Breakfast sardines, spinach, and a mug-baked-egg, 71p (MICROWAVE)

Not the best looking egg in the world, but in my defence it made a bid for freedom and whooooooshed out of the mug and landed with a splat on the microwave plate. I wasn't going to waste it, no point in having a blog if you can't be your real self on it, broken dodgy eggs and all... ;)

Not the best looking egg in the world, but in my defence it made a bid for freedom and whooooooshed out of the mug and landed with a splat on the microwave plate. I wasn’t going to waste it, no point in having a blog if you can’t be your real self on it, broken dodgy eggs and all… 😉

Baking eggs in the microwave is an egg-splosive roulette, where every second and wattage seems to count! I’ve done it for a few days running now, to try to test the waters before sharing my accrued wisdom on the subject, only to find I’m three days in and still none the wiser! I thought I’d cracked it (no pun intended, but giggle if you want), when this morning I heard a BANG! Thirty seconds in, and my egg had completely flown out of the mug and was sitting on the microwave plate, smugly going round and round, having decided to break free from its white china prison and make a run for it. I congratulated it…….by spearing a fork into it and eating the bugger.

So, eggs. From what I can work out, crack it into a fat-bottomed mug (the kind that make the rockin’ world go round…) My mistake this morning was using a mug with a skinny bottom, and the microwave pressure built up in the smaller space, and the egg made a run for it. Theoretically. Gosh, it’s actually like learning to cook all over again. Then pierce the yolk with a knife, fork, or your wit if it’s sharp enough – THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. The yolk cooks faster than the white, so leaving the membrane intact will cause your yolk to make a bid for freedom under the pressure – and hey, we all know how that feels…

And when cracked and pierced, cook it on a medium heat if cooking it alone, for 3 30 second bursts. If you’re cooking it with Other Things, you can leave it on a high heat, as the more things there are in a microwave the less ‘microwaves’ they absorb and the more gently they cook. Confused? I’m just about hanging in myself…

This has become one of my favourite breakfast/lunch dishes not least because I’m a huge fan of sardines and the Local version of the big orange supermarket has tins of sardines for 45p at the moment. And all in, it’s about 2 minutes in the microwave, low carb, high protein, no effort. If the thought of sardines for breakfast makes you feel a bit queasy, replace them with very thinly sliced mushrooms, and proceed…

Serves 1 (easily doubled, tripled, etc), at 71p – greedy guts here ate the whole tin of sardines… You don’t have to…!

1 tin of sardines, 45p
1 free range egg, 14p
20g fresh spinach (frozen defrosted would be cheaper but Le Freezer has died!), 12p

First crack your egg into your fat-bottomed mug – please make sure it is microwave safe and absolutely does not have any metal on it, metal can’t go in the microwave, it will start a fire. Even the teeny little edges of metal rim on some plates and cups that look so pretty, will not look so pretty when they’re burning your house down. Pierce the yolk with a sharp thing, and cover the mug with cling film (again, not foil, do not flout the no-metal rule. I cannot say this enough, as a former emergency call handler for the Fire Service, how many effing 999 calls I’ve taken in my short lifetime for house fires caused by kitchen fires caused by something metal in the sodding microwave.)

Pierce the cling film to allow steam to escape, and pop the mug on your plate.

Undo the sardine can, and drain off any excess oil (mine lives in a jar in the fridge, and will be used for cooking other things in the week like fishcakes, or to make a slightly ‘essence of sardine’ salad dressing, or something like that. Waste not, want not!) Pop the sardines on your plate next to the egg-mug.

Add a fistful of spinach, and pop it in the microwave on full power for 30 seconds. Peek inside, check your egg, give it all a few seconds to breathe (important), then give it another 30 seconds. Your egg should be cooked and spinach wilted by now, but not all microwaves are created equal, so give it a brief rest, then another 30 seconds if not.

Peel back the clingfilm carefully carefully, staring with the end furthest from you – you don’t want a steam burn! Tip or spoon the egg onto your plate, season the lot to taste, and enjoy!

I’ve given up my oven for Lent and am exploring the possibilities of cooking with a microwave – I’ve made a separate brand new shiny section for it on my blog – and have been meaning to do this for ages! Any hints, tips, tricks, pointers welcome, it’s like I’m teaching myself to cook all over again, and wow, something as simple as cooking an egg has taken me three days to master. Taking nothing for granted in this, but hoping I can use this time to come up with some quick and simple meals for work lunches, NHS workers, and a growing number of people who actually only have a microwave to cook with or can’t afford to turn the oven on. It’s a challenge, but I’m going to try to do a new recipe every day – and I’m actually living this, not just blogging about it! Watch this space and follow the progress at

I’m on Instagram and Twitter @MsJackMonroe, and on Facebook at

**Prices based on my most recent Sainsburys shop and correct at time of blogging: Tin of Portuguese sardines, 45p. 260g fresh spinach, £1.50. 6 free range mixed weight eggs, 85p.


  1. I would add that if your egg hasn’t exploded already in the microwave, be careful when spooning it out as it might explode a bit when poked!

    • Hi Jack, I always make chilli con carne in the microwave as I think it tastes better. I add onion, mushroom, peppers, corgettes, mince, tomatoes, kidney beans, garlic and the spices to a bowl, add half a cup of water and microwave for 30 minutes in 10 minute bursts. I find it really tasty this way xx

  2. Fabulous that you’re doing microwave cooking for Lent. Be amazing if you did some kettle-only cooking too, would love some ideas on that because we’re (Cracking Good Food Manchester – we follow you like groupies!!) are going to be working with food bank users over the next year, teaching them cooking skills that fit with their own needs, which often means no stove, too expensive to run or you just don’t have access to one, and you only have access to a microwave and/or kettle. We need to get our creative heads on because we usually cook on gas stoves with our folk. Any great ideas, let us know!

