13 Surprising Ways to Use Your Coffee Maker

You might think your coffee maker is a one-trick pony—does anything smell more wonderful than a fresh-brewed pot of coffee? But let’s think about this for a moment.


That appliance heats water to about 200 F. and comes equipped with a hot plate to keep it at about 165 F. Whether you’re traveling, living in a dorm room, or just like the idea of a kitchen tool doing more than one thing, you’re going to love knowing all the things your coffee maker can do besides brew coffee.


Make soup

Instant soup, especially those packets of ramen, is perfect for preparing with a coffee maker. Break up the noodles then pour the entire contents including seasoning mix into the coffee carafe.

Now pour water through the machine as if you were making coffee. Let it set on the hot plate for a few minutes and you’re good to go.

Cook Pasta

Thin pasta like linguini, fettuccini, and spaghetti can be cooked to perfection in your coffee maker. Prepare the coffeemaker to make a full pot of coffee, but leave out the filter and the coffee. Break the dry pasta (for a single serving) as needed so it fits into the empty carafe and place it on the hotplate. Turn the coffeemaker on and all the carafe to fill. Leave in place on the hotplate until the pasta is cooked to al dente. Drain in a colander and enjoy! in the colander!

Fry pancakes

You’re going to think I’m nuts but stick with me here. You really can make mini-pancakes on a coffee maker’s hot plate.

First, line the burner with foil (optional, but foil will keep it clean), and let it heat up. Now pour a small amount of batter right onto the foil. Flip it over when the edges begin to turn brown and the surface develops small bubbles.

Grilled cheese

Refer back to the pancakes above. You can use this same method to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Just let the burner with foil heat up to its max, then place your buttered cheese sandwich right on top. Once it’s golden brown, give it a flip to grill the other side. Yum!

Make a quesadilla

You don’t need the water, filter, or even the carafe to make quesadillas. All you need is the hotplate, which really will get hot enough to melt cheese to make hot, crispy, delicious quesadillas.

Add a little butter to the hot plate. Once it starts to sizzle, place a tortilla followed by grated cheese, and another tortilla. Flip when it reaches your desired level of melt and crispiness. Amazing, right?

Prepare oatmeal

This is such a great idea, especially if you’re traveling and holed up in a hotel room. Place the oatmeal, cinnamon, raisins—however you like it—into the carafe. Run the right amount of water (if you have a recipe or read the label on a packet of instant oatmeal) through the coffee maker. Give it a stir, then let the oatmeal “cook” accordingly. There you go, instant breakfast!

Poach fish

Perfectly poached fish is far too underrated, in my opinion. Prepared properly, it is unbelievably tender and melts in your mouth. Certain fish like salmon, trout, and halibut are ideal for poaching.

Start by brewing a full pot of hot water in the coffeemaker (no filter, no coffee). Add a little olive oil and seasonings to the hot pot of water. Leave it on the hot plate. Check the temp with an instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches about 140 F., slide in the pieces of fish. Allow to remain on the hot plate for 10 minutes or so, or until fish is cooked through and flaky.

Carefully remove the fish from the poaching liquid using a slotted tool and serve immediately.

Poach or boil eggs

Whether you want poached, soft-boiled, or hard-boiled eggs the coffee maker is a perfect appliance to get the job done.

For boiled eggs, carefully, place eggs in the coffee carafe. A 12-cup carafe can hold at least four eggs comfortably. Now proceed as if you are brewing a pot of coffee, just leave out the filter and the coffee. Make sure you use enough water to cover the eggs completely. Once the eggs are completely submerged, start the timer.

It should take about three to four minutes for soft-boiled, and seven to eight minutes for hard-boiled. You will need to experiment with the timing, depending on the size and brand of coffee maker that you have.

For poaching, wait until the water is in the carafe, then crack an egg into a spoon and carefully add it to the hot water just as you would if poaching in a pan.

Heat hot dogs

Place a couple of hot dogs into the empty carafe. Set the coffee maker to make a full pot, sans the filter and coffee. Turn on the hot plate and turn it on.

The hot water will cover the dogs, and the hot plate will keep them hot. As they are already cooked, this is simply a reheating process but also perfect for keeping them hot until ready to eat.

Boil corn on the cob

Break the fresh corn into pieces small enough to fit into the carafe. Run a full tank of water and let it sit on the hot plate until the corn is tender-crisp! Pour out the water and use tongs to remove the small cobs. Who knew, right?

“Bake” mini cupcakes

I laughed out loud when I read about this idea. Maybe I scoffed. But then I tried it. This is adorable, if not super clever. You can actually bake mini cupcakes on a coffee maker’s hot plate! I used a small metal measuring cup and a large measuring cup ( a small saucepan would also work) to pull this off:

Fill the “cupcake tin” (measuring cup) about half-full, place on the coffee maker’s hot plate that you’ve allowed to warm up to its max temp, and invert the saucepan over it to create a tiny oven. Keep your eye on it because it won’t take too long to make a tasty tiny cupcake. Truly, if I were still in college, this would be my favorite dorm room trick.

Make chocolate fondue

Whether you have a hankering for fondue or just need to dip a few strawberries in chocolate, your coffee maker wants to help out.

Heat 3/4 cup of heavy cream in the carafe set over the hot plate. Break up chocolate bars (three 3.5 oz. bars to 3/4 cup cream is a good ratio) and drop them into the cream. Stir occasionally to combine.

The coffee maker’s hot plate will melt the chocolate and keep it at the right consistency for hours. Perfect for dipping marshmallows, fruit, and other things I’m sure you’ve already thought of!

Warm a baby bottle

Traveling with baby? That small coffee maker in your hotel room is ideal to warm a bottle of milk or formula. Following the instructions on the machine, leave out the coffee, and brew a pot of hot water. Remove the pot from the burner and set the bottle in the hot water. Check the bottle every few minutes until it comes to the perfect temperature.


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3 replies
  1. Diane B says:

    Neat ideas Mary! I am going to try some; especially the oatmeal one. Thanks for all you do to help us live a thrifty life!


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