Can You Microwave Takeout Boxes?

can you microwave take out

One of the best parts about getting takeout is enjoying the leftovers later on. But can you simply pop that takeout container in the microwave, or do you need to transfer the food first? The answer depends on the type of packaging.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at different types of takeout boxes and tell you if they are safe to use or not. But before that, let’s look at takeout boxes in general.

Can You Microwave Takeout Boxes?

This is a common dilemma many of us face after enjoying a delicious takeout meal – can I just toss these leftovers in the microwave using the same container? The short answer is: that it depends on the type of takeout container.

Let’s look at the two main categories of takeout boxes and whether they are microwave-safe:

Paper Products – Takeout Boxes

The good news is that plain paperboard or cardboard takeout boxes can generally go in the microwave for short periods of time to reheat foods safely. These uncoated paper or cardboard containers don’t contain much moisture, so they don’t actually get as hot as the food inside when exposed to microwave radiation.

However, there are some important exceptions and precautions to keep in mind:

  • Always check the labeling on the paperboard box. If it is labeled “Not for Microwave Use” or has any warnings about heating, do not microwave it.
  • Avoid microwaving any paperboard boxes with plastic coatings or linings made of materials like polyethylene. These can potentially melt and leach chemicals into your food when overheated.
  • Remove any metal handles or lid-closing wires, as these may cause arcing or sparks.
  • Don’t leave the paperboard container in the microwave for too long. Go for short reheating times and keep an eye on it.

Plastic Take-out Containers

For plastic takeout containers and clamshells, the general advice is do not microwave them, period. Most plastics (ie., single-use plastic) used in these affordable disposable food containers have low heat tolerances. Microwaving can cause deformation, melting, and potentially release chemicals into your food.

The one limited exception is if the plastic container specifies that it is made of polypropylene (PP) and clearly has a microwave-safe label. But even with those, take precautions like removing lids/covers that may contain other materials.

The Safest Options

To avoid any risks, the smartest move when reheating takeout leftovers is to transfer the food to a dedicated microwave-safe dish made of glass, ceramic, or BPA-free (Bisphenol A) plastic marked as microwave-approved. These will heat your food safely and evenly without any chance of melting, fires, or contamination.

Can You Microwave Chinese Takeout Boxes?

The answer: it depends on the specific type of packaging. While microwaving takeout containers can be convenient, you need to take some precautions first to ensure your food reheats safely without any hazards.

As a general rule, you’ll want to avoid microwaving any takeout containers made of materials that can potentially melt, warp, ignite, or leach chemicals into your food. This includes:

  • Styrofoam containers
  • Plastic containers not labeled as microwave-safe
  • Cardboard/paperboard containers with plastic linings or metallic handles
  • Any container with metal strips, decorations, or staples

The heat and radiation from microwave ovens can cause these types of containers to break down in ways that render your leftovers inedible or even unsafe.

Safer Options for Microwaving

The safest bet is always to transfer your Chinese food leftovers to a dedicated microwave-safe dish or container before reheating. Glass, ceramic, or microwave-safe plastic containers will allow your food to heat evenly without risk of melting, chemical leaching, or other hazards.

However, if you want to reheat right in the original takeout packaging, there are some containers that can go in the microwave:

Plain Cardboard/Paperboard Containers

Basic cardboard or paperboard containers without any plastic linings, wax coatings, or metal components can generally go in the microwave for short periods to reheat foods. Just remove any lids or sauce containers first.

Microwave-Safe Labeled Containers

If your Chinese takeout containers are clearly labeled somewhere as “microwave-safe,” you’re likely in the clear to reheat in that container, following any instructions provided. Look for a microwave-safe symbol or the  #5 plastic recycling code.

When in doubt about a container’s microwave safety, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Transfer contents to a proper microwave-safe dish.

Can You Put Cardboard Pizza Box in the Microwave?

microwave pizza box

Yes, you can microwave your cardboard pizza box if your leftover pizza comes in one of those basic corrugated cardboard boxes without any extra coatings or materials. Plain cardboard and paper have enough heat resistance to withstand the microwave’s temperatures for short periods of time.

However, there are a few big cautions and limitations to be aware of:

Time Limits Matter

Most experts recommend keeping any microwaving of plain cardboard pizza boxes to under 1 minute to prevent any fire risks. Cardboard is still a combustible material that can ignite if overheated for too long.

No Metal Components

If your pizza box has any metal components like handles, clasps, or aluminum foil interiors, it’s an absolute no-go for the microwave. These can spark dangerously when exposed to microwave radiation.

