Can You Microwave Paper Plates?

Paper plates are handy and great to use, especially if you just want a quick snack without the hassle of a big cleanup.

While you probably wouldn’t consider eating a mushy stew off one, they are perfect for holding a quick slice of pizza or a toasted cheese sandwich. Because paper plates are disposable, you may be wondering can you microwave paper plates?

You can safely microwave most types of paper plates to reheat food. Paper plates are only intended to serve food and should never be used as a cooking surface. Avoid microwaving highly colored or plastic-coated paper plates as they are more likely to melt or leach chemicals into food.

The problem with paper plates is that they tend to absorb grease and juices from food and get all bendy or may even start collapsing, especially when they are holding hot food.

Let’s go through some as well as some kitchen tips that will make you a paper plate microwaving ninja who is safely able to reheat snacks in a flash. 

Can You Microwave Paper Plates? 

Paper plates, especially the thin, white ones, are perfectly safe to reheat items quickly in the microwave.

The worst thing that may happen to these is that your food heats up and becomes so juicy and delicious that the oils from the food soak through the paper plate cardboard and make the plate feel soggy or unstable.

Most paper plates are labeled if they are safe to use in the microwave. Before putting one in to warm up your food, check if the paper plate has any warning about being used in a microwave.

If it is a thick, plastic-coated type of paper plate, it may not be safe to use because the layer of plastic may start to melt and get on your food.

Be careful when removing your food from a microwave that your cheese pizza hasn’t transformed the nice clean paper plate surface into a superheated volcanic ocean of cheese.

Melted food can be extremely hot, and the liquid often penetrates through the thin paper plate, which can burn your fingers when you take it out. 

Paper plates are never effective for cooking on. They were intended to be used as a convenient and disposable eating surface to replace breakable plates at events like picnics or parties.

They are not strong enough or thick enough to have food cooked on them, and most paper plates will quickly absorb juices, making them disintegrate even faster. 

Two good tips to avoid getting burned by hot grease that can seep through the thin paper plate is to use more than one, or put your paper plate onto a ceramic plate just for the reheating process.

That way, if the top paper plate becomes saturated with hot liquid, you will be able to remove your food safely and not have it land on the floor. 

Some types of paper plates are highly colorful or are coated in thin plastic. These should be avoided for heating your food because either the color dye chemicals or the plastic could leach into your food as it heats up.

Keep an eye on your food while microwaving it and reheat using short bursts of power rather than long cooking times.

That way, you will quickly notice any blistering or warping on the paper plate. 

What Materials Are Safe To Microwave? 

Reheating food in a microwave is quick and easy, but it can be confusing to remember what materials are microwave safe. We know that metal items should never be put into a microwave, but what about napkins or newspapers? 

Here is a handy table that shows what disposable materials you can and should never use in a microwave:

Microwave SafeDo Not Use In A Microwave
Plain thin paper platesPlastic coated or colored paper plates
Paper towelBrown paper bags or grocery bags
Wax paperNewspaper
Plain paper bagsAluminum foil
Paper napkinsThin plastic containers – like yogurt cups

Styrofoam

Can You Put Paper Plates In The Oven?

You must never put a paper plate in the oven. Even at lower temperatures, it could catch fire and burn to ash which could be dangerous.

Even if you use a plastic-coated paper plate, the plastic will melt and blister if heated, and the cardboard could catch fire.

A paper plate is great to eat your food off once it has been cooked in the oven using an oven-safe glass or metal dish.

You should never consider putting a paper plate into the oven, even if you only need to reheat food quickly.

Paper plates are definitely not safe to use in an oven

Can You Put Paper Plate In Air Fryer? 

It is never a good idea to use a paper plate in an air fryer. Paper plates are just a thin layer of highly flammable material.

They are not able to withstand high heat like inside an air fryer.

The inside of a typical air fryer can cook at a heat of up to 450F, which is super-hot and can quickly toast your flimsy paper plate.

If you put a paper plate in an air fryer, three things may happen:

  1. It may block up the airflow inside the machine. Air fryers are a healthier method of cooking food that would usually be fried in oil. Superheated air needs to be able to move around inside the unit, and if the paper plate warps or disintegrates, it could block the vent, which would be dangerous. 
  1. It may start a fire. A paper plate is a highly flammable object, so adding a lot of heat is never a good idea. 
  1. You may damage your air fryer and won’t be very effective. Even if it doesn’t catch fire, the sides of the paper plate will, in all likelihood, dry out and warp completely. The part that your food is resting on that has some moisture will disintegrate. So the chances of using the paper plate when it comes out of the air fryer are not good. 

Conclusion

You can use plain paper plates in a microwave to reheat food. Check that the paper plates you are using are not coated with a plastic covering as that may cause them to blister while heating the food.

It is also not recommended to use colored paper plates as the dyes may leach into your food. Paper plates should only be used when reheating items in the microwave and not to cook food.