Quick Dinner Recipe: One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni and Cheese

Recipes from The Kitchn

There was a time when a certain bunny-shaped pasta with instant cheese mix figured prominently in our weekly meal plan. Now we turn to a quick dinner solution that's just as easy and, dare we say, much tastier!

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We originally got the idea for making macaroni and cheese in the microwave from Beth Sheresh in her book Picture Yourself Cooking With Your Kids. In the book, she includes a recipe for a full batch of mac n' cheese made entirely in the microwave and using only a handful of very basic ingredients.

Inspired by her example, we thought we'd try for a single-serving version made right in the bowl. This recipe is perfect for those nights when we're bone tired and get home late to an empty cupboard.

The beauty of this macaroni and cheese is also that you can jazz it up however you like. It's good to have at least a little melting cheese like cheddar, jack, or provolone to get the creamy sauce, but you can add goat cheese, gorgonzola, feta, or any other bits of cheese you have in the fridge. You can also add diced tofu, shredded pieces of leftover meat, or diced vegetables, which will steam as the pasta cooks. A few pinches of spices also amp up the flavor.

All in all, a very satisfying and extremely fast one-bowl meal!

One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni and Cheese

serves just one

1/2 cup macaroni pasta
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk, any percent
1/4-1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or any other cheese that suits your fancy)

Combine the pasta, the water, and the salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH in 2-minute intervals until the pasta is al dente, stirring between each interval. This should take about 6-8 minutes total. If the pasta absorbs all the water before the pasta is cooked, add another 2 tablespoons of water.

Stir in the milk and the cheddar cheese. Microwave on HIGH in 30-second intervals until the cheese has melted into a creamy sauce, stirring between each interval and 1-1.5 minutes total. For a creamier sauce, add an extra tablespoon or two of milk and cheese.

Optional Add-Ins - Add any of these along with the milk and cheese. Diced onions, diced peppers, diced tomatoes, leftover meat (shredded or cubed), a few tablespoons of salsa, 1/4 teaspoon dried mustard, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.

Related: What Do We Eat When We Eat Alone?

(Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)

Per serving, based on 2 servings. (% daily value)
9.6 g (14.8%)
5.9 g (29.3%)
21.4 g (7.1%)
0.8 g (3.4%)
2.4 g
10.5 g (21.1%)
29 mg (9.7%)
752.1 mg (31.3%)