The microwave is often relegated to being the simple heater of leftovers, but it’s good for so much more. No, we’re not going to say it’s also a cancer-causing death trap — there’s no convincing evidence that microwave ovens release enough radiation to harm human beings.
In fact, microwave ovens have been taking undeserved criticism for way too long: They’re called ovens for a reason, and they can create meals equal to anything from a standard oven.
Skeptical? We’ve put together a list of absolutely delicious meals — breakfast, snacks, dinner, and dessert — that will quickly make you forget all the disappointing, soggy pizza and rubbery leftover meat of the past.
1. Strawberry microwave breakfast bowl
Buckwheat groats there are a terrific source of complete protein and a great substitute for plain old oatmeal. This gluten-free breakfast combines oats, flax meal, and applesauce with fiber-rich buckwheat for a delicious and healthful dish.
2. Crispy microwave bacon
This method doesn’t use paper towels. The secret to crispy bacon is heating the slices on top of an overturned bowl on a saucer so the rendered fat drips down the sides of the bowl. Bye, bye, soggy bacon.
3. 10-minute cheesy vegetable quiche with cauliflower crust
Instead of a pastry crust, this version uses cauliflower (which also makes an awesome pizza crust). This might just be your new favorite on-the-go breakfast!
4. Miracle microwave poached eggs
Ah, poached eggs. We love them, but we’d never make them at home. The traditional method requires boiling water, using just enough salt and vinegar, keeping the water swirling at the right speed, and cracking the egg the right way.
It’s easy to screw up. But the trusty microwave can change all that: All you need is a microwave-safe bowl, hot water, and a little salt and vinegar (and an egg, of course). A short zap later, you’ll have the perfect topper for any healthier breakfast sandwich.
5. Cinnamon-maple breakfast quinoa
This healthy breakfast imbues quinoa with a creamy, cinnamony quality, delivering a protein-packed, high-fiber breakfast that tastes like a pancake in a bowl.
6. Microwaved scrambled eggs
Crack a couple of eggs into a bowl, scramble with a fork, and microwave in 30-second increments until cooked through, stirring each time, until they’re just the way you like ’em. Ta-da — you’ve got scrambled eggs!
We love to serve salsa on the side.
7. Microwave sweet potato chips
A mandoline (no, not the musical instrument, the slicer) is the key to getting super-thin chips to crisp up in the microwave. Topped with rosemary and sea salt, these look totally pro. And they’re a great excuse to whip up some healthy dips.
8. Microwave potato chips
Few people would put “crispy” and “microwave” in the same sentence, but crispy nuked potato chips are A Thing, and they use far less oil than a package of Lay’s. These are surprisingly simple to make, and they’ll continue to crisp as they cool.
9. Toasted nuts
Toasting nuts releases their oils, giving them that oh-so-fragrant scent. But heating up the whole oven for a pan of nuts isn’t necessary.
Microwaving nuts won’t give them the same dark color as using the oven, but it will give them a crunch and taste nearly identical to traditionally oven-toasted nuts.
10. Amazing homemade microwave popcorn
You don’t need to spend entire dollars on store-bought microwave popcorn. It’s easy, and a lot cheaper, to DIY. Movie night, here we come!
11. Microwave pickles
This recipe blows our minds. Pickles in minutes? We thought they had to cure for months. This blogger throws her pickling spices in a bowl with vinegar, sugar, cucumbers, and onion and microwaves for about 8 minutes.
And they’re ready for eating. Nothing sour about that.
12. Banana bread in a mug
Single-serve meals to the rescue. Quick breads, like banana or zucchini, can be made quickly in a microwave. Simply pour the ingredients into the mug, stir, and microwave for a couple of minutes, and you’ve got a no-mess afternoon snack for one.
13. Frothed milk
Cafe-quality cappuccinos have been at our fingertips this whole time, and we didn’t even know it — until now.
All you need is a jar, a microwave, and some milk. Shake up the milk, heat for a few seconds, and you’re ready to practice your latte art. Cinnamon optional!
14. Toasted coconut
Whether you use it to top a dessert or nosh on it plain (we won’t tell), toasting coconut has never been so easy. Simply microwaving for 30-second bursts and stirring regularly results in picture-perfect toasted coconut in less than 10 minutes.
15. 90-second English muffin
Whether you’re eating gluten-free, avoiding grains, or just love almond flour (this recipe calls it almond meal), these yeast-free English muffins are a terrific addition to a healthy breakfast. Paleo McMuffins, anyone?
16. Flaky microwaved salmon
This dish really nails the message that the microwave is an oven and can make dishes so healthy, tasty, and fast that you’ll wish you’d taken advantage sooner.
