Cooking Corner: Microwave pesto macaroni and cheese

Graphic by Hallie Gallinat

Cooking in college can be a hassle. If you live in a dorm, you have to go to the front desk and ask to borrow pots and pans or ask one of your neighbors for theirs. Then you have to go to the community kitchen, which everyone is always using to make something, so you might not even be able to cook when you want to. All of this can make cooking frustrating and not worth the hassle. But, if you’re lucky enough to have access to a microwave and a microwave-safe bowl, then you are in luck. 

Two of my favorite things are cheese and pesto, so what can be better than making pesto macaroni and cheese? Making macaroni and cheese from scratch takes way too long for a busy college student and personally, those microwavable macaroni cups just aren’t satisfying. So that is why I am going to give you a quick and easy recipe for microwave macaroni that’s better than those cups. 


  • Elbow Macaroni
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Milk
  • Pesto 


  • Cream Cheese
  • Any topping you like with macaroni and cheese like broccoli, chicken, bacon, onions or even hot sauce!


Fortunately, not much preparation is needed for this recipe. Just make sure to soften the cream cheese before adding it into the mix if you choose to use it. I would take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator as you start to cook the pasta.


  1. Measure out ½ cup of elbow macaroni and add it to a large microwave-safe bowl filled with ¾ cup of water. Make sure the bowl is deep enough so that the water does not spill over when cooking. 
  2. Microwave on high for four minutes. Depending on the power of your microwave, you may need to cook it a little bit longer. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, or until you like.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, strain the water out of the bowl. 
  4. Now it’s time to add the milk and cheese. Add ½ cup of shredded cheese to the pasta. I personally like to use white cheddar cheese but really any cheese will do. Next, you can add the ¼ cup of milk; I use 2%. Stir until the cheese is melted completely.
    1. Optional: If you like your macaroni and cheese really creamy, this is where you can add in a little bit of cream cheese. Add in one tablespoon. 
  5. After the cheese is melted, it’s time to add in the pesto and salt. Mix in one tablespoon of pesto and a ⅛ teaspoon of salt and whatever you see fit for pepper, then stir.
  6. Now you’re ready to pour it into a bowl and eat! If you are feeling adventurous, you can add some hot sauce, chicken, bacon, onions or anything else you’re feeling to give it some more flavor. 


That’s it; you are all set to make this quick and yummy macaroni and cheese. This recipe is meant to be easy, quick and adaptable. The great thing about microwave macaroni and cheese is that you can make it taste differently each time you have it. By adding different toppings and cheeses, you can have a macaroni and cheese dish tailored to your liking.

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