Can You Put Metal Bowls In The Microwave? (Find Out Now!)

Alex Praytor
by Alex Praytor

Metal bowls are virtually indestructible and great for preparing food in the kitchen. Your bowl is filled with food prep and you just want to zap it a bit in your microwave. Can you put your metal bowl in the microwave, or do you need to transfer it to another dish?

You can put some metal bowls in a modern microwave without them throwing off sparks or “arcing,” however, this doesn’t mean you should. Metal bowls reflect microwave rays and they may block your food from reheating properly. Also, if your bowl has rough edges or it touches the walls of the microwave, it could start a firework show. Play it safe and only use microwave-safe dishes.

Let’s see how microwave-safe metal bowls are or are not and take a look at how microwaveable other materials are.

Metal Bowls and Microwaves

We’ve all heard horror stories about putting metal in the microwave. I’ve even experienced it first-hand. I remember as a kid putting my gold accented Christmas mug in the microwave and the sparks and ash that flew. This was enough to cement it in my mind that putting metal in the microwave is a no-no.

However, if you scroll through stories on the net, you find that some people have popped metal bowls in the microwave and nothing happened. So, how does that work? Is metal microwave-safe, or will you burn your house down if you put metal in the microwave?

Can Metal Go In the Microwave?

The short answer to this question is, no, metal should not go in the microwave. However, some types of metal are more likely to spark or “arc” in your microwave than others. Microwaves heat by sending out microwaves, which are, essentially, small radio waves. This wavy combination of electricity and magnetism can cook your food quickly.

Metal tends to block this radiation and then sends the microwaves of electricity back where they came from. If the metal you put in the microwave is jagged or pointy, you are beginning a Benjamin Franklin and his kite and key type of experiment. The sparks are going to fly.

However, if your metal is thick and has smooth edges or curves, it is probably not going to react with your microwave.

Why Some Metal Bowls Don’t Spark

Metal bowls are slightly safer than other types of metal objects, for a few reasons:

  • They generally have no poky edges, or sparkly paint to react with the microwaves.
  • Stainless steel bowls are usually made out of fairly thick metal.

Before you try putting your metal bowl in your microwave at home, you will want to be sure that:

  • The metal does not touch the sides of the microwave.
  • Your bowl is not touching any other metal, such as a metal spoon.
  • The bowl has no rough edges.
  • Your bowl is not made of thin material.

Problems with Putting Metal Bowls in the Microwave

While it may be possible to zap your food in a metal bowl, there are a few reasons you probably shouldn’t:

  • Your food may not heat up.

The whole point of putting food in the microwave is to heat it up. However, cooking your food in metal in the microwave can prevent your food from heating. This means that you have to work longer and harder to accomplish your desired result. You are better off transferring your food into a glass, ceramic, or plastic dish that is safe for microwave use.

  • It may cause arcing.

Even if you believe that your bowl has no jagged edges and it is not touching any microwave sides, it is still best to use a microwave-approved dish. Your bowl may have a rough corner where it was dropped one time, or it may be too thin to withstand the microwave rays. This can cause sparking or fire in your microwave oven.

  • You could ruin your microwave.

While your bowl may survive the blasts of the microwave, the microwave itself may not be so lucky. Since metal reflects energy in microwaves, this can send the micro radio waves back where they came from. This can weaken the magnetron making your microwave unusable.

Can Other Metals Go in the Microwave?

While a thick stainless steel bowl may be able to survive a microwave without any immediate (or visible) negative outcome, this doesn’t mean that you can pop any piece of metal in the microwave. Many objects such as forks, metal accents on dishes, crinkled foil, and thin pieces of metal can spark and/or catch on fire. This can ruin your microwave and also can be hazardous to your health and home. Better to avoid using metal in your microwave and stick to the dishes you know are microwave-safe!

Related Guide: Can You Put A Metal Spoon In The Microwave?

Microwave-Safe Alternatives

Glass, reusable plastics, ceramics, and even bone china can be microwave-safe options for reheating your food. Make sure your dish does not have any metal accents, inlays, or glue. You can look for a microwave-safe label to be sure that your dish is designed for microwave use. Once you have chosen an appropriate bowl, put your dish in the microwave for some warm and yummy food!

Related Questions

Can I use a metal bowl in the oven?

While it is not a good idea to use metal bowls in the microwave, there are many metal cookware items that can be used in the oven. This is because a microwave and an oven have two completely different heating systems. Stainless, aluminum, and steel are generally safe for oven use. Just be sure that your cooking ware does not have any wood, plastic, or glued pieces before you put it in the oven. When in doubt, check to see if your piece has an “oven-safe” label.

Can I put a metal dish in an air fryer?

Yes, you should be able to put metal, glass, silicone, and other materials in an air fryer. Make sure your dish is oven-proof and can withstand the high heat of an air fryer. Also, don’t use any dishes with plastic or glued-on handles in an air fryer.

Can I put a plastic bowl in the microwave?

Yes, many plastics are microwave-safe. Most reusable plastic containers such as Tupperware will be microwave-safe. However, if your dish is made out of single-use plastic, it may not be safe to use in your microwave. Check to make sure that your plastic bowl has a microwave-safe label or symbol before popping it into the microwave.

Alex Praytor
Alex Praytor

Alex Praytor is a native Texan who got her degree in English Literature and decided to travel the globe. She finds the architecture and design of homes across cultures fascinating. In her spare time, she visits coffee shops with her family and creates projects for their own home. Alex enjoys sharing tips on how to keep repairs up to date while turning a house into a home.

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