Marvelous 5-Minute Mug Cakes
Practice a little self-care with these sweet, single-serving treats you can make in 5 minutes
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If there was an Easy-Bake Oven in your past, then you’re already clued in to the appeal of mixing up a petite batch of batter and enduring a barely-there wait to pull a freshly baked treat from the oven.
Like those throwback desserts, mug cakes are fun. You don’t need a special occasion (other than the desire to eat cake) to justify making one, and there’s definitely some low-key entertainment value involved in mixing one up and witnessing its quick, almost alchemical transformation via microwave.
It’s not surprising that mug cakes are having a moment. With physical distancing the necessary norm and ingredients in sometimes short supply, baking large cakes isn’t always practical. But the impulse to enjoy a comforting treat or to celebrate small moments is real, and mug cakes represent a low-commitment way to practice a little sweet self-care.
If you're not sure you'll love a recipe, it’s no big deal; there’s no major commitment of time or ingredients. Portion control is baked right in (well, strictly speaking, not really baked, since mug cakes are usually microwaved … ), and you don’t have to commit freezer space to leftovers because you won’t have any. Best of all, there are endless flavor options for these little impromptu desserts, so everyone in the house can make a favorite cakelet in less time than it would take to bake a conventional, one-size-serves-all cake. We’ve rounded up some of our best mug cake recipes, so you can find your favorites.
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Mug cake 101
If this is your first time, learn the basics of mug cake baking before you dive into this irresistibly easy mini indulgence. Dessert hack FAQs are below.
What is a mug cake?
Generally speaking, mug cakes are single-serve, mixed-right-in-the-mug cakes cooked in the microwave. Most recipes emphasize speedy prep and simple ingredient lists, so you can have your cake — and be ready to eat it, too — in under 5 minutes.
Okay, I’ll bite … How do I make one?
First off, make sure you’re using a microwave-safe mug, and err on the side of using one that’s larger than you think you need — microwave mug cakes have a knack for overflowing their confines!
If you’re prepping cake for more than one person, mix each portion separately in its own mug. Microwave in shifts, rather than trying to cook them all at once. Check for doneness, adding extra cook time in 10- to 15-second increments if necessary. And be sure to let your cake cool briefly before digging in.
I like shortcuts. Can I make mug cakes with cake mix?
Alternatively, this 4-ingredient, egg-free cake from Frugal Farm Wife uses gluten-free cake mix as a shortcut, but if you don’t have any on hand, the recipe offers DIY proportions using a GF 1:1 flour substitute.
You can also make mini mug cake mixes (try saying that 3 times fast!). Keep them on hand for even quicker treat making, or gift them. Blogger Diane of Homan at Home offers some great tips for decorating the jars. They’d make a cute drop-off favor for virtual parties, too — “guests” can use the pre-measured ingredients to make and enjoy their mug cakes together online.
I don’t have a microwave! Can I play, too?
Yes! Spoon your mug cake batter into a greased mini cake pan, or divide it among a couple of muffin tins or ramekins. Bake in a regular or toaster oven at 350° F for about 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the size of your pan(s).
Can I make mug cake without eggs?
Also yes! Some recipes do use an egg as a binder or for the protein boost. But mug cakes don’t really require egg for structure, so lots of recipes skip them. If you need to go egg-free but are leery about skipping the egg in a recipe that contains one, try subbing 1 to 2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce, yogurt, or aquafaba, or a flax “egg” (1 tablespoon of ground flax + 3 tablespoons of water).
Chocolate lovers’ mug cakes
Chocolate mug cake recipes are undeniably popular. There’s lots of variety within the cacao-driven genre, so we’ve got lots of yummy options to feed your desire for chocolate dessert.
Fast and easy to make, this fudgy, egg-free cake gets a double dose of chocolate from both cocoa powder and chocolate chips. The recipe even includes specifics for oven-baking in case you don’t have a microwave. Top it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you’re feeling indulgent, and eat it by the giant spoonful.
This better-for-you take on mug cake is unusual both for its use of white whole wheat flour, and its adjustment to the standard 60-seconds-on-high microwave technique. Instead, it cooks at 30% power for just under 3 minutes, which yields a cakelet with a fudgy, brownie-like texture. Dust with powdered sugar to make it special.
Chocolate and banana is a classic pairing, and as anyone who has ever gobbled a banana Nutella crepe can attest, adding a little hazelnut to the mix is a fab idea.
Classic cake flavors
From basic vanilla cake just begging to be gussied up, to an always popular lemon poppyseed cake, these classic cake-flavored mug recipes feel familiar and homey.
