Instant Microwave Macaroni and Cheese

instant microwave macaroni and cheese

Instant Microwave Macaroni and Cheese is a total game changer ~ this easy recipe makes a single serving ultra creamy mug of cheesy macaroni in just minutes, right in the microwave! This is the ultimate dorm room meal or after school snack.

microwave mac & cheese pin

Instant microwave mac & cheese is the answer to mid day cravings!

I tend to get crazy hunger spikes in the middle of the day, and for some reason I have a block against buying anything remotely appropriate for lunch when I’m at the supermarket. I’m always stuck roaming around the kitchen hunting for something, anything, to deal with my intense mid-day munchies, so imagine my excitement at finding an instant rich and creamy macaroni and cheese… for one… in a mug… made right in the microwave!

DIY Instant Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese for one is perfect if you live alone (or just happen to be alone and hungry)

No leftovers to tempt you into eating too much, or to go to waste! We tested this a whole bunch of times, and came to the conclusion that this recipe works best. Kids can do it themselves after school. or in a dorm. If you like macaroni and cheese, you’re going to want to give this a try, trust me. It may take a few tries to get it right for your mug and your microwave, but it will be worth it.

Set up for instant macaroni and cheese

What you’ll need to make microwave macaroni and cheese

This is quick and easy, but because we’re dealing with a recipe for one, and a microwave, it is fairly precise, so listen up carefully — you’ll need just a few simple things to get started —

  • a large mug
  • a liquid measuring cup
  • a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup
  • elbow noodles
  • some pre-shredded cheese
  • a little milk
  • and water.
shredded cheese for instant macaroni and cheese

Once you’ve got the recipe down, you can experiment with variations

But for the first time I suggest trying it as written. I found that store-bought finely shredded cheese worked best, and made the creamiest sauce. I used a cheddar/Monterey Jack blend, but other blends will also work. I used whole milk. My mug had a 1 2/3 cup (400 ml) capacity. My microwave is a fairly standard 1000 watts.

instant macaroni and cheese in a mug

How to make microwave macaroni and cheese ~

  • Put 1/3 cup of elbow noodles into your mug. Add a scant 1/2 cup of water to it. Be sure to use a liquid measuring cup to measure your water. And by scant, I mean just shy of 1/2 cup.
  • Basically you will microwave this mixture until the water has evaporated. In my microwave this takes about 4 minutes.
  • Microwave it for 2 minutes to start, then stir. Then another minute, and stir again. Then a final minute, and the water should be absorbed. If not, microwave a bit more until it is.
  • Stir in your milk and cheese, and microwave for a final 30-60 seconds. Stir very well to blend everything together into a creamy sauce, and enjoy.
macaroni and cheese for one, made right in the microwave

This might just be the best kitchen hack ever!

The microwave is the unsung hero of quick and easy food, just check out my other microwave recipes!

Instant Microwave macarone and cheese for one

What kind of cheese to use for microwave macaroni and cheese?

  • We tried this many different ways, and found that the pre-packaged grated cheese made the creamiest sauce. I was stumped about that until I read the ingredients and saw that there is some starch added to prevent clumping in pre-shredded cheese. I think this may also help thicken the sauce. Not sure, just a guess.
  • We tried grating our own cheeses and the sauce came out thinner. In that case I added a pinch (1/8 teaspoon) of cornstarch to the milk, and that seemed to help with thickening.
creamy macaroni and cheese for one

I have eaten SO much mac & cheese in the past few days of testing that I am totally sick of it, so now it’s your turn — Let me know in the comments is you try this, and what worked and didn’t work for you!

Tips for making microwave macaroni and cheese ~

  • Use a big mug. Mine had a 1 2/3 cup (400 ml) capacity.
  • My microwave is a fairly standard 1000 watts. If yours is different you’ll have to tweak the timing.
  • Use elbow pasta, anything larger will not cook quickly enough.
  • Whole milk seems to work best, although feel free to use cream or half and half for a decadent treat.
  • Measure carefully and accurately according to the recipe directions. Use a liquid measuring cup for the liquid, and a dry measuring cup for the solids.
  • Cook your noodles until all of the water has all been absorbed. Check carefully after the 4 minutes, and if there is still any water left in your mug, keep microwaving in short bursts until it is absorbed. Microwaves, like ovens, can be finicky.
  • Set your mug on a small plate to catch any water overflow.
  • Pre-packaged finely shredded cheese made the creamiest thickest sauce. If you are grating your own cheese, you might experiment with adding a pinch of cornstarch to the milk and cheese.
  • Stir well after adding the cheese and microwaving for the final 30-60 seconds. The sauce will develop and get creamy as you stir. It will continue to thicken as it sits. You can reheat it briefly if you like.
  • If despite doing everything right you still end up with a thin sauce, you may have had extra water left in your pasta after the initial cooking,  Check it carefully because water = watery sauce.
  • Once you’ve got the basic operation down, experiment to your heart’s content with different cheeses, etc.
Instant Microwave Mac and Cheese
3.48 from 206 votes

