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How to cook pasta in the microwave

Put some ping into perfect pasta!

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Cooking pasta on the stove can be messy. If it’s not pasta sticking to your saucepan and burning then it’s spills on the hob. And not to mention washing the pan after. So, if you're looking for an easier way, cooking pasta in the microwave might just be the perfect hack. And it’s much quicker too.

With minimal eqipment and the right technique, you can enjoy perfectly cooked pasta. We'll explain everything you need to know about cooking pasta in the microwave, and provide you with tips and tricks to ensure that your pasta always turns out just right.

Why cook pasta in the microwave?

It’s not just about hassle, cooking pasta in the microwave is a great option if you're short on time, don’t have a hob or simply want to avoid heating up the kitchen. Microwaving your pasta also has the added benefit of being more energy-efficient than boiling water on a stovetop. And because microwaving pasta requires less water than boiling, you can save on energy bills.

Equipment and ingredients needed

The good news is that there’s no extensive shopping list. To cook pasta in the microwave, all you need is:

  • Microwave-safe bowl

  • Water

  • Salt

  • Pasta of your choice

When picking a bowl, make sure that it’s large enough to hold both the pasta and water, with room for the pasta to expand as it cooks. And make sure the bowl is microwave-safe. It’s not just about potential breakages, but anyone who’s put a ceramic bowl into the microwave will know how hot it can get…even as what you’re heating up stays cold!

Here’s more handy help about what can and can’t go in a microwave.

Step-by-step guide to microwave pasta cooking

  1. Start by adding pasta to the microwave-safe bowl. 60g of dry pasta per person is about right.

  2. Next, pour enough water over the pasta to cover it completely (with a little extra for evaporation).

  3. Add a pinch of salt to the water and give it a quick stir.

  4. Cover the bowl of pasta and water with a microwave-safe lid or plate, leaving a small vent for steam to escape.

  5. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook on high power for 8-12 minutes, depending on the type and amount of pasta. (see next section for more info on cooking times)

  6. Once the pasta is cooked, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave using oven mitts or a dish towel, as it will be hot!

  7. Drain any remaining water from the pasta and serve immediately.

Choosing the right pasta

While you can technically microwave any kind of pasta, some types work better than others. Thin spaghetti, macaroni, and elbow pasta tend to cook well in the microwave, while larger shapes like penne or lasagna sheets can be more difficult to cook evenly and might take longer. When selecting your pasta, keep in mind that the cooking times may vary based on the shape and thickness of the noodles.

Microwave cooking times and adjustments

As mentioned earlier, the cooking time for your pasta will vary based on the type and amount of pasta you're cooking. To determine the appropriate cooking time:

  • Start by microwaving your pasta on high power for 8 minutes.

  • After 8 minutes, remove the bowl from the microwave, stir the pasta well and check its texture.

  • If your pasta is still too tough for your liking, continue cooking in 1-minute increments, checking the texture after each minute until it is cooked the way you like it.

It's important to check on your pasta frequently, as overcooking it can result in dry or rubbery noodles. Additionally, if you're cooking a larger amount of pasta, it’s good to give it a stir so it doesn’t clump together.

Tips to prevent dry or soggy pasta:

  • Use enough water to fully cover the pasta. If in doubt, go for more water than you need - but don’t overfill the bowl.

  • Don't overcook your pasta – check it frequently and stop cooking just before it gets to where you want it. Pasta keeps cooking even after it’s left the microwave - especially if you’re adding it to hot sauce. If you’re not going to use it straight away, dump it into cold water to stop the cooking process.

  • Avoid adding oil to the water. Sometimes this can burn the pasta if it’s sticking out of the water or can result in greasy noodles.

  • After cooking, drain any excess water from the pasta to prevent it from getting soggy.

Reheating pasta in the microwave

If you have leftover pasta that you want to reheat, the microwave is perfect. To avoid ending up with dry, overcooked pasta:

  • Start by adding a splash of water or tomato sauce to the pasta to add moisture.

  • Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plate.

  • Microwave on high power for 1-2 minutes or until the pasta is heated through.

With these tips and tricks, you’ll become a master microwaver. Whether you prefer spaghetti, macaroni, or another pasta shape, microwave’s are convenient and efficient. Some of the best microwaves come with eramic enamel interior, which catch grease and make cleaning a breeze.

What to read next…

Feeling inspired to see what else your microwave can whip up? Here’s How to cook rice in the microwave and How to microwave a baked potato. And if you love a good brunch, you could even try How to cook eggs in the microwave.

And if you’re looking to upgrade to a newer micorwave with all kinds of cooking programs, we’ve got a whole Microwave Buying Guide.

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