Are Paper Plates Microwaveable?

May 30, 2022
Related Categories: 

Some Are Microwave Safe - Others Aren’t

It’s almost impossible to keep up with washing the dishes. It doesn’t matter if you live with your family or if your roommates decide to take turns each day to tackle some cleaning. If you’ve hosted a party in your backyard, doing the dishes can also be daunting because there is so much you need to wash. 

Paper plates come in handy in such cases. Most people find paper plates convenient since you don’t need to wash them after use. You can use paper plates for your everyday needs and pull out nice dishes when you have visitors around.  Buying recycled paper plates can assuage the guilt of purchasing a disposable paper product.

Most of us already know that you shouldn’t microwave aluminum foil or anything containing metal. Whether you use a white paper plates every day or for certain occasions, it’s essential to know their proper use. This brings us to the main question you want answers to: Can you microwave paper plates?  The answer is it depends on the paper plate.  Depending on your paper plate, there may be a risk of a harmful chemical mixing in with your food after microwaving a paper plate as explained below.

Can You Microwave Paper Plates?

It’s worth noting that some paper plates are microwave-safe. However, others have plastic coatings, which can melt or even leach hazardous chemicals into your food when microwaved.

Checking for a microwave safe label the labels on your paper plates is crucial as this helps you to know whether it’s safe to put them in the microwave . Some paper plates have a “microwave safe” label on them.

This means that you can use such plates to warm food in your kitchen appliance. There are instances where you might not be sure whether your dixie plates are microwavable. Usually, this happens when the plates haven’t been labeled microwave safe. In such cases, lean on the side of caution. Photos of paper plates in a stack

Look for labels on the plates or on the packaging for the paper plates that indicates whether or not the plates can safely be used in a microwave

Other paper products, such as parchment paper, towels, and napkins, may be safe to heat in the microwave - you'll want to check with the manufacturer. Nonetheless, you should aim to avoid glossy or printed paper plates materials when thinking of using paper products in the microwave, especially when metal is involved.

Testing Paper Plates for Microwave Safety

Apart from checking the product’s labeling, you can also test the paper plates to ensure that you’re using the microwave the right way. You might have noticed that some paper plates have a plastic coating. This coating makes the plate stronger or more pliable for use. These are the paper plates that boast they can hold all types of food without leaking.

Not all paper plates are safe to use in the microwave. So, before tossing your food in this kitchen appliance, you should test it for microwave safety. The aim here is not to categorize certain paper plates as dangerous, but it’s important to raise your awareness that some of them might not be as safe as you initially thought.

Photo of paper plates

No, not all plates are safe to use in a microwave

Before we guide you on how to test the plates, you should realize that even microwave-safe paper plates should only be microwaved for a specific amount of time.

The longer you leave the dish in the microwave oven, the more likely it will absorb energy and create heat. The risk of a fire is imminent here. So, you still need to be cautious when heating food using any microwave-safe paper plate.

Test Paper Plates for Microwave Safety Using the Touch Test

Here are the steps you need to follow before using the microwave for paper plates.

1. Fill up a cup with water.

Here, it’s crucial to use a cup you know that it’s microwave safe. To be sure, look for a microwave-safe label on the bottom.

2. Microwave the glass of water with the paper plate.

Place the glass of water on the paper plate and put it in the microwave. Turn on the microwave on high power for about 1 minute.

If you’re testing a large dish, you can put the items side-by-side. But if the paper plate is small, you can place the cup of water on top of it.

3. Touch the plate

Once time is up, touch the plate. Be careful when handling the plate since it might be hot.

Consider using a potholder or oven mitts to remove the cup of water from the oven.

If the plate is hot and the water is cold, it is a clear indication that it’s not microwave-safe. A microwave-safe plate should be cool even after placing it with the cold water in the microwave. A hot paper plate shows that it absorbed the heat, a sign that it’s not safe to use it in the microwave.

The paper plate might be warm in the center if you placed the cup of water on top of it. So, the best way to confirm is by touching the sides.

The above testing procedure will help you confirm whether your plates are microwave safe. As a rule of thumb, it’s always important to avoid using paper plates in the microwave, especially when they are not marked as microwave safe.

Which Paper Plates Are Microwave Safe?

Now that you know how to test whether paper plates are microwave safe, you might be curious to know if there are specific plates that are microwave safe.

