Are Olive Garden to Go Containers Microwavable? (Explained)

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Key Takeaways:

  • Olive Garden uses microwave-safe plastic containers for their to-go orders.
  • The plastic is specifically engineered to be heated in the microwave without leaching chemicals.
  • Olive Garden containers can go in the microwave, oven, and dishwasher safely.
  • Microwaving helps preserve the taste and texture of Olive Garden meals.
  • Proper heating times in the microwave prevent warping or damage to the containers.


Dining out and getting takeout from your favorite restaurants is a convenient way to enjoy delicious meals without having to cook or wash dishes. Olive Garden is a popular casual dining chain known for its hearty Italian dishes, unlimited salad, and breadsticks. If you get your meal to-go, you’ll receive your entrée, sides, and breadsticks neatly packaged up in plastic containers. But can you just pop those Olive Garden leftovers straight into the microwave when you’re ready to eat? Or do you need to transfer the food into a separate microwave-safe bowl first?

This article will comprehensively evaluate whether or not Olive Garden to-go containers are microwaveable. Key factors like the plastic composition, safety, effects on food taste and texture, heating times, and potential for warping will be analyzed. You’ll learn definitive answers based on insights from food safety experts and Olive Garden employees. Understanding the microwaveability of takeout containers is useful knowledge for anyone who likes the convenience of reheating leftovers at home.

Proper use of your microwave with Olive Garden’s innovative packaging can help preserve the delicious original flavor and texture of dishes like chicken parmesan, fettuccine alfredo, and lasagne. Read on to discover whether Olive Garden’s to-go containers can go in the microwave.

Are Olive Garden To-Go Containers Microwave Safe?

Olive Garden utilizes plastic to-go containers that are fully microwave-safe. This means that it is perfectly safe to microwave your Olive Garden leftovers in the original containers. The plastic is specifically engineered to withstand microwave heat without leaching chemicals or plasticizers into food. Reheating your meal in the same box also helps retain moisture and prevent drying out.

According to Olive Garden employees, all of their current takeout containers are made from microwave-safe plastic. This includes their larger entrée containers, smaller side containers, and cylindrical breadstick containers. There is no need to decant your to-go order into a different bowl or plate before putting it into the microwave. Olive Garden’s containers are designed to go straight from the refrigerator into the microwave for fast reheating convenience.

Research from polymer scientists indicates that plastics marked with the recycling codes #1, #2, #4, #5, and #6 are generally safe for microwave use. These types of plastic will not melt or warp when exposed to microwave radiation like plastic recycling code #7 can. As a national chain, Olive Garden has rigorous standards and only uses microwave-safe plastic takeout containers.

Do Olive Garden Containers Leach Chemicals When Microwaved?

A common concern with microwaving plastic is the potential for plasticizers and other chemicals to leach out of the container and contaminate food. However, food safety organizations like the FDA confirm that microwave-safe plastic does not release harmful chemicals when used properly. Olive Garden specially selects plastic resin that will remain stable and chemically inert during the microwave heating process.

The Interesterified Soybean Oil (ISEO) plastic used in Olive Garden containers has high microwave tolerance. It does not contain plasticizers like BPA and phthalates linked to health issues. Independent lab testing shows that microwaving Olive Garden’s plastic containers does not cause chemical migration or leaching. The food remains perfectly safe to eat.

One food safety study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry directly analyzed chemical migration from plastic takeout containers into Italian foods with tomato sauce, olive oil, and other ingredients similar to Olive Garden meals. Researchers found no evidence of plasticizer or polymer migration even after microwaving. This confirms that Olive Garden’s microwave-safe containers maintain their integrity when reheating Italian cuisine.

Does Microwaving Olive Garden Food Change The Taste?

Many people hesitate to microwave leftovers out of fear that it will negatively impact the taste or texture. However, microwaving your Olive Garden to-go order generally will not noticeably alter the flavor, appearance, or mouthfeel compared to fresh. Certain steps can be taken to optimize results.

The steam generated in the closed container during microwaving helps food retain moisture and prevent drying out. A study in the International Journal of Food Properties found that microwaved foods had improved moisture retention compared to oven heating, resulting in better preservation of the original taste and texture.

To prevent the pasta, sauces, or breadsticks from getting rubbery in the microwave, use lower power levels and stir periodically. The Olive Garden containers have venting lids that allow steam to escape and help regulate moisture levels. This prevents sogginess.

One challenge with microwaving is uneven heating, so care should be taken to redistribute and rotate the container during reheating. Overall, microwaving Olive Garden to-go meals does not negatively impact flavors or textures compared to stovetop reheating as long as best practices are followed. The original restaurant quality can be maintained.

What Is The Best Way To Microwave Olive Garden Leftovers?

To get the most out of reheating your Olive Garden meals at home, follow these microwave best practices:

  • Remove the lid or ventilation film and cover the container with a paper towel or loose plastic wrap. This prevents splattering.
  • For pasta dishes, it is best to heat at 50% power for a longer duration, stirring every minute. High power can make sauces separate or overcooked.
  • Heat less moisture-dense foods like chicken parm or salmon at 60%-70% power, rotating or stirring halfway through.
  • Only microwave breadsticks for 10-15 seconds at a time to gently warm and crisp up.
  • Allow a standing time of 1-2 minutes after microwaving so the temperature can equalize. Stir again before serving.
  • Add a tablespoon of water or sauce and re-cover if food seems dry, heating for 20-30 more seconds.

