Melting or tempering chocolate chips in the microwave isn’t a total faux pas. It’s simple and quick, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But you do have to be careful not to overheat them.

Melting Chips

All types of candy chips—chocolate, butterscotch, and peanut butter—are easy to melt in the microwave. Heat them incrementally in a microwave-safe bowl for the best results. For 1 cup of chips, start with 1 minute on a medium setting, then heat the chocolate for no more than 15 seconds at a time after that. Stir the chocolate after each 15-second interval to ensure even heating. When the chips are almost melted, stir more thoroughly to help the last few lumps melt.

The melting temperature for chocolate is between 104 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature of the chocolate with a quick-read candy thermometer.

Drizzle melted chocolate over baked goods or use it to make shaped chocolates by pouring it into food-safe molds.

Tempering in the Microwave

Tempering requires heating chocolate to a specific temperature so that the crystals in the chocolate are stabilized. The technique is essential for making chocolate-coated treats, giving chocolate a glossy appearance and helping to keep it hard after cooling.

Heat milk chocolate chips to 86 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit and dark chocolate chips to 88 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the chips on medium at 15-second intervals, stirring in between cooking times to prevent uneven heating and scorching. When almost all of the chips have melted, give the chocolate a final stir. Like with melted chocolate, test the temperature with a candy thermometer.

Warnings

Milk chocolate chips can scorch easily or separate if they’re heated at a temperature that’s too high. Chocolate can become undesirably grainy when milk proteins are overheated.

When tempering chocolate at a temperature that’s too high, the cooled chocolate won’t develop a glossy finish.

Hot, melted chocolate also requires careful handling, as it can cause burns. The rim of the bowl may be hot from microwaving, too, so take care when removing it from the oven.

Alternative Options

When you plan to pipe chocolate, onto baked goods, for example, melt the chips in a heavy, microwave-safe resealable plastic bag. Knead the chocolate in the bag to ensure that all lumps are melted. Snip off the bottom corner of the bag and pipe the melted chocolate directly onto cookies or cupcakes.