An In-Depth Answer to the Question “How Hot Does A Microwave Get?”
how hot does a microwave get

Microwave ovens help you to save time, effort, and power in fantastic ways. But is there any way to determine how hot a microwave can get?

You can find a microwave oven in almost every household. It’s arguably among the best, most versatile kitchen appliances ever. 

The functionalities and features of microwaves are next-level. These unassuming appliances are among the most convenient and fastest ways to cook or heat any food item. 

You can use a microwave to defrost food items, cook frozen meals, and warm up cozy leftovers.

As consumers, we are often left wondering about the mechanics of electronic products, and a microwave oven is no exception. 

When thinking about how hot a microwave can get, heat capacity, heat source, and maximum temperatures before it becomes a fire hazard are often thought of. This is why it is so important to know the safety features of a microwave. 

Without further ado, we’ll answer all your queries in detail below. 

How Hot Does a Microwave Get? Highest Temperature of a Microwave

Microwaves usually derive heat from the food itself. So the type of food you put inside the electric oven will determine its temperature. 

Generally, a microwave can reach a maximum temperature of 212°F (100°c). That’s also water’s boiling point. 

However, water can further be heated to 248°F or 120°C. But that’s only possible if the water in question is clean and the appliance isn’t disturbed during the heating process. 

So, to further answer the question of how hot does a microwave get, a microwave’s temperature isn’t measured like your standard oven.

Unlike conventional ovens, microwaves cannot generate heat independently. This is because they don’t have any heating elements. The food being microwaved produces heat rather than the microwave itself. 

Therefore, technically, you cannot measure a microwave’s temperature. The temperature of the food item determines the overall temperature of the microwave. 

To understand this properly, we’ll have to know more about what affects the temperature and the working mechanism of a microwave oven. 

When cooking meats, identifying the necessary temperature becomes even more important. Here are instructions detailing how to reheat steak in an air fryer if you’re unsure about microwaves and temperatures at this point. 

Working Mechanism of a Microwave Oven

Modern Microwave Oven in Kitchen

A microwave oven is easy to use, and the instructions are clear. You can use it to warm soup, defrost, reheat and cook. But how does a microwave even work in the first place? 

Heat Gets Generated Due to Vibrating Food Molecules

Unlike conventional ovens and gas stoves, microwave ovens don’t heat food by producing heat. 

A microwave’s working mechanism involves creating high-frequency radio waves which penetrate the food. The latter causes the food and water molecules to vibrate and brush against each other. 

This concept is similar to how you create heat by rubbing your hands together. When the waves excite the molecules, they will vibrate, rub against each other and create heat. 

The microwaved food item will continue vibrating and generating heat until the oven is turned off or the object reaches its highest temperature. 

The highest temperature of different food items varies because of their thermal properties.

To ensure that you’re cooking is as safe, effective and enjoyable as possible, make sure you remember these 3 things when cooking.

Food Absorbs the Radio Waves

Instead of producing heat, a microwave oven emits electromagnetic waves when switched on. 

These radio waves can penetrate any object, including ceramics, glass plates, plastic, aluminum foil, and heating paper. 

The microwave actually causes the food molecules (particularly fat molecules, polar molecules, and water molecules) to mimic the zigzag pattern of the radio waves. 

When the waves go through the food item, it flips the molecules more than 2 billion times, depending on their frequency. This movement produces heat and is known as Dielectric Heating

It is important to remember that the high temperature of hot foods and heated containers is because of the food item itself and not because of the microwave oven.

Highest Temperature a Microwaved Food Item Can Reach

Microwave ovens don’t feature any adjustable temperature or power settings. This means that the food you are microwaving will keep heating until you switch it off. 

You probably know that every food item contains water molecules. So it’s safe to assume that the boiling point of water, which is 212°F or 100°C, is the highest and maximum temperature a food item can reach inside the appliance. 

Different Factors That Affect the Temperature Inside a Microwave

Having the right temperature directly affects how hot the food item will get. 

A variety of factors affect the temperature inside a microwave oven.

