Why do microwaves make food soggy? | + Can you keep them crisp?

Microwaving crisp foods like pizza, chicken nuggets or pastries will make them soggy because the moisture from the food will escape as it is heated and is trapped in the microwave. The moisture or steam can’t escape from the microwave so will sit on and go back into the surface of the food making it moist.

To heat food microwaves cause the molecules to vibrate and heat up. Without a source of direct heat like a pan, the food will not get crisp unless it is overcooked and dries out.

This article will explore why food get soggy in the microwave and how to keep it crisp when you heat it up.

There are some easy tips to keep food crisper in your microwave.

How to stop your food getting soggy in the microwave

Follow these easy steps to stop your food from getting soggy in the microwave.

Use paper towel

Paper towel will work to absorb the excess moisture that escapes from your food and goes into your microwave. Placing a piece of paper towel on the bottom and top of your food to absorb extra moisture. This can work for pastries like pies and chicken nuggets.

Remove the paper towel after microwaving and this will take away the extra water. A new plate will make sure that there is no moisture left on the plate to make the bottom of the food is not wet.

Heat on medium heat

Rapidly heating food on a high microwave setting will mean that the water will escape quickly and it is more likely to make the food soggy.

Choosing a medium microwave setting will mean that the water will not escape as quickly which will reduce the chances of making the surface soggy.

Check the food temperature regularly

Another way to prevent food from going soggy is to only heat the food up to the desired temperature and not any hotter. Overheating the food can cause it to go soggy so make sure you don’t go overboard.

Make sure the food is hot and steaming but by not overheating the food you will reduce the amount of moisture that escapes from the food.

Avoid tempura batter

Tempura batter is a light, thin batter that is often on Japanese style food. My kids have become a fan of dinosaur shaped tempura chicken nuggets which are just impossible to microwave without making them soggy.

The same applies for tempura battered vegetables or fish. Tempura is a soft batter that is thin and crispy when it is cooked in an oven or deep fried but microwaving will result in soggy batter.

Choosing a harder crumbed batter like cornflakes, corn chip or bread crumb batter will microwave batter as they are thicker, crisper and will avoid becoming soggy when microwaving.

Tempura batter is thin so will go soggy in the microwave.

How to microwave pizza without making it soggy

Pizza is a great food to eat the next day and there are usually leftovers that need to be re-heated. To reheat pizza in the microwave without making it soggy follow these easy steps.

  1. Place the pizza on a ceramic dish with a piece of paper towel underneath.
  2. Microwave on medium heat for 1 minute per piece of pizza. A little longer if the pieces are larger.
  3. Place the pizza on a sandwich press to crisp the bottom of the pizza.

The paper towel underneath the pizza will help to absorb some of the extra moisture and the sandwich press will crisp up the bottom of the pizza. Leave the sandwich press lid open so you don’t squash the pizza and get cheese stuck to the top.

My kids rarely finish a pizza so we have learnt how to microwave it without making it soggy.

Do microwaves ruin food?

Microwaves can sometime turn a delicious crispy treat into a soggy mess. Pastries that were once a crispy delicious food can turn into a soggy heap when microwaved for a long time. Apple pie that was previously crispy and delicious can be steamed and soggy after a quick microwave.

Save your crispy apple pie by microwaving it quickly and placing some paper towel underneath. Microwave it for 30 seconds at a time and stop when you see it steaming and warm. This will help to reduce the steam and keep it crispier.

Can you make something crispy in the microwave?

Making something crispy in the microwave in a delicious way is not possible. Overcooking and reheating curries, pasta or rice can dry the food out causing it to go crispy on the edges but it will also dry out the food and it will not taste great.

I often overheat my chicken curries when reheating in the microwave, making the corner of the chicken curry crispy but dries out the curry completely.

Microwaving bacon in the microwave is possible but don’t expect it to become as crispy as when you cook it in a pan.

For more on microwaving bacon, check out my previous article.

Microwaving bacon is possible…..

Can you microwave fried food?

You can microwave fried food but there are a few ways of keeping it as crisp as possible. Choose food with a thick crispy batter like chicken nuggets with a thick bread coating.

Microwaving chips will not end well and you will end up with a soggy mess. As the oils escape and the steam sticks to the outside, you will probably end up with a pile of potato rather than chips.

There are now new microwavable chips but these have been cooked in a way that makes them extra dry, precooked and will stay crisper when you heat them up. Look out for them in the freezer section at the grocery store.

Microwaving chicken nuggets work well when they have a thicker batter.

Why do microwaves make food soggy? | Summary

Microwaving food and keeping it crisp and delicious is possible with some paper towel and careful heating. Avoid overheating fried food and absorb the extra moisture with layers of paper towel on the top and bottom of the food.

Frozen foods are now being made that are microwave friendly including chicken nuggets and chips. Check these out at your grocery store. There is even microwave bacon which is an easy way for a quick, delicious breakfast. If your grocery store has this product it will be in the fridge section near the cold ham.