How to Microwave Mac and Cheese

Written By Acacia Crossley


No matter how many fancy meals you try to cook or how healthily you try to eat, mac and cheese is the one comfort meal that most fail to avoid. It is the perfect go-to dinner for any busy family or broke student alike. 

The creamy cheese sauce and filling macaroni pasta are a simple but delicious combination. Everyone has their own method for making mac and cheese, but can mac and cheese be cooked in a microwave? Yes, it can!

To microwave mac and cheese, you first need to cook the pasta in the microwave. This will take around 5 minutes. You should then mix in the sauce ingredients and microwave for a further 3 minutes.

How to Microwave Mac and Cheese

Using a microwave to cook mac and cheese is not a revolutionary idea. Many boxed mac and cheese manufacturers purposely provide instructions on how to cook mac and cheese in a microwave as part of their preparation. 

To get excellent-tasting mac and cheese that is just as good as traditionally cooked mac and cheese, there are a few things you must do that go beyond just cooking pasta and adding cheese. 

Here is the best way to microwave mac and cheese: 

  1. Prepare Your Ingredients
    Before you get started, it will be a good idea to gather and measure out all of your ingredients. This will make microwaving your mac and cheese go so much quicker. 
  2. Make The Pasta
    Add 1/2 cup of pasta and 1/2 cup of cold water to a microwavable bowl. Stir to pasta and water together until all of the pasta is coated. 
  3. Season 
    Add a sprinkling of salt to the pasta to boost its flavour. 
  4. Cook The Pasta
    Set your microwave to high power and microwave the pasta for 1 minute. 
  5. Stir and Cook Again
    After 1 minute, stir the pasta to prevent the water from foaming out of the ball. Then cook the pasta in 2 minute intervals until the pasta is cooked. 
  6. Make The Sauce
    Add milk and your cheese of choice directly to the pasta. You can also add any extra ingredients, such as bacon, at this point. 
  7. Combine
    Use a spoon or fork to combine the pasta and added ingredients completely. Don’t just leave all of the cheese sitting on top of the pasta. 
  8. Microwave
    Set the microwave to high power and microwave the pasta again for 1 minute. 
  9. Season And Stir
    Remove the pasta to season with salt, pepper, basil and other herbs you prefer. Stir thoroughly to combine fully. 
  10. Microwave Again
    Place the pasta back in the microwave and cook it in 30 second intervals, stirring the pasta in between. 
  11. Serve! 
    Continue to cook and stir your mac and cheese until all of the cheese has melted and you are left with a creamy cheese sauce. Then serve immediately. 
Mac and Cheese

How to Microwave Mac and Cheese Successfully

Though microwaving mac and cheese has been a tried and tested cooking method for decades, microwaves are fickle. Here are a few tips to ensure that you can successfully microwave mac and cheese every time: 

  • Grate The Cheese – When using an oven or pot to make mac and cheese, you can get away with adding big chunks of cheese and still be able to combine the cheese sauce easily. But when using a microwave, grate your cheese up as much as possible and avoid big chunks so that the cheese doesn’t remain separate from the sauce. 
  • Drain As You Go – There should be no leftover pasta water when cooking your pasta. However, if you find that your pasta has cooked, but there is still water in the bowl, drain it before making the cheese sauce. 

Why You Should Microwave Mac and Cheese

A microwave is any student or busy family’s most valuable piece of kitchen equipment. Finding new meals or foods that microwave well will always be a great knowledge to have. 

Admittedly, not everything can stand the intense heat of a microwave. But mac and cheese can and should be microwaved:

Perfect for Single Servings

There are countless microwavable mac and cheese recipes on every budget or student-based website. This is because using a microwave is the perfect way to simplify making mac and cheese in smaller portions. 

You can make 1 or 2 servings at a time without having to worry about wasting food. It is a convenient and cost-effective way to prepare an equally affordable and accessible meal. 


The best thing about mac and cheese is that you can add a whole range of herbs, spices and extra ingredients to boost the pasta’s flavour. 

Microwaved mac and cheese also has the same advantage. You will need to microwave raw veg or meat separately to ensure that they cook, but there is no limit to what you can add to your mac and cheese.  

How to Pimp Up Mac and Cheese

There are a number of things you can add to your mac and cheese sauce to take it up a notch. Try stirring in some English mustard, add a squirt of sriracha or mix in a little Marmite. You can also add chopped fresh herbs, pancetta cubes, or diced mushroom and truffle oil.

Mac and Cheese with Bacon Pieces

Why You Shouldn’t Microwave Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is one of those meals easily adapted to modern cooking methods (such as a microwave). But there will always be a few downfalls with microwaving a meal that is traditionally cooked in an oven: 

No Leftovers

Cooking mac and cheese in an oven will almost always mean that there will be leftovers to reheat the next day. However, microwaves are only so big. You won’t have much room for a big batch of leftover mac and cheese. 

Even if you do find you have made too much, microwave mac and cheese may not reheat as well as it initially cooks. 

Soggy Mess

Microwaved mac and cheese is mac and cheese in its most simple form. Only using milk and cheese for the cheese sauce can produce a very thin and watery sauce if you use too much milk or add too little cheese. 

This will make your mac and cheese have an added texture that is hard to fix in a microwave. 

Microwaving Mac and Cheese FAQs

Microwaving mac and cheese is fairly easy! But, if you have more questions then these might help you out:

Can You Microwave Mac and Cheese in a Mug?

Yes, mac and cheese can be made in a mug in the microwave. First, cook a portion of pasta in the mug then stir in milk and cheese and microwave for a further few minutes until gooey.

Does Mac and Cheese Microwave Well?

Cooking mac and cheese in the micowave is quick and easy but it won’t produce the best results. If you want the perfect crisp top and gooey sauce then the oven is the best approach.

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