How Does Microwave Sensor Cooking Work?

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Updated August 17, 2022

If you have been shopping around for a fancy new kitchen appliance, you may wonder what can microwaves be used for and just how does microwave sensor cooking work. Some of the best microwaves available tend to feature some form of sensor cooking option, after all. Keep reading to find out more.


  • Some modern microwaves are equipped with auto sensors that vary the power level and temperature based on the doneness of the ingredients.
  • These microwave sensor ovens can take the guesswork out of cooking with complicated ingredients, or even when preparing frozen foods.
  • Using the sensor cooking function can also speed up defrost cook time and minimize the risk of overcooking.

What is Microwave Sensor Cooking?

Before you can learn how this unique functionality operates, you need to know the definition of the sensor cooking function n the first place. This goes double if you are just learning how to use a microwave oven, like the Panasonic NN-SE785S or NN-SD775S. Consequently, if you don’t know how to use a microwave correctly, there’s a good chance you’ll catch the microwave on fire.

As the name suggests, a sensor cook uses automated sensors. These integrated auto sensors will automatically tailor the heat and cooking time to match the recipe or ingredients being cooked.

Insider Tip

Even many mid-grade microwaves include a sensor cook option. Check the instructions to see if your unit has one.

How Does a Microwave Sensor Cook Work?

Basically, the interior cavity of the microwave oven features a number of built-in sensors. These sensors can automatically adjust the power levels, as they are constantly checking the internal temperature of the microwave. Sensor-enabled microwave ovens are available in all design types, if you are wondering about the definition of a built-in microwave oven and whether or not they can include sensors.

Benefits of Microwave Sensor Cooking

There are a number of unique advantages to using a microwave that has been equipped with sensors for sensor-based cooking tasks.

No Guesswork

A microwave that has been enabled with auto sensors will take the guesswork out of cooking. Each microwave is different, so even the directions on the back of a frozen meal’s packaging can be incorrect for your specific make and model, leading to experimentation. A sensor cook offers variable cooking temperatures and power levels, so you can be sure you will get your food prepared correctly the first time with no missteps. This will increase the cooking range of items you can prepare over traditional microwave cooking.

Decreased Need for Cleaning

If you overcook an ingredient, it could burn or explode, soaking the interior of the microwave with gunk that will need to be cleaned. Using microwave sensor cooking will reduce the need for thorough cleanings, as it will minimize the risk of ingredients burning and exploding. Of course, you should still regularly clean and maintain your microwave oven to ensure a decent lifespan.


Microwaves are relatively easy to use, but it can be frustrating to dive into the settings to change the power levels and the like. A sensor-enabled microwave will reduce the need to dive into these settings, as the power levels and temperature will automatically vary depending on the doneness of your ingredients.


Is sensor cooking the same as convection?

No. A sensor cook automatically adjusts the power level in a microwave and a convection cook uses heated and circulated air to prepare ingredients, reducing the cooking time.

Can you bake a cake in a convection microwave oven?

You can, though it will depend on the recipe and the functionality of the convection setting when cooking food such as cake.

What to look for when buying a microwave?

If you are looking for a new microwave, check out the power settings on offer, different designs, including range models, and whether or not it allows for a sensor cook.

STAT: Sensors that employ electromagnetic waves with frequencies in the range of 0.3–40 GHz (wavelengths from 1 mm to 1 m) are referred to as microwave sensors. (source)

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