Microwaves are a powerhouse. Not only can they bake, boil and steam, they can also reheat foods quickly and efficiently. Domestic appliances vary in power output from 650 watts to 1,200 watts, meaning the higher the wattage, the quicker the cooking time. But keep in mind that although many recipes are written for 800-watt ovens, yours may be a higher or lower power rating. That's why it's helpful to adjust your cooking times to ensure perfect results no matter which recipe you use.

Determine the power rating of your microwave oven. Check the instruction manual or look for the information label on the machine.

Test the power-output level by pouring 1 cup water into a glass measuring cup. Place the cup into the microwave and heat the water on full power for four minutes. Note the amount of time needed to boil the water. If the water boils in less than two minutes, your oven has more than 1,000 watts of power. If it boils in 2 1/2 minutes, the power is 800 watts; three minutes, 700 watts; and more than three minutes means it's 300 to 500 watts.

Check the microwave power rating for the recipe you're using. This will usually be stated in the recipe or at the start of the book, perhaps in the introduction. Recipes contained in one book will usually use the same power rating for all recipes, typically 850 watts.

Adjust the cooking time for your oven. No adjustment is required if the power rating of your appliance is the same as the recipe. For every 50 watts your oven is higher than the one quoted in the recipe, decrease the cooking time by five seconds per minute. For example if your oven is rated at 1,000 watts but the recipe quotes times for an 850-watt oven, decrease the cooking time by 15 seconds per minute. For every 50 watts that your oven is lower than the one quoted in the recipe, increase the cooking time by five seconds per minute.


Always check that your food is thoroughly cooked and heated before serving as every oven cooks differently. Quoted cooking times are provided as a guideline and you should increase or decrease the times according to the performance of your oven.