Can You Really Make Meatloaf In The Microwave?

Meatloaf slices on a plate with herbs
Meatloaf slices on a plate with herbs - Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Microwaves aren't just for heating leftovers. They're also perfectly good cooking appliances in their own right. Whether you're working with a limited kitchen or you need to cook something in a hurry, sometimes making meals in your microwave is the ideal choice. And there are plenty of recipes that will turn out deliciously when given a quick zap. One of those dishes is meatloaf: a simple, no-frills dinner, made even more straightforward by using the microwave.

Just combine the meatloaf ingredients in a microwave-safe pan or dish, cook it on high for 10 to 15 minutes, and drain the grease. The result is meatloaf that's just as moist and tender as if you'd cooked it directly in the oven, with none of the struggle of waiting for the temperature to preheat or getting your kitchen hot. This method is perfect for whipping together a quick weeknight meal — no oven required.

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Keep Your Microwave Meatloaf Moist

Meatloaf plate with green beans and potatoes
Meatloaf plate with green beans and potatoes - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Though the microwave is an easy, fairly hands-off cooking method, there are a few extra steps you can take to ensure your meatloaf cooks into a perfect finished product. Microwaves can dehydrate when there's not enough moisture to produce steam — in fact, it's possible to dry herbs, fruit, and other food items in your microwave. For foods that you don't want going dry, maintaining moisture is key.

Choosing a ground beef base with a slightly higher fat content, such as 70/30 (compared to 80/20), can help, as the rendering fat will keep the meatloaf hydrated from the inside out.

Another way to keep meatloaf moist is to cover it with sauce partway through the cooking time. Meatloaf sauces are typically ketchup-based and seasoned with brown sugar, vinegar, or Worcestershire sauce. You can also use store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce for added flavor, tang, and hydration.

Is Cooking Meatloaf In The Microwave Safe?

Person setting microwave timer
Person setting microwave timer -

One of the major concerns about cooking meatloaf in the microwave, or really any meat product, is whether or not the finished dish is safe to eat. Can a microwave really heat meat to a high enough temperature to cook it?

The short answer is: yes, you can thoroughly cook meats and other dishes in the microwave, though the heat won't be distributed as evenly as compared to a traditional oven. Microwave ovens heat food by producing microwaves of energy, then reflecting those waves into the food. The energy is absorbed by the food, which causes vibrations in the water molecules within; those vibrations, in turn, produce heat. Gradually, this heat warms the food enough to cook it.

This method of heating can produce hot and cold spots due to standing waves inside the oven; these waves create a pattern that form both hot and cold spots throughout the microwave. To ensure that all parts of the meatloaf (or any other meat product) are cooked to the appropriate temperature before eating, use a probe thermometer to check the meatloaf in multiple places. For ground meats, the USDA recommends cooking to 160 degrees Fahrenheit minimum for safety.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.