Microwave’s Wattage

The wattage of a microwave is the most important factor affecting the temperature of the microwave. 

It depends on the magnetron’s size. The magnetron is the part of the microwave that diffuses microwaves. The magnetron ranges from 500-1200 watts. 

Higher-wattage microwaves can heat food more quickly than lower-wattage microwave ovens. Although this is true, it should be noted that power doesn’t lead to efficiency, and more power isn’t always the best. 

Typically, microwaves have between 700 and 1000 watts. A microwave lower than 700 watts will be too low and might hamper your cooking. To put it into context, 700 watts in a microwave is equal to 350° in an oven.

So, if you use an extra wattage of 100 watts, your cooking time gets reduced by 10%. 

For instance, cooking your favorite food in a 700-watt microwave typically requires about 2 min on high for it to get cooked. 

If you switch to a microwave with 1000 wattage, you’ll have to cut down the cooking time or lower the power level to avoid burning or overcooking.

That means you’ll need to adjust the power levels or cooking time depending on the wattage of the microwave oven. 

Most people usually don’t know about their microwave oven’s wattage. This is why we highly advise you to always check the manual or inspect your appliance properly before using it. 

Size of the Food Item and Microwave Cavity

The shape and size of the food item also directly impacts the temperature of the microwaved food. Smaller food items will cook faster than bigger ones. 

It should also be noted that the microwave oven cavity is responsible for the temperature. A smaller cavity will heat the food faster than a larger cavity.

Water Molecules

The water molecules present inside the food item play an active role. You can expect a food item that has more water to heat up more quickly. 

On the flipside, if there is no water inside it, the microwave won’t be able to heat it up. 

Every food item contains different amounts of water molecules.

Initial Temperature

When you heat a food item that’s cold, it will take longer to heat up compared to a food item that is at room temperature. 

Similarly, you can expect frozen foods to take longer than food items at room temperature. 

Here’s how you can defrost food in a microwave safely

Will Your Microwave Turn Off If It Overheats?

Woman's Hands Closing Microwave Oven Door And Preparing Food

It is highly unlikely for microwaves to overheat and turn off, but it is still possible for a variety of reasons. Let’s talk briefly about why a microwave might overheat, and precautions you can take to prevent your microwave from overheating. 

Magnetron Can Overheat

The magnetron inside the microwave can overheat if there’s no moisture in the food. Your microwave will be unable to spread the additional heat being produced. 

If this happens, your microwave might shut down on its own, as a part of the safety standard. 

This safety precaution is extremely helpful in avoiding fire and damage. 

Faulty Fans

Fans help to remove additional heat and combat overheating of the magnetron. Generally, a microwave will overheat and shut down if the fan stops working. 

If you have a malfunctioning fan, we’d strongly advise you not to use it. It is best to fix a malfunctioning fan as quickly as possible. 


Can I Reheat My Food in 60 Seconds Using a Microwave?

The temperature of a microwave depends on the heat produced by the food item. 

If your food is at room temperature and the water content is high, you’ll be able to reheat your food in 60 seconds. 

Is it Safe to Boil Water in a Microwave?

Boiling water in a microwave is as safe as boiling water in a stove. 

There are electromagnetic waves inside the microwave, but they will not leave any radiation in the food or water.

Here’s everything you need to know about electromagnetic radiation used in microwaves

Is it Normal for a Microwave’s Exterior to Get Hot?

The surface of a microwave can sometimes get warmed up; however, it should never get hot. 

You can expect the oven to get hot in conventional cooking as the oven produces heat, but the microwave doesn’t produce any heat. 

If your appliance is getting hot, you should consider contacting customer support or a technician.


We hope that we’ve answered your query about how “hot does a microwave get.” 

Microwaves don’t produce any heat; it’s the food that emanates heat. 

It’s extremely vital to know the temperatures of microwaved food. Generally, most food items can heat up to 100°C. 

Remember that you must always be cautious and follow safety procedures while using an electronic appliance such as a microwave. 

You should also handle microwaved food properly. If you have a microwave at home, you should know its wattage to cook properly without overcooking.

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