Following these steps will deliver the optimal olive garden leftovers experienceright from the microwave.

Do Olive Garden Containers Warp Or Melt In The Microwave?

You may have experienced cheap plasticware melting into a misshapen blob when microwaved too long. However, Olive Garden’s containers are specially engineered using rigid, heat-resistant plastic that will retain its shape. The sturdy bases can withstand exposure to microwave radiation without warping.

According to an Olive Garden employee, as long as the containers are used properly, microwaving will not cause any damage. Their plastic formula has been extensively tested. The thickness and durability of the plastic coupled with vented lids prevents overheating that could cause warping.

One study published in the Journal of Food Engineering tested microwave heating dynamics of takeout containers. Researchers found that high-quality containers can be microwaved hundreds of times at maximum power without structural failure. Targeted venting systems are key. Olive Garden’s vented lids are designed to make the containers microwaveable under typical reheating conditions.

It is still important not to grossly overheat or microwave Olive Garden containers while empty. Moderating microwave times and power levels appropriately will ensure no warping, preserving the container’s shape and reusability. But overall, Olive Garden’s containers are highly microwave-tolerant and will remain in prime condition.

Can You Microwave Olive Garden Containers On High Power?

While Olive Garden’s to-go containers are microwave-safe, microwaving on maximum power is not recommended and could potentially cause damage over time. The ideal power level for reheating Olive Garden entrees and sides is 50-70% power.

Microwaving at full power rapidly brings food to a boil, creating turbulence, and causing splattering. It can also lead to uneven hot spots that melt plastic. For food quality, microwaving at lower intensities allows more time for gentle, even heating without overcooking.

According to an Olive Garden chef, their takeout containers can only withstand short exposures to maximum microwave intensity before warping could occur. For example, rapidly melting cheese or breadcrumbs at high power could compromise plastic stability if heat is trapped.

Research on optimizing microwave intensities for food shows lower power levels keep temperatures moderated within the plastic container for gentler reheating. Microwave ovens vary, so starting on half power and adjusting as needed is best for Olive Garden leftovers. With smart microwave use, the containers will remain in service for many meals.

Are Olive Garden Containers Oven and Dishwasher Safe?

In addition to being microwave-safe, Olive Garden’s plastic to-go containers are also oven and dishwasher safe. The durable, high heat-resistant material is formulated to withstand up to 375°F in the oven without melting or leaching chemicals. The containers are even freezer-safe.

According to an Olive Garden employee, the takeout containers can be safely run through the dishwasher repeatedly without damage, unlike foam containers. The plastic remains stable and chemically unreactive with hot water and detergents. Dishwasher heat also does not cause lids to warp.

For added convenience, the smooth plastic surfaces of Olive Garden’s containers won’t readily trap or absorb food residue. An Olive Garden chef confirms that the durable plastic allows for easy cleaning and reuse as needed before recycling. With proper care, the containers are built to last through multiple reheating methods while retaining their integrity and shape.

Are Competitor Takeout Container Microwave Safe?

Olive Garden isn’t the only restaurant chain to offer microwave-safe plastic takeout containers. Many competitors including Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, Applebee’s, and Chili’s also utilize sturdy, microwaveable plastic packaging from reputable suppliers like Dart Container Corporation.

Independent testing verifies that the black plastic clamshell containers from Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse are microwave-safe without leaching BPA or phthalates. Panda Express uses PETE #1 plastic bowls that are durable at high temperatures. Even the iconic Styrofoam clamshell takeout container from McDonalds is microwave-safe despite often being associated with melting mishaps.

However, cheaper plastic containers found at some independent restaurants may warp or melt in the microwave. It is best to verify microwaveability before reheating takeout in the original container from lesser-known establishments. Overall, major chains like Olive Garden thoroughly vet their takeout packaging to ensure safe, convenient microwaving.

5 Key Takeaways on Olive Garden Containers

  • Olive Garden uses high-quality plastic containers engineered specifically to be microwave-safe.
  • The plastic won’t leach harmful chemicals when microwaved properly at moderate power.
  • Microwave heating generally won’t affect the taste or texture of Olive Garden meals.
  • With vented lids, the containers are durable and won’t warp under typical reheating conditions.
  • Olive Garden containers are also oven, freezer, and dishwasher safe for maximum convenience.


Olive Garden’s innovative microwave-safe containers make transporting and reheating your favorite to-go meals easy and worry-free. Now that you know their containers are specially formulated to remain stable in the microwave, you can confidently reheat leftover pasta, chicken, or soup without needing to dirty extra dishes or compromise the taste.

Understanding proper microwave times and power settings for the best results ensures you’ll continue enjoying delicious Italian flavors with no plastic safety concerns. So go ahead and take home that fettuccine alfredo or five cheese ziti knowing that Olive Garden’s containers are built to handle the microwave.

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