Your plucky microwave oven sits in the corner of your kitchen waiting to reheat three-day-old pizza or the chicken soup that’s for dinner because you can’t be bothered to spend more than 4 minutes cooking tonight.
But did you know it can do so much more?
This article has a bunch of interesting and surprising ways to use your microwave. We’ve included loads of cool recipes along with a couple of tricks to cook things you didn’t even know could be done in a microwave (chicken, anyone?)
Feast on the info that follows and you’ll find cooking easier, simpler and faster than ever!
Microwave Mug Cake
Let’s start with a classic, the microwave mug cake. If you’ve never experienced the pleasure of making chocolate cake by lobbing a cup in a microwave, that’s something you need to rectify pretty darn soon!
Using a few common ingredients and with a cook time of less than two minutes, this is perfect for an easy treat. The cake pops out the top of the mug when it’s finished (cute af, by the way) and kids adore it. I can personally vouch for this recipe, but countless twists and variations are just a google search away.
Easiest Bacon Ever
Oh, you thought bacon was reserved for precious mornings off?
Well you’re mistaken, my friend… Bacon can be cooked in your microwave in a couple of minutes and with a fraction of the cleaning up.
While meat is inadvisable to throw into your microwave, bacon is so thin that it absorbs the heat efficiently.
I’m going to defer the full explanation to this picture-laden post here. Check out the photo at the bottom, can you even tell it wasn’t cooked in a skillet?
Cooking Dry Pasta
Next up is the most criminally overlooked of cooking “hacks”, a way to cook dry pasta from scratch in just ten minutes.
Put one serving of pasta in the microwave with cold water and cover. Full power for ten minutes. The pasta cooks easily, the difficulty is getting the amount of time right.
Check the pasta has softened before serving. You can give it more time or add more water if needed. The process gets easier after you’ve mastered it (i.e. done it four or five times).
This shortcut is a lifesaver for those who get frustrated watching a pot meander its way to a boil (AKA me).
Easy Peasy Scrambled Eggs
Rustling up breakfast can be an ordeal. All that mixing, cooking and cleaning just to plop some scrambled eggs on a plate.
Sidestep the hassle by throwing a few eggs (with seasoning) into a bowl and giving it 30-60 seconds in the microwave. Stir in intervals if you don’t wish the eggs to set, and giving it more or less time will change the consistency from thicker to runny.
Either way, eggs on toast in a couple of minutes doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Awesome Mushroom Risotto
This risotto recipe shows that your microwave can pull off more than just snacks and small bites. Get dinner ready in a jiffy with a handful of common ingredients you’ve probably already got.
The risotto is not just easy to cook, but easy to customize too! Great for the last few days before paycheck or a clear out of the pantry. You can throw almost anything in there!
Make Peeling Garlic Super Easy
Place a head of garlic in the microwave for about 20 seconds and the heat will break apart the tough seams.
Put pressure on the full bulb of garlic using your bare hands and it will swiftly slide out. No messing around with knives or crushing the garlic first.
This is a great way to use full bulbs of garlic without chopping the ends off. They look fantastic placed around a joint of beef an oven roast, for example.
Make Foamed Milk For A Cappuccino
Love foamed milk in your coffee? This 30-second video shows how to create foamed milk using just a mason jar and a microwave.
Impress friends and loved ones by making coffee just like they do in coffee shops with none of the fancy (or expensive) equipment!
Toast Your Nuts
Whether your jam is almonds, walnuts, cashews or anything else, everyone agrees that nuts taste better toasted. Get your burn on by putting your nuts in the microwave for a quick blast to get that toasty, crispy texture.
Read this article that walks through trying it out with some walnuts. Eight minutes is the sweet spot, apparently. Taste-wise it’s not far off what you’d get from doing it in the oven.
Sweet Potato Chips
Sweet potato chips are an awesome crunchy and salty snack that are yet another to throw on the pile of “super easy microwave food”.
