Coffee Goddess by day, renegade writer by night. Jen lives in the Midwest and holds a BA in Creative Writing. She blogs in her spare time.
Mug Meal Trend
Mug meals are the hottest new thing in quick, fuss-free cooking, and when looking at these five recipes, it's easy to see why.
Microwave meals have long since had a bad reputation. Ever since its invention, the microwave has been a source of reheated leftovers and dry, overly-salted TV dinners. In the meantime, mug meals have become a staple of dorm rooms across the country, renowned for their convenience and lack of need for anything fancy, like an oven.
However, the trend has been growing. Today you can simply Google "mug meals" and come up with a wide variety of pastries, pasta dishes, scrambled eggs, and more, all of which can be simply done in a mug and a microwave with little to no fuss. Most of them even take five minutes or less.
With that kind of convenience and today's portioning problems most Americans have when they make a meal, you can see why websites like Betty Crocker, the internet food sensation Tasty, and Better Homes and Gardens have picked up the trend and started offering up recipes in a mug. Even sites like the Huffington Post and internet sensation Tasty devote loads of time to scraping together articles full of mug recipes.
Here are five mug meals that really hit the mark, and will make you say "that was easy and delicious!"
1. Banana Mug Muffin
Perfect for breakfast or just a quick snack between meals, this recipe is great for using up that last, over-ripe banana and keep it from wasting away on your kitchen counter. For this one, I started off using a blueberry muffin recipe from Well Floured. I changed it around a little to fit my tastes and availability of ingredients, and it proved to be fool-proof!
Here's my version:
- 1/2 a very ripe banana
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, unbleached and all-purpose
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp milk (I used vanilla soy milk and it was divine)
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- optional: walnuts, chopped
- 1 tbsp butter, slightly cold is better but not frozen
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp sugar (coarse or raw looks very nice)
Please note that in the picture below I did not use a topping, so you could see the muffin and so I could cut down on calories.
- Melt your butter in a microwave-safe cup (or right in the mug, it's okay!). In the bottom of your mug, mix together your flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder, and stir well with a fork to avoid lumps. Add in your melted butter if you haven't already, and add in the milk and vanilla. Stir well until there are no lumps.
- Lastly, slice and add in your banana and optional walnuts. You can get as fancy or as simple as you want here. I mixed mine in with my batter, but you could make a pattern on top of the muffin if you like. You can also omit 1 tablespoon of the milk and mash up the banana instead for a more banana bread texture and feel. I sliced and stirred.
- Top with topping mixture if desired.
- Microwave the entire mug on high for 90 to 180 seconds, depending on your microwave's strength.
2. Spinach Ricotta Lasagna in a Mug
This one I used (almost) the exact recipe on, but please note that it is not mine. You can view the original recipe on Healthy Nibbles and Bits.
A quick and easy taste of lasagna, but in a single-serve mug portion? Yes, please. Break out those old lasagna noodles at the back of your pantry, and let's get to work.
Now this one takes a little more effort and a little more time, about 15 minutes, but it's well worth it for dinner on a weeknight. You will need several bowls and one mug, as well as a chopping board and a sharp knife.
- 1/2 fresh lasagna sheet (okay, I cheated and used no-boil lasagna because that's what I had on hand)
- 2 1/2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/4 medium yellow bell pepper, diced (I'm allergic, so I skipped this step)
- 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3 large basil leaves, finely chopped (or torn, optional)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp granulated garlic
- 8 tbsp pasta or tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
- Cut the lasagna sheet in half, and cut each strip in half again. If you're not using no-boil lasagna noodles, you will want to put them in a separate bowl of very hot water (almost boiling if you feel like it), and set them aside for a few minutes so they soak.
- Now here's one thing that I didn't do: the original recipe says to finely chop your spinach, put it in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. You poke ventilation holes in the plastic wrap, and microwave it for a minute. I only had frozen spinach on hand, so I simply defrosted that instead, and it still tasted great. Make sure you drain your spinach excessively well if you're doing that, you don't want it all watery.
- Either way, after your spinach has cooled, mix it together with the ricotta, pepper, granulated garlic, and salt.
- In your actual mug, pour two tablespoons of your pasta sauce down at the bottom. Top it with one of your softened pasta sheets. Now, you're going to layer, building up the lasagna in the pattern: spinach mixture, 2 tablespoons of mozzarella, and another pasta sheet. Spinach, mozzarella, pasta sheet. Lather, rinse, repeat.
- Do this until you have as much lasagna as will fit in your mug, finally topping it with your last sheet of lasagna noodle. Top it with the remaining mozzarella.
- Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds to start, and keep microwaving it for 15 seconds at a time until the mozzarella on top is completely melted.