The Sriracha mayonnaise adds a lot to this meal, but we recommend swapping the mayo for some protein-rich Greek yogurt.
17. Corn on the cob
The trick to making really simple corn on the cob is to leave the husks on — there’s no need for stripping, soaking, wrapping, or even a plate.
After a few minutes, the corn is perfectly cooked and the husk and silk will slip off easily. Just remember to let the corn on the cob cool for a minute — the husks can be steaming hot.
18. Steamed broccoli with lemon and garlic
No need for a steamer here. All you need is a microwave-safe bowl with a cover. Don’t be shy — it turns out that cooking vegetables in the microwave may help them retain their nutrients because of the shorter cooking time.
19. One-bowl mac and cheese
No more boxed macaroni with that mysterious orange “cheese” powder. This version is about as wholesome as mac and cheese gets and nearly as easy.
You’ll need only water, macaroni, and your favorite blend of cheeses — but we suggest adding a few broccoli florets or a handful of spinach. And some black pepper. Yum.
20. Meatloaf in a mug
Feel free to swap out the onion soup mix in this recipe for any kind of seasoning mix (or your own blend) and watch this meal come to life. Just be sure to serve it with a salad — or mix in shredded carrot and spinach for an extra dose of veggies!
21. Chicken fajitas
Super easy, fast, and delicious, this Tex-Mex favorite can be a good source of vegetables. Made with a simple mixture of onions, peppers, and chicken, it can be enjoyed on its own or wrapped in tortillas with cheese (and a dollop of Greek yogurt).
22. 5-minute vegetarian burrito bowl
This quick burrito bowl is a useful “clean out your pantry” recipe. It may not be Chipotle (and that’s why you’re saving money), but this is a hearty meal for a quick dinner or lunch on the go.
23. Microwave mushroom risotto
Wine, broth, cheese, and lots of mushrooms come together to create this simple Italian-inspired risotto that can take on extra vegetables. We like to add sautéed spinach, but the possibilities are endless.
24. Microwave potato soup in a mug
Quick soups don’t always have to come in a can or packet. This easy potato soup is made completely in the microwave and topped with bacon, cheese, and sour cream.
Use a large mug since the water in the soup will bubble up as it cooks.
25. Microwave “roasted” garlic
This garlic winds up more steamed than roasted, since the microwave is basically steaming it. The flavor isn’t quite as mellow, but it cooks super quickly, and the flavor is so delicious that the difference is barely noticeable.
Remember to keep the microwave at 50 percent power for this recipe.
26. South Indian eggplant curry
Eggplant is delish, but roasting it takes forever and sautéing can require more oil than we want to consume. Fret no more — it turns out the humble microwave can cook it in about 15 minutes.
This recipe mixes in spices, chickpeas, coconut, and cilantro for an Indian-inspired dish.
27. Coffee cup chilaquiles
Made from tortilla chips, salsa, cheese, and egg, this quick Mexican-inspired meal is so easy that it’s likely to become a late-night staple. It’s a good thing only one serving can be made at a time — we could wolf down three!
Add some leftover shredded chicken or beef for extra protein.
28. Chocolate chip pecan mug cake
In less than 5 minutes, you can have healthy (sub in a different flour to make it gluten-free) cake in your belly — and with this single-serving recipe, there’s no chance of overeating.
This version uses chocolate chips and pecans, but you can swap in your favorite nuts or toppings.
29. Oatmeal cookie dough mug cake
Coconut flour is the magic ingredient in this delectable single-serve dish. The gluten-free recipe also kicks butter and oil to the curb, which makes it an even healthier 5-minute snack.
30. Spiced pumpkin molten mug cake
Delivering plenty of fiber and pumpkin flavor, this gooey molten cake will be your new favorite dessert. Try using buckwheat flour to boost the protein and other nutrients.
31. Chocolate mochi mug cake
Mochi is a simple Japanese cake made from a mixture of glutinous rice flour (waaay more delicious than it sounds). This recipe adds cocoa powder and milk for a chocolaty twist on this traditional treat.
32. Minute microwave cheesecake
Cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, egg, and a sweetener of your choice all come together to make this astonishingly simple, delicious, and low-carb dessert. Top with plenty of fresh berries, and you won’t need extra sweetener.
33. Coffee cake mug cake
This bad boy is just the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cup of joe, and there’s no risk of downing half a loaf before dinnertime. Plus, it’s cooked in the same dish you eat it from — fewer dishes for the win.
34. Skinny single-serve microwave brownie
A healthier chocolate treat that can be made in a microwave sounds impossible… until you put it in your mouth. This sugar-free, butter-free concoction will be appreciated by those who like their chocolate dark.