Microwave Cooking Tips - Dorm Room Cooking

When I say dorm room cooking, I don't mean boiling instant noodles or defrosting frozen corn dogs. With proper equipment, you can do lots of things with a simple microwave, from baking and browning to frying and steaming. To be honest, I prefer a traditional stove and oven myself. But if you are a college student living in a dorm, it's unlikely that you will have access to any kitchen luxuries. No stove. No toaster oven. No electric wok. No George Foreman grill. A microwave and a refrigerator are pretty much your whole kitchen. (Some dorms won't even allow these!) So you have to do what you got to do and make the best out of it. These nifty tips will teach you how to cook with a microwave properly and safely.

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How to Make Cookies in a Microwave

Microwave Cooking Tips - Baking

Patience-impaired people might find microwave baking quite delightful. It takes just about 7 - 15 minutes to bake a cake in a microwave, and 2 - 6 minutes to bake cookies. It could be a little tricky, though. Follow these guidelines for safe and successful microwave baking!

Temperature: High or medium high

Container: For baking a cake, microwave-safe glassware is the best. For cookies, use a microwave-safe plate lined with parchment paper.

Cooking Tips: One problem a lot of people have experienced when they try to bake a cake in a microwave is that the top seems to brown too fast while the bottom is still way undercooked. To avoid this cake disaster, make your batter slightly lighter than what you would normally make for a traditional oven. Also, try to cook it in a container that is large but not too deep. In other words, make your cake shorter.


Microwave Cooking Tips - Browning

Yes, you can brown all types of meat in a microwave and enjoy its crispy exterior! There're no magic ingredients or secret tricks; all you need is a microwave crisper.

Temperature: High heat

Container: You need a microwave browning plate or crisper tray in order to brown your food properly. You might come across some articles that say you can achieve the same browning effect by simply coating the bottom of a glass plate with butter or cooking spray, yet I have to disagree. It is doable, but the browning usually turns out pretty uneven. Also, most of the time, meat will release some of its natural liquid onto the bottom of the container while being cooked, which can cause it not to brown at all. With a microwave browning dish, you don't need to worry about that.

Cooking Tips: You need to warm the crisper in the microwave before using it. Follow the cooking duration guidelines in the manual religiously. You want your food brown and crisp, not burned!

How to Cook Scrambled Eggs in a Microwave

Microwave Cooking Tips - Frying

I mean stir frying, NOT deep frying. Don't try to deep fry in your microwave. I don't think it would work. Plus, it could be horrendously messy and dangerous. Stir frying, on the other hand, can be done in a microwave effectively and stress-free.

Temperature: High or medium high

Container: Any microwave-safe containers are fine. To prevent your food from splattering and getting dried out, you should put a lid over it. In case you don't have a container that comes with a lid, loosely cover the the top of it with a piece of white paper towel, parchment paper or microwave-safe plastic wrap.

Cooking Tips: A simple microwave stir-frying process would be to mix oil with other ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and cook. You will also need to take it out of the microwave at least once or twice during the cooking process, and stir it around so that everything will get cooked evenly. If your dish contains several ingredients of different sizes and textures, it's a good idea to cook the ones that are bigger and denser first instead of cooking everything together all at once. For example, if you're making a stir-fry dish that has onion, broccoli, mushrooms and spinach, you should add the spinach at the very end of the cooking process (the last 30 seconds) in order to prevent it from becoming too mushy.

Microwave Cooking Tips - Steaming

Steaming is probably the best method to cook fish, vegetables and rice in a microwave. While microwave baking and frying might not yield as good results as traditional stoves and ovens do, steaming food in a microwave often times can be as effective as any other types of steamers.

Temperature: Medium heat

Container: A microwave steamer is a nifty device designed for cooking small portions of food. It consists of 3 parts: the bottom tray for water, the middle tray where the food goes, and the lid. If you don't have much storage space in your dorm room, you might opt for microwave steam bags instead. The steamer tends to preserve the natural moisture and color of the food a bit better than the steam bag, though.

Cooking tips: For vegetable steaming, it's important that you cut your veggies uniformly and arrange them on the tray in a way that don't overlap one another. For cooking duration, consult the manual of your microwave steamer. If there is no manual at hand, you might have to keep checking the doneness every now and then. Once you remove the steamer from the microwave, open the lid immediately. (Watch out for the steam, though!) If you keep the lid closed for too long, the food might get overcooked from the residual heat.

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Comments 16 comments

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

You are right OM, you can cook just about anything in the microwave including chicken and rice.

When I ran out of gas for my stove, I was broke and used the microwave for about a month. I made oatmeal, brownies, chicken, rice and all sorts of things.

Great tips, not only will college students appreciate this but lazy people as well, for the microwave is perfect for making mac and cheese!..lol


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Haha you're right. Lazy cooks would probably find this useful, too. Thanks for the read and comment! :)


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Great tips on how to cook in the microwave - I confess that I only know how to warm things up in mine! It really is energy efficient and a great way to cook on 100+ degree days so I think I'll have to try some of these recipes!!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Well, I've never entertained the idea of using the microwave to do anything other than heat or reheat. Now I know and it sure will come in handy for the lazy days of summer. Rated up.


yogiwan profile image

yogiwan 5 years ago from Reno, NV

Good tip for the dorm/apartment resident. One additional item that is really useful is a rice cooker. All kinds of dishes are easily prepared using the rice cooker (beside rice). Too bad I no longer have these at my web store.

yogiwan

http://yoursmartkitchen.com


marellen 5 years ago

Om....I don't know about using the microwave for making all those things but if I had to, I would give it a try. Very informative hub.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@akirchner - You've made a good point, Audrey! It could really be a great device to use when you don't want to heat up your kitchen.

@anglnwu - Thanks! Glad you found this useful. :)

@yogiwan - Hey! Thanks for the read. :)

@marellen - Yeah, I can see why you would be reluctant to use a microwave to bake or brown food. I admit it won't be as effective as an oven or a grill. But like I said, dorm dwellers might have no other choice. :)


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

These are really great tips! Oh, if only I had read this before my freshman year- hahaa :D


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

haha...Although you don't live in a dorm anymore, I'm sure you still have a microwave. So you can use these tips whenever you're lazy or not in the mood for time-consuming cooking. =D


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Very true! These are some great time-saving tips.


tebo profile image

tebo 5 years ago from New Zealand

I only use the microwave for defrosting and heating. Sometimes I make white sauce in there but you have many great ideas for its use.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Thanks for the read and comment, tebo. :)


shampa sadhya profile image

shampa sadhya 5 years ago from NEW DELHI, INDIA

Voted up and useful. Thanks for great tips. I consider microwave as very handy cooking medium and your tips are really very useful.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed this. And thanks for the read and feedback. :)


sfshine profile image

sfshine 4 years ago from Michigan

Very useful information for the dorm people and for all. Many of us do not know how to cook in microwave except heating already cooked food. Also slow cooker can be used for cooking for dorm life. Recently I have gotten some brownie recipes for microwave from utube.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

Yeah, I have tried making brownies in a microwave before. They weren't as great as brownies from a traditional oven but not too bad, either.

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