Watch for Plastic Coatings

Some pizza boxes have a light plastic poly coating on the inside to prevent sogginess. While likely microwave-safe for short periods, it’s best not to microwave plastic materials when possible.

When in Doubt, Don’t

If you can’t confirm your pizza box is free of any metal pieces, wax, or plastic coatings, play it safe and transfer those leftover slices to a dedicated microwave-safe plate or container before reheating.

Are KFC Containers Microwavable?

microwave kfx box

Yes, they are! You can absolutely microwave your leftover KFC orders right in their original packaging! KFC has made efforts in recent years to introduce microwave-safe containers at their restaurants.

KFC’s Microwave-Safe Packaging

Many of KFC’s current takeout containers, both paper/cardboard based and plastic, are designed to be microwave-safe for convenient reheating. This includes:

  • Paper buckets and boxes
  • Plastic side containers
  • “Famous Bowls” containers

These food-safe packages allow you to easily reheat fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and more by just removing any exterior wrappings or lids before microwaving.

Potential Drawbacks of Microwaving

While extremely convenient, there are some downsides to reheating KFC food in the microwave versus an oven or air fryer:

  • Fried items like chicken may lose crispness when microwaved
  • Foods can become unevenly heated or dried out if not microwaved properly
  • Signs of wear on containers like cracks could allow chemical leaching

For the absolute best quality, the oven or air fryer is recommended for reheating KFC’s signature fried chicken to preserve that crispy, golden deliciousness.

Are Olive Garden Takeout Boxes Microwavable?

microwave olive garden take out

Yes, you can! You absolutely can reheat your Olive Garden leftovers right in those sturdy plastic containers they provide! Unlike many other restaurants using cheap Styrofoam or mystery plastic packaging, Olive Garden specifically designs its takeout containers to be microwave-safe.

While some businesses look to cut costs with the flimsiest takeout packaging, Olive Garden understands that preserving food quality for later is important. That’s why they invest in thicker, BPA-free plastic containers engineered to withstand microwave temperatures without melting, warping, or leaching chemicals.

Most of their containers are clearly labeled on the bottom as microwave-safe. So you can feel confident giving those mouth-watering leftovers a quick zap to restore that fresh-from-the-kitchen taste and texture.

Tips for Safe Reheating

While Olive Garden’s containers are designed for safe microwave use, there are still a few best practices to follow:

  • Remove lid before microwaving to allow venting
  • Microwave at 50% power in 60-second intervals, stirring between
  • Check that food is heated well before consuming
  • Avoid putting the whole container, sauce packets, etc. in the microwave
  • Discard any containers that become cracked, cloudy, or deformed

Can You Microwave Wingstop Box?

microwave wingstop boxes

The short answer is No. While microwaving those boxes may seem like the ultimate convenience, it’s actually not recommended. Here’s a closer look at why you shouldn’t microwave your Wingstop box:

Why Wingstop Boxes Aren’t Microwave-Safe

The containers that Wingstop uses for takeout and delivery orders are typically made from rigid polystyrene foam, also known as styrofoam. While effective at insulating temperature, polystyrene is not meant for microwave exposure.

When exposed to microwave heat, the polystyrene can actually begin melting and breaking down. This releases potentially harmful chemicals and Styrofoam particles into your piping hot wings – not exactly appetizing! Melted Styrofoam can also make a mess and damage your microwave.

In addition to the safety hazards, microwaving will cause the wings to steam inside the polystyrene boxes. This reintroduces moisture and makes those crispy wings turn sadly soggy instead.

The Better Solution – Transfer Wings to Microwave-Safe Dish

To safely reheat your Wingstop wings while preserving maximum flavor and crispiness, you’ll want to transfer them to a microwave-safe plate or container before heating.

Can You Microwave Chick Fil A Box?

microwave chic fil a box

One of the best things about Chick-fil-A is that their packaging is designed with your convenience in mind. Their boxes and containers are typically made of microwave-safe materials, which means you can reheat your leftovers right in the original packaging. Isn’t that handy?

While the packaging may be microwave-safe, not all menu items are suitable for reheating this way. Breaded items like their famous Chicken Nuggets can become soggy and lose their delightful crunch when microwaved. In cases like this, it’s best to transfer the food to a microwave-safe plate before reheating.

Chick-fil-A’s Recommendation

For the best results, Chick-fil-A actually recommends reheating their food in the oven. Here’s how:

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C).
  • Take the food out of the box and place it on an oven-safe dish.
  • Reheat for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F (74°C).

This method ensures that your Chick-fil-A meal retains its delicious flavor and texture, just like when it was freshly prepared.

Can You Microwave Raising Canes Box?

microwave raising canes boxes

Microwaving the Raising Cane’s box is not a good idea. The boxes have a Styrofoam lining that can melt and make a mess. It can also let chemicals into your food or even cause a fire hazard.

It’s better to reheat your Raising Cane’s chicken another way:

  • Use the oven at 350°F for 5-10 minutes
  • Air fryer at 375°F for 3-5 minutes
  • Pan fry on the stove with a little oil

If you must use the microwave, take the chicken out of the box first. Microwave for short times like 20-30 seconds. Flip it over each time. Keep going until it’s 165°F inside.

The microwave can make the chicken soggy though. The oven, air fryer, or stove are best for keeping it crispy.

Are Panda Express Bowls Microwave Safe?

microwave panda express bowl

If you are a fan of Panda Express’s delicious Chinese cuisine, then you must have probably found yourself with leftovers packaged in their iconic take-out bowls. But can you simply pop those bowls into the microwave to reheat, or do you need to transfer the food first? Let’s dive into the microwave safety of Panda Express bowls.

The Good News: Plastic Panda Bowls are A-OK

The great news for convenience-seekers is that the plastic bowls Panda Express uses for take-out orders are designed to be microwave-safe. These bowls are made from polypropylene plastic, which can easily withstand the heat generated in your microwave without melting, cracking or releasing any harmful chemicals into your food.

Polypropylene has a high heat tolerance, only becoming pliable at temperatures between 266°F to 340°F (130°C to 171°C). Since microwave ovens heat the contents directly and not the containers, polypropylene allows the microwaves to pass through safely to warm your food evenly.

Additionally, Panda Express ensures these plastic bowls are free of BPA, a controversial compound formerly used in food packaging that raised health concerns about leaching into foods when heated.

Simple Precautions for Safe Reheating

While you can breathe easy microwaving those plastic Panda bowls, there are still a few easy best practices to follow:

  • Always remove any lids or plastic wraps before microwaving to allow steam to properly vent and prevent pressure buildup.
  • Avoid reheating in any containers that appear cracked, damaged, or warped, as they could potentially contaminate your food.
  • For bowls with multiple compartments, remove any sauces or toppings first before reheating the main dish.
  • Stir contents halfway through to ensure even heating throughout.

A Caution on Cardboard Bowls

One type of Panda Express bowl you do want to avoid putting in the microwave is any made from cardboard. While these may seem microwave-friendly, the wax or plastic polymer coating used to prevent soaking can actually melt at microwave temperatures, leaching into foods.

So if your Panda leftovers came in a cardboard bowl, play it safe and transfer contents to a dedicated microwave-safe dish before reheating.

Can You Microwave Chipotle Bowl?

microwave chipotle bowls

There’s nothing quite like diving into a delicious Chipotle burrito bowl piled high with your favorite fixings. But what happens when you can’t quite finish that generous portion? Can you just pop the whole bowl in the microwave to reheat later? The answer requires a bit of explanation.

The Containers Themselves

First, let’s look at the bowls that Chipotle serves their hearty meals in. These disposable bowls are made from plant-based compostable materials like paper and sugarcane. While eco-friendly, these bowls are not considered microwave-safe by Chipotle or the manufacturers.

Microwaving the original Chipotle bowl runs the risk of it getting soggy, warping, or even catching fire from the microwave’s extreme heat. The paper simply isn’t designed to withstand those high temperatures. Additionally, any plastics, waxes, or laminates used in creating the bowls could potentially melt and leach into your food when overheated.

Microwavable Alternatives

So if the original Chipotle bowls can’t go in the microwave, what’s the solution for enjoying those tasty leftovers later? The safest option is to transfer the contents of your Chipotle bowl into a microwave-safe dish or container before reheating.

Look for dishes made from glass, ceramic, or BPA-free plastics clearly labeled as microwave-safe. These will evenly reheat your food without any risk of melting, warping, or contamination from the container itself.

Chipotle even sells their own microwave-safe bowls designed just for reheating their meals. Made from polypropylene plastic, these affordable bowls can handle the microwave’s heat without any issues.


A little extra caution is warranted when reheating takeout leftovers in their original packaging. While some containers are microwave-safe, others can pose risks like melting, chemical leaching, or even fire hazards.

Taking an extra minute to transfer food to a proper microwave-safe dish ensures you can enjoy those leftovers safely and maintain optimal quality.

When in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of safety than risk an inedible or contaminated meal. With some simple precautions, you can easily revive that restaurant flavor at home.

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