Pasta in a Mug

4.94 from 131 votes

Pasta in a Mug is the quickest way to cook pasta in a microwave in minutes with little clean up. It's an easy single serve mac n cheese meal kids will love!

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Pasta in a mug is the perfect quick recipe if you just want a meal for one. It’s a great option for kids and students, or if you are short on time and looking for a fuss-free dinner. Making this microwave mac n cheese takes only 5 minutes of total cooking time and comes out delicious!

Mac N' Cheese Microwaved in mug

This pasta is a mug is brilliant because what you cook it in is what you eat it in! It’s just perfect if you’re cooking for yourself only or for one kid because all the ingredients go in a mug, you microwave it and you’ve got dinner instantly with little to clean-up!


How to make pasta in a mug

  1. Place equal parts elbow macaroni and water in a large wide mug.
  2. Cook for 4 minutes total, stopping the microwave every minute to let the water settle and to stir until the water is fully absorbed and the pasta is fully cooked. It will look al dente.
  3. Add the milk and cheese and microwave for one more minute.
  4. When the milk is absorbed and the cheese is melted, it’s your cue that it’s ready. Stir one more time to incorporate the cheese and milk into the pasta.
Step by step photos to show how to make microwave pasta

It’s tempting to dig in right away. But definitely allow a couple minutes for your instant mug pasta to cool before enjoying. It will be piping hot!

What the pasta looks like when it's finished cooking in the micowave

Tips for making microwave pasta

  1. Make the pasta in a large wide mug that has about 2-cup capacity. The wider and deeper the mug is, the less likely it will overflow when you cook in the microwave.
  2. Use pre-packaged finely shredded cheese. This might be the only time I recommend store-bought shredded cheese over shredding it yourself. But that’s because it has a thickening agent that helps to create the best sauce that’s not runny. If you prefer to use your own grated cheese, add a pinch of cornstarch to help thicken the sauce.
  3. Stir the pasta in increments while it’s cooking with the water. This will help avoid clumpy pasta and make sure that all the pasta is evenly cooked
  4. Be careful when handling the microwave pasta. 5 minutes total time is a long time to cook something in the microwave. Allow time to let the pasta cool and know that the mug will get pretty hot.

Frequently asked questions

Can you make pasta in a mug ahead of time?

I prefer to eat this pasta right as it’s made a it take no time at all, but if you prefer you can make it ahead of time. Let the pasta cool to room temperature, cover and place it the fridge. It will keep well for around 3 days. You then simply need to reheat it in the microwave before eating.

Can you make other pasta dishes in the microwave in a mug?

Yes, this technique can be applied to any of your favorite pasta dishes really. In the video below, I show how I make lasagna in a mug as well. With any pasta recipe, just cook the pasta first with the water, then add any sauce, cheese, herbs and toppings.

How long should you microwave pasta?

It’s best to microwave the pasta in increments so that it doesn’t burn or is undercooked. The macaroni noodles will take around 4 minutes. It’s the quickest way to cook pasta for sure!

Pasta in a mug - cooked in the microwave

I can’t get over how quick, easy and delicious this mac n cheese in the microwave is! While it’s not a regular thing we always make, it’s pretty handy quick option for weekend lunches when we’re in a hurry to and from activities.

For more pasta recipes:

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Pasta in a Mug recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

This Pasta in a Mug recipe was originally published on February 5, 2018. I’m updating the recipe post to include more step-by-step photos. Here’s the original photo!

Instant pasta in a mug - mac and cheese

Pasta in a Mug

Pasta in a Mug is the quickest way to cook pasta in a microwave in minutes with little clean up. It's an easy single serve mac n cheese meal kids will love!
4.9 from 131 votes
Servings 1 serving
Course Entree
Calories 380
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 7 mins


  • cup elbow macaroni pasta uncooked
  • pinch salt
  • cup water
  • cup whole or 2% milk
  • ½ cup finely shredded cheese pre-packaged


  • Combine the macaroni, salt and water in a large wide mug (about 2-cup capacity) and microwave for 4 minutes total, stopping every minute to stir the pasta and allow the boiling water to settle.
  • Check to make sure all the water is absorbed and add up to 30 more seconds of cooking time, if necessary. When the water is all absorbed, add the milk and cheese, and return to the microwave for 1 more minute.
  • Stir the mixture to combine the milk and cheese with the cooked pasta, and allow the pasta to cool for a couple minutes before enjoying.



