Marmite mac-n-cheese in a mug, 36p (MICROWAVE)

'Come into my world of soft, sloppy comfort', it whispers... 'I am mac n cheese in a mug. I am five minutes of sitting on the worktop, eating with spoon and licking fingers. I am a little piece of peace and quiet. I am only yours...' <3

‘Come into my world of soft, sloppy comfort’, it whispers… ‘I am mac n cheese in a mug. I am five minutes of sitting on the worktop, eating with spoon and licking fingers. I am a little piece of peace and quiet. I am only yours…’ <3

Friends will know that my Marmite obsession is almost as out of control as my peanut butter obsession. In leaner times, I would substitute Marmite, which was well out of my budget range, for a paste made from a crumbled Basics beef stock cube, mixed with boiling water, and allowed to cool. Smeared onto toast with butter, it delivered that tongue-warming tingle and salty kick I used to get from my yeast-extract friend. These days, my cupboard has a jar of Marmite in for toast and snacks, and today, it went in here, too. If you’re a hater, not a lover, just leave it out – or of course, you could always cook your pasta in a stock made from a crumbled Basics beef stock cube, and we’ll call it quits…

Serves 1 at 36p per portion.

75g pasta, 5p
250ml water (or half a beef stock cube crumbled in – don’t knock it til you’ve tried it)
2 tsp butter (10g), 4p
20g hard strong cheese – you might want to use more, but I like hard and strong and scant myself, 23p
½ tsp (2g) Marmite or other yeast extract, 3p

Tip your pasta into a mug, and cover with cold water. Cover with clingfilm and pierce several times, or balance a small saucer on top – make sure neither mug nor saucer have any metal on please, the Fire Service are busy enough… Stand it in a bowl or jug – you’ll see why in a sec. Cook on FULL power for 2 minutes, then remove the mug. It’s usual for water to bubble up over the sides and drench the bottom of your microwave, so to save cleaning it up and topping it up again, which will slow your cooking time down, just tip the water back into the mug. Give it all a good stir and leave to stand for a minute. Repeat this step twice more, until your pasta is soft and swollen. You may need to add a splash more water here or there, which is fine – not all microwaves, nor pasta, were created equal.

Add your butter, stir in the Marmite, and grate the cheese over. Cook for one more minute on full power, stir well, and serve.

For a work-easy version, or a portable one, simply mix together oil instead of butter, marmite and finely grated hard cheese and pop into a small container – it’s not going to look the greatest, but it will taste absolutely fine when it’s cooked. Portion out your pasta, and take the pasta and the oil-cheese-marmite paste with you wherever you’re off to. Now all you need is to cook the pasta as instructed, stir in the paste, and voila. Nearly-instant lunch that doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge.

Prices worked out at Sainsburys and are correct at the time of blogging (March 2015). Basics pasta 35p/500g. Basics butter 90p/250g . Basics hard strong cheese £2.30/200g. Marmite £1.70/125g.

I’ve given up my oven for Lent and am exploring cooking with my microwave – I hope people will find this useful, and I’m certainly finding it very interesting! You can follow my progress here, or on or

My blog is free and always will be, but if you would like to buy a recipe book, they can be found on – they’re in all major bookshops and supermarkets too, but Hive supports your local independent book stores, which is important and super cool.

Jack Monroe. Twitter & Instagram @MsJackMonroe


  1. If you like Marmite, use it as the base for a French onion soup – really gives it a lovely kick!

  2. Question for you – can you freeze hard cheeses? I know parmesan freezes well, but i’m unsure if cheddar and the like would work. (Asking because i avoid dairy for health reasons, but love it for an occasional treat)

    Anyway, looks absolutely unbelievable! Comfort food at its finest. Thanks for another great recipe to try! 😀

      • Thanks a lot – i figured as long as its grated/heated it will be fine but just wanted to check since i’m new to freezer life 🙂

    • My dad freezes cheddar Bethany (he lives in France so takes a load back each time he visits). I can’t vouch for it myself but he’s a fairly picky bloke so it must be ok!

    • Virtually all cheese freezes well. I keep boxes of scraps in the freezer and I always have a couple of boxes of grated cheese available. As long as you have it loosely packed it will stay free flowing and a handful will thaw out in minutes. 🙂

    • Cheddar and other hard cheeses freeze really well, although they might be a bit more crumbly than normal.

  3. Fab! I can’t wait for more recipes like this which are quick, easy and handy to take to work – I think it can really save so many of us reaching for a “ready meal” lunch with loads of preservatives in it! Can’t wait for the next one…

  4. Love marmite – never thought of adding it to my pasta but I’ll try it soon. Now…. where’s your cake in a mug recipe Jack? Any chance (he he) of a low calorie one? I am supposed to be losing weight!

  5. This can be super quick if you pre soak the pasta for a few hours before it cooks in a couple of mins on the hob (im always do this if we are having pasta now, so much easier with a wee man raging for dinner when you can chuck some pasta and frozen veg in for 2mins and you’re done!) Hope that helps 😀 love your recipes! x

  6. Marmite and cheese – a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. I’m thinking a handful of frozen peas and/or a cube of frozen spinach would make this perfect. I might need a bigger mug though.

  7. Obviously it’s good to find ways to cook with only a microwave available – but Lent only made you give up your oven (not your hob), so this is unnecessarily fussy for anyone who’s not on the move.
    This recipe is so much easier to make on the hob that I’m going to do it that way – soon!
    Simple pasta – with savoury paste, plus peas to help balance the protein – is my standard quick lunch when I’m not well enough to cook more ‘properly’.

  8. Oh wow, I just made this as soon as I got in from uni and it is literally the best thing I’ve ever made in a microwave. I may never need my hob again!

  9. I had vegemite and peanut butter sandwiches in Australia! Still have them every now and then.

  10. Pasta is about the only thing I can enjoy Marmite with. On a lazyish day I use Spaghettini. They cook superquickly and are a joy to fork up.

  11. It appears that this has become one of my new favourite meals, especially when I just can’t be arsed to cook properly. I would happily eat this every day if I didn’t then start considering my fruit & veg intake and feel a bit guilty!

  12. Jack: you are always a marvel, I was looking to cook a bit of pasta for my son and I thought it’s a waste to boil up a pan, and then I remembered “didn’t Jack do something about pasta in a microwaye?” – it works so well! Of course, the first time I didn’t notice the part about standing it in a bowl… but even with emptying water of the microwave plate it was still so handy!

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