Microwave ovens top the ranks as the most useful appliances. You can use them for cooking meals fast, reheating food, thawing that chicken you forgot to take out of the freezer, and even making hot drinks on a whim.
However, there are a few rules to follow when using these ovens: everything has to be prepared in a special, microwave-friendly food storage container. So, what are the best microwave containers you can buy?
With so many options out there, finding the right ones can be a challenge. After hours of researching and testing, I found the best ones so that you don’t have to test and trial them yourself. Check the winners below.
How to choose the best food-grade plastic containers?
Finding microwave-safe containers is challenging, mostly because few people know what to look for. Things get even trickier if said containers are made of plastic. Here’s how to check them to make sure they are safe to use in your oven.
Plastic is a generic term referring to a range of synthetic materials. Food packaging and containers are generally made of three types of plastic: polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or polystyrene (Styrofoam).
PET and Styrofoam plastics are excellent choices for general storage and takeout businesses. However, their operating temperature maxes out at around 160°F to 195°F.
Microwave ovens operate at a temperature of about 212°F. Thus, neither PET nor Styrofoam are suitable choices for heating or reheating in the microwave.
Polypropylene is the only microwave-friendly plastic. Depending on the type of polypropylene used, some containers are also suitable to go directly from the freezer to the microwave.
When buying a plastic container for a microwave, it helps to check out whether the container you want is microwave-safe.
Even polypropylene containers are not always safe to use in a microwave oven. You can check this by looking at the container’s bottom. A microwave-safe plastic symbol shows you that you can use it in the microwave without worries. If the container also has a snowflake symbol on its bottom, it can go in the freezer too and is generally safe to use from freezer to microwave.
Other symbols imprinted on the container bottom designate whether it’s safe to wash it in the dishwasher and whether or not the material contains BPA.
Talking about BPA, it is crucial to invest in microwave containers that are BPA-free. BPA stands for bisphenol A, a molecule that can have negative effects on the brain and hormonal system of fetuses, infants, and children.
BPA is present in many plastic products (sometimes even in ones that are labeled as BPA-free) and can be released by heat.
For this reason, it is often recommended to avoid using plastic containers in the microwave and go for glass or porcelain containers instead.
How can you tell if a container is safe for your microwave?
The easiest way to tell whether a glass or plastic container is microwave-safe or not is by checking its label. Microwave-safe containers are generally marked with a symbol.
As a rule of thumb, here’s a list of materials that can go in your microwave oven:
- Microwave-safe plastic
- Microwave-safe paper
Never use other materials in your oven, including aluminum foil or aluminum containers, dishes or bowls with metallic designs, cardboard, takeout containers, paper towels, melamine, or Styrofoam.
Which containers are best suited for microwave use?
Glass and ceramic containers are generally the best suited for microwave use. High-quality containers made of microwave-safe plastic are also safe, but keep in mind that the plastic material could still release harmful chemicals when heated.
Are microwave-safe containers really safe?
Not all microwave-safe containers are really safe. As mentioned above, glass and ceramic meal prep containers are your safest option.
However, you should pick microwaveable containers that don’t contain lead or other heavy metals. Lead is commonly used in the glassmaking industry to make the melted glass easier to work with and to make the finished product clear and less flawed.
Plastic containers, especially the cheaper ones, are also unsafe to use in the microwave, even if they are labeled otherwise.
All plastics can release harmful chemicals. However, cheap plastic starts to release these molecules at lower temperatures compared to high-end containers. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid using plastic in the microwave oven at all times. The only exception is reheating foods that already come in microwave-safe packaging.
Best Microwavable Containers Reviewed
1. M MCIRCO Glass Meal Prep Containers
Compartmented microwave and oven-safe containers are hard to come by, but this set from M MCIRCO can suit your needs. These meal prep containers are made from borosilicate glass and are divided into two convenient compartments. One of them is larger, perfect for holding your main meal, whereas the smaller one is ideal for a side or dessert.
The glass contains no lead and is strong enough to resist temperature changes. The bowls can go from fridge to microwave or oven, and you can even store them in the freezer.
Cleaning is also a cinch, thanks to the dishwasher-safe material. Another highlight is the airtight lid.
One thing to keep in mind is that the lid is made of plastic. Thus, you should take it off before placing the meal prep container in the microwave or oven.
A minor downside is the durability of the lid latches, which isn’t impressive. However, you can replace the lids with silicone ones for airtight storage and longer durability.
This set comprises five identical meal prep containers – an excellent choice for preparing your meals in advance for the whole week.
2. EcoPreps Glass Food Storage Containers
If you’re looking for a set of microwave containers with lids made of materials other than plastic, you should check out the EcoPreps.
These glass containers come with airtight bamboo lids – the lids are still unsuitable to use in the microwave, but you won’t have to be concerned about BPA and other potential chemicals.
The lids have a silicone seal that prevents leaks and spills. At the same, an adjustable vent on top of the lid helps you keep your food fresh.
Made from shatterproof, borosilicate glass, these microwave containers resist temperatures between -5°F and 750°F. They can go straight from the fridge to the oven (or vice versa) and are ideal for holding your entire lunch meal.
