- 1 How to Choose a Small Microwave Oven
- 2 Reviews of the Best Small Microwave Ovens in 2020
- 3 Top-Rated Small Microwave Ovens Comparison Chart
- 4 Conclusion
Small microwaves are typically less than 18 inches wide, 12 inches deep, and 10 inches tall on the exterior. They are as compact as four-slice toaster ovens. Because of their relatively small capacity, these microwaves cannot accommodate a full-size chicken or a 13-inch pizza. But with a capacity ranging between 0.5 and 1.0 cubic feet, its interior is spacious enough to fit most dinner plates.
For those whose countertops are a little tight on space, small microwave ovens can be a good option. While they are not as fast as their larger counterparts, they come with most of the same great features, offering you an efficient way to heat up your food.
Small microwaves is designed to occupy minimal space on the counter. So they can also be tucked away in a cabinet or drawer if needed, thus allowing for easier storage and portability.
With thousands of good microwave ovens vying for your attention, it’s little wonder people struggle to choose the option that best suits their needs. That’s where we can help. We’ve reviewed dozens of top-rated models and condensed the best of them into our best small microwave oven list. Let’s browse for and find the most suitable one for your needs and budget.
How to Choose a Small Microwave Oven
The first important step to choosing the perfect unit is to figure out what type of microwave best suits your style and needs. Typically, there are three types of microwave ovens available, including solo, grill, and convection. Whatever you choose, your oven should reheat, defrost, and heat up with ease. It also should cook fast and evenly without heating up the entire kitchen.
Additional things to take into account include the unit’s size, power rating and feature set. These are important factors that will hugely affect how much food you can prepare at any given time, how long it takes to cook. And how easy it is to use the microwave.
1. Types of Microwaves
Solo microwaves are formulated for only heating, defrosting, and reheating needs. They aren’t good for grilling or baking tasks. Compared to their counterparts, they are generally cheaper with less cooking functions. Solo microwave prices range between $50 to $200, depending on their feature set.
We recommend grill microwaves for those who want to do more than just reheat leftovers but find the extra functions (baking, toasting, or roasting) redundant. Besides all the basic cooking needs, these models are also equipped with a grill function. So they usually come in handy for grilling meat/fish and barbecuing veggies. Grill microwaves can cost anywhere between $85 and $600, depending on their feature set.
Convection microwaves combine all the functions of a microwave and a convection oven. They can cook almost everything in a variety of ways, from grilling to baking and roasting.
While a solo or grill microwave allows you to heat up and cook food quickly through radiation, it cannot achieve the baking, browning or crisping that a convection microwave oven can achieve. If you want your food to be cooked quickly and also achieve that crisp or browned exterior, a convection oven could be a great option.
Compared with regular microwave ovens, these models cook faster and much more evenly. They’re also more expensive, with prices starting at around $300. While most users are quite positive about the baking performance of convection microwave ovens, these powerful devices do have some limitations.
For instance, convection microwaves are only available in medium to large-size versions. So if you’re limited on space, this may not be a good choice for you. Though they’re larger, they usually can’t make large batches of baked goods for small gatherings. Since the rotation of the glass tray inside the chamber will limit the size of the baking tray.
The power rating of a microwave usually determines how quickly and efficiently it cooks food. Generally, ovens with a higher wattage will heat up faster with less energy consumption than the ones with lower ratings. Small microwaves often have between 550 and 700 watts of cooking power. Compared with their larger counterparts, small microwaves are less powerful, so they usually take about 25-30% longer to heat food.
Features and Functions
Ideally, you should find a unit which includes a timed cook function, Add 30 seconds button, preset cooking cycles (from 1 to 6 minutes), and set of pre-programmed cooking modes. These are convenient features that allow you to quickly prepare food without having to babysit or constantly guess the cooking time for the perfect results.
For those who have young children, microwaves with a child lock function are worth considering. This safety feature allows you to lock the keypad either when the machine is operating or powered off. By doing this, any cooking cycle chosen cannot be modified under any circumstances. As well as no one being able to operate the oven accidentally.
