March 17

Does Microwave Safe Mean Oven Safe? | Our Full Guide to Suitable Container Materials


Author: Ana Stanar and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Oven-safe means you can cook it in the oven. Microwave-safe means you can heat it up in the microwave.

Does microwave-safe mean oven-safe? Just because something is microwave-safe doesn't mean it's oven-safe, and vice versa. The two types of appliances use very different methods of heating things up, and so there are different requirements for what materials can be safely used inside each one.

In this guide, we will be looking at what is meant by microwave safe and oven safe containers and which ones are best used in each of these kitchen appliances.

Food Storage Containers That Are Oven and Microwave Safe

You may be wondering if a container that can be used in the microwave is safe for the oven too. Generally, the answer is no. Containers that are microwave-safe are not necessarily oven safe.

There's more to a container than meets the eye, though. There are different types of containers, and they all have different materials and uses. Let's take a look at each one so you can make better choices in the kitchen.

empty glass food containers

Microwave Safe Food Containers

  • Glass
  • Microwave-safe plastics
  • Most ceramics

Oven Safe Containers

  • Stainless steel and cast iron bowls

1.    Plastic

Plastic containers are typically not made to withstand high heat, so they should not be used in the oven or in the microwave unless labeled microwave safe, as they will melt if you try to heat them up.

Plastic Is Not Microwave Safe

Microwaving food in plastic containers is a no-no, as it can cause the plastic to melt and release chemicals into your food. For example, Styrofoam which is typically used for take-out containers, is a type of plastic that should not be put in the microwave because it can leak styrene into your food.

But not all types of plastic are created equal, so it's important to know which kind you're using in order to determine whether or not it's microwave-safe.

6 plastic boxes with food

Look for a label with the letters microwave safe on the bottom of the container or package, usually near the recycling symbol. This means that you can safely microwave this item according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Plastic is Not Oven Safe

Plastic containers are great for storing food in the fridge or freezer, but they should never be used to cook in the oven.

Plastics are generally made from petroleum products and are not designed to withstand high temperatures. Some plastics can melt at relatively low temperatures, and others will burn (which is a lot more dangerous).

Plastic Melts in Hot Oven

If you attempt to bake food in a plastic container and it melts, you’ll not only ruin your meal but also risk exposing yourself to harmful chemicals.

a person opening the oven door

In general, when a recipe calls for baking food in an oven, you should use Stainless Steel and cast iron bowls instead of a plastic container. If you need to reheat or cook food, stick with metal pans or skillets.

2.    Glass

Glass containers are usually fine for both the microwave and oven; however, it is always best to check product labels before using glassware in a microwave or hot oven. If it does not say that it is microwave safe or oven safe, don't put it in either appliance, as it could shatter or explode if heated incorrectly.

Glass for Microwave Ovens

It's not recommended that you cook anything in a microwave using glass unless it is labeled microwave safe. The reason is that different types of glass heat at different rates, and some are more prone to thermal breakage.

Microwave safe glass will generally have a label on the bottom that says microwave safe. If there is no label, assume it's not microwaved safely.

food in a glass container

If there is a label that says not microwave safe, don't use it in the microwave, even if you see someone do it on television or in the movies.

Glass Bowl is Oven Safe

Glass is one of the best materials for cooking, holding, and storing food in the oven. It's nonreactive, so it won't leach chemicals into your food, and it doesn't absorb flavors, or odors like plastic containers do.

Glass containers are generally considered safe to use in microwaves as long as they are labeled as such.

Type of Glass that is Oven Safe

Borosilicate Glass

This type of glass was invented by German chemist and glass technologist Otto Schott. Borosilicate glass is known for its strength and resistance to temperature changes.

It's also used to make Pyrex bakeware, which is specially designed to withstand high heat changes without breaking or cracking. Other brands of borosilicate cookware include Anchor Hocking and Simax Glassware.

a glass dish with food in the oven

Tempered Glass

The regular heating glass makes tempered glass to extreme temperatures, then rapidly cooling it down. This process makes the tempered glass very resistant to breakage and changes in temperature, so you can put it directly into an oven or microwave without worrying about shattering.

Non-Oven Safe Glass

Soda-Lime Glass

General-purpose soda-lime glass is the most common type of glass and is found in many household items such as drinking glasses, window panes, bottles, jars, and tableware. This type of glass is usually not tempered and should not be used for cooking purposes.

