The Science of Microwaves | ChefSteps | PBS Food

The Science of Microwaves

That bag of popcorn is just the beginning. First sold in 1947, the microwave oven wasn’t a common household item until the late 1960’s. Along with the fridge, conventional oven, blender, and coffeemaker, it is now considered an essential appliance in the American kitchen.

But while we all use it to warm up coffee and pop our corn, this countertop contraption remains poorly understood and often underestimated. Microwaves don’t cook food from the inside out—a common myth—and despite the term “nuke,” it’s not nuclear radiation that’s reheating last night’s burrito. What’s more, microwaves can outperform conventional techniques when it comes to vegetables, quick soups, and fried snacks. Put aside the Pop Secret—it’s time to take a deeper look at the humble microwave.

For tons of microwave-friendly recipes, tips, and tricks, head on over to


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