Instant Mac & Cheese in a Mug

Instant Microwave Macaroni and Cheese in a Mug ~ this easy recipe makes a single serving ultra creamy mug of cheesy macaroni in just minutes!
Course dinner, lunch, pasta
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 1 serving
Calories 401kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1/3 cup small macaroni elbow noodles, uncooked!
  • a scant 1/2 cup water
  • a scant 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pre-packaged finely shredded cheese we like a cheddar/jack blend


  • Put the macaroni and the water into a mug. Microwave on full power for 2 minutes. Stir. (Note: the water will boil over just a bit, that is fine)
  • Microwave for another minute. Stir.
  • Microwave for a fourth minute, and then check to see that all the water has been absorbed. If not, microwave a bit more, until it is gone.
  • Stir in the milk and shredded cheese and microwave for a final 30-60 seconds. Stir well, and enjoy.

Cook’s notes

If you are grating your own cheese, try adding a pinch (1/8 tsp) of cornstarch to the milk.
If you’re a mac and cheese freak like I am, try these other recipes ~


Calories: 401kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 354mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 566IU | Calcium: 417mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Nancy Buchanan
    January 14, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    This is sheer brilliance – cannot wait to try this out!!!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    I might be the lone voice of dissent, but I say NO!!

    I guess if one needs Mac n cheese in a couple of minutes, which I guess is your point, ok…but I love Mac n cheese with good cheese and good milk.

    I make it in one pot stovetop, single serving in about 15 minutes:
    1/3 cup macaroni cooked as usual
    drain and leave the mac in the pot
    Sprinkle 1/3 T flour on the mac
    Add 1/3 T butter
    Add 1/3 cup milk (I only use Whole Milk …local dairy!)
    Stir and let it thicken
    Add 1/3 cup fresh grated cheese of your choice or a mix
    Eat out of the pot if you want.

    If you can wait another few minutes, top with bread crumbs and put under the broiler.

    To each their own, but if I’m spending the calories on Mac n cheese it is going to be good Mac n cheese, i.e. good cheese. I know…my own hot button, but I very much dislike the pre-grated stuff.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 14, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Perfect for hungry kids after school. Or older people living alone or as you say a quick lunch stop. Trying this immediately.

  • Reply
    Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine
    January 14, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Who would have thought? This is a little too dangerously delicious to know about…

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s+Recipes
    January 14, 2015 at 11:40 am

    What a great idea! Can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for sharing, Sue.

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    January 14, 2015 at 11:00 am

    yep this is the perfect recipe to stash away for a winter day when you need something warm in a fix. Love it. never ever thought to do it in a microwave before. Pinning this

  • Reply
    January 14, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Trying this one for lunch (well, maybe elevensies). Then plan to move on to smoked gouda “with a pinch.” Thanks Sue!

  • Reply
    [email protected]+Riffs
    January 14, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Whole milk always works best. 😉 This is brilliant! Love the idea. And where I shop the store brand shredded cheese is cheaper (but maybe a dime) than the block cheese. And I can’t distinguish between the two in a taste test. Weird. Anyway, terrific recipe — thanks.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2015 at 10:18 am

      I agree about the milk, but aren’t people touchy about the subject? I think the shredded cheese makes sense anyway because the whole point of this exercise is convenience 🙂

  • Reply
    January 14, 2015 at 8:08 am

    We’re leaving for almost a week or I’d be testing this right away! What a perfect recipe for college kids, as you mentioned that they can make it in their dorms! I’m going to try with my 4 cheese blend copycat recipe of TJ’s Diner Mac & Cheese with a little cornstarch and will report back! So excited!

    • Reply
      January 14, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Can’t wait to hear what you think, have a great trip!

  • Reply
    Sarah | Broma Bakery
    January 14, 2015 at 8:02 am

    What. This is insane. Mug cakes are one thing, but mug mac and cheese? I’m such a fan! Pinning & will try soon 🙂

    • Reply
      January 14, 2015 at 9:17 am

      I know really — I’d eat everything in a mug if I could 😉

1 2 3 8

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!


Get my tips, tricks & recipes for easy

foolproof baking


logo png