Things you didn’t know you could cook in a microwave

Reader, get acquainted with your microwave because it is truly one of the coolest, handiest appliances you have in your kitchen. Foods that are normally prepared using lots of pots and pans on the stovetop or in your oven can be cooked much more easily in the microwave. If convenience and time are factors for you when it comes to prepping meals, snacks, and desserts, this oft-overlooked appliance can be a great help. Whether you’re fixing a quick and nourishing dinner, want something snacky to munch on ASAP, or need a sweet indulgence, know that your microwave can bring you one step closer. Now let out a sigh of relief. Read on to discover all the unexpected dishes you can prepare in minutes rather than hours.

Risotto

While risotto is a Northern Italian rice specialty that normally requires lots of stirring and culinary acumen, did you know that you can also whip up a down-and-dirty version in the microwave? The classic preparation of this creamy grain dish calls for 20 minutes or more of near-constant stirring, which can be great for achieving those enviable Michelle Obama arms, but pretty time-consuming, too. On a night when you have the time and patience to hover over a hot stove, traditional risotto can be an incredibly satisfying meal to make. On those other distinctly lazier occasions, you can opt to quickly prep the dish and cook it in the microwave for 15 to 20 minutes while you catch up on your favorite TV shows. I guess this all depends on your mood. Should you go with the shortcut, here are a few excellent microwave risotto recipes to try.

This recipe from Allrecipes wins for its simplicity and ease of preparation. Since the microwave route is by nature imprecise, no need to sweat the deets. Simply let the appliance work its magic.

For dinner that tastes elevated, try this recipe from Food Network. Mushrooms lend the risotto tons of earthy flavor and depth, while the microwave treatment means you only have to stir once.

This recipe from BBC Good Food turns microwave risotto into a nourishing meal you’d be proud to serve and happy to eat. Sweet butternut squash and fragrant sage leaves make all the difference where flavor is concerned.

Chocolate chip cookies

Sure, oven-baked cookies are something to strive for, but what if you live in a place without an oven? Then what? What if you don’t want to heat up your entire apartment with your oven? Get to know your new friend and kitchen assistant, Mister Microwave. Microwave chocolate chip cookies are also prudent because they allow you to easily control your portions. Maybe you really don’t want to have an entire baking sheet of cookies hanging around if you’re trying to not overload on carbs and sugar. Whatever your reasons are, you’ll love how easy and miraculous the whole business of making cookies in the microwave truly is. Place dough in mugs or small ramekins and nuke away. Not sure where to start? Here are three recipes that should remove all doubt and confusion.

This recipe from The Comfort of Cooking renders chocolate chip cookies in a cute little mug in about a minute’s time. Gooey, yummy, and totally delectable, this tender cookie requires a spoon to dig in.

Try this recipe from Dessert Now Dinner Later if you’re jonesing for a chocolate chip cookie and you can’t wait any longer. Ridiculously fluffy and rich, you won’t believe that this scrumptious sweet treat came from the microwave.

This recipe from The Sweetest Kitchen renders a cookie that is chewy but perfectly firm enough to be called a cookie. It also happens to pair extremely well with a scoop of ice cream, if that’s your kind of thing.

Bacon

If you usually save bacon for the weekends because you don’t want to deal with the greasy mess of cooking it on the stove or in the oven, I feel you big time. Sometimes you want crispy pork strips but you don’t want to be confronted with the greasy hassle. The solution is to use your microwave, of course. By cooking the bacon strips on top of a paper-towel-lined microwave-safe plate or tray, you cook and drain the rendered fat from the bacon in one step. No mess, just bacon. That’s one fabulous way to start the day.

Let the folks at The Kitchn give you the play-by-play on how to cook perfect bacon in the microwave. No more mess standing between you and your salty pork.

Peanut brittle

I love gifting peanut brittle almost as much as I enjoy eating this crunchy caramelized treat. What’s not to adore? You can never go wrong with broken pieces of candy that deliver pure sweetness and nutty flavor. By making peanut brittle in the microwave, you cut down on lots of time and cleanup without losing out on the joy eating this treat when your cravings hit mid-afternoon. Even if you don’t normally resort to the microwave to whip up sweets, you’ll discover why the appliance route can rival the stovetop in this particular case. Nuking brittle results in delicious flavor, a light crispy bite, and none of that sticky cavity-causing stickiness. These A-plus recipes show you exactly how peanut brittle bliss can be achieved via the humble and sometimes maligned microwave.

This recipe from King Arthur Flour renders ideal peanut brittle. It wins in terms of taste, texture, flavor, and presentation. Make this and win over everyone.

Lovely Little Kitchen has this great recipe for microwave peanut brittle. You can enjoy crunchy brittle in about 10 minutes from start to finish, which is something I can certainly get on board with.

This recipe from Little Dairy on the Prairie makes a small batch of brittle in the microwave, so no worries about overeating. Built-in portion control? Yes, please. I need the help.