Although microwave-related injuries are very rare, it doesn’t mean the product is risk-free, especially for your kids. For you and your family’s safety, we recommend you find units with a child lock function. These models come with the advantage of automatically locking the keypad either when the oven is cooking or shut off. So only you are controlling the functions.
Models with automatic sensors are growing in popularity, and for good reason. They help save you from the hassle of over-cooked food by automatically turning off the oven as soon as the food is cooked through.
Reviews of the Best Small Microwave Ovens in 2020
Below are our picks of the best small microwave ovens this year. These models were chosen because we appreciate how quick they are to reheat leftovers, how they take some of the anxiety out of defrosting food, how they speed up the melting/softening process for baking. And how easy they are to use for heating up side dishes.
Let’s scroll down to see more!
- Commercial Chef CHM660B – Best to Buy 2020
- Panasonic NE-1025F – Best Value Small Microwave
- RecPro RV Microwave – Best Small Built-in Microwave
- AmazonBasics – Best Small Countertop Microwave Oven
- COMFEE’ EM720CPL-PMB – Best Small Microwave for RVs
Here are our picks of the Best Small Microwave Ovens:
1. Commercial Chef CHM660B – Best to Buy 2020
We choose the Commercial Chef CHM660B because of its powerful motor, stylish design, and long lifespan. Though it’s cheap, it comes with plenty of useful features, including a user-friendly control panel, bright digital display, and useful pre-set menus.
The Commercial Chef CHM660B is a pretty basic microwave oven that will match perfectly with any kitchen’s style—either vintage or modern. It’s simple to operate, with little more than the mechanical dial controls for the cooking time and power levels.
The oven doesn’t have the sensor reheat modes, LED display, express cook controls, or an Add 30 seconds button. But it still comes with enough customization to make it unique and stand out.
The Commercial Chef CHM660B is one of the fastest microwave ovens on our list. While it works slower than the ones that have 1000 watts or more, what it does, it does pretty well. Equipped with a 600-watt motor, it can quickly reheat foods and defrost veggies without hot spots. It is even powerful enough to handle heavy-duty tasks, like cooking a frozen dinner, though the process may take longer than you’d expect.
Many users appreciate the size of this small microwave, which allows for easy cleaning and storage. Measuring about 17.75 inches wide, 12.5 inches deep, and 10.25 inches tall on the exterior, the Commercial Chef CHM660B is a great solution for small or cramped kitchens. Appearance and easy cleaning are also on our priorities list, and this one worked for us.
The Commercial Chef CHM660B has a capacity of 0.6 cubic feet. This is enough to accommodate a standard dish or medium family-sized meal. It allows you to switch between 6 power levels. Different power levels aid in providing more control over your cooking, preventing the risk of uneven outcomes. They also make the oven great for a larger variety of dishes.
The Commercial Chef CHM660B makes use of knobs instead of pads. So even those who have difficulty reading the tiny print on the keypad still find it pleasant to use. Compared with electronic controls, the mechanical dial controls are much easier to clean and wipe down.
We like that the Commercial Chef CHM660B comes with a door handle instead of a push-button release. That being said, the door opening force is quite large and the microwave itself is not very heavy. So you’ll need to steady the oven with one hand and then open the door with the other. Or the whole unit will slide forward when you’re struggling to open the door.
We found that a thin anti-slip rubber pad placed under the microwave can effectively solve this problem, but this is still an issue you need to pay special attention to.
2. Panasonic NE-1025F – Best Value Small Microwave
We recommend the more expensive Panasonic NE-1025F for those who are seeking simple, basic operation and have a budget for a premium model. Compared with the top pick, this microwave is relatively larger, with a footprint of 20.13 inches wide by 12 inches tall. It also has a roomier interior. At 0.8 cubic feet of capacity, it can accommodate a full 11-inch dinner plate or a 9-inch pizza.
