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Microwave Mac and Cheese Recipe Delivers Gooey, Cheesy Goodness in Just 5 Minutes

Learn how to get the perfect creamy, melted texture

Move over, boxed mac and cheese! What if you could enjoy that same creamy, cheesy goodness without the hassle? Let us introduce you to microwave mac and cheese, which has become our favorite shortcut comfort meal. That’s right: forget boiling water and a messy pot. All you need are a handful of readily available ingredients and your trusty microwave to create a mug-sized masterpiece in just 5 minutes. Plus, we have some tips and tricks for getting the perfect texture and flavor. Whether for a busy weeknight or late-night craving, this microwave mac and cheese will satisfy every time. Here’s how to make it.

What is microwave mac and cheese?

Microwave mac and cheese has become a life-saver for busy individuals and cheese lovers alike. This quick and convenient dish takes classic macaroni and cheese and streamlines it for the microwave, typically in a mug or small bowl. While the ingredients might be simpler than its stovetop counterpart, microwave mac and cheese still delivers a satisfying cheese pull that rivals any traditional recipe. Most recipes include a combination of dry pasta, water, milk, shredded cheese and salt. Some might call for butter or cream cheese for extra richness, while others incorporate a packet of pre-made cheese sauce mix for added convenience.

Unsurprisingly, this recipe has grown in popularity online. Check out the TikTok video below to see the mouthwatering results.

Tips for the best microwave mac and cheese

ingredients to make microwave mac and cheese, including milk, pasta and cheese

Even with its streamlined approach, we still want to ensure your microwave mac and cheese comes out perfect every time. We put together some expert tips from the kitchn for achieving the ultimate gooey, cheesy bite.

1. Choose your pasta shape

Since microwave mac and cheese comes in a mug, it’s best to use a small pasta with ridges or holes to hold flavor. Small pasta shapes also cook quicker. Elbow macaroni offers an ideal choice, but you can also use small shells or small penne if you prefer other pasta shapes.

2. Opt for the best milk

The type of milk you use can affect the richness, creaminess and overall consistency of the dish. For a decadent experience, choose whole milk. Its higher fat content creates a luxuriously creamy and rich cheese sauce. But if you want a lighter option, low-fat milk or unsweetened plant-based varieties can be used, though the sauce might be thinner.

3. Grate your own cheese

High-quality cheese makes all the difference in the flavor department. Opt for freshly grated cheese for the best results. For one, it melts more evenly and smoothly compared to pre-shredded cheese, which often contains anti-caking agents that can sometimes clump. Freshly grated cheese also has a more pronounced cheesy flavor.

4. Microwave to perfection

Microwaving might seem straightforward, but you don’t want to accidentally overcook your mac and cheese. Using a large, microwave-safe bowl helps prevent water from foaming and spilling over. If you want to use a mug, start with a shorter cooking time and check on your mac and cheese frequently. Stopping and stirring the mixture prevents foaming as well as ensures even cooking. The bowl can also get hot during cooking, so use oven mitts or a kitchen towel when handling.

Want to make the creamiest mac and cheese? Use this secret ingredient!

5-minute microwave mac and cheese recipe

Ready to dive right back into your childhood cravings? This recipe from Family Food on the Table needs just 3 basic ingredients: pasta, cheese and milk. If you want to substitute a different cheese, you can also use Gruyere, American or Monterey Jack.

Microwave Mac and Cheese

microwave mac and cheese in green mini pots with spoon


  • ½ cup dry macaroni (elbow) pasta
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. cream cheese (optional)


  • Active Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  1. Combine the pasta and water in a large microwave safe bowl. Then, microwave for 4-5 minutes, until the pasta is just al dente (you can start with 4 minutes and add an additional minute if needed).
  2. Drain any excess water from the bowl. Add the milk, cheese and salt to the pasta, as well as the butter and cream cheese, if using. Stir to combine.
  3. Microwave for another 1½ minutes, until the pasta feels tender and everything is melted and well combined. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings, then serve hot.

Delicious add-ins for your microwave mac and cheese

While delicious on its own, you can customize your microwave mac and cheese however you like! Sure, it may add a few minutes, but we can all agree the added flavor makes up for it. Try out some of these add-in ideas below.

1. Meat lover’s

Stir in cooked crumbled bacon, shredded cooked chicken or diced cooked sausage for an extra salty, protein kick. You can also use deli meat like ham or turkey.

2. Spicy kick

For those who like a bit of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper, a few dashes of hot sauce or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes into your mac and cheese.

3. Fresh herbs

Chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chives or thyme add a burst of freshness as well as a nice aromatic touch to the rich cheese flavors.

4. Crispy crunch

Top your finished mac and cheese with crushed crackers, breadcrumbs or even a sprinkle of chopped nuts for a fun textural contrast.

For more on mac and cheese, read through these stories below!

Want a Crispier Mac and Cheese? Bake It In a Sheet Pan

This Simple Tweak Will Make Your Baked Mac and Cheese So Much More Delicious

How to Reheat Mac and Cheese So It’s Creamy Again — Easy Trick Takes Seconds

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