Although keeping metal out of the microwave is a key part of cooking safety, some microwave oven models now sport a gleaming center metal rack. When used properly, this rack is a helpful tool, with three possible uses:

  • Two-level microwave cooking 
  • Microwave defrosting/ ne-level cooking 
  • Convection oven

Metal cooking racks used in microwaves are safe because the metal in the rack is tuned to the metal in the cavity of the oven. The racks attach to plastic or rubber clips on the sides of the oven, and as long as the rack does not touch the walls or floor of the microwave, no arcing or warping will occur.

This opens up more space inside the microwave, which can be used in two ways. You could use the floor of the microwave and the cooking rack to heat two dishes at once. In this scenario, you could have two separate dishes hot for serving at once, rather than needing to first heat one, and then attempt to keep it warm while heating the other.

Another option for microwave use is to utilize the rack for more even energy wave circulation around the food. The additional wave flow traveling over, under and to each side of the food enables you to defrost and cook foods more evenly.

Use the cooking rack to cook food in the microwave oven just like usual: Heat foods according to the instructions found in your specific oven’s manual, or on the sides of frozen food boxes.

Once only found in professional bakeries and restaurants, convection ovens have become a feature of some microwaves. Convection ovens combine the heating ability of a conventional oven — and then some — with the energized speed of microwave cooking. The result is evenly cooked foods, heated quickly.

As opposed to the top or bottom radiating heat of the conventional microwave, convection ovens use fans to circulate hot air through the cavity. This heat is distributed evenly, without cold spots or hot spots, helping everything from baked goods to roasts brown uniformly.

Once you’ve read your manufacturer’s instructions on using the convection oven part of your microwave oven, you can experience some of the benefits of convection cooking:

  • Baking: Due to the instant and even heat, butter releases its steam quickly, resulting in flakier and lighter baked goods. 
  • Toasting: You can achieve a full pan of toasted almonds, pecans or walnuts in an unvarying golden-brown without needing to shift or move the tray halfway through cooking. 
  • Roasting and grilling: The rapidity in which heat surrounds the meat causes fats to render quickly and skin to crisp.

Convection oven times and temperatures do differ from those of a conventional oven, and can be different from model to model, so be sure to keep an eye on your foods until you are familiar with the times and heat needs of each dish.

Tips

If your convection oven has two rack attachment locations, the lower rack is best for baking and roasting, while the upper rack is best for browning and grilling.