3. Scrambled Eggs in a Mug
There are many ways you can do this one, as for whatever reason the universe has for it, eggs go amazingly well with being microwaved. There are literally hundreds of scrambled egg and omelet recipes for mug meals
I know, I know ... what about rubbery eggs? Well, that depends on what you add to it and how long you cook them. I started off with a minute and a half, and ended up adding another one because I like my eggs well-done. It also depends on how much you stir your eggs. I'll get to that in a minute.
This recipe is super-easy. All it needs are two eggs, one tablespoon of milk, and a fork. Anything else added is up to you. While the basics like salt and pepper are a given, you can add literally anything you want to here and make a mug full of your favorite scrambled egg combinations.
I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, diced onion, and a little Parmesan cheese to mine, but in the past I've done all sorts of veggies like mushrooms, shallots, peppers (although I'm allergic to certain types, I'm sure they all taste good in this recipe), spinach, and more. You can add literally anything that you like in your eggs, and I will always recommend topping them with cheese after the first 45-second interval of cooking. Cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss cheese are all excellent choices that add a hint of flavor and salt to your cooking, whether in a mug or otherwise.
The key to keeping these eggs from going rubbery and flat is to stir your eggs after the first 45 seconds. You then want to go in increments of 30–45 seconds, stirring each time, until your eggs are cooked to your liking. If you follow that simple step, these scrambled eggs are pretty much fool-proof. And delicious.
4. Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Mug
All right, let's get down to dessert. I don't know about you guys, but I never want to stand up and bake and do more cooking after I've cooked a whole meal. I'm usually stuffed full by that time, and loathe to move away from watching Last Man Standing.
This Cookie in a Cup recipe by Number Two Pencil is one I will be using many, many times in the future, because it's simple and delicious. Melissa from Number Two Pencil boasts that this whole thing only takes six minutes, so listen up, it's a good one.
Here's the deal.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 3 drops vanilla extract (or five if you're like me)
- small pinch of salt
- 1 egg yolk (just the yolk)
- scant 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (she says a little bit less is better)
- 2 heaping tablespoons of semisweet chocolate chips, plus some for topping.
- According to Melissa at No. 2 Pencil's directions, I started off melting my butter in the microwave in a heat-proof small Tupperware container. She said to be sure not to boil it. To that, I added my sugar, vanilla, and salt, stirring with a miniature whisk I have for hot cocoa. I added the yolk to that and stirred it up some more. Then I added my flour, being sure to carefully make sure there were no clumps in the mug as I was doing it, and I stirred in some chocolate chips at the very end.
- Throw some chocolate chips on top and cook it for "no more than a minute" according to Melissa. My microwave is a very low wattage, so it took me the full minute, but start checking your cookie around the 40-second mark to make sure it doesn't dry out too much.
Confession: I put a scoop of dairy-free ice cream on top, and it was magical.
5. Brownie in a Mug
There's little more that can make a bad day look better to me than a brownie at the end of it. Just like it's chocolate cookie counterpart, you can easily find recipes like this running rampant across the internet, and it didn't take me long to find this one by Bigger Bolder Baking.
Grab a huge mug. Just do it, trust me. The biggest mug you have in the house, because you may want to make more than one serving of this if you've had a really bad day.
Total time: Six minutes from start to yum.
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (white or wheat, doesn't matter)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (I've used white sugar before and it works about the same but gets a little grainy)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use unsweetened dutch processed)
- 3 tablespoons flavorless oil (canola, coconut, sunflower, etc. I have also used melted butter in my brownies before and it works just fine)
- 3 tablespoons water
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp chocolate chips
This one is actually really simple. You just combine all of your ingredients and microwave for one minute.
- First I melted my butter (instead of oil) in the mug itself, about a minute in my tiny little microwave.
- Then, I added the water, salt, and vanilla extract, and stirred.
- I then combined my dry ingredients one at a time, stirring it well in between each addition, so I added a tablespoon of flour, worked it in, added another, and so on, until all of my dry ingredients were completely combined and the brownie was lump-free.
- I then added half of the chocolate chips, and I stirred them in, which really gave the brownie this nice little fudge-like quality in some bites. The rest of the chocolate chips I sprinkled on top, almost like I was creating a small layer of melty chocolate on top.
- I microwaved it a little bit longer as usual, and it was gooey and moist throughout.
By all means, one of the easiest brownie mug recipes I've ever come across, personally.
What About Your Mug?
What do you think? Sounds pretty easy, right? All of these recipes will do in a pinch whenever you are in a hurry but want something delicious. Each of these is simple and delicious, and really make a great cooking step in between a TV dinner and full-on baking/cooking the old-fashioned way.
So what about you? Do you have a favorite mug recipe? Which ones from above do you think you'll try? Leave a note in the comments and share your take on mug meals.
© 2017 Jen Paxton