Why Doesn't My Microwave Heat Evenly?

Jul 29, 2023, 14:30pm

The microwave uses a wave generator, the magnetron, to heat dishes. These have the utility of agitating the water molecules of food. But it happens that the waves are not distributed correctly, and that the food is not heated evenly. To solve this problem, you will need to perform the following actions:

  • Check container type
  • Check the platter drive
  • Test the turntable motor
  • Test door security

Above all, there are good practices for improving heating: for example, you can cut or heat dishes with large quantities of food in several parts. Indeed, if there is a lot of food to be heated at once, it is possible that the interior is cold or lukewarm, because the heat could not be transmitted to the whole dish.

Microwaves are a time-saving gem in the kitchen, but they can be quite frustrating when they don’t heat food evenly. We’ve all experienced the lukewarm spot in the middle of an otherwise scalding dish or found a frozen center in a heated meal. Understanding the reason behind this issue can help solve the problem and ensure your meals are heated evenly and thoroughly.

Why Doesn't My Microwave Heat Evenly?

1. Incorrect Placement of Food

Often, uneven heating is simply due to the incorrect placement of food in the microwave. Microwaves heat food by emitting waves that are absorbed by the food’s molecules, causing them to vibrate and produce heat. However, these waves are not evenly distributed throughout the microwave.


For better results, instead of placing the dish in the center of the turntable, put it slightly off-center. This way, as the turntable rotates, the waves will heat the food more evenly.

2. Food Density and Composition

Different foods absorb microwaves at different rates. Dense foods, like vegetables, can heat up more quickly than less dense foods like meat. Additionally, foods high in fat or sugar heat up faster than other foods.


To ensure even heating, cut food into uniform pieces before microwaving and stir or rotate the food halfway through the heating time.

3. Faulty Turntable

The turntable in your microwave is designed to rotate food for even exposure to the microwaves. If it’s not spinning correctly, it could result in uneven heating.


Check if the turntable is properly set in place and is not blocked or off its track. If the turntable motor is faulty, you may need to have it replaced.

4. Inadequate Power Level

Using the wrong power level can lead to unevenly cooked food. Heating food on full power can cause the outer layers to heat up and possibly overcook before the heat penetrates to the inner layers.


For more even heating, use a lower power level and increase the cooking time. This allows heat to transfer from the outer layers to the center of the food.

5. Stirrer Issue

Microwaves come with a stirrer, a blade that deflects the microwaves to distribute them evenly within the oven. If the stirrer is broken or blocked, it might cause uneven heating.


If the stirrer is not working properly, it’s advisable to seek the help of a professional appliance repair technician.

6. Defective Magnetron

The magnetron is the component in your microwave that produces the microwaves. If it’s not functioning properly, it could lead to uneven heating.


A faulty magnetron is a serious issue that requires a professional’s attention.

Why Doesn't My Microwave Heat Evenly?


The choice of container material is essential to obtain the best cooking and heating quality. Some containers have an annotation indicating whether the dish is compatible with microwave heating.

Here is a list of common materials for making dishes:

  • Glass : Glass (Pyrex type plate) is ideal for microwave use. This allows heat to be distributed without heating the dish. However, avoid fragile and thin glasses such as drinking glasses: they can break.
  • Cardboard: Cardboard containers are increasingly being used for ready meals. It can be used, but not for long, and for dishes without too much liquid or fat for the cardboard to absorb.
  • Plastic: Some types of plastic can be used in the microwave. Generally, those that are compatible with this cooking have the “Microwave compatible” logo. Others can be used, but not for long, due to the risk of plastic melting on the products.
  • Pottery or Ceramics: This type of cookware can be used in the microwave, but is not necessarily very practical: it accumulates heat and the dish will be hotter than the food.

Containers prohibited for microwave cooking:

  • Plates or dishes are gilded because they contain metal and aluminium. Also, do not put cutlery in the microwave, as this can cause sparks.
  • The hard plastic-like plates often used for children contain melamine. It should be avoided as it can be toxic after microwaving.

By covering food, you avoid splashing on the microwave and therefore maintenance. But it also allows you to preserve the flavors, make the preparation homogeneous and more efficient. The heat is stored under the hood, which reduces the cooking time.

In conclusion, while some factors leading to uneven heating, like food placement or density, can be easily remedied, others like a faulty turntable or magnetron require professional repair or replacement. Always remember that the even heating of food in a microwave not only improves the quality of your meals but also ensures food safety.