How to Microwave Boxed Mac and Cheese

//cookanyday.com/cdn/shop/files/Anyday_Photos_Basics_BoxMacandCheese_Hero_360x.webp?v=1720039016 Boxed Mac and Cheese cooked and served in the glass Anyday dish, featuring creamy and cheesy pasta prepared quickly without the need to pre-boil the water.
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Prep Time

1 min

Cook Time

10-11 mins

Free Time

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Say goodbye to washing extra dishes and long cooking times with these microwave instructions for boxed mac and cheese! You’ll need the same ingredients as listed on the package but with more efficient water ratios for easy straining. Just add the water and pasta, cook in the microwave, stir in the flavor packet, and you're done. The sauce will thicken as the noodles cool to room temperature.

Looking to feed a crowd? Make up to 3 packages of mac and cheese in our Extra Large Dish. If you have any leftovers (we know that’s an unlikely scenario), portion and freeze them for quick meals using our Anytime Freezer Trays.

All of Anyday’s recipes are tested (and retested!) in many different microwave and home kitchens to make sure they work—, and work well. Unless specified otherwise, all recipes should be cooked at full power.

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What You’ll Need

What You’ll Need

The Large Deep Dish

Perfect for big batches of rice, one-pot meals, veggies, mashed potatoes, soups, and more.

The Anyhand Mitts

Handle hot Anyday dishes with care with these microwave mitts that double as trivets!
Try Anyday

Select your serving size and microwave wattage in the dropdown. The recipe will change accordingly.

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Select your microwave wattage in the dropdown. The cook times in this recipe will automatically change accordingly.

[[video-wattage]]

To find your microwave’s wattage, look at the front panel, the side of the door, in the back, in the user manual, or Google the model number. If both an input and output wattage are listed, use the output.

Wattage translates to how powerful the microwave is. The higher the wattage, the faster your food will cook. The lower the wattage, the longer the cook time.

When in doubt, start with less time — you can always add more.

Microwave oven by power - 700w
700w

Recommended 

Dish

The Large Deep Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 6oz (170g) box mac and cheese, such as Kraft, Annie’s or Goodles
  • 2 cups (480ml) water

Preparation

  1. Add the box of noodles and the specified amount of water to an Anyday Deep dish and stir to combine.
  2. Cook uncovered in the microwave for 10-11 minutes, or until the noodles are tender.
  3. Stir the cooked noodles to separate them, then strain any excess water if needed. The noodles may be slightly clumped together, but they will separate as you stir the sauce together.
  4. Add the milk, butter, and cheese as indicated on the back of the box, and mix until creamy. The sauce will thicken as the dish cools down.

Serving suggestions & tips

  • Extra cheese: Add a few slices of American cheese to the cooked noodles for extra silkiness.
  • Veggie Deluxe: Add some broccoli florets, peas, cauliflower, or asparagus in the last 3 minutes of cooking time for a fiber-packed dish.
  • Sour cream and chives: If you’re feeling fancy, try adding some sour cream and chopped chives after cooking for a creamy, elevated dish. Top with crushed sour cream and onion chips for extra crunch!
  • Spicy bacon: Add some cooked chopped bacon and hot sauce to the finished dish for extra flavor.

Recipe notes

  • If you want to prevent noodles from sticking, add 1 teaspoon of butter or oil to the cooking step and then proceed as indicated.
  • Use your favorite brand! This method works with the most popular boxed mac and cheese.
  • Microwave ovens vary, even with the same wattages. Adjust cooking times as needed.

Microwave Match Up: Boxed Mac and Cheese

See for yourself— microwaving boxed mac and cheese is simply faster, start to finish. *Includes boiling time

Appliance Cook Time
Microwave in an Anyday dish 10 mins
Stovetop* 15-20 mins
Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker)* 15-20 mins
*Includes boiling time

All You Need to Know About Microwaving Boxed Mac and Cheese

Can I cook boxed mac and cheese in the microwave?

Ingredient Water Cook Time
1 box mac and cheese 2 cups (480ml) water 10-11 mins
2 boxes mac and cheese 4 cups (950ml) water 13-14 mins
3 boxes mac and cheese 6 cups (1400ml) water 19-20 mins
Cook time calculated for 700w microwave

Absolutely! Cooking mac and cheese in an Anyday dish, using the microwave is a great idea. You don’t need to wait for the water to boil, and you rarely need to strain. In the time it usually takes to boil water on the stove, you can have the entire dish ready to eat. It’s quick, easy, and convenient!

How long does it take to cook boxed mac and cheese in the microwave?

When cooking boxed mac and cheese in the microwave, cook times can vary. Generally, you can follow the directions on the back of the package for one box. There are just a few things to consider: how many boxes you are cooking, the wattage of your microwave and how you like your noodles all make a difference. For best results, start with the lower end of the recommended cooking time and add more if needed.

Why do I have to cook the boxed mac and cheese uncovered?

Even on the stovetop, boxed mac and cheese is typically cooked without a cover to prevent the starchy water from overflowing. This is a common issue with starchy foods, which is why we rarely recommend microwaving pasta with the lid on. Cooking it uncovered allows for better moisture evaporation, minimizing the risk of spills. The lid works great if you have leftovers to store, but you won’t need it during the cooking process.

Can I cook different brands of boxed mac and cheese in the microwave?

Absolutely, many brands of mac and cheese are microwave-friendly and even list the instructions on the back of the box. While cooking times may vary per package instructions (usually determined by the size/shape of the noodle), the microwave method generally stays consistent.

Why are the noodles sticking?

Mac and cheese noodles can stick slightly when cooked with these water ratios, but they typically will come apart once you add the butter and cheese powder. To prevent sticking altogether, add a small amount of butter to the noodles and water before cooking.

How do I know when boxed mac and cheese is properly cooked in the microwave?

The noodles are perfectly cooked when they appear plump and are tender but not mushy. To make sure the noodles are cooked completely, try tasting a small piece. Keep in mind that microwave settings differ, so be sure to adjust cooking times as needed to achieve the best results.

How do I store leftover microwaved boxed mac and cheese?

To store leftover microwaved mac and cheese, place it in an Anyday dish with the lid on and refrigerate. It will remain fresh for 3-4 days. When reheating, simply microwave the dish (lid-on) for a few minutes, checking occasionally until it reaches your preferred temperature. To freshen up the creaminess of the sauce, you can add a splash of milk or sour cream. Want to enjoy your mac at a later date? Store mac and cheese in our Anytime Freezer Trays and freeze in 1/2 cup portions for easy meal prepping.

How do I reheat frozen boxed mac and cheese?

To reheat frozen mac and cheese, place the frozen portions in an Anyday dish. Cover the dish and reheat at full power in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes. If you are reheating more than 2 portions, you may need to increase the time slightly. Stir the mac and cheese halfway through for even heating and creamy texture. See our reheating food blog for more helpful information.

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