Plastic and ovens generally don’t mix. Most types of plastic have a low melting point and will begin to soften at temperatures lower than 100°C.
When cooking food in the oven, a temperature of 180°C to 200°C is much more common. This means that putting plastic in the oven is generally a recipe for disaster!
It will start to melt, release toxic fumes, and be a nightmare to clean up afterwards.
However, whether you can put plastic in the oven does largely depend on the type of plastic in question.
Some plastic is more resistant to heat and has a much higher melting point than others. These plastics can survive over temperatures and are safe to use.
What Plastic Can You Put in the Oven?
Plastic that can go in the oven is known as ‘oven-safe’. These oven-safe plastic containers are generally made out of CPET, which stands for Crystalised Polyethylene Terephthalate.
As the name suggests, this plastic has been crystalised and so can withstand much higher temperatures than most other plastics. Therefore, they’re safe for oven use.
Can You Put Plastic Ready Meals in the Oven?
Most plastic ready meals can be cooked in the oven. The plastic used for the tray will have been treated so that it is oven-safe and will not melt or release any toxic fumes.
However, it might become slightly more flexible when exposed to high temperatures. For this reason, it is advisable to always put ready meals on a baking tray before cooking in the oven.
Moreover, most ready meals come with a clear plastic film over the top. This generally has to be removed prior to cooking in the oven as this thinner plastic is not oven-safe.
With that being said, always follow the cooking instructions on the packet. If oven cooking is not a given option, it is likely that the container is not safe for oven use.
Can You Put Plastic Takeaway Containers in the Oven?
You should not put plastic takeaway containers in the oven under any circumstances. Unlike ready meals which are designed to be cooked in their plastic trays, takeaway contains are used primarily for storage and transportation.
This means they’re not made for high-heat applications and can easily melt, making a mess of your oven and ruining your dinner.
Can You Put Aluminium Takeaway Containers in the Oven?
If your takeaway food comes in aluminium contains, these can be placed in the oven.
All foil containers are oven safe and have a temperature tolerance of over 200°C.
As metal is a conductor of heat, these containers also ensure equal heat distribution and can improve cooking and reheating. However, microwave metal containers with caution. If microwaved incorrectly, it can spark and cause a fire!
How Can You Keep Takeout Food Warm?
If you want to keep your takeaway food warm before eating, there are a few options available for you.
Firstly, you can transfer the contents of the plastic containers into an oven-safe baking dish and put this in the oven on a low heat.
If the food is in an aluminium container, it can go directly into the oven. This gentle heat won’t cook the food, but it will keep it warm until you’re ready to eat.
Alternatively, place the containers of food in the microwave and shut the door, but don’t turn it on.
The reduced airflow and insulating properties of the microwave mean the food will stay warmer than if it was left out on the kitchen counter. But as you’re not applying any heat, you don’t need to worry about the plastic melting or aluminium sparking.
Can You Put Microwavable Plastic in the Oven?
Many people assume that plastic that can safely go in the microwave can also go in the oven. However, this is not strictly the case.
Microwave ovens heat plastics in short bursts. Under these conditions, plastic will not melt and can safely be used as a vessel to reheat dishes.
On the other hand, heating food in a conventional oven involves sustained periods of high heat. This type of heat can cause microwave-safe plastics to melt.
With that being said, this does depend on the type of plastic used. Plastic containers that are oven-safe are nearly always microwave-safe, yet not all microwave-safe plastic containers are oven-safe!
Your best bet is to check for an oven-safe symbol. Yet if you’re unsure, don’t place microwave-safe plastic in a conventional oven just in case.
Hannah is a freelance content writer and self-proclaimed foodie. When Hannah isn’t sitting tapping at her laptop, you’ll probably find her in the kitchen. As an ex-chalet host, she’s used to cooking four-course meals for 10+ people and loves feeding friends and family whenever possible.