10 Surprising Things You Can Cook in the Microwave

Tips from The Kitchn

We all know what a microwave is for, right? It's for reheating leftovers and steaming broccoli. Yawn. If you're going to give so much precious kitchen real estate to a microwave oven, you better make it work harder than that!

Here are 10 more things you can do with your microwave, from making healthier potato chips to frothing milk foam for your latte.

The microwave is looked down upon by many home cooks, given its associations with TV dinners and frozen burritos, but it is actually a healthier way of cooking vegetables, says Harold McGee, food science guru. It leaves more nutrients intact, and you can use it to steam food without using as much fat.

Beyond these benefits, though, you can use the microwave for some unexpected and rather awesome purposes.

10 Things You Can Cook in Your Microwave

Quick One-Serving Mug Cake

Let's start with the essentials: cake. You can make mug cakes in the microwave in just a couple minutes, with a few basic ingredients. Your Oatmeal Nutella Cake and Pumpkin Pie in a Mug are not far away — or try one of these 13 easy mug cakes.

Poached Eggs

Great for the office. Take some leftover greens or pasta and poach a fresh, gooey egg to throw on top.

Healthier Potato Chips

Easy, crispy potato chips — from the microwave? With no fat? Believe it.

Creamy Polenta

Polenta doesn't have to be a time-consuming stovetop affair. This makes a quick bowl for breakfast or supper.

Mac & Cheese, from Scratch!

Yes, cook the pasta and the sauce in the microwave; it's ready in less than 10 minutes. This method wins over the box every time.

Frothed Milk for a Homemade Latte

No, you don't need a special machine — just your microwave and a jar, and you can have a delicious cappuccino or Pumpkin Spice Latte any time of year.

Toasted Nuts

Yep, you can toast nuts in the microwave. It's quick, with less chance of scorching them.

Dried Herbs

A good way to preserve fresh herbs for the fall and winter.

Bread Dough

No, we don't recommend making bread in your microwave, but it can help you bake a homemade loaf! Hurry up your last bread rise a little bit with a couple zaps from the microwave.

Microwave Popcorn, from Scratch

Wait, you say — I know the microwave makes popcorn. You just buy those little packets ... well, yes, but did you know you can skip those and just put regular popcorn kernels in a greased bowl or in a plain paper bag and pop them in the microwave that way? Watch the video above!

We could go on and on, actually — how about making lemon curd or softening cheese for the cheese plate?

But it's your turn now — do you have any smart, unexpected uses for your microwave?

(Image credits: Faith Durand; Leela Cyd; Rebecca Blumhagen)