wattage per 1 cubic foot of capacity. That’s our rule of thumb.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, they recommend microwaves that operate from 750 to 1,200 watts (1.2 kilowatts) of power for effective cooking. Anything below that cooks too slowly for most people’s taste.
Further reading: What is the Best Wattage for a Microwave?
The Capacity and Wattage Connection
It’s not a coincidence that the power level typically matches the microwave capacity. Bigger interiors require bigger wattages to effectively cook food. Also, when small capacities are paired up with high-powered microwaves, it’s a waste of power.
It’s best to go as high as possible in terms of wattages because high-power microwaves tend to cook food more evenly and much quicker. Most microwave recipes call for 700 to 800 watts of power. With that said, let’s talk about how you should go about using that wattage on your 9×13 tray.
You may also like: The Best Small Microwaves (600 or 700-watt)
Should You Defrost Your Food Inside the Package?
So you can fit the 9×13 pan inside your microwave of choice. What about the food you put on the 9×13 pan? Or perhaps it’s not food for microwaving but food for defrosting. When it comes to microwaving raw might right inside the package, it might seem like a good idea.
After all, the package can keep the nasty and messy meat juices inside the meat as it’s defrosted instead of all over you turntable and microwave (that’s where the tray comes in too). However, it’s actually harmful to keep it wrapped instead of unwrapping everything first.
Microwaved Plastic Chemicals Can Leach Unto the Meat
Chemicals from the foam tray or plastic wrap the meat was sold on can seep into the food as they’re heated up by the microwave, causing possible contamination of the BPA variety. Even if the tray is BPA-free, it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.
It’s advised by the FSIS to unwrap the meat from its Styrofoam package before being defrosted in your microwave or by sink-based defrost in order to avoid leakage of harmful plasticizers all over the frozen meat. Better use the separate 9×13 tray instead of the tray included with it.
Reduce Heat to 30 Percent or Hit the Defrost Button
Reduce the power to 30 percent or hit the defrost button. Don’t heat the frozen meat on high because this could cause inconsistent or uneven heating as well as cold spots where bacteria could form. Defrosting poultry and meats should be done gradually.
It’s also a bit of a disaster trying your best to roast beef, chicken, or pork inside your microwave when it’s not of the convection variety. If your microwave has no convection mode then it’s best to do your meat roasting of defrosted food inside a conventional oven.
Also remember that reheating seafood inside your microwave, particularly frozen seafood, is a no-no. It’s better to heat it slowly in the oven or go for a sink-based defrosting with water. Fitting the 9×13 pan inside your microwave won’t miraculously turn it into a baking oven.
The Big Picture
How big of a capacity should your microwave have in order for it to have room for a 9×13 pan? 1 cubic foot is your best bet. Also, a 1-kilowatt microwave is also the preferred microwave wattage for good measure. Flatbeds also work because they lack turntables that hog interior space.
The microwave has become a necessity in the modern kitchen in light of today’s busy lifestyle. You’d think the lockdowns would give people more time to cook, but everyone is working at home nowadays too, so their hectic schedule demands require instant cooking.
- “Microwave Buying Guide“, AJ Madison (AJMadison.com), Retrieved July 29, 2021
- Erica Chayes Wida, “8 mistakes people make when using a microwave“, Today.com, March 21, 2019