What Do Those Microwave Settings Actually Do?

published Sep 29, 2010
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We can install our own surround sound and hack wires to do what we need, but somehow, the microwave still eludes us. Yes, our microwave has a “beverage” button. No, we don’t know exactly what it does. Instead of living life in the dark, we wanted to find out exactly what all those crazy microwave settings are designed to do.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

If you’re equally confused by your own microwave, the first step is going to be reading the manual. It will give you the most detailed info about your microwave’s settings.

Hand-me-down or Craigslist buy? Can’t find the manual? Try a site like ManualsOnline, or get a clue from one of these tips:

Shortcut Keys
Buttons marked with “popcorn” and “beverage” are designed to be one-and-done easy cooking and heating. How do they work? In really fancy microwaves, they’ll measure the moisture released by the food. In others, they’re just programmed for that food’s average cooking time. But here’s a hint: The popcorn button is always almost more time than needed, at least for us.

Convection Mode
If your microwave features a convection setting, use it to cook anything that needs to crisp or brown. Instead of cooking with microwave energy, it cooks with hot air—just like your conventional oven. But unlike your oven, it will usually cook food much faster.

Power Levels
If you just set your microwave at 1:30, you’re cooking at power level 10, the highest level. But you might find that a different level is better for your tasks, like level 2 for melting butter or level 8 for reheating leftovers.

Reheat Button
You’ll need to take a look at your manual for this one. Once you’ve found the reheat code for your dish, your microwave will be able to heat up last night’s leftovers perfectly—no power level setting needed.