Why Padma Lakshmi Thinks Baking Nachos Is Better Than Microwaving Them

Padma Lakshmi is something of an expert in snacking. By her own admission in this YouTube clip, it's something she's been exposed to for a long time. As she said, "Snack culture is absolutely huge in India. We love salty, spicy, crunchy things. We're just eating snacks constantly. We love to munch on stuff." 

So, it should come as no surprise that Lakshmi recently weighed in on one fan's question on social media about what to do with nachos. "Do you microwave or bake? Nachos are my comfort food and I need to up my game," the fan tweeted, to which Lakshmi replied, "Bake. I don't like microwaved cheese."

This isn't the first time Lakshmi has talked about her love of nachos either. Back in 2019, the "Top Chef" judge used Instagram as a confessional to divulge her food secret that nachos are her form of "self care." Images captured and shared by Bravo showed her elaborate setup that included fixings like guacamole (spicy and regular), as well as fresh pico de gallo. U.S. News further shared Lakshmi's revelation that she covers her chips "with two or three different types of cheese, pickled jalapeños, sliced tomatoes, guacamole, and black beans."

Microwave ovens can expose cheese to too much heat

Padma Lakshmi isn't the only culinary expert who is likely to take a hard pass on microwaving cheese. Chowhound quoted University of Pittsburgh professor emeritus of chemistry, and the author of "What Einstein Told His Cook," Robert L. Wolke as saying, "In a normal oven, the air is hot, and this helps form a crust or skin to hold in [oil and water], but in a microwave the air in the unit is unaffected by the microwave process, so no crust forms." 

Not only that, if the temperature is too high, or if cheese is cooked for too long, Wolke says, "Protein molecules tighten, and water and fat are forced out. This results in rubbery, greasy melted cheese." And once you get there, there's no going back. Wolke also shared that, regardless of the cooking method, the best way to handle cheese is to shred or cut it to increase its surface area, and then expose it to low temperatures.

Other social media users were in agreement with Lakshmi's assessment to bake the cheese. One user cheekily pointed out that "Microwave is French for 'impatient person,'" while another user offered a great Plan B and said, "I use an air fryer for nachos. I also use it to reheat last night's pizza. It keeps the integrity of the crust. The oven is a time/energy suck."