Does Microwaving Meat Make It Tough?

You are probably wondering if microwaving meat will make it tough. We have researched all about the dos and don'ts of microwaving meat to get the answer for you.

Microwaving meat tends to cause the meat to become tough and dry. There are a few ways to help make this process successful, though. One factor depends on the type of meat and whether or not the piece of meat is fairly even all the way around. Another factor that contributes to microwaving meat, causing it to become dry, is the power setting you use.

Keep reading to find out the most efficient methods on how to soften meat in the microwave, which meats are okay to microwave, and which you should avoid microwaving. You will also find out whether or not you can microwave steak to finish cooking it, how long to microwave leftover steak, and how to properly microwave other types of meat.

A woman putting meat into microwave in kitchen, Does Microwaving Meat Make It Tough?

How Do You Soften Meat In The Microwave?

One way you can soften meat in the microwave is to use a small microwave-safe dish or cup for water. You want to put enough water in the cup that all of it will not be evaporated by the time your meat is finished cooking. The distribution of water molecules during the heating process helps the food stay moist rather than drying it out.

Another way to soften meat in the microwave is to warm it up on a lower power setting. You can select the power button then set it to 30% power or 50% power. Doing this will help the heat be evenly distributed.

Wrapping your meat in a damp paper towel is an alternative way to add moisture to your meat, therefore, softening it. Water in the microwave creates steam which is why and how it helps your meat retain moisture.

Stop to check your food halfway through warming it. Most food is better if it is flipped halfway through. It is also important to be sure the glass plate inside of your microwave turns properly to ensure your meat is heated evenly.

What Meat Can't You Reheat?

Steak and chicken tend to end up rubbery if you try to microwave them. This is especially true for steak or chicken that are not the same size all the way through. In theory, you can reheat any meat as long as it has been refrigerated after it was initially cooked. Just be mindful of the internal temperature of reheated meat to ensure doneness; most leftover meats require 165-degrees F or higher for food safety guidelines.

Be sure you keep in mind the length of time your meat has been in your refrigerator. This is because of the potential for bacteria to spread when you are choosing to reheat any food. Leftover steak only stays good for approximately three to four days. Raw chicken stays good for one to two days, but cooked chicken stays good for three to four days. Smell and color are two ways to determine if your meat is still okay to eat.

A microwave is useful for defrosting meat, too. But, it is not a good idea to microwave meat to cook from frozen because it will end up with an unpleasant texture.

Frozen pork defrosted in the microwave

Can You Microwave Steak To Finish Cooking It?

You can microwave steak to finish cooking it. If you decide to use this method, understand you may end up with tough or dry meat. If your steak has an uneven thickness, you will have a harder time ensuring it stays moist. When this is the case, cut your steak up into smaller pieces and check it at 30-second intervals.

It is best to microwave your steak to finish cooking it only if you want your steak to be well done. A rare, medium-rare, or medium steak is easier to obtain by cooking it on your stovetop or on your grill. While you can heat your steak in the microwave to finish cooking it, this truly depends on your personal preference of how you want it cooked as the end result.

If you want to cook steak in your microwave, remove it from the refrigerator, and allow it to sit for an hour or two until it reaches room temperature. This is referred to as letting it rest.

You can do the same with raw chicken, but make sure you do not let it sit out for too long. Thirty minutes or less is the suggested time for raw chicken to reach room temperature. Letting your meat rest will help prevent your meat from drying out in the microwave.

How Long Do You Microwave Leftover Steak?

To microwave leftover steak, you should add water in a microwave-safe dish or cup to help it retain moisture and reheat it on a lower setting. Start with 30 seconds on half power or 50%, then check it every 30 seconds until it is heated thoroughly and to your desired temperature.

When microwaving leftover steak, you will want to heat it anywhere from 90 seconds to two minutes total. Pour some water onto your steak, cover your dish, or microwave your steak with water in a microwave-safe dish to stop it from overdrying.

Heating Hamburger in the Microwave

Hamburger is one type of meat that comes out of the microwave rather nicely. You can cook raw ground beef in your microwave. This takes about five minutes on a high temperature setting; check for an internal temperature of at least 160-degrees F. If you would like to try this, be sure to place your hamburger in a microwave-safe dish that has a lid or include water in some form or fashion to keep your hamburger from drying out.

If you want to cook burger patties, microwave them at half power for up to five minutes, then flip them for three to four additional minutes. Try to patty your burger evenly so that the heat is proportionately distributed during the cooking process.

Heating Pork in the Microwave

Pulled pork meat in plastic bag in microwave

You can microwave pork in the microwave, but not on a high temperature setting like you can with hamburger meat. If you want to cook pork using your microwave, do so on low to medium heat.

Do not overcrowd the microwave-safe plate you are using with too many pork chops. They should be placed side by side and with either two pork chops or about 1-1/2 lbs of pork altogether. Pork chops can become tough similar to cooking chicken in the microwave.

The best way to achieve pork chops that are not too dry or tough is to cook them on medium-low or 30% power for 20 minutes. Flip the pork chops halfway through the heating process. If the rotating tray in your microwave does not rotate correctly, rotate the microwave-safe plate or dish halfway through as well. Check the internal temperature of pork to ensure doneness at 145-degrees F or higher.

Heating Chicken in the Microwave

When cooking with raw chicken, make sure it is thawed thoroughly. The preferred method for thawing chicken is to do it in your refrigerator to lessen the chances of bacterial growth.

Put your chicken into a dish that is either full of water or another liquid marinade. Cover it before cooking to reduce splatter. Cook on high for five minutes per breast. Always check the internal temperature of your meat before consuming it. Poultry should have an internal temperature of at least 165-degrees F.

If you want to reheat chicken in the microwave, do so at half-power and check it every 30 seconds to help you avoid overcooking it.

In Closing

Microwaving meat does not necessarily make it tough as long as you use precautions. Make sure you use power settings that are from 30% to 50%. It is imperative that you always cook your meat to the recommended temperature, such as 165°F for poultry and 145°F for lamb and pork.

Using water in your microwave when heating meat is a surefire way to cook meat without it becoming dry or tough. Creating steam makes it so that your meat can retain moisture. That is what happens when you use water or a damp paper towel.

Before you go, if you would like to learn more about cooking a steak using your microwave, check out the links below:

Should You Add Butter To Steak?

Does Steak Go In The Fridge Or Freezer?

Should You Cook Steak In Butter Or Oil?

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