For about three years, my family lived microwave-free. That changed last Christmas when my oldest son received one as a gift. The timing was right for several reasons — not the least of which being the surge of interest in microwave mug cakes, something my boys love to eat. My sons can now throw together individual cakes that are ready to eat (minus a little cooling off) in less than 10 minutes.

These cakes turn out exactly like you’d expect them to. Despite the styled photo above, they usually aren’t that pretty. They come out of the microwave all puffed up, but they fall like a soufflé in about 15 seconds. They’re moist, but a little spongy. But, they’re quick to make and surprisingly satisfying if you want a small snack.

I have a few tips for making a microwave mug cake a little easier. Then, watch the how-to video and check out some the recipes below that.

  • Use a large mug (or even a small bowl). The finished batter should fill only half the mug. It will rise quickly and could overflow if you don’t use a mug that's big enough.
  • Get a 1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon if you don’t already have one. Many of these recipes call for very small amounts of dry ingredients like baking powder or salt.
  • The 5-ounce measuring glass that I've raved about in the past also comes in handy for these cakes. Sometimes you have to measure two or three tablespoons of milk or oil, and it's quicker and easier using this glass than using tablespoons.
  • Many of these recipes say to mix everything right in the mug, but use common sense. Use a small mixing bowl if it gets too difficult to incorporate all the ingredients evenly in the mug, and then transfer to the mug.
  • If the recipe call for an egg, use the smallest egg you have. You could also whisk the egg and use only half of it, putting the other half away for another use.
  • Cooking times will vary, usually somewhere from one to three minutes. The Food Network Instant Chocolate Cake recipe below says to cook it for two minutes. I needed to cook it for three minutes in my 700-watt oven. Always cook it for the shortest period of time first. You can add another half minute or minute once you check it, but you can’t take away time when you've overcooked something.

Try one of these microwave mug cake recipes:
  1. Instant Chocolate Mug Cake: This is a basic chocolate cake. You probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen and could be eating this 10 minutes from now if you really wanted to.
  2. The Moistest Very Vanilla Mug Cake: Because not all cakes are chocolate (so I’m told).
  3. Chocolate Chip Cake in a Mug: You can use spelt flour or all-purpose flour in the recipe, and you also have the option to use sugar, stevia or xylitol to sweeten it.
  4. Peanut Butter Mug Cake: This cake is eggless. I want to throw chocolate chips in it.
  5. Coffee Cake in a Mug: A streusel topping goes on top of the batter before it gets cooked.
  6. Banana Bread in a Mug: No one likes to admit it, but banana bread is basically cake. I added a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg because I use those spices in my regular banana bread.
  7. Mug Cheesecake: I haven’t tried cheesecake in a mug yet, but it looks like it can be done. The only drawback is that you have to let it cool for two hours, so you don’t get the quick fix you do with most other microwave mug cakes.

Have you started using your microwave to get a quick cake fix? What's your favorite recipe?

Related on MNN:

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.