Don’t Stir the Pot: Make It in the Microwave Instead

Hot Chocolate in a Pot

Hot Chocolate in a Pot

image: Sifu Renka

When I see certain words in a recipe, I know I will be cooking it in the microwave.  “Stir constantly” or “Place in a double boiler” (see note) are two that set off alarm bells for me.

Recipes call for these instructions when a food has little moisture, and is likely to burn, solidify, or scorch. These foods must cook slowly, and in the days before microwaves they had to be watched carefully.

The microwave has several advantages when you need to cook or heat gently:

  1. The microwave starts heating the food as soon as you turn it on. On the stove, foods often burn when the cook abandons them while the food is coming to a boil.
  2. You can set a microwave to cook or heat food for only a few seconds.
  3. It turns itself off, so you can check and stir when you are available
  4. More moisture remains in the food.
  5. Utensils are easier to clean, since the food won’t crust or scorch.

Notice that pot of hot chocolate at the top of the page. It looks delicious, but would you want to wash that?

Beware: Gentle foods like eggs and chocolate get overcooked in the microwave too. Stop the microwave just before the food is ready, because it will continue cooking after the microwave goes off.

Here are some examples of foods that should be heated or cooked in the microwave:

  • Chocolate.
  • White sauce. (Look for the recipe tomorrow.)
  • Fruit.
  • Candy.
  • Custards, hollandaise or any sauce made with eggs.
  • Soups, sauces, puddings or drinks made with milk, that shouldn’t be allowed to boil. Boiling milk leaves a film on  top.

Want to know how?

Tune in tomorrow (Wednesday) and I’ll walk you through a simple white sauce. You’ll need butter, milk, flour, a microwave-safe bowl, a plastic spatula, and a mixing spoon. And a microwave. If you have some vegetables like onions, celery, or mushrooms on hand, all the better. Pasta too.

I’m starting a new discussion on microwave cooking on the Facebook CookingManager.Com page. You can ask questions here or there.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

Microwave Myths

Microwave-Safe Utensils

Sweet Bread Pudding (commenter Ilana made this in the microwave and was very pleased)


  1. Hm, I’ve cooked things like rice and potatoes in the microwave. This is a clever twist.

  2. I have made sauces in the microwave before but admit that I could use it more often. I just don’t think about it.