14 Surprising Foods You Can Cook Using Just a Coffee Maker
Your coffee maker can grind beans and brew your morning cuppa all before you get out of bed. But that single-use appliance is capable of so much more if you have a little culinary imagination. Plus, it can come in surprisingly handy for hungry students stuck in a college dorm or those making do without a stove during a kitchen renovation.
Corn on the cob
Don’t wait for a stockpot of water to boil. Put several ears of corn in the carafe—cut them in half to fit—and fill the machine with four cups of water. Brew the water and let the corn sit ten minutes. Roll the ears of corn over in the hot water and let them sit another ten minutes or until tender.
If you can turn small glass bowls into a makeshift double boiler, you’re in the ooey-gooey melted caramel game. Remove the carafe from your coffee maker and turn on the warming plate. Set a glass bowl on the hot plate and add several tablespoons of water. Put another glass bowl of equal size on top of the bottom bowl. Add several caramel candies or melts to the top bowl, and stir occasionally to melt. Once the candies are melted, you can dunk an apple into the caramel, or use it as a dip for any number of treats: Large marshmallows, strawberries, and more. (Don’t let kids do this unsupervised as the caramel can burn them.)
Sous vide cooking is popular in high-end kitchens and among techie cooks alike, but crafty home cooks know you can use your coffee maker for a similar end result. Cut pieces of fish—thicker fish like salmon and cod are great options—down to size, and place them in the bottom of the coffee carafe. Add your preferred seasonings and fill the machine with three to four cups of water. Turn on the coffee maker and let the water brew. Let the fish sit in the hot water for seven to ten minutes or until the fish is tender. (For thinner fish, poach for less time.) Drain the water from the carafe and serve the fish. Check out some more easy, delicious fish recipes for busy weeknights.
While you’re poaching fish in the carafe, you can use the coffee maker’s basket to cook the side dish. Place two-inch pieces of chopped asparagus in the basket and fill the machine with water. (If nothing is in the carafe, fill the machine to the maximum fill line.) Let the steam and hot water wash over the vegetable pieces to turn them delicately tender. Broccoli florets and baby carrots also work well with this cooking technique.
You can brew hot water in your coffee maker (sans coffee beans, of course), and use the piping hot H2O to turn instant oatmeal into a rapid breakfast option. Or, if you prefer a heartier texture, cook old-fashioned oats in the carafe: Fill the machine’s reservoir with the correct ratio of water. (Typically, oatmeal cooks in a 1:2 ratio, so for every half cup of oats, add one cup of water.) Turn on the machine, and brew the hot water into the oats directly. Let the oats rest ten to 12 minutes, then stir in a sweetener like honey or brown sugar. Here are some more of our favorite quick breakfast ideas.
Small business owner and mother of four Phallin Marie uses her Keurig’s settings to get just-right servings of piping hot water for her kids’ favorite foods. “You can put your Ramen noodles in a bowl with the sauce packet and select eight to ten ounces of water, depending on how much broth you like,” she says. “Make sure you remove any old coffee pods, to prevent coffee-flavored Ramen. After the water is done pouring out, I place a saucer on top of the bowl and set a timer for two to three minutes. And voilà, your Ramen noodles are ready.” You can also add the instant noodles to the coffee carafe and boil the water right into the noodles. Let the noodles sit until tender.
“We’ve tested out making certain foods with our coffee maker and the best one—hands down—is always chicken soup, minus the actual chicken, veggies, and pasta,” says Dan Scalco, founder of Food Box HQ. “This is because the coffee maker allows the soup and added spices to simmer properly and carefully so the soup is ‘infused’ with the spices rather than just having them added. It really does taste better!” Watch out for these ways you’ve been using your coffee machine wrong.
Grilled cheese sandwich
When you think of your coffee pot as just a hot plate with a bonus feature (that is, brewing coffee), the idea of making a grilled cheese sandwich with it seems a little less odd. Look for a small egg pan that fits on your coffee maker’s hot plate. Place it on the hot plate, and toast your cheese sandwich the way you would on a stove top: Smear butter or mayonnaise on one side of two slices of bread. Place several slices of cheese on the unbuttered side, and top with the other slice (unbuttered side to cheese). Let the pan preheat on the hot plate so you get a deliciously crisp and golden crust. Cook five to seven minutes per side, then flip. No small frying pan? Cover the hot plate with aluminum foil, and cook directly on it.
Wrap the carafe in aluminum foil to help the water retain some heat. Place your noodles directly into the carafe and fill the machine with enough water to cover the pasta. Brew the water and let the pasta sit in the piping hot water for ten minutes or longer. Because the water isn’t boiling, it will take longer for the pasta to be tender. Drain the water, and use the pasta for your dinner. Better yet, keep that pasta water and freeze it in ice cube trays. The starchy water that’s created when pasta is cooked is thick and rich. It’s great to freeze and keep on hand for adding body to sauces, soups, and more. Check out some more brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.
Coffee makers double as tea makers if you brew hot water with tea bags. Take the hot tea a step further and add some sore throat-soothing staples: Whiskey and honey. If you brew more than you can sip, refrigerate the leftover boozy brew for up to a week, and heat in the microwave for your nightly sip.
If burgers and hot dogs are on the menu, you can heat the sausages in your coffee maker before serving, and keep them warm while you wait. Add as many hot dogs as you need—a whole package should fit—and brew enough water to cover. Let the hot dogs sit 15 to 20 minutes to warm. Drain and serve, or use a fork to remove each hot dog one at a time, keeping the others warm until they’re needed.
If you’ve purchased that small frying pan for hot sandwiches, you can use it on the hot plate to fry or scramble an egg or two. Need more cooked eggs? You can scramble several eggs in your coffee maker’s carafe. Add the eggs to the carafe with any ingredients you prefer (milk, salt, and pepper, for example), and flip on the warming plate. Let the eggs warm, stirring occasionally to scramble. This may take longer than cooking on the stove or in a microwave, so start cooking them a bit earlier than you typically might to make sure they’re ready on time.
When the powdered cocoa just won’t do, make your own lusciously rich hot chocolate in your coffee maker. Fill the carafe with two cups of heavy cream and a bag of chocolate chips. Brew one to two cups of water, and stir to melt and combine the ingredients. Before serving, stir the chocolate to make sure any chocolate pieces at the bottom are incorporated into the drink.
Crispy rice treats
If you have a large capacity coffee carafe (at least an eight-cup carafe), that could be the container for a delightfully fun dessert. In the carafe, melt three to four tablespoons of butter. Add a ten-ounce bag of marshmallows and stir to melt. When the marshmallows are melted and combined thoroughly with the butter, add six cups of crispy rice cereal, one cup at a time, to the marshmallow mixture. Stir to combine, then pour the rice cereal into a buttered three-quart dish. Let the treats harden, then cut into squares to serve.