31 Recipes and Hacks to Make the Most of Your Microwave

Written by Carly Hallman

It’s time to make the most of your microwave! This infographic provides 31 recipes and hacks to help. You can make crispy bacon, mac and cheese, perfectly husked corn on the cob, Parmesan crisps, s’mores, poached eggs, stuffed banana boats, and so much more!

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31 Recipes and Hacks to Make the Most of Your Microwave Transcript

Only use microwave-safe plates, containers, and materials. Cooking times are approximate. Your microwave may vary. Use caution when removing food from microwave: containers may be hot!

Quick Recipes Steps
5-Minute Mac and Cheese (1 serving)
  1. Mix ½ cup elbow macaroni with ½ cup water and salt in a mug.
  2. Microwave 2-3 minutes, then stir.
  3. Add 3 tablespoons milk, ¼ cup shredded cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir.
  4. Microwave 30 more seconds, stir, and garnish with chives if desired.
Crispy Bacon (Makes 4 slices)
  1. Place two paper towels on microwaveable plate.
  2. Arrange 4 slices of bacon on paper towels, not touching.
  3. Place two more paper towels on top of bacon.
  4. Microwave on high until crispy, about 3-4 minutes.
Grain (Rice, Quinoa, Oatmeal, etc.)
  1. 1. Combine grains with the right amount of water (per package instructions) in a large glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Cook for 15-20 minutes depending on the grain. Check on it every 5 minutes.
Steamed Vegetables
  1. Place a single layer of cut vegetables in a bowl or glass baking pan.
  2. Add a thin layer of water (about 1/8 submerged).
  3. Seal with plastic wrap or a plate (leaving a vent for steam).
  4. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Perfectly Husked Corn on the Cob
  1. Microwave two unhusked ears on high for 6-8 minutes.
  2. Cut off bottom half-inch and slip cob from the husk.
  3. Kernels will be tender and silk-free.
Coffee Mug Scrambled Eggs (1 serving)
  1. Beat 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons milk, and desired seasonings/toppings in a bowl or mug.
  2. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir. Microwave again until eggs are almost set, 30-45 seconds. (Tip: Add small cubes of cream cheese or cottage cheese for a creamy texture. (Tip: Stir in salad dressing, pesto, salsa, or herbs for )more flavor.
Mason Jar Pancakes (Serves 1)
  1. Mix up some Bisquick (or any pancake mix), filling about 1/3 of the jar.
  2. Microwave 90 seconds.
  3. Use butter knife to test if it is cooked through. Pour butter and syrup into the test hole.
Baked Potato Clean potato, prick with fork a few times, then wrap in a damp paper towel. Microwave 7-8 minutes until soft, turning halfway through.
  1. Break up noodles and place in bowl.
  2. Completely submerge noodles in water.
  3. Microwave 3 minutes longer than package instructions.
  4. Drain carefolly; bowl will be hot!
Toasted Nuts
  1. Spread nuts of your choice (preferably whole) in a single layer on a plate.
  2. Cook for 1-minute intervals, stirring each time. A half-cup of nuts will take about 4 minutes.
Steamed Fish
  1. Set fish in shallow bowl. Top with butter or olive oil, salt, pepper, and other seasonings.
  2. Fill bowl with several inches of water, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and use fork to poke holes for ventilation.
  3. Cook on high for 6-7 minutes. (Tip: Don’t do this at )work!
Parmesan Crisps
  1. Microwave ½-teaspoon mounds of grated Parmesan on baking parchment in 10-second bursts until melted and bubbly.
  2. Let set for 1 minute, then peel off paper.
No-Fry Potato Chips
  1. Slice potato thinly, about 1/8th inch thick.
  2. Arrange in a single layer on a plate.
  3. Microwave 3 minutes at a time, decreasing power level and flipping each round.
Dolce de Leche
  1. Pour sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl and cook on medium, stopping every 2 minutes to whisk. Repeat for 10-12 minutes.
  2. After it looks curdled, whisk until smooth.
  1. Arrange 1-2 open-face (no top cracker) s’mores on a plate.
  2. Place a cup of water next to the plate (to prevent dryness).
  3. Microwave about 15 seconds, until marshmallow is puffed up.
  4. Add top cracker and enjoy.
Poached Eggs
  1. Fill a cup or bowl with ½ cup water.
  2. Gently crack an egg into the water.
  3. Place saucer on top of cup, covering it completely.
  4. Microwave on high for 30-60 seconds, until egg white is cooked through but yolk is still runny.
Hollandaise Sauce
  1. Beat 2 egg yolks, juice of ¼ lemon, pinch salt, and pinch cayenne pepper in bowl until smooth.
  2. Slowly stream melted butter into mixture and whisk.
  3. Microwave for 15-20 seconds. Whisk.
Kitchen Hacks
Peel Garlic Faster Microwave a whole head of garlic for 10-20 seconds on high. Cloves will come out of the skin more easily.
Dry Herbs Works best with hearty herbs (like rosemary and thyme). Put herbs between two paper towels and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.
Ripen a Banana Use a fork to poke holes in a banana (to prevent explosions) and microwave for 1-2 minutes to speed up ripening.
Get More Lemon or Lime Juice Microwave a lemon or lime for 10-20 seconds, until the skin is warm to the touch. It will yield more juice when squeezed.
Prevent Onion Tears Microwave onion for 45 seconds before cutting. The heat will break down some of the tear-inducing compounds.
Soften Hard Brown Sugar Put a dampened paper towel in the brown sugar box, close tightly, and microwave for 20-30 seconds on high to soften.
Keep Leftovers Moist Microwave leftovers like mac and cheese and pizza while covering the plate with a damp paper towel to create steam.
“Re-Crunch” Potato Chips Place chips on paper towels in the microwave. Heat for 10-20 seconds. Paper towels shoold absorb the moisture and make chips crispy again.
“Fancy” Recipes
Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup (Serves 1)
  1. Microwave 1 tablespoon of butter in a mug until melted.
  2. Mix in 1 tablespoon granolated sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until well-combined.
  3. Mix in 1 egg yolk until no traces remain.
  4. Fold in 1-2 tablespoon chocolate chips.
  5. Microwave on high 40-50 seconds.
French Toast in a Cup (Serves 1)
  1. Cut 1-2 slices of bread into cubes (enough to overflow cup slightly).
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in cup. Swish around.
  3. Add bread to cup.
  4. In separate cup, combine 1 egg, 3 tablespoons milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a drop of vanilla.
  5. Pour egg liquid over bread. Push down and let soak a bit.
  6. Microwave 1 minute. Add 10 seconds at a time until cooked to your preference.
  7. Add syrup if desired.
Cinnamon Apples in a Bag (Serves 1)
  1. Peel and slice a small apple. Place in freezer-quality plastic zip-top bag with 1 packet sweetener, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water.
  2. Seal bag and shake to mix.
  3. Reopen bag slightly to vent.
  4. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  5. Carefolly open and pour over pita chips, oatmeal, ice cream, etc.
Stuffed Banana Boats (Serves 2)
  1. Cut open 2 medium bananas lengthwise without going all the way through. Leave skin on.
  2. Gently pry open banana slit. Fill with chocolate chips, Nutella, mini marshmallows, chopped nuts, etc.
  3. Plate bananas and microwave on high for 30-60 seconds.
Pizza in a Mug (Serves 1)
  1. Combine 4 tablespoons flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, and a pinch of baking soda in a mug.
  2. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of milk and 1 tablespoon of oil, mixing thoroughly.
  3. Add a dollop of marinara sauce.
  4. Top with shredded cheese and other favorite toppings.
  5. Microwave for 70-80 seconds until cheese is bubbling.
Breakfast Paleo Mug Cake (Serves 1)
  1. Mash 1 ripe banana into a smooth paste.
  2. Mix 2 tablespoons nut butter, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder into banana puree until it forms an even batter.
  3. Pour batter into a mug or bowl. Fill only 2/3rds of the way because it will expand.
  4. Microwave on high for 2½ minutes until center is set.


