Are Plastic Containers Oven Safe?

Many frozen dinners are packaged in plastic trays covered with plastic film, and while most people heat them in the microwave, some instructions suggest that they can be baked in a conventional oven by placing the plastic trays on a cooking sheet. However, this raises the question of whether it is safe to put plastic containers in an oven.

Plastic containers should not be considered oven-safe at any temperature. Most plastic storage containers are made of polypropylene, which has a melting point of 240-260° F (115-125° C), while the average cooking temperature in an oven is 350° D (177° C). Even before the plastic melts, it can become soft and potentially release hazardous chemicals.

Crystallized polyethylene terephthalate (CPET), a type of commercial-grade plastic, can endure high temperatures up to 400°F (204°C), which is commonly used in frozen dinners, but it is not recommended for reuse.

Containers made of polypropylene, which are commonly used to store leftovers, as well as those made from Tritan plastic like Rubbermaid Brilliance, are not oven safe and do not belong to the category of CPET containers.

When it comes to reheating leftovers stored in plastic containers, it is not advisable to use the oven; rather, you can opt for the microwave by venting the lid of the plastic container or transfer the food into a glass or metal dish that is oven-safe.

Will Plastic Containers Melt In Oven?

As long as the instructions on a frozen dinner box that is suitable for conventional oven use are followed, there should be no concern about plastic melting; nevertheless, surpassing the suggested temperature or utilizing a personal polypropylene plastic container may lead to melting.

Plastic containers made of polypropylene can start to warp, bend, and soften before reaching their melting point of 240-260° F (115-125° C), which could result in the container melting and sticking to the cooking tray or oven rack if not removed.

If you have ever placed plastic containers in the lower rack of your dishwasher, you may have observed warping and bending due to the high heat from the heating element. The same can happen in an oven where continuous heat can cause melting of the plastic.

If you place your plastic container in the oven and it starts to melt, you will be left with a huge mess. You will need to allow the plastic to cool down and then remove it bit by bit.

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Unless the temperature of your oven exceeds 400° F (204° C), the CPET containers found in packaged frozen meals will remain firm, but they will begin to melt if it goes beyond that.

Most plastic containers made from polypropylene do not contain BPAs, or Bisphenol A, a chemical that has been associated with cancer. However, inhaling the fumes from melting containers could cause irritation to the respiratory system and lead to coughing or asthma-like symptoms.

It is not recommended to place plastic containers in a conventional oven under any circumstances for safety reasons.

Plastic containers are not suitable for use in toaster ovens, convection ovens, or air fryers due to the high temperature they generate, which exceeds the melting point of plastic.

How Do You Know If A Container Is Oven Safe?

Should you be cautious of other types of containers if a plastic container is not suitable for the oven? How can you determine if a container is safe to use in the oven?

If your container is crafted from glass, metal, stoneware, or ceramic, it is safe to place in the oven. Most baking sheets, casseroles, and pans are made of these materials. Silicone can also be used in the oven up to a temperature of 425° F (218° C).

Be cautious before you put any kind of storage container in the oven as these containers are usually composed of a variety of materials. For instance, glass storage containers with plastic press-on or latching lids are often seen. You must take off the lid before putting the glass container in the oven since the lid will melt.

Exercise care while heating food in disposable aluminum containers as they are usually thin and weak. When you take out the hot container from the oven, its edges can bend, leading to the spilling of contents that may cause burns on your arms or hands.

It is recommended to place aluminum containers on a baking sheet before inserting them into the oven. This will provide the necessary support and also accelerate the cooking process.

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Plastic containers are not the only ones that require extra caution when using them in the oven, as silicone containers should also be placed on a baking sheet or pan.

Is A Microwavable Container Safe For Oven?

It can be perplexing to figure out which containers are suitable for the oven, microwave, or both. For instance, if you purchase Stouffers frozen lasagna, it will come in a plastic tray and the instructions will state that it can be cooked in a conventional oven or microwave. But how do you know without directions?

The majority of plastic containers designed for microwaving should not be placed in a traditional oven due to the potential for melting. On the other hand, most types of glass, paper, and cardboard are safe to use in the microwave, as well as plastic bags that have been opened or vented.

Although microwaves and conventional ovens yield comparable outcomes, they employ distinct methods of cooking. Conventional ovens, regardless of whether they are gas or electric, generate heat that elevates the temperature of everything within the oven – including the food, plastic containers, oven racks, door, and window.

The importance of being cautious when handling pans in the oven was likely learned after accidentally touching a pan while it was cooking.

Unlike an oven, a microwave doesn’t increase the temperature inside it; rather, it heats up food by exciting its molecules with microwaves, which is why you can safely touch a paper plate that has been heated in a microwave.

Although certain containers may heat up when food is cooked in a microwave for an extended period, the heat from the food is transferred to the container, causing both glass and plastic containers to become hot enough to potentially cause burns.

If you want to know if a plastic container is suitable for use in a conventional oven, it is important to follow the instructions on the packaging. If the instructions do not explicitly state that it is safe for oven use, it is best not to attempt using it. Additionally, there are certain indicators of safety to keep an eye out for.

CPET containers, the kind that are oven safe, are almost always black. If your plastic container is white or transparent, do not put it in the oven.  

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Thick paperboard is used to package certain frozen foods that can be microwaved and possibly oven-safe, as long as the package instructions indicate so.

To ensure utmost safety, refrain from utilizing plastic containers in the oven and opt for the microwave as an alternative.

What Containers Can Be Used In Oven?

When freezing leftovers or preparing meals in advance for later use in the oven, it is important to choose a container that can seamlessly transition from the freezer to the oven.

Borosilicate glass is the ideal material for freezer-to-oven containers, as they can be transferred directly from the freezer to a preheated oven. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that most of these containers come with plastic lids that need to be taken off before using them in the oven.

Additionally, these plastic containers are suitable for use in the microwave.

Some of the most commonly used freezer-to-oven containers made of borosilicate glass are:

  • Amazon Basics Meal Prep Glass Containers —These containers can withstand heat of up to 450° F (232° C). Lids are airtight with a silicone lining. They are vented for microwave use but must be removed before you put them in the oven. Just remove the plastic lid and cover with aluminum foil.
  • Razab Glass Storage Food Containers — They can go into ovens as hot as 500°, according to the manufacturer. They also have airtight plastic lids that are not oven safe.
  • OXO Good Grips — Remove the plastic lids before placing them in the oven.

The ceramic blend used in Corningware is an excellent option for transferring from the freezer to the oven. This type of ceramic-glass combination is suitable for use in freezers, microwaves, and ovens.

    The Corningware French White bakeware set comes with two sets of lids—plastic covers for freezing and storing and glass tops for baking. This can be found in the 10 piece round bakeware set.

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