Potatoes

Weeknights are hectic at my place and sometimes I just need to get food on the table ASAP. You probably have some of these nights, too. If you do, you can appreciate the brilliance of a good, perfectly fork-tender baked potato. While this might take forever in the oven, your trusty microwave cuts that time down significantly. You can prepare one potato in the magic appliance in five minutes. Adding more potatoes might add a few extra minutes but not many. Once “baked,” load up. Add your favorite toppings to turn a humble spud into a glorious dinner to fill you up and keep you sated. Here are a few recipes to help you get inspired.

This recipe from Tablespoon is fast and easy with the added bonuses of looking all stunning and tasting like a savory dream meal. Deal me in.

This recipe from Allrecipes turns microwaved potato into the ultimate comfort food. Loaded with cheese and sour cream, this is the kind of dinner meant to warm you from the inside out.

Family Food on the Table’s version of microwave baked potato takes a whole 10 minutes, but it doesn’t disappoint. The potato is rendered light and fluffy, making it perfect for enjoying with just a pat of butter if you want to keep things simple.

Cakes

You no longer need an oven to bake cakes. You guessed it. You can nuke batter in the microwave and be rewarded with tender, moist cake in no time. Whether you’re going for individual cakes cooked in mugs or a whole cake, your microwave can help you achieve your dessert goals with maximum ease. Prepare your favorite batter and transfer to a mug or a cake pan. With smaller portions, you’ll want to heat in intervals to avoid overcooking. A full cake layer may take a few minutes longer. Since the microwave cooks foods rather speedily, your job is to check on the process periodically. Dry cake is no good any way you prepare it. Here are some irresistible recipes to help you get your cake on.

This lovely recipe from BBC Good Food makes one full-sized chocolate cake in less than 10 minutes. There’s even a simple ganache recipe included that can also be prepped in the microwave while your cake cools. Hurray!

Pretty Prudent Home has many recipes for mug cakes cooked in the microwave, but this one has to be one of my faves. This sweet coffee cake is completed by a delectable brown sugar topping, plus it takes five minutes to prep!

If you want moist vanilla cake that’s anything but plain, try this recipe from Table for Two. It smells heavenly and boasts an impeccably tender crumb.

Eggs

Whether you like your eggs poached, scrambled, or in the form of an omelet, you can skip the formal stovetop techniques when time is of the essence. Instead, use the microwave to help you cook eggs just the way you like them. Even if you aren’t pressed for time, microwaved eggs are pretty amazing, so why not? Scrambled eggs in a mug can be had in minutes. Top with cheese and render them next-level good. Skip the trouble of being precise with simmering water, swirling, and timing when you poach eggs in the microwave. Microwave omelet? Yes, it’s possible, too. Here are recipes to get you going on a new eggy adventure.

This one-minute omelet recipe from The Kitchn is as streamlined as you could hope. Even so, the result is absolutely delicious and may just become one of my weekday morning go-tos.

This how-to from Bon Appetit shows you just how to use your microwave to make poaching eggs less intimidating. Get ready to enjoy many more dishes of eggs Benedict in your future.

Add this recipe for scrambled eggs from Incredible Egg to your repertoire for those desperately hectic mornings when you want some protein and have little time.

Chips

Chips are universally appealing as a snack food. Fact. Crispy, light, and so compulsively grabbable by the handful, they’re nearly impossible to resist. Sure, you can buy them at the store, but that requires actually going to the store. Skip the trip when you opt to whip up your own without ever resorting to the deep-fryer or the oven. Slice potatoes as thinly as possible, soak and rinse the slices well, dry them thoroughly, season them as desired, microwave for a few minutes on each side, and repeat. As long as you have potatoes on hand, you will never be in need of chips to snack on again. You’re set for life now, right?

French toast

If you think sweet, rich, gooey, impossibly decadent French toast is just for fancy hipsters who brunch, you’re not totally wrong. That said, you can also wear sweatpants and whip up a mean version just for yourself in a mug or ramekin using the microwave. Think of this dish as bread pudding meets French toast. Cubes of bread are drenched in eggy custard and cooked until just set. Enjoy with copious amounts of good syrup and casually win at life. Not sure how to do it? Here’s some great inspiration.

This recipe from Hungry Girl hits all the right spots with French toast that tastes as amazing as it is healthy and light.

For a simple and adaptable version of microwave French toast, try this recipe from Allrecipes. While it’s pretty perfect as is, you can spice up the custard any way you like and serve with fresh berries for pops of color.

This recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking makes savory French toast that’s cheesy and full of irresistible ham flavor. Mmmm.

Toasted nuts

Need toasted nuts in a pinch? Whether you want to add nutty garnish to a cooked dish or just want a quick and healthy snack, you can toast your nuts using your microwave. Okay, so strictly speaking, they aren’t “toasted,” but they’ll certainly taste as if they were. While the nuts won’t get the same color you would get from traditional methods of toasting, they will taste and smell just as good. Deep earthy flavors combined with toasty fragrance? Yes, please!

This easy-to-follow how-to from Serious Eats lets you in on exactly how you can achieve the effect of toasted nuts with just your microwave.

Now that you have these microwave tricks in your back pocket, I’m sure you’re anxious to get started on experimenting with faster, more convenient cooking. While there are plenty of times when slaving away in the kitchen can be fun and joyous, the busy periods in life can no doubt be mitigated by enlisting the help of the microwave. There’s no shame in utilizing modern innovations in creative ways.