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.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    5 stars
    AMAZING it was so GOOD

  • Reply
    February 2, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    5 stars
    love this recipe

  • Reply
    Karen henderson
    December 30, 2019 at 11:14 am

    sadly it did not work. tryed 3 times, nothing.

    • Reply
      December 30, 2019 at 11:36 am

      It sounds like something might be up with your microwave Karen, do you know the wattage?

  • Reply
    Lynn Kendall
    January 24, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Hi. We just tried this and the noodles don’t seem to be cooked. Any suggestions? The flavor is great and the kids love this but noodles need to be a bit more tender.

    • Reply
      January 24, 2019 at 10:29 am

      Did you use the small elbow noodles, Lynn? As long as your pasta is small, and you have enough liquid, they should cook. If you find your noodles are too firm you might try cooking them for a little longer, in a little more water, first, before continuing.

  • Reply
    Mickey Smith
    December 28, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    Use a clear glass cup so the cup doesn’t get hot, works a lot better. For anything in the m.w.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Its taking a long time to cook. Had to add more water.

    • Reply
      November 7, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Possible problems could be your microwave is a lower wattage? Or maybe your pasta is either a different size than mine was? Sometimes it’s a matter of getting the formula down for your oven and the pasta you like.

  • Reply
    August 5, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Tried this recipe last night and it was really good! One thing I would recommend is putting a bit of butter with the cheese and milk.

    • Reply
      August 5, 2018 at 9:35 am

      Thanks Kat, I think that sounds like a good idea.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    This was a great recipe and idea! However, I am not one to follow instructions so I just put in some pasta, added enough water to cover the pasta, boiled it until it was al dente and then microwaved some cheese and milk in the same mug. Everything still worked out great so really, you don’t need exact measurements

    • Reply
      April 30, 2018 at 8:02 pm

      Great discovery Dasha!

  • Reply
    Rebecca Rowe
    March 3, 2018 at 3:32 am

    I’m going to try it now by using Chopped up Bacon pieces. Hell yeah. First time doing mug recipes but can’t resist.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Can you please tell me what you mean by a “scant”????

    • Reply
      January 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm

      Just slightly under, Diane. The main message is that you don’t want too much, with a recipe this small, even little increments make a difference.

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