Microwave a small amount of pasta for a midday snack.

How to Cook Pasta in the Microwave or Slow Cooker

by Melissa Hamilton

Whether it’s a case of picky eaters, needing to stretch a meal, or just loving the taste, turning to pasta as a side dish or a base for a meal is a common process for any busy cook. But cooking on the stove is still time consuming and requires extra focus, especially if little hands are trying to "help" in the kitchen. Using your microwave or slow cooker to make pasta is an easy alternative to pasta on the stove.

Microwave Pasta

Add pasta to a deep, microwave-safe bowl.

Add water until the pasta is submerged. About ½ an inch of water above the surface of the pasta is a good rule of thumb.

Sprinkle a pinch or two of salt into the bowl and stir.

Cook in three- to four-minute increments, stirring after each increment. The pasta will take five to 10 minutes to cook, depending on how much you are making.

Drain any excess water and use pasta as desired.

Slow Cooker Pasta

Cook nonpasta ingredients first. Pasta cooks quickly in a slow cooker and adding it too soon will leave you with mush.

Add pasta to slow cooker, stirring once to mix it with the sauce or soup. Add extra water if the liquid content is low.

Cook for 20 minutes and serve. If using wheat pasta, increase the cooking time by 10 minutes.

Items you will need

  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • Salt
  • Spoon


  • Use heavier pastas such as elbow macaroni, shells, or rotini pasta in a slow cooker. These pastas cook more evenly than noodles such as spaghetti or capellini. If you can’t forego noodles, use wheat-based pastas as they hold their shape and consistency.
  • Use kosher salt if possible for tastier pasta. Kosher salt adheres to food better than table salt and will keep your pasta flavorful rather than bland.
  • Consider microwaving pasta in chicken or beef broth for extra flavor. This works especially well if the pasta is a side dish and you won’t be adding a heavy sauce. You can also try rubbing a sliced garlic clove along the inside of the bowl before adding pasta and water for a slight garlicky flavor.


  • Don’t use a shallow bowl for pasta in a microwave. The water bubbles up while cooking and could spill over the sides of a shallow dish, leaving a mess.
  • Don’t forget the salt in your microwave pasta. The sodium helps the water boil without exploding all over your microwave.
  • Don't stir slow cooker pasta more than once as it can cause the pasta to break down.


  • Easy Livin' Microwave Cooking; Karen K Dwyer
  • Homestyle Microwave Cooking; Carolyn Schneider Kruse
  • Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever with More Than 400 Easy-to-Make Recipes ; Diane Phillips
  • Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook; Beth Hensperger, Julie Kaufman

About the Author

Melissa Hamilton began writing professionally in 2007. She has enjoyed cooking creatively in the kitchen from a young age. In addition to writing cooking articles for various publications, she currently works in the restaurant industry as a food and beverage trainer.

Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images