5 microwave meals that didn’t come from the freezer aisle

May 2, 2019, 02:03 AM

They’re a staple in most households, one that you might not give much thought to: the microwave oven. They’re used mainly for heating up leftovers, defrosting meat, cooking frozen veg or for warming up ready-made meals. But the humble microwave, one of the most energy efficient appliances in your kitchen, could be used for so much more. Why not have a go at our favourite microwave recipes for solo treats and full family meals perfect for the chilly weather.

Bacon and eggs

Too cold and wet to head out for brunch? We’ve got you covered with this cafe staple that will take 10 minutes to get from fridge to table - no frying pan required.

Perfect crispy bacon


  1. Place 6-8 rashers of bacon in a single layer between two sheets of kitchen paper on a microwave-safe plate
  2. Microwave on high for 4 minutes
  3. Continue to cook bacon for 30-seconds at a time till it reaches your desired crispness   

Scrambled eggs

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the milk, salt and pepper
  2. Microwave the mixture on high for 30-45 seconds
  3. Remove eggs from microwave, beat again and return to microwave for a further 30 seconds
  4. Repeat this process till the eggs look almost done
  5. Remove eggs from microwave, leave them to set for a further 30 seconds, and serve with crispy bacon

Pumpkin soup

It has to be said: there’s nothing like a warming bowl of sweet and savoury pumpkin soup on a cold night. But forget having your oven on for hours or standing over a boiling pot cooking pumpkin in batches. Using your microwave will have dinner on the table in a fraction of the time.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Single cream (optional)
  • Paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground chilli (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, onion and butter, cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes
  2. Add stock, cover and cook on high for a further 25 minutes
  3. Using a stick blender or food processor, puree the mixture
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  5. If desired, drizzle cream and sprinkle spice

Spaghetti Bolognese

It’s the hearty family favourite that’s long been used for hiding veggies and using up pantry ingredients and leftovers. Here’s our microwave-friendly version of spag bol: it’ll feed a hungry family in a hurry!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 350g beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 30ml tomato puree
  • 60ml beef stock
  • 1-2 tsp dried herbs like basil, thyme or oregano (optional)
  • 350g uncooked spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 60ml boiling water



  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine and mix the onion, garlic, carrot and mince, breaking the mince up with a fork as you stir
  2. Cover the bowl with a lid or cling wrap, leaving a gap, and microwave on high for 3 minutes
  3. Remove the bowl, stir the mixture thoroughly, repeat step 2 and give the whole thing another stir
  4. Mix in the tomatoes, puree, stock and herbs
  5. Cover with cling wrap again, leaving a gap, return to the microwave and cook on high for 7-10 minutes
  6. Remove the bowl from the microwave, stir the mixture thoroughly, and cook on high for another 7-10 minutes, stirring the mixture halfway


  1. Break spaghetti into thirds and place in a separate microwaveable bowl
  2. Add oil, and mix well to coat spaghetti
  3. Cover spaghetti with boiling water and cook on full power for four minutes
  4. Remove spaghetti the bowl and stir thoroughly
  5. Cover and return to microwave. Cook on high for a further four minutes.
  6. Remove and let stand for two minutes. Use this time to reheat Bolognese sauce if needed
  7. Test pasta. If it’s not al dente (slightly firm), return to microwave for a couple of minutes
  8. Drain and serve with Bolognese sauce

Veggie biryani

Leave that butter chicken or rogan josh in the freezer aisle, and whip up a fresh biryani instead. With a microwave, it’s much easier than it sounds, and you’ve probably got all the spices to hand already.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 litre veggie stock
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom or three cardamom pods
  • ½ tsp cumin, ground or seeds
  • 2 cloves, or a pinch ground
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp chilli, flakes or ground
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 400g mixed vegetables, diced
  • Salt


  1. Wash the rice thoroughly and leave it to soak in just enough water to cover for 30 minutes
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the oil, onion, garlic, cardamom, cumin, cloves, bay leaf, chilli and a pinch of salt and microwave on high for 1-1½ minutes. If you don’t get the lovely aroma of toasted spices when you open your oven, heat the mixture for a further 30 seconds
  3. Remove bowl and add the rice, stock, cinnamon and turmeric and stir well
  4. Cover the bowl with cling wrap, return to the microwave and heat on high for 2-3 minutes
  5. Remove bowl from the microwave and stir the mixture
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 a few times until the rice is almost cooked
  7. Add the vegetables and salt to taste, stir through, cover and cook for a final 2-3 minutes
  8. Leave biryani to stand for 2 minutes before serving, garnishing with cashew nuts and chopper coriander leaves

Chocolate mug cake

A warm, rich dessert, a short list of ingredients and ready to eat in minutes? Yes please! Here’s a simple version you can make in a jiffy, but you can branch out with stewed fruit, spices, caramel and so much more if you have the time.

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 4 tbsp self-raising flour
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips


  1. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa and salt in a large mug and mix well
  2. Using a fork, beat the egg into the dry mixture
  3. Add the milk and vegetable oil and mix well
  4. Stir chocolate chips through the mixture
  5. Put the mug in the microwave and cook uncovered on high for 1½-2 minutes, or until the cake is risen and firm
  6. Serve warm

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