Welcome! Here’s how to melt chocolate chips in the microwave without burning the chocolate.
Melting chocolate has often been the bogeyman of kitchen tasks because things can go all kinds of wrong so quickly.
And chocolate chips melt faster than bars or wafers because the surface area of each chip is so much smaller. It’s important to watch the time and not walk away from the microwave for even a second.
It’s possible to melt any kind of chocolate in the microwave, but chocolate chips that get too hot can burn or “seize” and ruin its flavor and texture.
Let’s talk about the best way to melt chocolate chips in the microwave so you end up with smooth, creamy melted chocolate chips that you can use for dipping strawberries, making candy, chocolate bark, and more!
- Use a microwave-safe bowl—we recommend heavy glass or Corelle.
- Start with a low power setting. Microwaving chocolate on a high setting can cause it to seize, or become grainy and unworkable. Start on a low setting, or use your microwave’s “melt chocolate” function.
- Microwave in short intervals. This will help to prevent the chocolate from overheating and seizing. Microwave the chocolate chips first for 45 seconds, STIR and check if the chips have melted, then 15 seconds at a time after that. Repeat until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Don’t overheat the chocolate. Once the chocolate chips are melted, it’s important to not overheat them. Overheating can cause the chocolate to become bitter, clump, and lose its flavor.
- Stir every few seconds. Stirring the chocolate after every few seconds of heating will help to prevent it from burning or seizing. Our mantra is the 4Ts: “Time, Turn, Test, and Taste.” (In this case, stir, not turn!)
- Let the chocolate chips cool slightly before using. If you use the chocolate right away, it may be too hot and will melt your other ingredients. Let the chocolate cool slightly before using it.
- As you use the melted chocolate chips, it will begin to harden again. Start the reheating process at the 15-second timer.
More tips for melting chocolate chips in the microwave:
- If you need to melt a large amount of chocolate chips, small batches at a time heat more evenly and thoroughly—a cup or less at a time is best.
- If the chocolate starts to seize, you can try adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil or shortening to help loosen it up. It may not work, depending on how hot the chocolate has become before testing it.
- Once the chocolate is melted, you can store it in a microwave-safe container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Though, I’ve let mine come to room temperature and then kept it in the back of the fridge for two months. Not the freshest tasting, but who wants to waste chocolate?
I hope these tips help you to melt chocolate chips in the microwave successfully!
How do I know when the chocolate is fully melted?
Sometimes chocolate chips hold their shape even when they have melted. Keep stirring, even when the chocolate looks like it hasn’t melted yet. You will distribute the heat, which is necessary because microwaves have a tendency to heat unevenly.
Perhaps one of life’s great kitchen mysteries is how well chocolate chips, chunks, and bars hold their shape while they are being heated.
You may find it surprising when you go to look at the bowl of melting chocolate and it looks like the shape hasn’t changed at all! But this is why it’s important to take it out of the microwave and stir the chocolate.
You may find that it’s completely melted when you move your spoon around in the bowl. Never assume by looking at it that it needs more time to heat up. Lots of chocolate has been burned this way.
How do I prevent the chocolate from burning or seizing up?
The best way to keep any chocolate from burning or seizing up is not let your chocolate chips cook in your microwave for too much time at once. Because every microwave has a different wattage, it’s best to keep an eye on your chocolate chips: check the time, stop the time every 15 seconds after the first minute, stir, repeat.
Here are my tips for preventing chocolate from burning and seizing:
- Don’t heat up too much chocolate at once. Heat one cup of chocolate chips at a time in a heat-safe, microwave-safe bowl.
- Start the heating process with 45 seconds uninterrupted on medium or low power.
- Remove the bowl of chocolate chips and stir, even if it doesn’t look like it barely melted.
- Heat on high at 15 seconds intervals, removing the bowl and stirring.
- When most of the bowl of chocolate chips has melted, keep stirring and scraping the sides of the bowl. Microwave ovens are famous for not heating food evenly, so now it’s your job to make it happen so your chocolate chips don’t burn. Residual heat from one part of the bowl of chips will be incorporated to the less heated parts.
- After about one minute and 15 seconds, you should have a smooth, silky, creamy, and warm bowl of melted chocolate chips.
The perfect way to keep chocolate from burning is to not overheat the chocolate, heat on low or medium at short intervals, and keep stirring.
Note for microwaves with a REHEAT or MELT function: Choose “melt chocolate” on your reheat menu, but don’t let it run without stopping. Be sure to remove the bowl and stir often until your chocolate chips are melted in the microwave.
Can I melt chocolate in a plastic bowl?
It is safest to use a glass or porcelain bowl for melting chocolate chips in the microwave, especially if you are not familiar with the strength and stability of the bowl.
Since this bowl will stay hot for a long time, consider using a pyrex bowl or Corelle.
(We’ve had Corelle Vitrelle dishes for ten years and I can heat anything in the mugs, bowls and plates, so I recommend this particular brand for microwave reheating.)
What are the best chocolate types to use for melting?
The best chocolate for melting depends on what you will be using it for. For example:
Will you be melting chocolate chips to make candy; for example, in candy molds or cocoa bombs? To get the shiny exterior from your finished chocolate candy, the best chocolate type to use for melting are called melting wafers. The chocolate is tempered, which creates a smooth, shiny finish in your goodies.
