Perhaps you’re trying out a new recipe, and it calls for cooking for 3 1/2 minutes inside a microwave. You can’t help yourself but keep wondering exactly how long that is.

Well, lucky for you, this article eliminates all the uncertainties and guides you on all things to do with microwave oven timings. If you wish to clearly understand how microwave oven time works and learn how to actually calculate it, read through.

how long is 3 1/2 minutes on a microwave

How long is 3 ½ minutes in a microwave?

Basically, 3 1/2 minutes on a microwave is 3 minutes and 30 seconds, or 210 seconds if you prefer your time in seconds.

It just so happens that this(31/2) is the standard cooking time for a good number of recipes. This is due to the fact that one cycle on nearly all microwaves takes 3 1/2 minutes to cook.

How do you calculate microwave time?

For the most part, microwave food is generally packaged with;

  • a label that includes 1 or 2 cooking wattages listed on the box/wrap
  • the required cook time.

Sometimes however, none of the two may measure up to the wattage of your microwave.

In such a case, you’ll have to practically calculate how long it will take your microwave to cook food, regardless of its wattage.

However, before you begin with your calculations, you might want to consider these three serious factors:

1. The power of your microwave.

This is usually measured in watts. It’s normally listed either on the door of your microwave oven or at the back. If you can’t find it anywhere on your appliance, consult your user manual. It should be there.

2. The size of your food.

A large piece of food is more likely to cook slower than a small thin piece of food. 

3. The end result.

How well-done or medium-rare would you like your food?  Deciding on the level of doneness is also crucial in microwave time calculation. The final product may be as per the recipe or based on your personal preference, but it sure does influence the cooking time.

Once you have all the above information wrapped up around your finger, it’s time for the actual mathematics.

To get the cooking time…

  • Multiply the required/given wattage by the cooking time(in seconds) listed on the wrap/box
  • Next, divide the product by your microwave’s wattage
  • This will give you the time (in seconds) that your microwave oven will take to cook that particular food.

Time(seconds)= power(watts) x cooking time/Your microwave’s wattage

To give you an example, let’s say you have a 700-watt microwave, and the recipe calls for 1000 watts for 4 minutes, your cook time will be:

time(seconds)= 1000(required wattage) x 4x 60 secs(cooking time)/700(your microwave’s power)

Which equals 342.9seconds

Note that this is just a general guideline. The actual cook time may vary depending on the type of food and the microwave brand. You are advised to periodically check your food to eliminate the under/over cooking chances.

Alternatively, you can use this online microwave calculator to get the cook time.

yellow microwave timer

Is 60 seconds the same as 1 minute on a microwave?

Whether you’re using a microwave or any other device that measures time, 60 seconds is and will always be the same as one(1) minute.

So, if you’re wondering if 60 seconds is the same as 1 minute on a microwave, the answer is YES.

How to set a microwave timer

To set a timer on a microwave:

  • Press the “Timer” or “Set/Off” button. This should immediately display the Timer icon where you’ll…
  • Use the numeric keypad to key in the desired length of time needed to cook/heat your food. For example, if your desired time is 3 minutes, you can enter 3.00 and your food will cook for that duration.
  • Next, Press the “Start” or “Set” button to start the timer countdown
  • Expect an “End” displayed on the display or a “Beep” to signify the end of a successful countdown.

However, remember that microwave ovens are different. 

These instructions may or may not work for your specific model. If they don’t, be sure to consult the user manual for detailed instructions. You can find one online if you have no clue where your physical copy is.

Are microwave timers the same?

Microwave timers have one basic role; to keep track of the time it takes to cook, heat, or reheat the food inside the microwave oven.

Yes, the timers may differ in terms of their specific features, but in general they all serve the same purpose.

Whenever you put food inside your microwave oven and go for the start button, the timer typically counts down the seconds until the set time is complete and the food is done cooking.

At the end of a successful countdown, in case you missed noticing the “End” display, the alarm or reminder tone will alert you that the cooking is complete.

Some modern microwaves may come with more advanced features in their timer such as the ability to set different Power levels or to program specific cooking times for different foods.


There’s no difference between microwave time and normal time. This means that 31/2 minutes on a microwave is simply 3 minutes and 30 seconds,which is also equivalent to 210 seconds.

Additionally, 60 seconds is the same as 1 minute anywhere on earth.

When calculating the microwave time we multiply the listed cooking time( in seconds) by the listed wattage on the package/wrap, before we divide the product by our microwave oven’s wattage.

To set a microwave timer, you first off press the Timer or start/Off button. This should pop up a display icon. Next, you make use of the numeric keypad to enter the required time and press start. This will immediately initiate the countdown.

Microwave timers may vary in features and designs but they all serve a single purpose: to keep track of the time it takes to cook food inside the microwave.