Read This Before Putting A Microwave-Safe Dish In The Oven

We've all heard the phrase "microwave-safe," particularly when plastic is involved: Is this takeout container approved for reheating leftovers? Will that plastic bowl melt if zapped for too long? Is it alright to warm up coffee in a plastic mug?

While it's true that plastic is generally safer than styrofoam or treated paper products, it largely depends on the type of plastic utilized (via The Spruce). Thin plastics, including bags, takeout containers, and single-use containers –- like those used for yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc. –- should never be microwaved. These plastics frequently contain BPA, a toxin, which can leak into your food if heated. All this said, even plastics marked as safe can still release BPA into your food, increasing your risk of developing cancer.

Most of us know better than to put a flimsy takeout container in the oven. But what about "safer" dishes, like ceramic or glass? And if they're marked as microwave-safe, can you use them in the oven, too?

Microwave-safe and oven-safe do not mean the same thing

You probably guessed it — you can't assume dishes marked "microwave-safe" are also safe to use in the oven. According to the cookware enthusiasts at World of Pans, the most important factors are the material the dish is made of, whether or not the dish has a heat-resistant coating, and if the handles are oven-safe.

Plastic containers, even if supposedly microwave-safe, cannot withstand the extreme temperatures of an oven. That takeout container is going to release toxins into your pizza, melt all over your oven, and possibly catch on fire. On the other end of the spectrum, Amazon affiliate food site Kitchen Seer says dishes intended for the oven –- like stainless steel pots –- should never be used in the microwave. If you're lucky enough to avoid setting your house on fire, you'll at the very least destroy your microwave.

A good rule of thumb is to play it safe. If you aren't sure whether something is microwave- or oven-safe, don't use it. Instead, use a dish you can be certain is meant for the kind of heat it will be subjected to.