The Panasonic NE-1025F is the only model on our list that features a no turntable design. According to the manufacturer, this can help bring the dishes closer to the heat source located at a bottom energy feed system. Consequently, the microwave will cook faster with less energy usage than other models. To be honest, we like this idea, but don’t think it can help the Panasonic NE-1025F cook faster than any other oven in this segment.
But as a 1000-watt microwave, it heats up faster than most of the other ovens on our list. It’s even strong enough to withstand high-volume use. You can use this microwave for any business-related settings like cafeterias, fast-food restaurants, and convenience stores. With a relatively compact footprint, it’s also a perfect option for offices, hotels, and break rooms.
The microwave costs more than twice as much as other models on our list. But it’s completely worth the investment given its long lifespan, high-build quality, and the possibility to endure heavy-duty use. It even compares well to other more expensive models.
The Panasonic NE-1025F is great for not only promoting faster cooking time but also for increasing efficiency in heating up a coffee mug, frozen casserole, chocolate bar, or a bag of popcorn.
With a heavy-duty commercial-grade, stainless-steel front and steel exterior cabinet, this little workhorse will certainly match well with any kitchen decor while leaving you more kitchen space to work with.
The Panasonic NE-1025F is remarkably easy to use. It features nothing more than a 6-minute electronic dial timer that is precisely marked in 10-, 15-, and 30-second increments. The timer resets automatically after every countdown and is designed with a high-visibility light to make itself more visible even in the darkness.
Right in the front, there is a heating time guide that recommends cooking times for many popular foods. Many users found this feature to be very useful as it removes the need to constantly guess for the appropriate cooking time. As a great bonus, the microwave has an alarm sound that will notify you when the food is ready. And at this point the oven light will automatically turn off to save energy.
3. RecPro RV Microwave – Best Small Built-in Microwave
If your counter space is minuscule, installing your microwave into either an existing wall or cabinet could be an excellent space-saving solution. And the RecPro is one of the few small countertop microwaves available with the option of being a built-in model.
Apart from freeing up precious counter space and leaving ample room for other units, this built-in microwave will also give a more streamlined appearance in your kitchen.
It’s advised you shouldn’t try to install the oven by yourself even when this is quite simple. If something were to go wrong during the installation process, both the microwave and kitchen could be potentially damaged, and any warranty voided.
If you hire a certified handyman or electrician to help with your installation, you will be responsible for the installation cost which can start at $150-$200, depending on the installation specialist.
Also, keep in mind that having your microwave installed in a permanent position could be a barrier when it comes to remodeling your kitchen. So if you move or remodel frequently, we don’t think this built-in microwave would be a good option.
The RecPro is around 19 inches wide, 14.5 inches deep, and 10.6 inches tall on the exterior. With a 20.6-inch wide by 15-inch high trim kit, the machine is designed to fit standard cabinet widths, which usually have openings 24 inches wide.
Thanks to the sleek matching trim kit, your oven will fit well into its space and perfectly blend in with the interior of your kitchen. As a nice bonus, you don’t have to buy this add-on separately. It’s shipped with the unit without any extra cost.
The RecPro has a capacity of 0.9 cubic feet. That’s a bit more than most other models on this list. It has a decent amount of space to accommodate a standard dish, medium family-sized meal, or a small square casserole pan with a handle.
Equipped with a child lock function, the microwave helps create a kid-friendly kitchen due to its ability to prevent accidental activation, thus ensuring your little’s safety. For further convenience, it features a selection of 8 auto cook options to let you quickly prepare some common foods like popcorn, pizza, potatoes, soup, beverages, and more.
The useful touch pad controls also feature an Add 30 seconds function and express cook controls, allowing users to quickly set cooking times with the single touch of a button.
The RecPro is the only microwave oven in this list that doesn’t have a door handle. To open the door, you have to press a button underneath the control panel. Luckily, the push-button release is easy to use even with delicate fingers.
The machine also doesn’t have a sensor for auto-heating modes, but is among the cheapest, positively-reviewed, built-in microwaves that works well doing what it needs to.