    • The good, old-fashioned ‘haybox’ or variations thereof work wonders when it comes to cheap cooking and saving on cooking and can be used to prepare almost anything (great for cooking porridge overnight and waking up to your ready-cooked meal – a great timesaver!!!)

  3. Have you tried using a small plate instead of cling film? Just rest it on top – it’s heavy enough to stop exploding eggs going everywhere, yet light enough that should pressure build up one edge will lift slightly and release it without danger. You’re also a lot less likely to get a steam burn….

  4. I found eggs exploded if there were any air bubbles in the white. I try to pierce these with the tip of a sharp knife (in addition to piercing the yolk)

  5. just a thought – how about separating the egg and starting off the white for a few seconds first, then add the yolk. that way you should hopefully get the yolk to the consistency required (runny or hard)

  6. A decade or so ago, when I worked in the games industry and worked very long hours, I used to make what I called ‘Dev Eggs’ in our work microwave. It is basically a sort of microwave omelette/scrambled egg with whatever veg I had brought with me. Usually it was 2-3 eggs, a couple of tomatoes, couple of mushrooms, maybe a spring onion, a pinch of mixed herbs, a couple of slices of cheese, chopped fine. All put in a cereal bowl, mixed together, and cooked in the microwave. i usually ate it with bread and marg.

    hope it proves useful.

  7. have found using a ramekin or mug with a small amount of hot water will give you a firm white and runny yolk. all (as you say) dependent on wattage and time. I am yest to master it but have had some good success

  8. Scrambled eggs are so much easier in the microwave, Jack. I’ve given up with whole eggs. I’ve got fed up with cleaning the microwave, after cooking them, even with plates on top! You just have to watch the scrambled eggs like a hawk as they can be runny one second and solid the next.

  9. I poach eggs in the microwave all of the time- I even have a special poacher especially designed for the microwave. It’s nothing fancy- I brought it from the reject shop ($2 shop? I’m in Australia). You can also make scrambled eggs in the microwave 🙂 They aren’t as nice as the stovetop version, but they’re pretty good. I just break however many eggs I want into a pyrex bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of milk per egg (soy milk works well too) and whisk it up until it’s a bit frothy. Then, whack it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. I usually stop it halfway through and give the mixture another whisk to make it lighter and fluffier. It’s nice with some bacon bits through it- just put them in at the start- or chives (ditto), or even mushrooms and spinach. Best thing is you can make it wherever you’ve got access to a microwave! I even take everything and make it at work sometimes.

  10. Looks good to me! I’d be inclined to put a sprinkling of chopped chives on the egg to make its condition look deliberate.

  11. Better yet – egg in a glass (not a mug). I’ve been nuking cracked eggs in a small cheap glass with a nicely curved inside bottom (so no corners for egg to get stuck in) for years.
    I cap it not with clingfilm – naughty non-recyclable stuff – but the plastic cap from whatever plastic container (eg basic moisturiser pot) best fits over the glass. If it’s in the microwave too long, the cap may fly off but the egg’s usually cooked enough to stay in the glass.

    I’m all for keeping the sardine etc oil to use in other dishes. It would make leftover potato dishes more interesting, for instance. FIshy potato cakes, anyone?

  12. Thanks I would be able to make this at work. So simple and easy. Just got given a microwave egg cooking thing(it probably has a proper name) so I will use that in the hope it will lessen the explosion risk!

  13. Interesting to see this as I cooked poached egg in the microwave for the first time last week. The instructions I found said to put the egg in some water in a mug. That way you don’t need to pierce the yolk. First one turned out fine. Second one stuck to the bottom of the mug and fell apart as I tried to take it out of the mug. I think I need to use a wide based mug, or maybe a pyrex bowl.
    I am really looking forward to all the new recipes and ideas for microwave cooking.

  14. I always do mine in one of those plastic basins you get with the microwave steamed pudding (also round bottomed, and yes, I do wash it thoroughly in between), and use a cap from something similar loosely sat on top. Also a teaspoon or two of water helps to stop the explosions (I stab the egg viciously a few times for good measure too). Interestingly I got a book the library were throwing out the other day. It’s an encyclopedia of microwave cookery courtesy of Good Housekeeping and it’s rather old. I think it’s from when microwaves were new and scary and posh. It has many suggestions for using metal foil to stop some bits of your food cooking faster than others. I shuddered reading it. The tables of cooking times for different food stuffs are good though.

  15. Have to say scrambling eggs in the microwave is less messy than poaching!
    We do scrambled eggs frequently, and if you add mushroms to the mixture you get 2 in 1!
    Chop 2-3 mushrooms into small pieces into a pyrex jug and add a knob of marg/butter (you probably could use that sardine oil!) Cook 30 sec, stir, cook 30 sec. Break egg into jug, beat, add salt and pepper. Cook 30 sec, stir, cook 30 sec.

  16. I like to put those few stragglers left in the fridge to good use with my eggs: put some chopped tomato, a handful of baby spinach or chopped kale and anything else you have in the bottom of a ramekin, along with a teaspoon of butter or margarine. Pop it in the microwave for a minute. Break your egg on top of this, PRICK THE YOLK WITH A TOOTHPICK OR SHARP KNIFE. Cook in the microwave for 2 min on 50% power (never full power) check the egg to see that the white is done and if you like your yolk done to a rubbery ball, you will definitely need longer, but don’t be tempted to up the power level. i have never yet had a mishap doing my eggs this way and i am anything but a good cook!!

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