Patterns of power absorption in a microwave oven for a range of dielectric properties of relevance to food processing were investigated. The governing Maxwell's equations with boundary conditions and a TE10 excitation were solved using a finite element method. Food properties were varied from values at their frozen state to values at high temperatures, as would be typical in a thawing process. For low-loss materials such as frozen foods, the high quality factor makes the heating significantly higher only when the size and shape of the load permit a dielectric cavity resonance in the load. Otherwise, the heating pattern will follow the modal electric field pattern of the oven. For moderate loss materials, the patterns will come from the modes of the dielectric cavity. The bandwidths of these modes are larger than the low-loss situation and their overlap results in a heating pattern that is somewhat more uniform. For high-loss materials, the concept of modes is no longer useful as the very large number of modes strongly overlap. The rapidly decaying field and power loss in the high-loss material can probably be characterized as an exponential decay.