Mad Microwave Scientist

I’m a sucker for hacks that make life easier. This applies to every aspect of life, including in the kitchen, so when Real Simple had an article called “Microwave as Cooking Hero” in their September issue, I decided to check these hacks out! Here are the results.

Poach Eggs

Place a half cup of water in a microwave-safe mug or bowl and crack in an egg, making sure it’s fully suberged. Microwave for 40 seconds to a minute or until the yolk is cooked to your linking.

The Verdict?

This really worked! And there was less to clean (a glass ramekin vs. a pan). The one caveat is, while it’s perfect for poaching one egg, if you have a bunch to poach, this method wouldn’t really work and it would be easier to do it in a pan.

Perfectly Prep Green Veggies

Trim and rinse your desired vegetable, then place it in a microwave-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid to trap steam. Cook until the vegetable is vibrant green and crisp-tender, about two minutes. Top with sauce or a simple drizzle of olive oil and pinch of flaky sea salt.

The Verdict?

I tried this method on asparagus spears. I rinsed the asparagus and bent the spears to where they would naturally break, to take off the woody stems. Some people cut the ends off, but I find this is a more reliable method for getting rid of the tough ends. I then put them in a microwave-safe dish with plastic wrap on top and cooked for 2 minutes. They turned out perfectly. I normally roast my asparagus, which is tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and then squeeze lemon juice on them after they’re cooked, which you could also do in the microwave. It won’t have the same roasted flavor, but if the ovens are occupied (like for Thanksgiving) this hack is a life-saver.

Toast Nuts

First, rub raw nuts with a bit of vegetable oil, then spread them in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cook for one minute at a time, stirring in between, until they start to brown. Then go in 30-second spurts until golden. It usually takes three to five minutes total.


I tried this with pine nuts. I sprayed them with olive oil spray and put them on a plate. They didn’t seem to actually toast and I pulled them out before they were golden brown. They didn’t have that “toasted” flavor. I would not use this method again. It’s so easy to toast nuts in the oven or, for pine nuts, I just put them in a dry, cast-iron skillet to toast, as they have to be watched constantly. There was also the issue of spraying oil on an already fatty food and the cleanup of a greasy plate. This was a fail for me.

Quickly Cook Salmon

Place two four-to-six-ounce fillets on a plate. Top each with a pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a vented lid and cook on high for three to five minutes or until the salmon is done to your liking.


I didn’t try this because I don’t like cooked salmon. I also don’t own a vented lid for the microwave and don’t need any more gadgets clogging up my cabinets.

Brown Butter

Place one to two sticks of butter in a microwave-safe bowl or deep dish; cover with paper towels or a silicone lid to contain spatters. Microwave for three minutes, then continue in 30-second increments until the butter turns golden brown.


I only used 2 tablespoons of butter in a glass measuring cup for ravioli I had made. I covered it with a paper towel. While this method definitely worked, some of the butter ended up on the paper towel and, if I was making it for ravioli again, I would just put the butter in the pan it cooked in, which would be less clean-up. I did see someone use the butter wrapper to cover the cup they cooked butter in, which is a good idea. I always save my butter wrappers in the freezer (much to my husband’s chagrin) to grease cookie sheets, another hack that comes in handy during the holidays, when lots of butter is used and lots of cookies baked.


While I love hacks and methods that make my life easier, I’m not willing to sacrifice flavor for ease. As such, the only microwave hacks I would use again are: poaching eggs, cooking veggies and (perhaps) browning butter. If you try the salmon method, let me know.

Up Next: Party Potatoes

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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