Can You Put Olive Garden To-Go Containers In The Microwave?

Alex Praytor
by Alex Praytor

Olive Garden is well-known for its Italian cuisine, endless salads, and delicious breadsticks. Not only do they serve good comfort food, but their portions are generous. A meal can very well leave you with leftovers to take to work with you the next day. Zap it in the office lounge’s microwave and you have a free lunch! Will you need to bring along a microwaveable dish to reheat your pasta, or can you microwave your dish directly in the container?

Unlike many restaurants that pack up your to-go food in cheap Styrofoam, Olive Garden provides you with a hardy takeaway dish that is safe for the microwave. This means you can easily reheat your food straight from the container! Some customers also have reported success with putting Olive Garden to-go containers in the dishwasher.

We’ll compare Olive Garden’s to-go containers against other takeaway dishes and also share some best practices for reheating your favorite Italian Food.

What Makes Olive Garden Plastic Containers Different from Your Average To-Go Container?

Many to-go containers are just sturdy enough to get your food home. Very few are microwave-safe and many are not even recyclable.

Olive Garden has been criticized in the past for spending too much on these to-go containers. According to, a hedge fund manager accused Olive Garden of over-engineering its to-go boxes, reporting that Olive Garden spends $22 million on plastic packaging alone. Olive Garden replied that these to-go boxes better preserve the quality of the food and are also a more sustainable product than Styrofoam.

Whether or not these microwave-safe doggy bags are the best business strategy for Olive Garden is beyond the scope of this article. However, we do know that Olive Garden’s customer-centric philosophy makes our reheating process much more streamlined.

Tips for Reheating Your Olive Garden To-Go

If you ordered takeout, it should come hot and ready to eat in its to-go container. However, if you get stuck in traffic on the way home, or can’t eat your whole dish, you will probably want to heat it back up at some point. In the meantime, keep your food out of the temperature danger zone (40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) by keeping it in the fridge until you are ready to reheat it.

So, what is the best way to reheat your Olive Garden pasta? Is the microwave the way to go, or is reheating in the oven preferable? The answer to this question will depend on where you are taking your takeout, and how you like to eat your pasta.

The Microwave

A microwave can be your best option if you are taking your food to work or you are short on time. Most likely, your workplace will not have an oven. Even if it did, you may not want to spend your whole break time waiting for the oven to warm up cook your dish. Olive Garden’s to-go containers make it easy to take food with you wherever you want to go. You can bring your food, reheat it, and eat it using the same container. You don’t have to rifle through the cupboard for microwave-safe containers or wash any extra dishes.

While some dishes taste better when you reheat with an oven, a microwave tends to work better for reheating pasta. When you microwave your pasta, you will generally end up with a softer, more evenly cooked dish than you will get with the oven.

An Oven Reheat

If you prefer to not use the microwave to reheat your food, it is possible to reheat your Olive Garden pasta in the oven. Just make sure to transfer the food from its plastic container to an oven-safe dish! While microwaving pasta will give you a soft, evenly warmed pasta dish, reheating pasta in the oven can give you an al dente result. The liquids in the pasta will reduce when heated. When reheating pasta in the oven even more liquid cooks out. This leaves the top of your dish a little crunchy, and the bottom layer a bit softer.

Reheating your pasta in the oven will generally give you a drier dish than a microwave will. However, to each his own!

How to Reheat Pasta in the Microwave

Leftovers don’t always measure up to the taste of the dish the first time around. If you take care with your reheating process, though, you can preserve more of its deliciousness. Here are some tips to preserve both taste and texture when you reheat your Olive Garden pasta in the microwave:

Step 1: Add water to your dish

Add a bit of water to your microwave-safe to-go container. This can keep moisture in to revive your pasta.

Step 2: Pop your dish into the microwave

Heat your pasta in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Step 3: Stir

Stir your pasta to make sure the sauce evenly coats your pasta. Stirring also keeps it from sticking together.

Step 4: Heat again

Heat your pasta for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Step 5: Repeat

Repeat this process until your pasta is heated to taste.

Related Questions

How do you can you tell if a container is microwave safe?

The bottom of a dish is usually marked with “microwave-safe” or a symbol with wavy lines. Also, if you see a dish with #5, this means that it is made out of polypropylene (PP). Usually, PP dishes will be microwave-safe.

Can you put aluminum to-go containers in the microwave?

No, it is not a good idea to use disposable aluminum containers in the microwave. This could wreak havoc on your microwave, and possibly your home if it creates a fire. You will want to transfer your food to a microwave-safe dish in order to reheat it. Plastics, ceramics, and even glass containers are often microwave-safe.

Can you recycle or reuse plastic to-go containers?

Many plastic to-go containers can be recycled or reused. For example, #2, #4 and #5 containers are generally recyclable or reusable. Styrofoam takeaway containers are usually not able to be recycled. You will also not want to reuse Styrofoam as it can leak out toxins over time.

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.

More by Alex Praytor