Just melting chocolate to coat some strawberries? Nearly any kind of chocolate will work for dipping chocolate strawberries. That said, there are TWO ways to dip strawberries and other kinds of fruit:
- In a chocolate fondue, so that the chocolate is warm, smooth, melted and is dipped and eaten right away, often with a fondue fork. This kind of fondue chocolate is a type of ganache that has cream mixed in so it will stay soft, pliable and not harden all the way when it cools. Chocolate chips are perfect for this.
- Dip strawberries and lay them on parchment or on wax paper to dry and the chocolate will harden. Those look like an Edible Arrangement bouquet or sold in stores for Valentine’s Day,— those are using candy melts or melting wafers that come in white, milk, or dark chocolate.
Can I use the melted chocolate for dipping or coating?
Yes, you can use melted chocolate for dipping or coating wonderful things like:
- Strawberries, washed and dried first
- Chunks of peeled, cut banana
- Cut up squares of pound cake
- Pieces of fresh apple, like tart Granny Smith
- Graham crackers
- Squares of angel food cake
- Cake pops and cake balls
- Edible cookie dough balls
Want some epic tips, recipes, and history about chocolate? Want to see if you can still eat that chocolate you’ve had around for a while? Should you toss it? (I almost ate a piece of chocolate with bug holes in it once.) Learn how to store it, how to know if it’s still good to eat (and when it’s not). >> Does Chocolate Go Bad?
Can I add other ingredients to the melted chocolate, such as nuts or dried fruit?
Yes, and it’s delicious. Do you want to make a chocolate bark or do you want to make chocolate candies like Turtles, or candy molds like homemade peanut butter cups, or yummy snacks that look like Raisinets?
Melted chocolate chips are versatile, and you can stir in ingredients like:
- Rice Krispies: Pour in 1 cup of rice krispies to 1 cup of melted chocolate chips and spread in a casserole dish or on a baking sheet. Let set on the counter or in refrigerator then cut into squares.
- Raisins and chopped nuts, then spread onto parchment paper. Put in freezer until very hard and set, then break apart with clean hands or a kitchen mallet to make chocolate bark.
- Swirl white and dark chocolate and add other kinds of candy, cookies. Just remember that adding a lot of ingredients will cool the chocolate and cause it to harden and set faster, so work quickly. You can briefly heat up your bowl with mixed-in ingredients for 15 second intervals to warm it up.
- Buy a silicone candy mold and layer in chocolate, then a filling, then more chocolate. Let it set in the freezer about 10 minutes, then pop out onto a plate. I male peanut butter-filled chocolates.
- Dried cranberries and slivered almonds make excellent added ingredients.
- Try pretzel pieces and dried cranberries.
- Add sea salt and butterscotch candy chips into chocolate that is semisolid.
How do I store the melted chocolate?
Reheat and then store melted chocolate chips in the same bowl, if you wish, then put it back in the pantry or keep in the refrigerator. Or transfer your melted chocolate right away from the bowl to a storage container with a lid. It is easier to work with melted chocolate than trying to get hardened chocolate out of a bowl.
Don’t let utensils sit in the bowl of warm chocolate or it will set like cement with your utensil still in there. And most utensils are not microwavable. Pro Tip: Set your bowl of melted chocolate chips in another bowl of hot water and keep replacing the hot water until you can safely remove the stuck utensil.
We bought containers like these Pyrex bowls with plastic lids a couple of years ago, and they work really well for heating anything in the microwave.
Let it cool, then pop the lid on and you can either put it in the pantry or slide it into the refrigerator. I’ve done it both ways. If your melted chocolate does NOT contain extra dairy like half and half or cream, you can set it covered in the pantry. If it is like leftover fondue or ganache, you’ll need to keep it in the refrigerator. It will stay good to reheat for about four days, or the shelf life of the dairy you used in the recipe.
How do I clean up any chocolate spills or stains in the microwave?
It is always best to clean up melted chocolate chips in the microwave as soon as you notice them. Reheating spilled chocolate will cause it to burn and smell bad. Pro Tip: Use a microwave-safe plate under your bowl when melting chocolate in the microwave if spills and stains are a concern.
Here are the steps for cleaning spilled melted chocolate chips in the microwave:
- If your microwave has a removable glass or plastic turntable, remove it from the microwave.
- Handwash with a gentle sponge, dish soap and warm water.
- Dry with a towel and replace the turntable in the microwave.
If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable:
- Dampen a dish sponge with hot water (soap will be harder to remove from the surface, so warm water and a sponge should do the job quickly).
- Wipe the melted chocolate as soon as possible. Rinse the sponge of chocolate under the faucet of running water and wipe again until no melted chocolate remains in the microwave.
- Dry the floor of the microwave with a clean towel.
The bottom line
While there’s a good reason that a lot of cooks say not to melt chocolate chips in the microwave, it’s not hard, you just have to pay attention and not heat it up too long. Microwaves heat up food very quickly, and once chocolate chips get too hot too fast, they become grainy, clump together like modeling clay, and become unusable.
- 1 c of chocolate chips: dark, semisweet, or white
- Microwave-safe bowl
- Hot pads or heat-safe kitchen towel
- Stirring spoon
- Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl.
- Transfer bowl to microwave and heat on medium power for 45 seconds at first.
- Remove bowl from microwave with hot pads.
- Stir the chips gently and place bowl back in microwave.
- Heat for 30 seconds. Repeat steps 2 and 3. Sometimes the chips or chunks hold their shape but are very soft and will meld when you stir it; this is why stirring is so important to not overheating the chocolate chips.
- If you can still see whole chocolate chips that aren’t smooth, heat again in cycles of 15 seconds, stirring, until the chocolate becomes smooth and creamy throughout.