Tupperware and microwave ovens arrived on the kitchen scene at pretty much the same time, in the early stages of the 1940s.
Since then they’ve become household staples, but can you microwave food in Tupperware, and is it safe to do so?
The answer to this question depends on when you purchased your Tupperware.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain what you need to look for when deciding if your Tupperware should go in the microwave or not.
Is Tupperware Microwave Safe?
Since the early 2010s, all official Tupperware products sold in the USA are free of a particularly problematic chemical: Bisphenol A (more well-known as BPA).
This stuff has been commonly used in plastic products for decades. It helps to toughen up the container, and enhance its lifespan as a result.
The problem arises when you heat this material in the microwave – or with any other heat source for that matter.
Do so and you risk a certain amount of the BPA leaking into the food being heated within the container. The MayoClinic article I’ve linked above contains more information about the potential impact of this.
As BPA has fallen out of favor, a replacement called Bisphenol B has become commonplace instead. Alas, more concerns have been raised over this substance too.
For these reasons, most plastic manufacturers – including Tupperware – avoid using bisphenol chemicals in their products altogether. Consumers don’t want it, and the company’s have certainly paid attention!
How Do I Know If My Tupperware Is Microwave Safe?
The easiest way to tell if your Tupperware is microwave-safe? Check the bottom of each item.
If you can see a logo that looks like a square box with a few wavy lines in it, that means it’s microwave-safe.
If there’s no logo and you suspect the Tupperware might have been made prior to 2010, it would be better to use the box for cold storage only.
When you’re ready to reheat the food, transfer it into either a truly microwaveable Tupperware container, or heat it up in a glass or ceramic container instead.
What Plastics Are Found In Tupperware?
The official Tupperware brand makes use of a number of different plastics in its product lines.
The best thing I can do here is refer you to this chart on the company’s website. It’s also got some useful information about how to recycle any sets you’re thinking of replacing.
To summarize things though, the most commonly used plastics in the Tupperware range are:
- LDPE: “Low Density Polyethylene, used in grocery store bags, most plastic wraps and some bottles.”
- PP: “Polypropylene, used in most deli soup, syrup and yogurt containers, straws and other clouded plastic containers, including baby bottles.”
Both of these materials are fully compliant with the FDA’s food safety standards, and can be used with confidence in your kitchen!
Is All Tupperware Microwaveable?
Most of us find ourselves using the word “Tupperware” to refer to all plastic food containers. It’s a bit like how vacuum cleaners are collectively referred to as Hoovers.
What does all of this mean for you if you’re not using the official Tupperware brand?
First, check the product listing. That’s assuming you remember where you bought the storage containers from.
Few of us keep that kind of detail to hand for long though! If in doubt, you might prefer to use your containers for storage only, and re-heat in a different container.
If you’d prefer to replace your containers altogether, Rubbermaid is one of the most popular – and affordable – alternatives to official Tupperware. Its flagship set is BPA-free and microwave-safe too.
- Plastic food storage containers feature Easy Find Lids that snap on to container bases as well as same...
- Great for fridge and cabinet storage, crafts, and more
- Nests easily with other containers for compact storage
(Heads up! If you click on a product link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I never recommend a product I wouldn’t use in my own kitchen, and this helps keep the site running. Thank you.)
Alternatives To Plastic For Microwave Heating?
If you can’t look this kind of information up, you can be very confident that the plastic food container is fine to use for cold storage (whether that’s in the refrigerator or the freezer).
It’s the heating process that’s potentially problematic, and if the wrong sort of plastic is present in the container.
From storage, you can transfer the food to a ceramic or glass dish for heating up. Both of these materials are non-reactive, and so can be used in the microwave with confidence.
Just be aware that both ceramic and glass (the latter in particular) can be heavy, delicate materials to work with. Drop the dish and you’ll have a real mess on your hands!
Can You Microwave Tupperware With A Lid On?
Yes, but only in certain circumstances. Modern Tupperware that’s designed to be microwaved often features special lids.
These lids have built-in steam vents, which allow a little of the steam pressure to escape while the Tupperware is cooking in the microwave.
There are some very good reasons for using a lid when you’re microwaving food.
- It prevents foods – think sauces in particular – from splashing around the inside of your microwave. If this has happened to you, take a look at my guide to cleaning a truly disgusting microwave!
- The steam and moisture is locked inside the container, resulting in a much tastier meal once it’s finished cooking. Not only that, the food will heat up more quickly, and do so more evenly too.
These benefits become problems, however, if you tightly fit a Tupperware lid that doesn’t feature those steam vents.
Put the lid on too tightly here, and you run the exact same risk of creating a very messy food explosion inside your microwave.
What should you do if your Tupperware lid isn’t designed for microwave use? Put it on top lightly, allowing some steam to escape, and give it a good stir halfway through cooking.
That will allow some of the steam to escape, ensure the food cooks evenly, and prevent the worst of the splattering!
Useful Tips For Microwaving Tupperware
I wanted to include a few useful tips that will help you get more out of your microwave Tupperware.
Let Frozen Food Thaw A Little
Freezing food in Tupperware is a useful way of preserving leftovers, but it can be a bit of a pain to reheat them in the microwave.
Take the container out of the freezer at least an hour or so before reheating, and put it in the refrigerator to slow-thaw a little.
When the food has thawed somewhat, you’ll find it easier to break it up with a fork. Do this and the microwave heat will flow through the food more easily.
This helps to reduce the overall cooking time, ensures the food cooks evenly, and helps protect the Tupperware from warping as small clusters of food boil against the sides.
There are a handful of other Tupperware-related questions that often come up alongside this subject.
In this section I’ll answer them so you have a good understanding of the best way to use this stuff!
Can You Put Tupperware In The Freezer?
Yes, you can! It’s a popular way of storing leftovers, when you don’t like the idea of eating the same meal again in the near future.
It’s also useful if you want to do some batch-cooking, and make many meals at once. Just fill your Tupperware containers and then dip into your stock whenever the meal in question takes your fancy.
Can You Put Tupperware In The Dishwasher?
Unless the product listing for your set says otherwise, you can put Tupperware in the dishwasher.
Depending on the wash cycles you use and the hardness of your water, you may find the plastic clouds up a little over time.
This is purely a cosmetic thing. If convenience is more important to you, go ahead and let the dishwasher do the hard work here!
I hope you’ve found this guide to microwaving Tupperware useful. I’ll summarize the key points quickly:
- Official Tupperware manufactured after 2010 is safe to microwave.
- If in doubt, check the underside of each item and look for the microwave-safe logo.
- If you’re still feeling really cautious, store the food in Tupperware, then reheat it in a glass or ceramic container.
Mark’s a lifelong food fanatic and spent ten years working as an entertainment journalist. He now combines his love of food, drink and writing as the founder and editor of Viva Flavor. Read more