Microwave mac and cheese is so quick and easy to make, with just 3 ingredients and 5 minutes of cook time! It’s deliciously cheesy, creamy and tender!
Happy Halloween! 🎃👻🧡
This is one of my most favorite holidays and my kids, who are 6 and 8, are super into it at this stage! My daughter is going to be a mummy (a cute, non-scary kind) and my son is going to be a policeman, with ALL the accessories. 😂
In addition to the kindergarten parade at school this morning, we will have a neighborhood pizza party tonight before trick-or-treating.
Unfortunately, it’s going to be raining and thundering here all afternoon. And it’s looking like I just got nominated to host everyone in our garage, along with some tailgating tents in the driveway.
So I’ll be throwing up some decorations after work and hoping for the best! 😬 Moving on to the food…
I’ve also got lots of fun flavored mac and cheese recipes on the blog. (Pumpkin baked mac and cheese with bacon is a fall favorite and healthy chicken broccoli mac and cheese is a year-round family dinner we all love.
Today though, we have a different way to prepare this classic in a way that’s ready almost instantly!
Microwave mac and cheese is SO super easy to make and it all cooks together in one bowl. Plus, it’s ready in about 7 minutes, so you can have macaroni and cheese now. Right now.
I first started making this when my kiddos were little. It was an easy way to serve their dinner, which was usually a couple of hours before my husband and I finally ate.
I loved that I could make just enough for them and that it didn’t require a lot of time, effort or dishes.
We are talking 3 ingredients people! And just 5 minutes of cook time. 🙌
It also was a great go-to on those nights when I had hungry toddlers nipping at my legs and needed food immediately, if not five minutes ago.
They’ve grown a bit (ages 6 and 8) and have somewhat more patience when it comes to dinner, which we almost always eat together now, but I still love being able to whip up a bowl of this microwave macaroni.
Cause it really does come out deliciously creamy with perfectly tender pasta pieces!
And it’s not just for kids. Oh no!
This is a great late-night snack, a great single serving when you’re on your own for dinner and perfect for college students to make too.
Plus, you can customize this with different cheeses and toppings to change it up and make it as fun as you like. (Keep reading for those ideas below.)
Quick homemade mac and cheese for everyone, all the time! 🙌
Now, I’ve got some notes, tips and FAQs coming up below on how to make microwave macaroni and cheese. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
(I’ve made a lot of mac and cheese in my day, so I want to share what works!)
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on making microwave mac and cheese:
- This recipe calls for a classic small elbow shaped pasta, which works best because it cooks the quickest.
- Sharp white cheddar cheese is what I used for the cheese in this recipe. You can use regular cheddar or read on for some other cheese mix-and-match ideas.
- I typically use 2% or skim milk for this recipe since that’s what we always have on hand, but it would work great with whole milk as well.
- I’ve also made this with soy milk before (because my daughter used to have a cow’s milk allergy) and that works fine too.
- You can also substitute a dairy-free butter and cheese and have this be a dairy-free or vegan version if needed.
I personally love the richness and the creaminess of the butter and cream cheese, but those are optional add-ins. I’ve made it without them before and my kids still gobbled it up.
The biggest tip: You need a really large, deep bowl to make microwave macaroni and cheese.
Do not try to make it in a mug or a bowl that you would serve it up in. Your water will heat and foam and spill over into the microwave instead of staying in the bowl to cook the pasta.
Been there. Tried that. Made a mess.
I use a medium to large microwave-safe pyrex bowl to cook this in. It looks a little ridiculous because it’s such a small amount of macaroni in such a large bowl, but trust me, it’s the way to go. 👇
Of course, I should also note that exact microwave times and temperatures can vary.
I’ll tell you that I’ve made this in several microwaves and it’s always pretty spot on to the directions below.
And for what it’s worth, I have a 1000 watt microwave and I always cook this on 100% power.
OK, now, let’s talk cheese options. 🧀🧀🧀
What cheese should I use for macaroni and cheese?
– A sharp cheddar is classic for mac and cheese. This recipe uses a white cheddar cheese that’s shredded and an optional cream cheese stir-in for some extra creaminess.
– Gruyere is also a great cheese for mac and cheese if you’d like to try it that way.
– Cheddar and Monterey Jack are another good combo for making mac and cheese.
– American cheese is another favorite for how melty it gets.
And now let’s get ready to serve this up with some fun add-ons.
Cause you know how I feel about toppings, right? My undying love for toppings and goal to find toppings for pretty much everything I serve?
Here’s a few ideas if you want to dress up this easy microwave mac and cheese recipe. Some of these are pretty basic and some are a little more wild.
Macaroni and cheese toppings:
- Extra cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, etc.)
- Cooked, crumbled bacon 🥓
- Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- Chopped chives or green onions
- Hot sauce or sriracha for some heat 🌶
- Pickled jalapeños
- Pico de gallo
- Sliced grilled chicken
- Crumbled ground beef or turkey
- Sliced avocado or a dollop of guac
- Steamed broccoli, halved cherry tomatoes or sautéed mushrooms make a great vegetable addition. 👌
Or, if you want to keep it classic and unadorned, that’s completely OK too. My kids tend to be purists that way. 😉
Next time you have a serious need for macaroni and cheese immediately, I hope you’ll give this quick and easy microwave version a try.
- 1/2 cup macaroni pasta
- 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (see notes)
- 1/4 cup milk of choice (see notes)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese (optional)
- Combine the pasta and water in a large microwave safe bowl. You need a large bowl (not a mug or small serving bowl) to cook this in prevent your water from foaming and spilling over in the microwave.
- 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.
- 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.
- Microwave for another 1 1/2 minutes, until the pasta is tender and everything is melted and well combined.
- Stir, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve hot.
The recipe calls for a classic small elbow shaped pasta, which works best because it cooks the most quickly.
Cheese: I used a sharp white cheddar cheese for the cheese in this recipe. You can use regular cheddar or a combination of cheeses (such as cheddar and Monterey Jack, Gruyere or American cheeses.)
Milk: I use 2% or skim milk for this recipe since that’s what we always have on hand, but it would work great with whole milk as well.
I’ve also made this with soy milk before (because my daughter used to have a cow’s milk allergy) and that worked fine too. You can substitute a dairy-free butter and cheese and have this be a dairy-free or vegan version.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 935mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 19g