While your humble coffee maker has likely always seemed like the ultimate one-trick pony of the kitchen, good for producing your daily dose of caffeine and not much more, this simple appliance has far more potential that you’ve ever imagined. Although most cooks armed with a stove, oven, grill, and microwave would never think to turn to their coffee pot to prepare a meal, this small heat source can save the day when there are no other options.
Whether you’re attempting to cook a homemade meal in a kitchenless hotel room or dorm, or simply want to push the limits of this every day appliance, these simple tips and tricks will help you evolve your coffee maker from a single-use tool into a multifaceted cooking machine.
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For the ultimate affordable dorm meal, turn your coffee maker into an instant noodle making machine. Add your dry noodles to the pot, along with the seasoning packet (or customized seasoning of your own choosing). Fill the water reservoir with the recommended amount of water—2 cups for a standard ramen package—and cook your noodles for a few minutes in the hot water until they’ve reached your ideal texture. This same process can be used to make other pre-packaged instant meals, like instant mac and cheese and instant rice.
Whether you’re a fan of broccoli, carrots, green beans, or any vegetable in between, they can all be cooked with the help of this small appliance. Rather than placing your vegetables in the pot, place them in the filter basket where your coffee grounds would typically go. Then, fill your water reservoir to the max and turn on the coffee maker, allowing the hot water to run over the vegetables and give them a light steam.
While the idea of cooking fish in your coffee maker might seem outlandish, it absolutely can be done. Add your salmon filet to the coffee pot along with the seasonings of your choice—such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder—and a squeeze of lemon. Then, run your coffee maker as usual until the pot has filled with hot water. Allow the salmon to poach in the water for about 8-10 minutes, until it has turned opaque and flaky.
There are two options for cooking scrambled eggs with your coffee maker. The first of which is to use an extra-small pan over the heating plate of the coffee maker. While it will certainly take longer for your pan to heat up than on the stove, it will eventually produce enough heat to cook your scrambled eggs low and slow. The other option is to add your whisked eggs to the coffee pot and cook over the heating mechanism. While this also takes time, as the heat will be more diffused, it can work in a pinch. Just make sure to stir your eggs frequently to prevent them from sticking to the pot.
To cook bacon with the heat from your coffee maker, make a DIY cooking surface by covering the heating plate with aluminum foil. Cut your bacon into smaller pieces that will fit on the coffee machine’s base, add to the pre-heated foil, and flip once one side of the bacon appears browned and crisp. This method can also work for breakfast sausages and Canadian bacon.
Boiled Hot Dogs
For a ballpark feel without the ticket price, boil your hot dogs with the help of your coffee maker by simply adding the dogs to the pot and running the machine until it is filled with hot water. Allow the hot dogs to cook in the hot water to your desired level of doneness.
Once your coffee is brewed, complete your breakfast by making some easy oats. Add ½ cup of oats to the pot and 1 cup of water to the reservoir. Run the coffee maker through its normal cycle and soak the oats for the amount of time indicated by the oats container—typically about 2 minutes for instant oats and 4-10 minutes for old-fashioned.
Hard Boiled Eggs
This simple task requires just 2 steps: Placing your eggs in the pot and starting the coffee maker. Be sure to use just enough water to cover the tops of the eggs, which will enable the heat to stay concentrated and cook the eggs faster. While it will likely take a while to cook your eggs fully with this method, it can work in a pinch. Since the cooking time will depend on the wattage of your coffee maker, start by cooking a test egg 15-20 minutes and checking to see if it’s done. Once you’ve figured out the perfect timing for your machine, you can apply that to the rest of your eggs. Note that the more eggs you add to the pot, the longer it will take them all to set completely.
Craving pasta with no kitchen in sight? Wrap your coffee pot in foil to preserve the heat and add your spaghetti (broken in half) to the pot. Run the coffee maker as usual until the pot is filled with hot water, and cook your pasta until its reached your preferred texture. This method can also work for just about any kind of dry pasta.
Pasta Sauce and Meatballs
To complete your pasta night with some sauce and meatballs, add your sauce and some frozen pre-cooked meatballs to your coffee pot—ideally still wrapped in foil from your pasta-making process—and heat them over the coffee pot’s heat source until everything is warm. Add the cooked pasta of your choice to the sauce and serve.
This basic cooking task can surprisingly be accomplished without a stove in sight. To sweat your onions using a coffee maker, start by dicing your vegetable and adding it to the pot with one tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Run your coffee maker without any water, and allow the heat and the fat to sweat your onions in the pot.
This fluffy grain base can easily be cooked with the help of your coffee maker. Simply add your couscous to the pot, and fill the water reservoir with 1-¼ cup water per cup of the grain. Run the machine and occasionally stir the couscous once it’s been integrated with the hot water. You can also opt to add seasonings to the couscous as it cooks, or butter to add richness to the dish.
You can easily hand craft a variety of simple soups using the heating power of your machine. While you can play around with your ingredients, a good base is chopped onion, garlic, carrots, peas, and any additional vegetables and seasonings of your choice. You can choose to add a packet of soup seasoning to the pot and run water through the machine, or add soup stock directly to the pot and warm the soup over the coffee maker’s heat source. For the best result, run your machine for a few hours, cooking your soup slowly until complete.
For a lazier (and far faster) option, use a store-bought condensed canned soup and run one cup of water through the machine to heat your soup in just minutes.
Cover your heating plate with foil and construct your sandwich by slicing one slice of white bread in half and buttering both sides of the bread. It’s necessary to cut your bread in half, as full-sized slices are unlikely to fit onto the heating mechanism. Once your sandwich is constructed, add your sandwich to the foil, turn on the coffee maker (sans water), and flip once one side is golden brown.
Before cooking lentils with any method, always make sure to rinse your lentils thoroughly and pick out any rocks or other debris. Add your rinsed legumes to the pot and fill the water basin with 2 cups of water per ½ cup of lentils. Run the machine and let your lentils sit in the hot water for 1-2 hours until they’ve reached your ideal texture. You can also use this method with other dried legumes, like chickpeas.
Corn on the Cob
To cook this summertime favorite with minimal heating options, cut your cob in half or thirds until they fit into the pot and fill the water basin with 3-4 cups of water. Run the machine and cook your corn for about 20 minutes in the hot water, flipping once in the water to ensure even cooking.
There are two methods for making hot chocolate in the coffee maker, depending on how seriously you take this cold-weather treat. The first is to simply add hot chocolate powder to a mug and use your coffee maker to heat and disperse your water. The more advanced—and delicious—method is to add 2 cups of heavy cream and a bag of chocolate chips to your coffee pot before running 2 cups of water through the machine, melting the chocolate and creating a creamy, chocolatey drink in the process.
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