Storage: Store any leftovers in in the mug covered with plastic wrap in the fridge. It will last about 3 days in the fridge, although it is best consumed immediately. Add a splash of water or milk when reheating.


Serving: 1g, Calories: 380kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 51mg, Sodium: 395mg, Potassium: 257mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 459IU, Calcium: 377mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Pasta in a mug - cooked in the microwave

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Recipe Rating


  1. I followed the directions exactly (the only thing was I didn’t add the salt) and it didn’t work. I’ve cooked pasta noodles in the microwave before and the pasta itself cooked right in this recipe. However, where it went wrong was the cheese sauce. I made sure all the water was absorbed and added the milk and cheese (store bought shredded cheese) and it would not combine for anything. The cheese just stuck in a clump to the fork and overtime, the milk was just completely sucked up by the pasta. I tried to reheat it 3 times and it stayed the same. In fact, the cheese became gummy and slippery, eww. The only way I was able to save it was by making cheese sauce the right way (flour, butter, milk and cheese) and mixing it together so you couldn’t tell as much. The only thing I can think is that maybe the cheese was the wrong kind? Maybe if you used a cheese that melts easier, like american slices, it would help? I wouldn’t have much hope for it though.
    I’ve made cheese sauce in the microwave before with way more success (look up microwave mac and cheese sauce). It’s better to just make a lot of cheese sauce ahead of time and use that for a small amount of noodles. Then, you can store the rest of the sauce in a jar for later. Do not recommend this recipe, sorry.

    1. Thank you for your feedback! I recommend using pre-packaged finely shredded cheese because it has a thickening agent that helps to create the best sauce that’s not runny.

      1. That is the exact type of cheese I used (Kirkland Monterey Jack to be exact), but it still didn’t work. It wasn’t runny, it just refused to blend and became one giant, slimy cheese blob.

  2. Amazing!!!! I used vegan cheese shreds and vegan milk, and aside from needing a few extra minutes in the microwave it went smoothly and turned out delicious!!! This is the only way I’ll be making Mac and cheese from now on bc as a single girl, most recipes make way too much for just me! Would love to see more microwave pasta recipes!

  3. Why use plastic wrap? You can put any sort of reuseable lid on it and that’s better than tossing out plastic wrap!!

    1. It’s likely it was not finished cooking because, when the cheese is melted, it’s your cue that it’s ready! It may have also been the cheese used – I find that store-bought shredded cheese is the best for this recipe.

  4. Loved it! I’ve never really cooked that way in the microwave! I was so excited it worked lol!! 🙌🏽 thank you!

    1. I bought this at Anthropologie, but you can make it in any large mug, it doesn’t have to be that wide 🙂

      1. I sincerely feel that the person who invented this recipe should go straight to the deepest, hottest circle of hell. First of all, everyone knows this is a sad person meal. Nobody who has their shit together is making macaroni and cheese in a mug. This microwavable mug mac and cheese was my last sliver of a chance at hope for some form of happiness in this cruel, cruel world. I really thought “if I can just have a single serving of mac and cheese, maybe everything will be okay”. Boy was I wrong. I slaved to gather my 5 simple ingredients together, trudging through my kitchen, bogged down and made heavy from the weight of life and reality. I even decided to be a little “out there” and add some garlic and chives, because what the hell, let’s be wild. After boiling my mug full of noodles and salted water as directed, I felt hopeful. The noodles had absorbed the liquid, and it was time for the next step: adding the milk and cheese. This was the beginning of the end. The noodles refused to drink up the new liquid, like an insubordinate child refusing cough syrup. I repeatedly stirred, reheated, stirred, and reheated to no avail. After all of the effort I could muster, I am left with a sad coffee cup full of squishy noodles, watery milk broth, lots of wasted cheddar cheese, and despair. My glimmer of happiness that was created when I found these directions for mug macaroni and cheese was quickly dashed away at the realization that I am a total failure. Something I have in common with this recipe.

        Okay yeah, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but I’ve had an awful week. Recipe has potential, but put way less liquid than is called for. Should be fine.

        Edit…. As I was writing this review, I left my mug of pasta out to sit on the counter. Turns out that was all it needed. Well now this is awkward 😅… Great recipe! Thanks so much!

  5. I doubled the recipe and added salt to the water and a little butter to the milk. Had to cook th noodles longer but it turned out delicious