The set comprises four containers of different sizes. Container capacities vary from 12.5 to 50 ounces (370ml to 1520ml) – an excellent choice if you want an eco-friendly product.
3. M MCIRCO Glass Food Storage Containers
Similar to microwaveable plastic food storage containers but better, these borosilicate glass containers from M MCIRCO are another excellent choice.
They are very similar to the Meal Prep variant but don’t have compartments. The set includes 12 containers of different sizes, with capacities from 11.2 to 35.5oz. Sure, the smallest glass food storage container is truly small, but you can still use it for a variety of purposes.
Like the other models from the brand, these containers are made from resistant glass. You can store them in the fridge or freezer and transfer them directly to the microwave or oven without worrying about them cracking or breaking.
The airtight lids are made of plastic but come with innovative features designed to make cleaning a whole lot easier.
Not only is the rubber seal removable, but you can also remove the latches. However, the plastic and rubber parts are not dishwasher-friendly.
Also, keep in mind that the lids are not microwaveable. On the bright side, all containers are stackable for space-saving while storing.
4. Rubbermaid Easy Food Storage Containers
Another set of microwave reheating containers that caught our attention comes from Rubbermaid.
The main difference between this set and the sets above is the material: these containers are made of plastic. Sure, they are BPA-free and safe to use in the microwave (including the lids), but I wouldn’t recommend it if you have kids.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a set of cheap microwave containers and really don’t mind plastic, the Rubbermaid set is fantastic.
The main advantage compared to glass is that the containers don’t shatter if you drop them. The lid features a rubber seal, latch closure, and vents for splatter-resistant microwaving.
I also like the high-quality material, which is as clear as glass. This set comprises seven stackable containers.
5. VanEnjoy Ceramic Bowl with Lid
Glass and plastic microwave food containers are generally transparent. If you’d like something more colorful, the VanEnjoy ceramic bowl with a lid could suit you.
Designed to bring a splash of brightness to your breakfast or dinner table, this high-quality bowl features an elegant design and a large capacity (30 ounces).
Versatile and practical, this food container can hold anything from breakfast cereal to soups and full meals. The airtight lid creates a leak-proof seal, while the steam vent helps prevent that nasty condensation that can make your food soggy. The vent is also useful for keeping fruit and vegetables fresh.
Another highlight is the anti-scald handle that doesn’t get too hot. As you’d expect, the bowl is microwave and oven friendly. It can also go in the freezer and the dishwasher. However, you should never use the lid in the microwave nor place it in the dishwasher.
All in all, this microwave ceramic bowl comes as a great alternative to glass containers.
Best Microwavable Containers Comparison Table
|M MCIRCO Meal Prep||EcoPreps Containers||M MCIRCO Food Storage||Rubbermaid Containers||VanEnjoy Ceramic Bowl|
|Capacity||36 oz||12.5 to 50 oz||11.2 to 35.5 oz||0.5 to 9.6 cups||30 oz|
|N° of containers||5||4||12||7||1|
Best way to reheat food in the microwave in a container
When reheating food you’ve kept in a glass container, it could be tempting to just throw the container in the microwave oven and wait until the food is hot. However, doing so might not have the expected results. Here are the steps to follow to reheat food like a pro:
Remove the lid
Microwave cookware generally comes with lids. However, these lids don’t belong in the oven. Take the lid off before reheating your food – this would allow the microwaves to heat the food directly.
Deconstruct your meal
If you want to reheat a full meal consisting of various items, reheat each food separately. You should do this to prevent overcooking some items or eating partially heated food if some of the things on your plate don’t spend enough time in the oven.
Spread the food in an even layer
This step is important to prevent hot spots and overcooking.
Heat in intervals
Another secret to perfect reheating is to heat your meal in intervals. Set the reheat option to 30 or 60 seconds. Check the food, then add more time if needed.
What happens if you put a non-microwave-safe bowl in the microwave?
There are several reasons why you should avoid putting your non-microwave-safe lunch container in the microwave:
Fire hazard: Non-microwave materials like plastics and paper (cardboard) could catch fire when exposed to high temperatures. The more you let the bowl in the oven, the higher the risk.
Contamination risk: Some materials that are not designed to use at high temperatures could release toxic chemicals when heated to scalding levels. Plastics are the most notorious, but glass and ceramic (above all, the painted bowls) can also release noxious substances.
Damage: Non-microwave-safe bowls can crack or shatter when used in the microwave. If they have metallic details, they could also cause arcing and damage to your microwave oven.
How long can a plastic bowl be in the microwave?
Microwave-safe plastic bowls can stay in the microwave for as long as necessary. Microwaves generally cook foods fast, so there is nothing to worry about.
Is BPA free melamine safe?
BPA-free melamine is safe to use for general purposes but not safe to use in the microwave. Melamine, in general, is not a microwave-friendly material.
Microwave containers serve much more than cooking or reheating food. The best options resist high and low temperatures, meaning that you can also use them for storage.
When choosing, remember that borosilicate glass is your best bet, followed by ceramic and eventually heat-resistant plastic. With this in mind, I hope this guide can help you find the best food storage container for microwaves.