When you just can’t be bothered to get out a pan, make this microwave macaroni and cheese. You’re in desperate need of some cheesy goodness right now. There is only one bowl. It’s all yours. There will be no leftovers.
Beth Sheresh’s book, Picture Yourself Cooking With Your Kids, is where I first discovered how to make simple mac & cheese in the microwave. She gives a recipe for a whole batch of mac and cheese made entirely in the microwave with only a few basic ingredients in the book. I was inspired by this and decided to make a single-serving microwave macaroni and cheese version in the bowl.
Both Beth’s original recipe and my single-bowl variation are ideal for older kids and teenagers who are ready to be in charge of their own after-school snacks. It also makes a great after-meeting snack at the workplace for us grownups – just bring raw macaroni and a handful of shredded cheese to work with you and a splash of milk from the coffee cart. Please accept my apologies for your envious coworkers.
If you’re at home, you can make your bowl look anyway you like. Add some cooked meat or leftover vegetables. Add a squeeze of Sriracha or a few pinches of your preferred spice combination. All the better if you have some goat cheese or feta crumbles to add to your cheese platter.
One thing to keep in mind: in certain microwaves, the water can bubble up and get very foamy during the first few minutes of cooking the pasta. If this happens, use a larger bowl than you would think you’ll need, or simply stop the microwave and mix the spaghetti.
Microwaving might also cause the bowl to become rather warm. If you need to move the bowl in and out of the microwave during cooking, use oven mitts or a dish towel.
I had completely forgotten how brilliant this little microwave trick can be. It’s so easy – perfect for a snack or a quick dinner when I’m eating on my own. There’s just something so very nice about being able to make yourself a bowl of creamy mac and cheese without pulling out a pan or turning on the stove.
– Emma, May 2015
One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni and Cheese Full Recipe
Ingredients of One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni and Cheese
- 1/2 cup dried macaroni or shell pasta
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk, any percent
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or provolone
- Extra add-ins: diced vegetables, shredded or cubed cooked meat, cubed tofu, salsa, dried mustard, chili powder
Equipment of One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni and Cheese
- Deep microwave-safe bowl
- Oven mitts or a kitchen towel
- Best Microwave
Instructions of One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni and Cheese
- Combine the pasta, water, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Place the pasta, water, and salt in a deep, microwave-safe bowl and stir to combine.
- Microwave the pasta for 2 minutes. Microwave on high power for 2 minutes, then stir. Watch to see if the water is foaming over the side of the bowl and stir earlier if needed. Use oven mitts or a kitchen towel if you need to move the bowl out of the microwave to do this.
- Cook the spaghetti in the microwave for 2 minutes. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through. Check to check whether the water is frothing over the bowl’s edge and stir sooner if necessary. If you need to remove the bowl from the microwave, use oven mitts or a dish towel.
- Microwave the spaghetti in 2-minute increments until it is done. Microwave in 2-minute intervals, tossing after each, until the pasta is soft and cooked through, 4 to 8 minutes more, depending on your microwave power. Add another 2 tablespoons of water if the pasta absorbs all of the water before it is done.
- Stir the milk and cheese into the pasta. Use oven mitts or a kitchen towel to remove the bowl from the microwave. Stir in the milk, cheese, and any extra add-ins.
- Melt the cheese in 30-second increments in the microwave. Microwave for 30 seconds on high, then stir. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until the cheese has melted and formed a creamy sauce, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes total. Add an extra tablespoon or two of milk and cheese for a creamier sauce.
- Eat as soon as possible. The best way to eat this mac & cheese is straight from the microwave. If it has to be reheated, add a little more milk.