21 Essential Recipes to Make in Your Microwave

Recipes from The Kitchn

There are many things the microwave does really well. When you're facing dinnertime at the end of a long day, it can even venture into that life-saver category. From mug cakes and popcorn, to potato chips and eggs, the microwave can do it all.

1. Oatmeal Nutella Mug Cake

The mug cake is one of our favorite revelations of the past few years. It takes seconds to whip up, and makes a perfectly portioned single-serve cake. This Nutella version is a chocolatey, indulgent treat.

2. How To Make One-Bowl Macaroni and Cheese in the Microwave

Boxed mac and cheese is no longer the easiest way to get your cheesy noodle fix. Instead try making this ultra-creamy one-bowl microwave recipe. Or spread the love and forward the recipe to your favorite college student — they'll thank you come exam time.

3. Peanut Noodles

This entire meal is made with items you can pick up at a grocery store or drugstore. Is it the epitome of fine dining? Maybe not. Is it delicious and filled with vegetables? Absolutely.

4. How To Bake a Potato in the Microwave

We're going to take a guess that you've made a baked potato in the microwave before, but if you've had inconsistent or less-than-stellar results, follow this step-by-step guide. It's a perfect office lunch, or easy dinner the next time you find yourself flying solo.

5. How To Poach an Egg in the Microwave

Master this skill to take your sad desk lunches to a whole new level. Believe us, leftover pasta, quinoa, lentils, or other grains are made infinitely better with a gooey poached egg cracked on top.

6. How To Make Quesadillas

Okay, we know that the best quesadillas are actually made on the stovetop. There's no question that using a skillet results in a crispier tortilla. But the microwave will always win convenience. Just be sure not to overfill your tortillas or the cheese won't melt evenly.

7. How To Make Popcorn in the Microwave

We're not talking about the bags of popcorn you buy that come wrapped in plastic and drenched in "butter flavor." You can just as easily make microwave popcorn with a brown paper lunch bag. It's our favorite afternoon snack.

8. How To Steam Broccoli in the Microwave

Broccoli is one of those go-to side dishes we just couldn't make dinner without. But if you're short on time one night, you can easily steam it in the microwave. It's also one of our favorite tricks to make leftovers more nutritious — just add steamed broccoli.

9. The One-Minute Microwave Omelet

Yes, you can make breakfast in just one minute, and we're not talking about heating up a breakfast burrito or an oatmeal packet. This omelet might not pass muster in a French restaurant or culinary school, but as far as quick breakfasts go, it's a winner.

10. How To Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave

Spaghetti squash is one of our favorite versatile veggies, but it can take a long time to cook. The microwave comes to the rescue to help you get dinner on the table faster.

11. How To Make Crispy Potato Chips in the Microwave

Even if you're not a big fan of salty snacks, sometimes a handful of potato chips just hits the spot. Make this indulgent snack food healthier by making a batch of them in the microwave.

12. Pumpkin Pie in a Mug

Cakes aren't the only thing you can make in a mug; this pumpkin pie is the perfect single-serving dessert. Now you can enjoy a rich serving of pumpkin pie year-round, and not just over the holidays.

13. Spanish Rice

A box of instant rice and a few choice canned goods, and you can have this meal put together in no time. Add a handful of fresh herbs at the end to keep things bright.

14. How To Cook Corn on the Cob in the Microwave

Yes, it might sound crazy, but this is one of our best tricks. Especially if you love corn on the cob, but hate the hassle of making it when you only want an ear or two to serve with dinner. We feel confident calling this technique a game-changer.

15. How To Cook Bacon in the Microwave

This is another of our favorite uses for the microwave. Just be sure that you follow these steps to avoid soggy strips.

16. How To Toast Nuts in the Microwave

This isn't a recipe per se, but if you're making a dish that calls for toasted nuts, you can save time by toasting walnuts, pecans, or almonds in the microwave instead.

17. Rice Pudding in a Mug

If you've run out of ways to use that last little bit of leftover white rice, have no fear — you can mix up a mug of warm, cinnamon-laced rice pudding in less than five minutes.

18. How To Make Eggs in the Microwave

When you reach that point when you're bordering on hangry, head to the microwave and whip up a batch of quick scrambled eggs. It's an easy way to calm those hunger pangs.

19. How To Make a Quick Bowl of Polenta in the Microwave

Polenta might just be one of the most versatile foods out there. It can be savory or sweet, served for breakfast or dinner, and made on the stove or in the microwave.

20. Microwave Caramel Popcorn

You might be expecting caramel corn to be one of those tricky recipes to pull off, but it's easier than it looks — especially when you make everything in the microwave. The hardest part is waiting for the caramel coating to harden.

21. How To Dry Herbs in the Microwave

Last but not least, your microwave is great for preventing that pricey bunch of herbs from going to waste once you've used the small amount your recipe called for. Plus, freshly dried herbs will make your recipes that much more flavorful than the old stuff sitting in a cabinet somewhere.

(Image credits: Emma Christensen; Faith Durand; Casey Barber; Kelli Foster; Christine Han; Sarah Rae Smith)