The good news is that there are plenty of paper plate options in the market. You should find it easy to draw a line between plates that can be used in the microwave and those that can’t.

Some of the best options available in the market include:

  • Dixie plates
  • Glad soak proof plates
  • Bekith paper plates
  • Comfy package heavy-duty paper plates

How Georgia Pacific Makes Paper Plates

Can Chemicals in Paper Towels Affect Your Food?

It’s worth knowing whether the chemicals used to make paper towels can leach into your food and affect you. To be safe it is best to avoid microwaving a paper towel or paper cup in the microwave unless you know for sure it is microwave safe.

If you’ve done your research, you should have noticed that most experts indicate that styrofoam plates should not be microwaved.

What Is Styrofoam?

Styrofoam refers to a type of polystyrene used in the building industry. In some countries like Canada and the US, this term is mistaken to mean the expanded polystyrene used on molds to make disposable plates, containers, packaging peanuts, and coffee cups.

Photo of food on a styrofoam plate

Styrofoam should never be put in the microwave

While styrofoam containers are cheap and considered convenient, they have been banned due to health and environmental concerns in certain nations. In terms of health, styrofoam has a compound called styrene, associated with some types of cancers in human and animal studies.

Can You Microwave Styrofoam?

Generally, concerns have been raised about microwaving styrofoam paper plates and other related products. This is because of the styrene compound mentioned above.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) usually tests paper plates for their safety and use in microwaves. To be certain you’re using a safe product, look for the microwave-safe label. Avoid using products without this label because their safety is not guaranteed. Better safe than sorry.


Here are some of the most common questions regarding paper plates inside microwave ovens.

Is it safe to microwave paper?

It’s safe to microwave paper as long as you’re sure it’s the right type of paper. Wax paper, many paper towels, some paper plates, parchment paper (usually), and some paper bowls are safe to microwave. Look for the microwave safe label or check with the manufacturer to be sure it is microwave safe. You want to make sure that there are no chemicals or dyes in your paper product that can mix with your food - making it unsafe for use in the microwave. Don’t use newspaper in the microwave because it’s not sanitary, and it can leach ink into your foods and drinks.

Can paper plates catch fire when microwaved?

Paper is not a good conductor of electricity. This means that a paper plate might not catch fire in the microwave unless subjected to extreme heat that will force it to combust.

The contents of the paper plate matter a great deal. For example, if the plate has printed edges, a foil cover, fork, metallic trim, or any other non-microwavable items, there is a chance that it might catch fire.

Since paper plates are highly flammable, they must not be kept near ignition sources, including non-microwavable items.

How long can you microwave paper plates?

Whatever paper plate you use, the USDA recommends microwaving paper plates for only two minutes at the most. Otherwise, health and safety issues may arise.

Can you microwave dixie plates?

Dixie plates are a specific brand of paper plates. These plates are made using quality materials. Generally, dixie plates are labeled microwave safe. This means that it’s safe to microwave them. Besides, in terms of health concerns, USDA suggests that using paper is safer than polystyrene or plastic products.

Are all paper plates microwavable?

Not all paper plates are safe to use in the microwave. To ensure you are using microwave-safe plates, always look for the “microwave safe” label. This label will prove that the FDA has tested the product and should be safe for microwaving.

Are paper plates toxic?

Since there are different types of paper plates, some don’t pose any health risks. Paper plates labeled BPA-free don’t have any negative effects on your health. Therefore, you shouldn’t be worried when using them. Other paper plates may contain inks or toxic chemicals and shouldn't be used in the microwave.

How do you know whether a paper plate can be microwaved?

The easiest way to determine if a paper plate can be microwaved is by checking its packaging. So, before you throw away the plastic packaging, check the labeling to see whether it’s branded ‘microwave-safe.’ A microwave symbol on the product could also indicate that it’s safe to use it in the microwave.

It’s important to be cautious when shopping for your paper plates. Always ensure that you’re taking home paper plates that will not pose any health risks to you and your family. Paper plates should not be microwaved for more than two minutes.

Buy paper plates or wash dishes?

Generally, it depends. If you are thinking of buying paper plates to use more often, washing and reusing your dishes is preferable. While a disposable plate is convenient, it isn't nearly as environmentally friendly as using say a ceramic plate that can be reused hundreds or thousands of times.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
Related Blog Posts
rocketarrow-downarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram