Top 10 Microwave Tricks

The microwave is a fantastic timesaver for plenty of straightforward tasks — reheating leftovers, melting butter and thawing ice cream, to say the least — but there are a few unexpected places where it really excels. Here are our favorite mind-blowing microwave tricks.

1. Toasting Coconut and Nuts: Toasting coconut and nuts brings out their flavor in a huge way, but their high fat content makes them easy to scorch on the stovetop or in the oven. Pop them in the microwave for 30-second increments, until they reach the desired color (for coconut) or are toasty and fragrant (for nuts).

2. Foaming Milk: Want to make a cappuccino but don't have the frothing equipment? Fill a lidded jar halfway with milk, then shake vigorously. Remove the lid, microwave for 30 seconds, then pour the milk into your coffee. Scoop the milk foam onto your coffee as desired.

3. Drying Herbs: Is your garden overflowing? Lay fresh herbs out on a paper towel, with another paper towel on top, and microwave in 30-second increments until herbs are adequately dry. Transfer to a sealed container and store at room temperature. This also works well with citrus peel.

4. Peeling Garlic: Microwave a whole head of garlic for 20 seconds and the peels will slip off the cloves in seconds.

5. Softening Collards: We're obsessed with using collard green leaves in place of wraps for sandwiches. Wash them well, layer them in a circle shape, then zap for 10 seconds, just to soften them enough to roll.

6. Dulce de Leche: If you're terrified at the thought of cooking a sealed can but still want dulce de leche, open a can of sweetened condensed milk into a microwave-safe bowl, cover, then microwave in 2-minute increments, stirring between each one, until it's as caramel-y as you want it.

7. Peeling Corn on the Cob: While it's less practical than actually husking the corn by hand, this is handy if you just want a couple of cobs cooked and husked quickly: Cut off the root end of the cob with a serrated knife, just above the "shoulder," then microwave the entire cob for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on your microwave. Once it's done, shake the cob gently from the silk end until it shakes loose from the husk.

8. Poaching Eggs: For almost-instant poached eggs, crack an egg into a bowl or mug with 1/2 cup water and cover. Microwave for about 1 minute for just-set eggs, and follow with 10-second intervals if you like yours better done.

9. Homemade Fresh Cheeses: Combine 1 cup milk and 1 cup lemon juice (and a pinch of salt) in a microwave-safe container, then microwave for 2 minutes. Stir to separate curds from whey, then strain and drain in cheesecloth until as firm as desired.

10. Potato Chips: Yes, really. Slice thinly on a mandoline, rinse well, dry thoroughly, brush with olive oil, then spread out on a plate. Microwave for 3 minutes, then flip and microwave for another 3.

Surprising Recipes for Your Microwave