An oven’s temperature can reach upwards of 400 degrees Fahrenheit and even 500 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases; therefore, it is imperative that you use oven-safe glass bowls so it can handle such intense heat.

glass dishes with food

Non-tempered glass, on the other hand, has not undergone the same process as tempered glass. It is prone to shattering at high temperatures like those of the oven. Because of this, cookware made from non-tempered glass is typically reserved for cold dishes or dishes that require little to no heat at all, like Jell-O or pudding.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

  • Always use oven mitts when removing a hot container from the oven.
  • Use only an oven-safe bowl. If your glass containers aren't labeled as oven-safe, don't use them. If you're unsure about whether you should be using a particular glass container in the oven or not, don’t use it.

3.    Stainless Steel and Cast Iron Bowls

Food storage containers made of stainless steel and cast iron can be used in an oven but cannot be used in a microwave.

various size dishes

Not Safe to use in a Microwave

The microwave radiation cause water molecules inside the food to vibrate at very high speeds, generating heat that cooks the food. Microwaves are able to pass through glass, plastic, and similar substances. But when they hit metal, they're reflected.

What Happens If You Put a Metal Bowl in The Microwave?

You're not supposed to put metal in the microwave. Metal reflects microwaves so they can bounce off in all directions, damaging sensitive components inside your microwave or catching on fire.

Metal objects can generate electric arcs when they are heated.  If a metal object is thin enough and the microwave is powerful enough, it becomes possible to generate an arc that burns holes in the oven. 

a microwave on fire

Oven Only

When choosing cookware for the oven, it is important to consider the material. The temperature inside of a conventional oven can get as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit, so you will want to make sure your cookware is made of a material that can withstand this amount of heat, such as Stainless steel and cast iron.

Metal dishes are also preferred by bakers because they provide even heat distribution and do not break easily.

Stainless steel doesn't easily rust, stain or corrode. Stainless steel is easy to clean and maintain.

4.    Ceramic

Ceramic for Microwave Oven

Most all ceramic cookware is completely safe for cooking in the oven or microwave. However, it’s important that you always check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the cookware is safe for both.

a food in a ceramic cup in the microwave

Ceramic for Oven

 Only some ceramic cookware can be used in the oven. A few brands label their products as oven-safe and some even up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The pieces that are oven-proof usually have a glazed surface to withstand high temperatures.

If you do want to use your ceramic cookware in the oven, always make sure it is labeled oven safe.

If you are using a ceramic pan in the oven and it does not have any handles, make sure that you are wearing an oven mitt at all times when handling the pan. The same goes for ceramic pots and casserole dishes; always wear an oven mitt.

Now that we've cleared out any uncertainties about what container materials are safe for microwave oven use, you can find out more about different types of modern microwaves to suit all your needs. Check out the extracts from those reviews:

Microwave Types

Best Convection Microwave

Convection ovens have great cooking power, a child safety lock to prevent accidental usage of the microwave, and different cooking levels. Like we mentioned before, choosing a convection microwave for your needs will be influenced by these 3 main factors - capacity, features for your budget, and your counter space.

Best Microwaves For Home Use

The more features you choose to have, the more expensive the microwave oven for home use would be. The good news is that you can choose to keep things very economical by simply going for a microwave oven with minimal features that meets the size and power requirements as stated earlier.

Best Simple And Basic Microwave Ovens

To reiterate this, a basic microwave oven, in our opinion is a small to midsize, non-inverter solo countertop microwave oven. Why? because a microwave such as this is easy to operate, is affordable, does not occupy much counterspace and is easy to install.

Best 1200 Watt Microwave Ovens

Most of the ovens in this category are quite expensive. This is generally due to two reasons: high powered microwave ovens are heavy duty and thus feature expensive components, secondly, they are very large. Some of the premium ovens in this power category though offer cutting edge technology, albeit at a higher cost.

Best Midsize Countertop Microwave

A midsize model is excellent for a regular family. The smaller models are generally reserved for offices, dorm rooms or garage like spaces. Larger microwave ovens are reserved for commercial spaces, so if you are have regular sized family or 4-5 members, then a midsize microwave oven would work perfectly for you.

About the author

Ana Stanar

An Art Teacher, entrepreneur, and a mother of three, Ana considers cooking a form of art - pleasure for all senses as well as a process that requires creativity, passion and devotion. Since she leads a busy life, Ana just loves testing various kitchen appliances for Kitchen Gearoid, especially those that save her time while preparing food and cooking but also make every meal a masterpiece!


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