Sprinkles and a dollop of frosting up the cute factor of this Vanilla Mug Cake, but you can skip both if you’re craving something super simple. The easy recipe includes an egg yolk, but you can replace it with extra milk for a no-eggs version.
This simple, egg-free carrot cake includes chopped pecans; omit them if you need a nut-free recipe. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar add warm dimension to the sweet carrot-flecked cake.
If you’re feeling a little fancy, this gourmet take on speedy mug cakes is ideal. It makes enough for two, so try it for your next date night in.
If you love muffins but hate filling muffin tins, give this eggless recipe a whirl. Serve with fresh strawberries, if you’ve got them on hand.
Cookie-inspired mug cakes
Can’t decide if warm, freshly baked cookies or homemade cake sounds better? Mull it over while you enjoy a best-of-both-worlds mug cake-cookie mashup that’ll probably put the question to rest.
If you’re on the hunt for a healthy mug cake that still feels like dessert, this is a good choice, thanks to the inclusion of olive oil, whole grain oats, and pecans. As for the flavor combo, oatmeal cookie cake + Nutella = magic.
Cinnamon toast ranks high on the comfort food scale; transform it into a cookie, and you’d have a snickerdoodle. Turn that snickerdoodle into a mug cake, and, well, you get the picture. Now you’ve got the recipe, too.
Another nutritious choice, this maple-sweetened, egg-free mug cake is made with oat flour, applesauce, and almond butter. You can swap any nut butter; or use soy butter to make it nut-free.
Does a mug cake count as cookie-inspired if it’s actually made out of cookies? We suggest a little research before you debate this important philosophical question, so recommend trying the 9-ingredient Oreo Mug Cake recipe from “i am a food blog,” along with the 2-ingredient TikTok version described in the recipe notes.
Fruit-studded mug cakes
There’s nothing like adding fresh fruit to cake to make it feel a little more righteous (not to mention justifiably breakfast-worthy).
Unlike most mug cakes, this one’s big enough to share with someone special. And if cozy’s what you’re after, not much beats the vibe of warm apples and cinnamon.
This easy, single-serve mug cake gets raves for its texture; reviewers suggest adding extra berries. Try raspberries or chopped strawberries to change things up.
Shortcuts make quick work of this 5-ingredient recipe — cake mix and a little container of peaches in light syrup eliminate most of the prep work. Plus, you won’t have to wait for peach season to get a little taste of summer.
Gluten-free mug cakes
Even if you need to eschew gluten, you can still get in on the mug cake game.
Quick, grain-free, and paleo-friendly, this lightly honey-sweetened almond and coconut flour-based cake gets lots of bright citrus flavor from a double dose of lemon zest and juice.
Japanese matcha tea powder lends a gorgeous spring green hue — and an antioxidant boost — to this tender, almond flour-based mug cake. The recipe includes plenty of choices on the ingredient front, so you can make swaps with confidence.
It’s not easy to find gluten-free mug cakes that are also nut-free, but this one fits the bill, and it’s egg-free to boot. If you don’t have oat flour, it’s easy to make — just blitz rolled oats in the blender.
Keto mug cakes
Coconut flour and almond flour, both keto-friendly, produce a cake with a moist crumb and delicious flavor. Whether or not you're trying to avoid carbohydrates, cinnamon roll mug cake with cream cheese frosting just sounds good.
This keto diet-friendly treat has a coconut flour base, and gives you the latitude to choose your favorite granulated sweetener. Cream cheese, raspberries, and a generous hit of vanilla extract up the decadence factor.
Almond flour is suggested, though coconut flour can be subbed, in this cinnamon-swirled cake. There’s even a cream cheese frosting to top it off.
The ingredient list looks a little long, but half of it is spices — the almond flour-based cake is simple to make, and the flavor gets high marks from reviewers.
Nutty mug cakes
Nut butters add so much depth to a cake batter. Check out the recipes below that use peanut butter and Nutella, but have fun experimenting with other types, such as almond or cashew butter.
Naturally egg-free, this mug cake stays moist thanks to the peanut butter. Add chocolate chips, or swap in other nut butters to customize the flavor.
Nutella fans, take note: There’s a dollop of your fave chocolate-hazelnut spread nesting in the midst of this chocolate cake. You will have to practice a little patience when it comes out of the microwave, though — molten Nutella may sound delish, but we don’t recommend risking a burnt mouth to confirm the theory!
If baking makes you happy …
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