How to cook canned food in the microwave? (4 Quick Steps)

How many times have you wandered along the produce aisle in the grocery store, trying to remember to pick up all the ingredients for your next meal?

Did you frequently stop in front of the canned foods section and ponder whether to give these things a try, but did the uncertainty of how to use them always stopped you?

If you have never cooked canned foods before and are apprehensive about how they will turn out, then this article is definitely for you. Read on ahead as I explain how to get the maximum bang for your buck with minimal effort on your side.

Whether you are a busy mom or a college student, cooking doesn’t have to be a burden at the end of a long and tiring day.

Enjoy your favorite foods, piping hot and within minutes without the fuss of slicing and dicing. All you now need to enjoy a hot meal is a microwave and a can opener and voila, dinner is served!

How to cook canned food in the microwave?

You don’t need to cook your canned food. It’s already pre-cooked and ready to eat.

Isn’t that just music to your ears? As per the FDA, before canning, food is always cooked under intense heat  (212 degrees Fahrenheit) so you can be sure that there is no growth of harmful bacteria inside and the food will be safe to eat.

This means when you open up a can you just reheat the food inside, no cooking is needed.

However, depending on your flavor preferences you can add additional ingredients like spices, to it and further cook it if you wish.

Can you heat canned food in the microwave?

No, it’s not safe to use a metal can in the microwave for heating your food.

You can reheat your canned food using the microwave, just not in the can itself.

Transfer the food out of the can into a microwave-safe ceramic or glass container first before reheating it in the microwave.

Usually, microwave manufacturers don’t recommend the use of metal utensils inside the microwave because

  • The microwave rays may bounce off the metal and create sparks, which may damage your microwave
  • The food will not get heated properly while it is still inside the can.

How to reheat canned foods in the microwave?

Besides a microwave, canned foods can be reheated over a stove-top or a grill just as effectively. The microwave however remains the fastest and easiest way to reheat it.

Reheating canned foods in the microwave is a simple 4 step process that you can easily follow here:

  1. Take a can opener, open your can of choice, and using a spoon empty your food into a microwave-safe container.
  2. Cover the container with a paper towel or a microwave-safe plastic lid to prevent splattering and to retain most of the moisture from the food for optimum flavor and taste.
  3. Set the microwave on medium power, place your food inside and run it for 2-4 minutes, stirring in 30-second intervals so that the food is heated evenly (heating time may vary depending on the type of food and microwave power).
  4. Once you feel that your food is heated thoroughly (internal temperature should read around 165 degrees Fahrenheit), take it out and enjoy.

Suggested for you: How to Cook Microwave Canned Corn

Can you eat canned foods without heating them?

Yes, absolutely. Since they are already precooked and safely canned you can easily eat them without worrying about getting sick.

It all depends on your preference whether you like your foods hot or cold. 

It will also depend on what food is inside the can. 

Foods like evaporated/condensed milk, canned peaches, pineapples, and fruit cocktail usually are eaten as is, straight from the can, or mixed in with some other foods to make a dessert.

While with canned vegetables like corn, carrots, asparagus or beans or soups, etc. people prefer to reheat first then consume.

One thing is for certain, all canned foods will be safe to eat without any reheating required. You just need to follow your eating preference, that’s it. 

Is it safe to cook canned food in the can?

No, it is NOT safe to cook food in the can whether in the microwave or on a stove-top.

Most cans are made of Aluminum and come lined with a plastic film inside.  Both of which when heated has the potential to release toxic chemicals into the food.

Besides placing a metal object in the microwave is a big No-No in itself.

However, and take this with a grain of salt,  if you find yourself in a situation where there are limited options on how to reheat canned food (think camping trips), then it can be done if you follow these precautions carefully:

  • Try to choose BPA-free canned foods, to minimize the chances of the plastic lining leaking any chemicals in your food
  • Remove the paper label on the can.
  • Use a can opener to open the can lid, failing to do so can create a buildup of steam inside the can during heating which may cause the can to explode.
  • Place the can in a water bath, never keep the can directly on a flame.
  • Stir regularly 
  • Once the food has finished heating, use oven mitts to lift the can out of the water as the can will be extremely hot.

When should you not eat canned foods?

While canned food manufacturers always follow the FDA-recommended guidelines for canning food, there can be a few circumstances when canned food might not be stored properly post canning.

This means it doesn’t remain safe for eating and might have the possibility of bacterial exposure and thus making you sick.

If a can shows the following signs then the food quality in these cans might be compromised.

  • Bulging
  • Leaking
  • Denting 

It would be better to throw the food in these cans away instead of consuming it because even though the food may look and taste alright, there may be a high risk of contamination because of the compromised quality of the cans.

Also, it’s important to remember that once these cans are opened, the food inside needs to be refrigerated and used within 2-3 days. Make sure you follow the storage instructions mentioned on the canned label.

Tips to microwave canned food effectively:

Before you start microwaving canned foods, read these tips first to make the most of your foods and ensure you heat them up properly.

  1. Never place a metal can directly in the microwave. Always empty it out into a microwave-safe container.
  2. Never add extra water to the canned food, in case of microwaving veggies, you can even drain out the water and place it in a microwave-safe dish.
  3. Always cover your food. It will prevent splattering in your microwave as well as trap in all the steam ensuring that the food gets heated evenly.
  4. Heat the food until you see it bubbling (2-4 minutes), stirring well in between.
  5. Use a shallow dish to reheat dense foods.
  6. Reheat in batches rather than overfilling the dish and get uneven heating.


We are living in a faced paced world. Not everyone has the luxury of having a family member who has hot cooked meals ready and waiting for them at home. To make your mealtimes easier to manage all it takes are two simple ingredients:

  1. A microwave 
  2. Your favorite food, but canned.

Mix them together and voila! What do you get? A ready-to-eat meal that is delicious as well as nutritious, in no time.

But don’t just put a can directly in the microwave. Follow a few simple rules to make microwaving canned foods easy and hassle-free.

  1. Open it and transfer its contents to a microwavable container
  2. Add a cover on top before starting to reheat it. 

And that’s it, two simple steps and you are on your way to saying ”Yummy in my tummy”

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