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Food & Drink

10 surprising foods you can cook in the microwave

Microwaves: we all have them. But don’t assume they're only good for reheating ready meals – these recipes show just how versatile they can be.

Shocked man and orange microwave

Credit: Aaron Amat – Shutterstock

Let's be honest, sometimes cooking (and washing up) feels like way too much effort. On days when you want food without the effort, forget overpriced takeaways – try out these dishes which you can whip up in no time.

With some taking a minute or less to cook in the microwave, these recipes are a busy student's dream.

We’ve put together a list of the best and easiest foods to cook in the microwave, and some of them might surprise you...

Make life in the kitchen even easier with these top kitchen gadgets.

Quick microwave recipes

  1. Fluffy rice

    Bowl of white rice

    Credit: Amarita – Shutterstock

    Rice can be hard to get right at first, but if you can prepare it properly, it’s a cheap staple that’s really versatile.

    You’ll save a fortune making it with this technique, compared to splashing out on microwave pouches or boil in the bag versions.

    Ingredients

    •  1 cup of rice

    •  Cold water.

    Method

    •  Measure out your rice – 1 cup makes two generous portions

    •  If you’re using a long grain rice (like basmati) you’ll need to wash the rice until the water coming off it is relatively clear. If you’re doing sticky or easy cook rice, this isn’t necessary

    •  Drain the rice and add 1.5x the amount of cold water as rice into your microwavable bowl – plus another half a cup. E.g. for 1 cup of rice, you’ll need 1 and a half cups of cold water

    •  Add seasoning (optional). Half a teaspoon of turmeric makes your rice bright yellow which looks great with curry, and you could add flavour with a cardamom pod if you have any

    •  Cover your bowl. You can use cling film, but we find a normal dinner plate placed on top is less wasteful and works just as well

    •  Put the microwave on full power for 10 minutes and check your rice. If it needs more time, put it back on for a few more minutes and check again. When it’s cooked, it might appear quite solid in the bowl, but fluff it with a fork and you should have the perfect rice every time.

  2. Scrambled eggs

    Scrambled egg with fork and garnishing

    Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH – Shutterstock

    Scrambled eggs are pretty easy to cook on a hob, but washing a frying pan and a wooden spoon is a lot of effort for such a simple dish.

    With this microwave method you can get away with only using one bowl and one fork – easy!

    Ingredients

    •  One or two eggs per person

    •  A splash of milk or water

    •  Seasoning.

    Method

    •  Put all of the ingredients into a cereal bowl, and mix them together with your fork

    •  Microwave your bowl for 30 seconds and stir

    •  Microwave for another 10 seconds, stir and repeat until you get your desired consistency.

  3. Poached eggs

    poached egg on toast

    Credit: Joe Gough – Shutterstock

    Unlike scrambled eggs, poached eggs can be a bit of a pain to make with any method, unfortunately. But, if you follow our instructions, you’ll be making Insta-worthy eggs benedict in no time.

    Ingredients

    •  A fresh egg (if it’s nearing its best before date, this won’t work)

    •  Half a mug of cold water

    •  Vinegar.

    Method

    •  Fill an average-sized mug to about halfway with cold water, then add a splash of vinegar

    •  You'll then need to carefully crack an egg into the mug, making sure you don’t break the yolk

    •  Once the egg's in the water, use a sharp knife to pierce a small hole in the yolk. This should stop your egg from exploding, but you can also over your mug with cling film just in case

    •  Put it in the microwave for 60 seconds then check the egg. If the white doesn’t look cooked, put it in for 10 more seconds. Keep doing this until your yolks are as runny as you like them.

  4. Steamed salmon

    salmon on a plate

    Credit: freeskyline – Shutterstock

    Does fish seem like too much of a pain to cook? It might look like a pretty fancy option for a student diet, but this recipe is super straightforward.

    Cooking salmon fillets with this method is stress-free and healthy.

    Ingredients

    •  Salmon fillets

    •  Seasoning.

    Method

    •  Place the salmon onto a microwavable plate.

    •  Add something to flavour the salmon – we'd recommend pesto, or you could keep it simple with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon. Apply it directly to the fillets

    •  Wrap the whole plate in cling film and cook it for 3–5 minutes in the microwave, depending on how many fillets you’re cooking

    •  Check the firmness of the salmon – it's done when it looks opaque

    •  Unwrap the clingfilm, drain off any excess liquid and serve.

  5. Frothy milk

    milk poured into coffee

    If you love lattes and cappuccinos, save yourself the expense of buying them from chain cafe stores. Ingredients-wise, this is barely a recipe, but it totally works. Enjoy your own frothy coffees at home, or get a little reusable cup to drink them on your commute.

