Can You Put Paper Plates in the Microwave? Safety Tips


Some things are safe to put in the microwave as far as dishes are concerned, but other items are not. And the answer to the question can you put paper plates in the microwave begs a response that might take you by surprise and have you changing your kitchen routine.

stack of paper plates
stack of paper plates

The Answer

Using paper plates in the microwave oven can make it so that when you heat food, there are no dishes left to be done. It’s a convenience factor that you are likely to appreciate from time to time.

When you microwave food do you use microwave paper plates or plain paper plates?

plates in microwave
plates in microwave

Did you know that many brands of microwave paper plates have a thin coating of plastic. Plastic in the microwave creates toxic chemicals that can transfer into the food even when microwaved for short periods of time.

This is the case even with some paper plates labeled as microwave safe. To some manufacturers the term microwave safe simply means the item won’t melt into a puddle.  

With that being said, only plain paper plates are safe to use in the microwave. Make sure there is no thin coating of plastic before using them.                       

How to Know if a Paper Plate is Safe to Microwave

Disposable plates are great for convenience on a busy night. Using them doesn’t require any washing of dishes.

The type of paper plate matters when it comes to using them in the microwave. They can be made with different materials. And some are plain paper plates while others are labeled as microwave-safe paper plates.

The microwave-safe label generally designates a best option. Just check to be sure no plastic is involved. Plain paper plates with no additional coating is one of the best types of paper plates for microwave use.

paper plates
paper plates

The good news is whether you’re considering using plain white paper plates, thin paper plates or microwave-safe containers, the long and short of it is that as long as there are no additional contents, these types of paper plates are likely the best way to maintain both safety and convenience.

Why Paper Plates Shouldn’t Be Microwaved

The main reason paper plates shouldn’t be microwaved is because of a safety hazard. Plastic coating, high temperatures and electromagnetic radiation create toxic chemicals that are not a good idea to ingest.

These harmful chemicals naturally seep into the food that’s being heated and then enter the body when the food is consumed.

Plastic-coated paper plates can even be labeled as safe for microwave use. You might think only 1-2 minutes of a thin layer of plastic might not make a difference, but the reality is that it does.

You shouldn’t use paper plates in the microwave that have any type of coating.

paper plates microwave oven
paper plates microwave oven

Can These Other Items Go in the Microwave?

While we’re on the topic of items that can safely go in the microwave, we wanted to include a list of potential items and then explain why they should or shouldn’t go in the microwave.

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil should never go in the microwave. Anything that contains metal will cause sparks, potential explosions or fire when put in the microwave. Do not use aluminum foil in the microwave.

Parchment Paper

Parchment paper doesn’t tend to tolerate high heat very well. If you’re using it for long lengths of time, an alternate solution is probably a better option. Parchment paper should only be used in short amounts of time in the microwave oven.

Ceramic Plates

Ceramic plates are generally fine to use in the microwave. They should include a microwave safe label on the back of the plate.

Glass Plate

Glass plates and baking dishes are traditionally microwave safe. But if you’re not sure, check the packaging or the back of the plate for the microwave safe label.

Paper Bowl

Paper bowls fall under the same category as paper plates. If they’re without plastic and are labeled as microwave safe, chances are you can use them in the microwave for short increments of time.

Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap should not be used in the microwave. Some people think that it’s fine to use it in the microwave for short amounts of time to keep the food from splattering. But the reality is when plastic is used in the microwave, it can cause toxic chemicals to leech into the food.

Brown Paper Bags

Uncoated brown paper bags are fine to use in the microwave for short amounts of time. However, if the bags are wax coated or plastic coated, they’re best to not use in the microwave.

Wax Paper

We don’t recommend using wax paper in the microwave because when heated, the wax can melt and leech into the food.

Plastic Containers

Plastic containers and food containers shouldn’t be put in the microwave. The electromagnetic waves will cause toxic chemicals to transfer to the food, making it unsafe to eat.

Metal Handles

No dishes or pots that contain metal of any kind as well as metal handles should be used in the microwave. These are a potential fire hazard and can cause the microwave contents to explode.

Styrofoam Plates

Styrofoam plates, cups and bowls as well as takeout containers will melt when placed in the microwave. These should not be used for this purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate can you put paper plates in the microwave. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to respond.

How long can you microwave paper plates?

Paper plates that have a plastic coating should not be microwaved at all. Plain paper plates can be microwaved for a few minutes.

paper plates in microwave
paper plates in microwave

Can Dixie paper plates go in the microwave?

It depends on the paper plates. You’ll want to read the packaging to see if they are microwave safe or if they consist of a plastic coating. You’ll not want to microwave anything that contains plastic.

What cannot be put in microwave?

There are many items that shouldn’t be put in the microwave. These include plastic plates, plastic containers, anything with metal or foil, metal pans, anything that will emit chemicals of any kind when heated.

Can you put a plastic plate in the microwave?

No, you shouldn’t use a plastic plate in the microwave. It will melt which will cause chemicals to leech into the foods. This can cause you to ingest the chemicals when the food is consumed.

Related Ideas:

Can you put wax paper in the air fryer?

Can you put cardboard in the oven?

Can you put glass in the oven?

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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