Cooking pasta in the microwave can be done in under 20 minutes with either a heatproof cup or bowl or a microwave pasta cooker. You will also need a measuring cup, a colander, up to 5 cups of your choice of pasta and up to six quarts of water (to make four pasta servings).
Choose a Pasta
The pasta must be completely submerged in water to cook properly. If you are using a microwave-safe cup or bowl, choose a tubular or shaped pasta, such as rigatoni or fusilli, so that it all fits into the container. If you are using a microwave pasta cooker, which can usually accommodate ribbon and long-form pasta, you have more options; for example, spaghetti, angel hair and fettuccine.
Keep in mind that thicker pastas, such as penne, will naturally have a longer cooking time; while thinner pastas, like angel hair, will cook more quickly.
Combine the Water and Pasta
Place the pasta in your container and add water. For every 1/2 cup of pasta, add an equal amount of water. Keep in mind that the pasta will expand as it cooks and absorb some of the water, so it’s better to have too much water than too little. If you’re using a microwave pasta cooker, follow the instructions for adding water to your chosen type of pasta.
You will need to adjust the amount of water and pasta depending on how many people are eating. For one person, 1/2 to 1 cup of uncooked pasta is appropriate. For two or more, assume 2 ounces of uncooked pasta per person. Given that amount, most pastas will yield 3 3/4 to 4 cups when fully cooked.
Cook and Drain the Pasta
If you are starting with cold water, you’ll need to increase the cooking time. Microwave the pasta at half power for approximately 12 minutes, adjusting as needed if you want a firmer or softer noodle. For a microwave pasta cooker, follow the accompanying cooking time instructions. When the pasta is done, the container will be hot. Use an oven mitt or silicone glove to remove it, then drain the excess water in the sink through a colander.
If you start with hot or boiling water, you can shorten the cooking time slightly (by 1 to 2 minutes), but the pasta will not absorb the water, or cook, any faster.
Check your pasta a few times throughout cooking and stir briefly to make sure it is cooking evenly.
Place a larger microwave-safe bowl or plate underneath your container to catch any water that boils over and keep it from burning the microwave’s turntable.
Microwave power settings vary depending on manufacturer and model. Keep in mind that you may need to slightly adjust your cooking time to compensate depending on your appliance’s wattage. Cooking time given is for a 700-watt microwave.
References and ResourcesTablespoon: How to Make Pasta in the Microwave
Serious Eats: The Food Lab: A New Way to Cook Pasta?
Microwave Cooking for One: Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!
Kraft: Pasta: Measuring Chart
What's for Dinner: Different Types of Pasta
Serious Eats: Ask the Food Lab: Can I Start Pasta in Cold Water?
ResourcesThe Kitchn: Quick Dinner Recipe: One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni & Cheese