It’s official. My life is changed forever now that I can have a piping hot mug of delicious mac and cheese in five minutes FLAT. No joke on that five minutes – the pasta and water cook in the microwave for four minutes, during which you grate your cheddar cheese. The mug comes out of the microwave, gets a quick stir, the cheese and half and half get thrown in, and after another thirty seconds in the microwave, you ready for action, peeps.
Ready for melty, cheesy, gooey, comforting action. THIS MAKES MY LIFE WONDERFUL.
Let me just paint a picture for you. It’s been a crazy day. You have three loads of laundry to get done, an errand to run, and you’d love to throw a shower in there somewhere since your bottle of dry shampoo is running dangerously low. BUT – dilemma – you’re also super hungry and haven’t eaten since this morning when you shoved down three eggs off of a paper plate while standing over the kitchen counter. What is this a perfect time for? Oh, maybe just a delicious mug of tender pasta coated in creamy, cheesy, saucy goodness that can be in your hands within five minutes.
BAM – doneskies. Now go take that shower with belly full of comfort food, you gorgeous human, you.
I’ve attempted some microwave mac and cheeses in the past, but I’ve never landed on a version that I love. Part of the final success was me having to alter my expectations a bit. There are just some things that are inevitable with microwave mac and cheese that I had to learn to be cool with in order to embrace this recipe fully:
- This isn’t going to be real mac and cheese with a real roux based sauce. If you are making real, authentic, actual mac and cheese, you need the sauce to be made with a roux, meaning a flour/butter thickener that you end up whisking milk or cream into. The benefit of that kind of mac and cheese is that the sauce stays saucy and you can eat it for days afterwards in leftover form. This mac and cheese isn’t that situation. It definitely ends up being saucy and delicious when it comes out of the microwave, but if you let it sit on your counter for fifteen minutes or so, the sauce becomes less saucy as it soaks into the noodles and the cheese in the sauce cools. The only thing this means? It’s best eaten fresh. But, let’s be honest, who is going to make this mac and cheese and not devour it soon after it comes out of the microwave? No one? That’s what I thought. As long as you eat it after it comes out of the microwave and don’t let it sit on your counter for fifteen minutes, you will have a perfectly saucy, melty, cheesy, delicious mug of mac and cheese that will leave you dreaming about it for days.
- Your water is going to boil over. I tested this recipe in virtually ALL the mugs in my kitchen, and I collect coffee mugs. Particularly very large ones because…more coffee, right?! And even in my largest mugs, there was boil over. I always considered this a reason to chalk this up to a fail recipe because I figured there was a way to get it to not boil over. Unless you have a mug the size of a freaking mixing bowl, you’re probs gunna have a boil over. BUT – here’s the deal. It matters zero percent. The perfect amount of water ends up staying in the pasta, the macaroni still ends up being perfectly cooked, and there is zero cleanup in your microwave because all you do is put a few layers of paper towels under your mug, which soak of up the little bit of water that boils over. Bam. Easy peasy. No problem.
So now that we have gone over those few unique elements of this wonderful little mug meal, let’s chat about how we git ‘r done.
- Add your macaroni, water, and salt to your mug.
- Microwave for four minutes.
- Take the mug out, stir, add your 1 tablespoon of half and half and your 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese. Stir a little bit more.
- Microwave for 30 more seconds.
- Stir until everything has come together and all the noodles are coated in thick, cheesy, perfect sauce.
- Season to taste and inhale because it’s too delicious to eat slowly.
- The end.
One variation you might find here is the amount of water that is left over in your mug after the pasta is initially microwaved. A few of my mugs had a little less boil over so there was more water than there should have been left over. Easy fix, if there is water pooled in your pasta, just spoon it out/drain it out and go on with the next step: the addition of half and half + cheese.
If there is too much water left over, the ending sauce will be a little thin. BUT – bonus: even if this does happen, as the mac and cheese sits for a few minutes, the sauce thickens up and it ends up being a great texture. I tested it. So reallyyyy, it’s impossible to mess this up – wooorrddd.
Watch how to make this Microwave Mac and Cheese in a Mug here!
Microwave Mac and Cheese in a Mug
- Prep Time: 0 mins
- Cook Time: 4 mins 30 seconds
- Total Time: 4.5 minutes
- Yield: 1 mug of pasta
- 1/3 cup elbow noodles
- 1/2 cup water
- A few pinches of salt
- 1 tablespoon half and half
- 2 tablespoons sharp cheddar cheese (I like using fresh grated – it melts more smoothly)
- In a mug (the bigger the mug, the better), add your pasta, water, and a few big pinches of salt
- Place in the microwave with a few layers of paper towels underneath the mug (you will most likely have some boil over)
- Microwave for 4 minutes
- Remove from the microwave, stir, and add your half and half and cheddar cheese. Stir lightly to just combine a bit, and then microwave for another 30 seconds
- Remove from the microwave, stir until the sauce has come together, and season to taste with salt and pepper
Cook time of the pasta could vary depending on your microwave. Test a piece of pasta for doneness when it comes out after that initial 4 minutes – it should be al dente. If it’s not, pop it back in the microwave for thirty second intervals.
Depending on your mug, you might have a little bit too much water left over in your pasta when it comes out of the microwave. If there is any water pooling in the mug, spoon or drain it out before adding your half and half + cheese.
- Serving Size: 1 mug
- Calories: 216
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 85 mg
- Fat: 7 g
- Carbohydrates: 29 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 8 g
- Cholesterol: 26 mg
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more mac and cheese recipes? Check these out: