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If I’m being honest, I used to be a real food snob. I went to culinary school and cooked in a restaurant for a while, and even before that, I was raised by parents who love food and cooking. My bar is pretty high, and I used to think that in order to be excellent, a dish needed to have the freshest ingredients or a long preparation or a perfect presentation. Then I became convinced of the inherent beauty of the microwave mug cake.
As I settled into adult life—with a full-time job, friends I wanted to spend time with and responsibilities that meant spending the majority of my time outside the kitchen—I realized something. If I, a food writer, can’t even get it together to bake a cake or a batch of cookies on a weeknight, the majority of people definitely can’t be bothered with lengthy dessert recipes on the regular. Hence, the microwave mug cake.
I’d long seen microwave mug cakes on Pinterest, and I’d always dismissed them as kind of lowbrow and, well, weird. To be fair, plenty of them are. It takes a little fussing to write a good microwave mug cake recipe: It needs to be moist but not soggy, springy but not eggy, and fluffy but not overwhelmed by the flavor of baking powder. But I’ve learned that it’s absolutely possible to make a legitimately tasty in-a-pinch dessert with just a mug and a microwave. Are they as great as something you’d spend an hour (or more) beating and baking? Nah, but they’re still delicious, and most nights you just don’t have that kind of time.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mug Cake
If you love peanut butter as much as I do, you know that the only way to make it better is by adding chocolate. This peanut butter chocolate chip microwave mug cake fully understands that.
The Moistest Chocolate Mug Cake
Worried your microwave will make everything spongy and a little bit dry? This super moist chocolate microwave mug cake will convince you otherwise.
Funfetti Mug Cake
If you think funfetti is just vanilla cake with sprinkles, you’re… right! And yet, it is so, so magical.
One-Minute Cinnamon Roll in a Mug
It may take you more than a minute to put this mug cinnamon roll dough together, but it’s still pretty simple. And even better: It’s totally vegan.
Churro Mug Cake
Think you need to track down a street vendor to get your churro fix? Nope, you can satisfy that craving with just a mug and a microwave—and this churro microwave mug cake recipe.
10-Minute Microwave Cheesecake
This 10-minute microwave cheesecake may be the most time-consuming dessert on the list, but it’s about a zillion times less complicated than making an actual cheesecake. Plus, no weird springform pan required.
Apple Cinnamon Mug Cake
Want a quick cake that could probably pass as breakfast? This apple cinnamon microwave mug cake is the one for you.
Eggless Blueberry Mug Cake
What’s really the difference between a cupcake and a muffin, anyway? Frosting? Regardless, this breakfast-inspired mug cake is fruity, satisfying and subtly sweet.
Pumpkin Mug Cake
It might not be fall, but there’s never a wrong time to celebrate pumpkin, spice and everything nice. This pumpkin mug cake offers a quick (and totally decadent) way to do so.
Snickerdoodle Mug Cake
Snickerdoodles are so much more than just sugar cookies with cinnamon on top, amirite? (They might not technically be, but the flavor profile is just incredible.)
4-Ingredient Molten Nutella Lava Cake
One ingredient in this 4-ingredient microwave mug cake is Nutella, so who really cares what the other three are?
Triple Coconut Mug Cake
Dare I say that this triple coconut microwave mug cake is a cut above all other microwave mug cakes? Get fancy if the frosting if you want, but it certainly isn’t required.
Caramel Apple Mug Cake
If pumpkin isn’t your favorite thing about fall, this caramel-apple combination microwave mug cake is here to win your unwavering loyalty.
A version of this story was originally published in September 2018.