    Ingredients

    •  Milk (yep, that's it).

    Method

    •  Fill an empty jam jar (or any microwavable cup that has a lid) up to halfway full, depending on how much milk you like with your coffee

    •  Screw the lid on and shake the jar for up to 60 seconds until it starts looking really foamy.

    •  Take the lid off and pop it in in the microwave for 30 seconds

    •  It should froth up and be ready for you to add to a drink of your choice.

  6. Microwave mug cake

    cake in a blue mug

    Credit: psk1977 – Shutterstock

    Microwave mug cake is a classic. But, too often, it can turn out a bit eggy, or just generally quite 'meh'. Don't worry, though – this recipe works a treat.

    It should be enough to serve two people, and it's great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    Ingredients

    •  4 tablespoons of self-raising flour

    •  4 tablespoons of caster sugar

    •  2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

    •  3 tablespoons of milk

    •  3 tablespoons of oil (vegetable/sunflower)

    •  1 small or medium egg

    •  1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

    •  2 tablespoons of chocolate chips or nuts (optional).

    Method

    •  Add the dry ingredients to a big mug (ideally Sports Direct sized) and mix together

    •  Crack the egg in and stir until it’s all combined

    •  Then, chuck in the remaining ingredients, adding in the chocolate chips or nuts last (if you’re using them)

    •  Put it in the microwave for 2–3 minutes, or until it stops rising.

  7. Perfect pasta

    pasta and pesto

    We always cook our pasta in the microwave – it’s seriously low-effort, but not many people know that you can do it.

    If you find it a bit of a chore to watch the hob, and you're bored of scrubbing pans, this method is ideal.

    Ingredients

    •  Pasta

    •  Cold water.

    Method

    •  Put your pasta into a microwavable container and cover with cold water. If you want to cook a long type of pasta like spaghetti you can try using a special microwave pasta container like the Fasta Pasta

    •  Put the microwave on for 10 minutes, and check it. If it doesn’t seem done, put it on for a few more minutes

    •  Drain and serve.

In the mood for pasta? We've got five more cheap and easy pasta recipes for you to try.
  1. Bacon

    Crispy bacon

    Credit: Susan Schmitz – Shutterstock

    Microwaved bacon might sound a bit questionable, we know, but hear us out. It is indeed possible, it’s much less messy than grilling and there’s no extra oil required. Just when you thought bacon couldn't get any better. 😉

    Ingredients

    •  Bacon.

    Method

    •  Put a couple of sheets of kitchen roll onto a plate, and lay the bacon flat on top of it (not overlapping)

    •  Cover the bacon with another two sheets of kitchen roll then place the other plate on top upside down

    •  Microwave for 3–4 minutes and, when it looks done, quickly remove the bacon from the kitchen roll before it cools too much – otherwise it’ll stick

    •  Enjoy.

  2. Poppadoms

    Stack of poppadoms

    Credit: Richard M Lee – Shutterstock

    It's so much cheaper to buy “raw” poppadoms than pre-cooked ones. And, better yet, they don’t go stale as quickly so there's less chance of them going to waste.

    They're super easy to make – you don't have to bother with the hassle and possible risks of deep fat frying.

    We must admit, we were quite surprised to hear that they can be cooked in the microwave, but this actually works – and with no need for any extra oil or equipment.

    Ingredients

    •  Raw poppadoms.

    Method

    •  Lay them on a plate and make sure the poppadoms aren’t touching each other

    •  Then put them in the microwave for about 60–90 seconds

    •  They don’t taste exactly like the deep-fried version. But, if you’re not convinced after trying one, you can brush one (or both) sides with a little bit of oil and try again.

  3. Caramel sauce

    bowl of caramel sauce

    Credit: MaraZe – Shutterstock

    If you're looking to jazz up plain ice cream or cake, this microwave caramel sauce recipe is a winner.

    Warning: this stuff is addictive.

    Ingredients

    •  1 tablespoon of butter (14g or ½ an ounce if your butter isn’t spoonable)
    •  1 tablespoon of brown sugar
    •  1 tablespoon of double cream
    •  A pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter.

    Method

    •  Put the butter into an average-sized mug and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it's melted. We'd recommend covering the mug as butter has a tendency to explode
    •  Add the brown sugar, cream and salt (if you’re using it), stir and put back in for 30 seconds
    •  Take it out, stir once more, and put it in for another 10 seconds
    •  Remove from the microwave and pour on your chosen desert.

Get these ingredients for less by checking out the cheaper ways to do online food shopping.