4. AmazonBasics – Best Small Countertop Microwave Oven
Maxing out at 700 watts of power, the AmazonBasics is a great microwave for almost all cooking needs, from preparing snacks to reheating last night’s leftovers or heating up a coffee mug.
It’s also a great popcorn-friendly microwave that excels at quickly and evenly distributing heat around the corn kernels so that they will pop before burning on one side. This microwave works and ensures you will get perfectly popped popcorn every single time.
Though it’s inexpensive, it comes with several practical functions that could certainly satisfy your expectations for such a small-sized microwave, including a turntable, child lock, and ten power levels. It can even work with Amazon Alexa to let you control the microwaving process by using your voice.
The AmazonBasics is as compact as our top pick. Despite the small size, its 0.7 cubic feet of capacity offers plenty of space for a standard dinner plate or a small square casserole pan with a handle.
The machine doesn’t have automatic sensor modes (not many small microwaves at this price range have this function), but it does feature an Add 30 seconds button and preset cooking cycles for quick “shortcut” cooking. It also comes with a door handle, providing you with a practical way to open/close the oven. Truly speaking, for such an inexpensive price, it offers more than we expected.
5. COMFEE’ EM720CPL-PMB – Best Small Microwave for RVs
The COMFEE’ EM720PL-PMB is one of the cheapest microwaves coming with almost all the features that you can find in a more expensive model. As a 700-watt microwave, it may take a bit more time to warm up the food than models with a higher wattage. But overall, it can efficiently defrost vegetables, make popcorn, cook potatoes, and reheat rice without taking up too much counter space.
Whether you’re spending just a few days or an entire season in your RV, this microwave is durable enough to withstand RV conditions, giving you years of traveling enjoyment. You can explore, adventure, and really experience the joys of traveling while still being able to prepare outstanding meals right in your RV.
Besides being a great addition to your camper, fifth-wheel, or motorhome, this microwave is also suitable for use in a tiny house, cramped apartment, or other recreational living space.
At 0.7 cubic feet of capacity, the oven can comfortably handle single servings, a popcorn bag size of less than 3 oz, or a half-size pan in either direction. Compared with its small-size counterparts, the COMFEE’ EM720PL-PMB is more energy efficient thanks to the Energy-saving Eco Mode. When the Eco mode is activated, the LED display will go off to reduce 50% standby power, thus helping to decrease your electric bill (every little helps!).
The COMFEE’ EM720PL-PMB is the only model in our list that features a mute button. We believe that anyone who gets annoyed with the constant beeping sounds at the end of every cooking cycle may find this function helpful. Other notable features include the Child Safety Lock, One Touch Express cooking function with 1-6 minutes, Add 30 seconds botton, and two defrost settings (by weight or by time).
A downside to this microwave is the vent fan which doesn’t do its job as well as it could. Unfortunately this means that moisture can collect on the internal walls and dishes of the microwave. So you’d need to wipe it down with each use or it’s hard to see through the door window to check on the food’s cooking process. This can also cause food smells to remain for longer.
Top-Rated Small Microwave Ovens Comparison Chart
|Commercial Chef CHM770SS||700||0.6 Cu. Ft.||2 years|
|Panasonic NE-1025F||1000||0.8 Cu. Ft.||1year|
|RecPro||900||0.9 Cu. Ft.||1 year|
|AmazonBasics||700||0.7 Cu. Ft.||1 year|
|COMFEE' EM720CPL-PMB||700||0.7 Cu. Ft.||1 year|
Small microwave ovens are much appreciated in tight spaces like a dorm, single apartment, or RV. They work fine but usually have a smaller capacity and deliver less power than the ones with a larger footprint. So, if you are planning on hosting a large family gathering, it would probably be better to get a microwave with a capacity of at least 2.0 cubic feet.
So that is our list for the best small microwaves. Although the right choice will highly depend on your need and budget, we hope this post could make the choosing process much easier.