Abstract In this study, low temperature vacuum microwave-assisted extraction, which simultaneous performed microwave-assisted extraction (MAE) in low temperature and in vacuo environment, was proposed. The influencing parameters including solid/liquid ratio, extraction temperature, extraction time, degree of vacuum and microwave power were discussed. The predominance of low temperature vacuum microwave-assisted extraction was investigated by comparing the extraction yields of vitamin C, β-carotene, aloin A and astaxanthin in different foods with that in MAE and solvent extraction, and 5.2–243% increments were obtained. On the other hand, the chemical kinetics of vitamin C and aloin A, which composed two different steps including the extraction step of analyte transferred from matrix into solvent and the decomposition step of analyte degraded in the extraction solvent, were proposed. All of the decomposition rates ( K 2) for the selected analyte in low temperature, in vacuo and in nitrogen atmosphere decreased significantly comparing with that in conventional MAE, which are in agreement with that obtained from experiments. Consequently, the present method was successfully applied to extract labile compound from different food samples. These results showed that low temperature and/or in vacuo environment in microwave-assisted extraction system was especially important to prevent the degradation of labile components and have good potential on the extraction of labile compound in foods, pharmaceutical and natural products.