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Tips for Using a Microwave, Power Levels & Settings

Using a Grill Microwave

Most microwave grill modes operate the same way.

Most microwave grill modes operate the same way.

Including a grill in your microwave offers a whole other level of convenience. But sometimes, it also adds a bit too much complexity.

Many users get stuck on how to operate the microwave properly, especially between ‘grill only’ or ‘combi’ options. Thankfully, these are almost always the same on most models.

To use only your Microwave Grill:

  1. Hit the ‘Grill’ button: usually it’s 1, 2, or 3 presses for low, medium, high power.
  2. Use the dial to select the grilling time.
  3. Press ‘Timer’ if you want to add any standing time.
  4. Close the door. (Unlike your oven grill, the door needs to be closed for a microwave one)
  5. Press start.

To use the ‘Combination’ mode:

  1. Hit the ‘Combi’ button to select the setting. Check your user manual or stickers on the microwave for guides. Typically, this is low, medium, and high grill power microwave power is either going to be low or medium.
  2. Use the dial to select the cooking time.
  3. Press ‘Timer’ if you want to add any standing time.
  4. Close the door.
  5. Press start.

Not sure which setting is Grill only?

Don’t worry, there’s a quick test we can use to find out.

Take a microwavable jug or container, and fill it with water. Then place it in the microwave, and run it on standard microwave power for a few minutes. When you test the water, it should be plenty warm. Now do the same again, but use the ‘Grill’ setting. After a few minutes, the water should be much cooler than before. If it’s the same temperature (or similar), then the microwave is also likely on at the same time.


5. High: 800-1000W

The fast cooking from a high wattage is best suited to reheating anything with a high water content, such as soups, canned food and hot drinks. However, bear in mind that cooking is very quick – it’s easy to overheat liquids, resulting in them suddenly boiling over. A good way to minimise this is to stir before putting in the microwave, stir halfway through, and allow to stand once the time has elapsed.

High power is also suitable for cooking ground meat, pasta, lentils, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables.

It’s also the ideal setting for cooking jacket potatoes. To get the best results, you can break from the usual rules of microwave cooking and place the potato directly on the turntable. For a medium-sized potato, prick the skin to prevent it bursting, microwave for around 5 minutes, turn halfway through, and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Then let it stand for a few minutes to let the heat carry on penetrating to the centre before cutting it open and releasing the steam.

How to Choose the Right Power Level for Food or Drink

Most microwaves come with a minimum of five power levels. These are 100%, 70%, 50%, 30% and 10%. Many microwaves have extra selections, but these five are the most important.

High power is great if you want to heat something as quickly as possible. Boiling water or cooking non-creamy soups are good examples of when the highest power setting is appropriate. Medium-high settings (which are usually 500-800W) allow you to steam or fry foods, while low settings are gentler but act as a dehydrator.

Here’s a breakdown of common foods along with the power level you should use.

  • High/Full Power (100%) – non-cream soups, pasta, poultry, ground meats, most vegetables, bacon, fish.
  • Medium-High Power (70%) – ribs, creamy soups, reheating leftover meals, casseroles, foods with cheese.
  • Medium Power (50%) – pork, eggs, melting chocolate.
  • Medium-Low Power (30%) – simmering foods such as chilli, sauces, rice and cereal. Also the “Defrost” setting on most microwaves.
  • Low Power (10%) – defrosting large meat items such as turkeys. Can also be used to keep foods warm.

There are occasions where it’s a good idea to use multiple power levels. Some people, for example, like to start cooking rice on full power before switching to a lower setting (although we only use one power method in our quick guide to cooking rice in the microwave).

Best Practices

Microwave grills haven’t been around for a long time, so their best practices are always so well known. Thankfully, there’s handy internet guides like this one to help.

      • If you’re grilling with a wire rack, place a heatproof plate underneath. Grilling typically creates a bit of grease splatter, which we don’t want left in the microwave.
      • Don’t use the ‘Combi’ setting for small portion sizes. It’s simply too much for a small amount of food. Just use the grill instead.
      • Yes, the door must be closed! The microwave is built to extract any excess heat and smoke itself – unlike a conventional oven.
      • Never cover foods while grilling. It can be an easy mistake to make when we’re used to microwaving covered dishes.
      • Stay away from the exterior! When grilling, the microwave exterior may get super hot – especially around the air vents. This is different to a standard microwave functioning, which keeps the heat on the inside.
      • Allow standing time if microwaving. Microwaves can cause some areas to be super hot, while others are cold. Allowing a few minutes of standing time allows this heat to spread out, making sure the food is a continuously delicious level of hot.
      • Clean regularly. Leftover food or grease can get re-cooked and start to smoke (or smell horrible!). For an easy deep clean, place a liter of water in with a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Microwave on high for 10-15 minutes. The lemony-water vapor will loosen up any dirt and grime, allowing you to simply wipe it away with a cloth.

2. Low: 100-400W

These power levels are still low enough to defrost and soften items, such as ice cream, butter, chocolate and cheese, but you can also use them for simmering rice, pasta and dumplings and low-and-slow cooking. Foods that can be cooked on this low heat include egg custard (using high to heat the milk but a lower power to set the custard), chilli, stews and sauces. It’s also possible to bake a fruit cake using this low setting; it’s perfect for making sure the high fat, high sugar mixture won’t overheat and burn. Try cooking it for 60-80 minutes.



Adjusting the power level of the microwave will make the dishes become more perfect and help you save energy and money. It’s necessary to change the microwave power level properly. We hope that you can apply the simple and effective way on how to change microwave power level from this article. Hopefully, this guide can help you. If you have any questions about these ways or would like to learn more about things, please leave comments below. Or If you find this article useful and like it, let’s share it for all people to read.

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