Hot Pockets are a convenient fast food most people simply pop into the microwave and eat. However, some varieties don’t have a whole lot of flavor, and they can be quite bland. There’s no adventure to them, and they feel rather empty and unsatisfying as they fill the belly.
So, how can you make Hot Pockets taste better? Basically, it’s going to come down to two things: preparation/cooking and adding condiments. The method you use to cook a hot pocket will determine the food’s overall outcome. Regarding condiments, this will depend on the flavor of Hot Pocket you’ve chosen to eat.
Read over some of these quick and easy suggestions to see if they appeal to your personal preferences. If not, hopefully they will inspire you to come up with some unique ideas of your own.
Preparation & Cooking
The way food tastes, whether prepackaged or homemade, is all in how you cook it. This includes the length of time and the cooking method used. For Hot Pockets, you can use a microwave, a conventional oven, or a combination of both. If you have one, you can even try cooking your Hot Pocket in an air fryer.
The most common way people cook Hot Pockets is via microwave. The typical method is to take it out of the plastic wrapper, stick it in the microwavable box they provide, place this on a microwave-safe plate, and pop it in the microwave for about two to three minutes (depending on what the packaging instructs).
However, the problem with this method is that the breading tends to get hard, tough, and rubbery. Plus, the cheese and other fillings leak out during the cooking process too. This doesn’t make the Hot Pockets very desirable, and in some cases, certain parts are completely inedible.
Slower Down the Cooking Process in the Microwave
To avoid the issues listed above, try microwaving the Hot Pocket in one-minute increments for up to four minutes on high power setting. Set the microwave for one minute of cook time, and allow the Hot Pocket to rest for 30 seconds once the cook time is up. Put it on for another minute and then let it rest for 45 seconds. Repeat this process two more times, increasing the amount of time you wait between the actual cook times.
By doing this, you will avoid losing much of the Hot Pocket’s filling, and the breading will be soft and chewy. Cooking the Hot Pocket a little slower in the microwave allows the heat to distribute far more evenly throughout the food. When you leave it cooking nonstop for four minutes straight, the outer ends of the Hot Pocket overcook and the insides won’t be nearly as done.
The other recommended way to cook a Hot Pocket is by putting it in a regular, conventional oven. For this method, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with some aluminum foil or parchment paper, and set your Hot Pocket in the center of the baking sheet. Once the oven heats, put the baking sheet with your Hot Pocket on it into the oven for about 28 minutes.
This is the best as well as healthiest way to cook a Hot Pocket. Even if the outer ends overcook a little, the entirety of the Hot Pocket will be nice and crunchy rather than rubbery and tough like when cooked in a microwave. The only problem with the conventional oven method is that it takes longer to cook, so it’ll also be a bit longer before you can eat. It’s not a very viable option if you’re in a hurry.
Combining Both Microwave & Conventional Oven Cooking
If you want to speed things up with a conventional oven, you can defrost the Hot Pocket in the microwave for a couple of minutes, then put it into the regular oven as instructed above. However, you will only have to bake it for 12 minutes rather than 28 due to having already thawed it beforehand. Doing it this way tastes just like cooking it all the way in a conventional oven but in a fraction of the time.
You have two options with an air fryer: straight into the device or combine it with some cook time in the microwave. Simply preheat your air fryer without the crisper on, and gently place the Hot Pocket in the center of the basket. Allow it to cook for 11 to 13 minutes. You don’t have to flip it either, which is a huge plus.
If you want an even faster cook time, put it in the microwave for one minute while you warm up the air fryer. Afterward, put the Hot Pocket into the center of the basket, and cook it for about five minutes. The bread of the Hot Pocket comes out super light and crispy this way, and you won’t lose much filling either.
Even in spite of using a better method for cooking, some Hot Pockets still need a bit of additional flavor to improve the taste. What you should use will depend on the filling of the Hot Pocket. Consider some of the different types below with accompanying condiment suggestions:
- Bacon, Egg, & Cheese: Mayonnaise, sour cream, fresh avocado, fried onions, horseradish, mustard, olive oil, hot sauce, ketchup, or maple syrup.
- Any of the “Pizza” flavors or “Italian-Style” sandwiches: Olive oil (mixed with Italian spices like garlic powder, basil, and oregano), extra pizza/pasta sauce, pesto sauce, or extra cheese (e.g., parmesan and mozzarella).
- Philly Cheese Steak: Horseradish, mayonnaise, olive oil, caramelized onions, barbecue sauce, or vinegar-oil dressing.
- Steak or Ham & Cheddar: Horseradish, sour cream, mustard, hot sauce, fried onions, mayonnaise, olive oil, steak sauce, malt vinegar, or melted butter.
- Buffalo-Style Chicken: Sour cream, blue cheese dressing, mayonnaise, or olive oil.
- Nacho Steak: Sour cream, salsa (green or red), guacamole, fresh avocado, or a spoonful of leftover refried beans.
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