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Microwave Cooking in the Classroom

At a Glance

In this post, we are taking a closer look at microwaves and some of the recipes that become more viable with microwaves. 

Share a few suggestions for basic supplies worth adding to your collection when you have a microwave.

Link our visual recipes as examples and other microwave-based visual recipes.

In the first part of this series, we covered the many ways you can bring cooking and working with recipes into the classroom even if you don’t have special appliances. 

But some special appliances are not uncommon to see at school and can really open up your options when it comes to which recipes are workable in a classroom setting. 

Today we are taking a closer look at microwaves and some of the recipes that become more viable with microwaves, as well as a few suggestions for basic supplies worth adding to your collection when you have a microwave. 

We are linking some of our visual recipes as examples, and there are certainly plenty of other microwave-based recipes out there for those interested in diving in head first. So let’s get started!

“Baked” Goods

One particularly popular genre of microwave recipes are the famous mug brownies and mug cakes. It hardly seems possible that you could get real cake in the microwave but it’s entirely possible with standard cake and/or brownie ingredients! 

Even better, depending on the recipe you can just mix the whole thing in the mug or with at most one additional small bowl. 

We are working on adding more mug dessert recipes to our visual recipe lineup, but one example we currently have up is our Snickerdoodle Cinnamon Cakes

While microwaved foods do tend to have a slightly different texture than foods coming out of the oven, the final product is unmistakably cake! The key with most mug desserts is to make sure you have enough leavening agent to ensure the batter rises as it cooks.

Recommended additional equipment: microwave safe mugs

Mix ‘Em Ups

Mix ‘Em Ups do not always require a microwave. One could put together a fantastic trail mix recipe, for example, without needing to heat anything up. 

But your mix em up options are expanded quite a bit when a microwave is added to the mix! Playing off the trail mix, one great step up is microwaving your own granola, which just needs some heat for the light-binding agents to more easily mix with the loose oats and seeds. 

Alternately, our puppy chow recipe - which let’s be clear is very much meant as a snack for people! - uses chocolate to coat cereal pieces and also stick to powdered sugar on the outside before it sets. 

These types of recipes can be especially great because the microwave’s involvement is fairly limited and the recipes do not constitute a huge number of additional steps.

Recommended additional equipment: sheet tray, parchment paper

Candy as Binding Agent Recipes

In theory, we could slot many of these recipes under the Mix ‘Em Ups category, but we want to emphasize the versatility of melting chocolate and/or candy wafers in particular, as well as slightly less common options like marshmallow. 

Binding agent recipes can closely resemble Mix ‘Em Ups with big chunks of other ingredients as major components such as our bird nest recipe

A similar principle with marshmallow can lead to some fun creative spins on classic recipes like Peep Rice Krispie Treats

But chocolate/melting candy can also be used for decorating or to make decorating easier like with our candy cane dippers or even to hold everything together from the outside as with our cake pops. It’s amazing how many ways melting certain ingredients and letting them cool back down can fundamentally transform ingredients into a special treat! 

We will dig a little deeper into how these possibilities can open up even more when you have both a fridge and a microwave in future posts.

Recommended additional equipment: sheet tray, parchment paper, microwave safe bowl

Starchy Sides

As great as microwaves can be for fun dessert activities, they also have applications for working on recipes that could be used day to day for those who like them! Many starches that don’t seem like they could be cooked in a microwave absolutely can be! 

In addition to the more obvious route of store-bought mixes made for the microwave like in our stuffing mix visual recipe or instant mashed potatoes, some traditional foods are surprisingly conducive to microwaves already such as rice or pancakes

You can even “bake” a potato in the microwave much faster than you can actually bake it! 

We are working on releasing a microwave-baked potato recipe at some point in the near future, but if you are especially interested in getting it sooner than later we would love to hear from you at!

Recommended additional equipment: microwave safe bowl, plastic wrap

Hot Drinks

I’m sure many readers were wondering when exactly hot drinks would come up, and they’re certainly an obvious additional advantage that comes with microwaves.

For students who are interested in a step-by-step process of making their own hot cocoa, we’ve created a visual recipe for that too! 

Drinks can also be a great supplement to other recipes like the candy cane dippers we mentioned above!

Recommended additional equipment: microwave safe mugs, liquid measuring cups

Miscellaneous Meal Options

Finally, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the further versatility of microwaves with some other dishes it can pull off that don’t quite fit into the other categories. 

In addition to steaming rice, microwaves are great for steaming vegetables like green beans, and lots of companies now package their frozen veggies in a way that they can be microwaved right in the bag! 

Other prepackaged items like instant gravy or soup can be done on a stovetop but are just as good microwaved because the crucial component is any type of heat. 

Other meltable components like cheese can contribute to dishes like nachos, or can be a part of a creative quick meal like English Muffin Pizza.


There are so many available options for cooking in the microwave to suit all kinds of different purposes. 

If you are focusing on life skills you may not find you have the time to do many assembly-oriented desserts but the day-to-day cooking components are valuable additions to the classroom. 

Alternately you may see cooking as an occasional fun activity, so you don’t exactly want to spend that time making rice but some Peep Rice Krispie Treats would really hit the spot. 

If you have a microwave in your classroom or were thinking about adding one, we hope we’ve shown how many possibilities are out there and gotten your creative juices flowing. 

If there is a particular visual recipe you’d like to see from us we’d love to hear from you at Otherwise, we’ll be back soon with another post focused on what you can do when you have access to a refrigerator!

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