The microwave was invented in 1945 by a Raytheon engineer named Percy Spencer. Today, there’s a microwave in around 97% of American homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, the inventor of the microwave had no idea that his accidental invention would become such a beloved mainstay in households around the world.

In 1941, as the U.S. was preparing to enter World War II, Percy Spencer was conducting research on the magnetron and how it could be used to produce the high power output required for radar equipment. Radar sets developed by Spencer were installed in U.S. bombers, and they were powerful enough to spot periscopes on German submarines. He received the Distinguished Public Service Award for his accomplishment, the highest honor that the Navy bestows on civilians. However, that’s not what he’s most remembered for.

Standing next to a magnetron one day, Spencer noticed that the candy bar in his pocket had melted. This sparked an idea — could the energy from radio waves be used to cook food? To test this theory, he placed popcorn kernels near the magnetron tube. Within minutes, Spencer snacked on the world’s first microwave popcorn!

In 1947, Raytheon produced the first RadarRange based on Spencer’s discovery. The first microwave ovens were enormous and pricey, used only by restaurants, vending companies, and airlines. A home model became available in the 1950s. The public was initially slow to adopt the technology, but by the time of Spencer’s death in 1970, microwaves were becoming a universal fixture in American kitchens. But despite their widespread use, many people still have suspicions about how safe they are.

Is Microwave Radiation Dangerous?

So far, there has been no evidence that microwave ovens are a health risk. Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation with many modern uses, such as cooking food, broadcasting television and Internet signals, detecting speeding cars, and talking on the phone. Electromagnetic radiation spans a broad spectrum, from long radio waves to short gamma rays. The human eye can see only a small part of this spectrum in the form of visible light. High-energy radiation like X-rays and gamma rays can cause harm because these types of radiation can alter molecules within the body (which can lead to cancer). Unlike X-rays, microwaves use non-ionizing radiation. This type of radiation does not have enough energy to knock electrons out of atoms. In the U.S., microwave ovens are also designed to limit the amount of radiation that can leak out of the device.

Does Microwaving Food Kill the Nutrients?

In a study by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, it was found that broccoli cooked in a microwave retained all of its minerals except for vitamin C, which leached into the added water. Vitamin C is extremely volatile, so any form of cooking would result in its loss. Fortunately, vitamin C is bountiful in many raw fruits and vegetables, so you can make up for it easily. Additionally, microwaves have been shown to cause the least amount of antioxidant loss in 20 vegetables when compared to boiling, frying, and pressure-cooking!

Does Microwaving Plastic Release Toxins?

Yes, it does. However, plastic used for cooking is closely regulated. By choosing plastic containers that are designated to be microwave-safe, you can minimize the risks. There is also a big push to ban BPA, a type of plastic linked to a range of cancers. You can also go for the safest alternatives, glass and porcelain.

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