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Can You Microwave Paper Plates? (Yes, But It Depends)

Paper plates are so convenient when it comes to heating food. But can you microwave paper plates? Is it really safe?


Yes! Paper plates are safe for use in the microwave as long as they’re print-free. Printed, plastic-coated, or decorated can’t go into the microwave as they can easily leach harmful chemicals into your food or catch fire. 

Can you microwave paper plates


Keep reading the post to understand why microwaving paper plates is safe, how to microwave food on paper plates, and safety measures to keep in mind. 


Why Do I Use Paper Plates (Benefits)

Paper plates come with an array of benefits in the first place. It makes sense that most people are using them mostly for quick use and home needs. These plates are preferred because:

  •  They minimize the hassle of clean-up. 
  • Easy to dispose of them after use.  
  • They’re much safer than ceramic or glass plates, which can easily break. 
  • These plates are considered as a quick and easy way to reheat food, a

Is It Safe To Microwave Paper Plates?

It depends on how they’re made. Not all paper plates are safe for use in the microwave. Remember that there are all sorts of papers out there to choose from. 


Having said that, you should be cautious when choosing paper plates to use in the microwave. The easiest way to identify a microwavable paper plate is by checking the “safe for microwaving” label. 


Some paper plates feature a plastic coating that makes them sturdy, and using them in the microwave may not be safe. 


On the other hand, some of the paper plates made of plastic coating can be microwaved; it depends on the type of coating it contains, but it can be a bit hard to tell the right one.


A good example is Dixie products- The brand advertises that its paper plates are microwave-safe, heavy-duty yet they contain a plastic coating. You can put both hot and cold dishes in their containers without worrying about any toxic substances leaching into your food. 


In summary, it is safe to reheat food in the microwave with paper plates. The only thing you should be cautious about is the temperature settings and time because they play an essential role.


How to Safely Microwave Food on A Paper Plate 

According to the USDA, you should avoid bleached or dyed paper plates at all costs. There are two essential things you to consider when microwaving paper plates; time and temperature.


  • Temperature: Before reheating your food, first check the temperature settings. It’s not advisable to use high heat. The ideal option is to reheat it using the reheat setting. For best results, heat the food at a 30 seconds interval.
  • Time: According to the USDA, the standard microwaving time is two minutes for paper plates. You should not let the paper plate sit in a microwave for more than two minutes; otherwise, the plate might begin to warp.

When reheating food using paper plates, it’s important to take some preventive measures into consideration. 


Safety Measures To Ensure Your Food is Safely and Adequately Microwaved

  • Do not use brown paper bags to microwave your food as they can easily catch fire
  • Do not cover the food in the microwave with foil because it can cause sparks inside the microwave.
  • You should never put an empty paper plate in the microwave because the plate could get damaged as well as the gadget itself since microwaves work by radiating electromagnetic waves.
  • You should not reheat oily foods on paper plates. Simply, paper plates tend to absorb the oil then go soggy. If there’s no alternative, place a paper towel beneath the food so that it can absorb oil.
  • Cover the food while reheating because the moisture in the food tends to splatter. A paper towel is the most recommended way. Ensure there’s a small opening to avoid any explosion.

Note: paper plates should only be used to reheat food and not cook.  When cooking, you’ll have to use high heat. If a paper plate is set at high for an extended period, it might be too hot to touch, or the plate might deform.


If you’re uncertain about the paper plate you have, there is a simple test you can perform to ascertain that it is microwave-safe or not. The steps are as follows:

  • Fill a small container with water. 
  • Place both the container and the paper plate next to each other inside the microwave
  • Microwave the two at high heat for one minute

If the paper plate is cool and the water is warm, then it is microwave safe, but if the paper plate is warm and the water is cold, then it’s definitely not safe for use in the microwave.


Why Did My Paper Plate Catch Fire in the Microwave?

Most paper products, including paper plates, are safe for use in the microwave. However, coffee cups and brown paper bags aren’t designed to be set in the microwave as they can easily catch fire when heated at high temperatures.


Can You Microwave Serve-ware Paper Plates?

Serve-ware paper plates aren’t microwave-safe because they either have a plastic coating or chemicals that can leach into your food when heated.


How Long Can You Put Paper Plates in the Microwave For?

Warming food on paper plates should take less than 5 minutes. The longer you leave your food on a paper plate inside the microwave, the more it becomes unsafe. 


Final Thoughts on Microwaving Paper Plates

Any plain or unprinted paper plate is for safe microwaving because it doesn’t contain any hazardous chemicals. 


Printed, dyed, or plastic-coated paper plates should never be used in a microwave as it’s flammable and contains dangerous chemicals that can leach into your food when heated. 


To be on the safer side, use the safety precautions provided above or perform a small test to ensure the plate at hand is safe. 


Paper plates offer so much convenience, so the next time you want to have a quick snack, you can have one with you.

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