Take one sweet potato and some seasoning and you’re a few minutes away from crispy chips ready to eat.
What’s best is you get all the pleasure of munching on delicious chips with none of the guilt. The preservatives you get in store-bought chips are absent and you’re chowing down on ultra-healthy, low-GI sweet potato!
Choc Chip Cookie In A Cup
These delightfully cute “choc chip cookies” are another five minute microwave wonder.
Like the “cake in a cup” I mentioned earlier, everyone is gobsmacked when they find out their little ol’ microwave can bake up goodies like this.
Recipe here. You’ll notice the ingredients are all probably in your pantry already so I’ll understand if you wanna close this article to run off and make these!
If you’re in need of roasted garlic for a recipe without waiting an hour for your oven to get the job done… then you’re in luck. Read this shortcut for getting squishy, cooked garlic in just a few minutes.
Mac And Cheese
The biggest shock for me with microwaves was being able to cook dry pasta with little difference in taste. What a timesaver!
This four-ingredient mac and cheese (in a mug) is the perfect recipe to show off the microwave’s versatility. And to make super easy dinner tonight!
Oatmeal In A Mug
Oh yes, get your mugs out (again) for another cool ‘n’ quirky idea for breakfast. This recipe imitates “baked oatmeal” but with none of the aggro.
It’s super customizable, so get creative with all your favorite embellishments. Chuck nutritious whole grains and fruits in there for the health-conscious.
I don’t use the word “lifechanging” lightly, but of all the tips in this list, this one comes closest.
Take hard butter from the fridge and put it in your microwave on low power (30% or so) for 10-20 seconds. Congratulations, you now have soft, perfectly spreadable butter!
In a similar vein to taking the grief out of hard butter that you can’t spread, microwaves can be used to heat up and melt chocolate into delicious gooey goodness!
Use very low power (10% is ideal) for 10-15 seconds, it doesn’t take much. If need be you can give it a little more time and/or stir.
Microwave Mug Pizza
Didn’t think microwaves were suitable for pizza? Well, you’re not way off the mark.
Pizzas and other doughy products rely on high heat to brown and crisp the pie and give it that lovely texture. A microwave can cook a pizza but it’ll be a soggy, disappointing mess.
There is a workaround however, and surprise surprise, it involves a mug.
Recipe here. Ingredients are simple, preparation is simple, and it just might satisfy your craving for a cheesy, tomato-ey meal!
One of the beauties of the microwave is it can be used to simplify otherwise long and arduous cooking processes.
For example, making some chicken for a chicken sandwich requires either an oven or a pan, plenty of time and lots of clean up.
Alternatively, read this from my new favorite website. Full instructions on how to safely and easily microwave raw chicken into cooked chicken that can be used in sandwiches or any other dish.
No rice cooker? No problem!
Rice is one of the cheapest ways to get your calories and with a microwave and a bit of knowhow you can serve yourself up some fluffy goodness in no time.
The process is a little tricky. Follow this (very) detailed recipe for starters. It might take a few tries to pull it off as you’re working with water ratios and getting the time dial in. There’s definitely a knack to it.
Thick, Creamy Polenta
Need some quick carbs to beef up a meal? Throw some polenta into a microwave and you’ve got a great complement to whatever else you’re cooking. Find the recipe here, it’s as simple and easy like most of the other things on this list!
Perfect Poached Eggs
We all know that pulling off a sublime poached egg is the holy grail of breakfast making. And we’ve all tried and failed at making perfect poached eggs in a pan (to be fair, it’s darn tricky!)
Just 30 or 40 seconds is enough to make poached eggs in your microwave by following the recipe here. And you don’t even have to tell anyone you cheated!
Boiled Water For Tea Or Coffee
No kettle and looking to make yourself a hot drink in a pinch?
Guess what… your microwave can help you do that as well!
Put a microwaveable mug filled with water up to 2/3s and on high for around a minute. Your water will be boiled and ready for tea/coffee/cocoa.