If you’re like me, then modern living is being squashed into a dinky apartment you can barely breathe in. The price you pay for living where the jobs are, right? So when space is at a premium you need to maximize what you can fit in, and you always need something to reheat leftovers, defrost frozen meals or just nuke three-day-old pizza. So in this article we’re going to look at the best microwave for small spaces, whether that’s living in a dorm, small apartment, office, anywhere where you don’t have much room to work with.
We’ve researched and reviewed lots of models and brands of microwaves to provide a comprehensive roundup. We looked at factors such as ease of use, reliability, safety, features, and power output so that we can confidently recommend a product that all consumers will be satisfied with.
Best Overall: BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 Digital Microwave Oven
Best Simple Microwave: Comfee EM720CPL Countertop Microwave
Smallest Capacity: Commercial Chef Rotary Microwave Oven
Microwave With Voice Activation: Amazon Basics Microwave
Best Small Microwave For Features: Panasonic Microwave NN-SD3725
My pick for best microwave for small spaces is this model from Black And Decker. This microwave is about as small as it gets with a 0.7 cubic feet interior and 10″ diameter turntable. The width, depth and height are 17.3” x 13.0” x 10.2”. If you can’t fit this in, you ain’t fitting no microwave in.
Despite its diminutive size, this handsome machine is as reliable as it gets and still packs in loads of features. A punchy 700W gives you solid power for all cooking, reheating and defrosting.
If you’re just looking for a quality small microwave without reading endless reviews then click here and get on with your day.
Want a little more info? This article is packed full of it… get reading!
Fantastic reliability backed up by a comprehensive one-year warranty.
Easy to use, simple but useful keypad.
Packs a lot of features in for such a modestly sized machine.
My top pick for best microwave for small spaces or countertop is this Black and Decker model. It comes in at 0.7 cu. ft and a 10″ diameter turntable which is the baseline for a full-powered microwave and is roughly the size of all ovens in this list. They don’t get any smaller, basically.
What sets this apart from the rest is its ease of use and reliability combined with surprisingly many features for such a small microwave.
The keypad input fits a lot into a small area. The buttons are simple, clear and get the job done, offering six pre-programmed foods while also fitting in with the microwave’s modern aesthetic and stainless steel color.
The Black And Decker offers a solid 700W power output. This sits on the lower end of things but is more than capable of all cooking needs. Ten different power settings give you full control over reheating, defrosting and other low power modes.
Any downsides? Well, it’s not the quietest while in use, which is a running theme with these smaller microwave ovens, unfortunately.
A child safety lock, “+30 seconds” button and one year warranty complete the list of goodies you get with this oven. Pretty nice deal, right?
Simple but effective design.
An excellent 11 options for low and medium power modes.
One of the cheaper microwaves on this list.
A solid all-round choice for small microwave is this effort from Comfee. It’s well-reviewed on Amazon, plenty of features and even a small reduction in price from the Black and Decker in number one spot. In fact, its basic design and less established brand are the only things preventing it hitting top spot.
The Comfee is equipped with 700W and 11 power settings, more than enough to give most people full control over reheating and the like. The look is not personally my favorite, but hey we’re all different, right?
A “sound on/off” button, standby eco mode and child safety lock complete the features that might swing you to this microwave.
Smallest microwave on the list at only 0.6 cubic feet.
Extremely simple design that could be good or bad, depending on your preference.
Very few additional features.
This small but basic microwave from Commerical Chef is the most compact microwave oven you’ll find on Amazon. Its size is 0.6 cubic feet with a turntable of 9.5″ and external dimensions of 17.8 x 12.5 x 10.2 inches. The thing is tiny. If this won’t fit in your kitchen then it’s time to call it a day.
The input method is using two dials rather than the more common keypad input. While this can feel clunky and outdated, it can be useful for seniors or people who struggle to manage complex things. Or just those who like a “no frills” design.
The first dial is for the number of minutes to cook for and the second dial is to change the power with six lower power settings to choose from. Do you need any more than that? Not unless you see yourself as the next Gordon Ramsey. But as I mentioned, getting this microwave is all about the smallest space.
Its tiny size comes with the very minimum of features and a low wattage of only 600W. Expect cooking times will be slow.
Standout feature is the voice activation options in combination with an Echo Dot.
Cheap, safe and simple microwave.
Not an established microwave brand might put some off due to possibly support or reliability issues.
Another interesting option I felt worth including was this Amazon Basics microwave. The oven itself is cheap and cheerful, with Amazon going for minimum features, a small size and commensurately modest price tag.
The thing that caught my eye about this one was its compatibility with Alexa so you can use voice recognition. For example, you could say “Alexa, microwave for 2 minutes” and the oven starts humming, no questions asked.
The Amazon model sits at 0.7 cubic ft and a 10″ turntable with dimensions of 17.3″ x 10.1″ x 14.1″ (width x height x depth). Standard sizing for these smaller microwaves and the wattage of 700W will comes as no surprises to anyone who’s been paying attention to this article.
The keypad is basic and features are minimal, although you can enjoy child lock and voice-activated preset options. Last but not least, I’ll leave a couple of lines from the Amazon listing which I found interesting and might swing your decision this way.
“Automatically reorder popcorn when you run low and save 10% on popcorn orders—enabled by Amazon Dash Replenishment technology”
“Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new presets.”
Higher power output, albeit with a slightly higher price and capacity.
Excellent range of additional features to make cooking simpler including Inverter Technology, Genius Sensor and a lot more.
This microwave is a little bigger than the others on the list but comes with a bunch of great stuff that might make the sacrifice on size worth it.
To start with, the Panasonic comes in at 0.8 cubic ft with a 11.25″ turntable and dimensions of 11″ x 19.2″ x 14.8″. A little larger and little more costly, as you’d expect. Let’s get to the good stuff, though.
The Panasonic has a 950W power output. A huge bang for your buck considering its small size, giving you rapid cook times for such a small oven.
This microwave comes equipped with Panasonic’s patented inverter technology for low power uses such as reheating, defrosting, melting or softening.
Basically, microwaves on low power don’t actually run at low power, they simply turn off and on over and over again. For example, 30% power would be 3 seconds on then 7 seconds off and so on. The inverter technology emits a steady stream of heat which results in more thoroughly cooked food with no burnt edges or cool patches.
Add on the “genius sensor” which takes the guesswork out of cooking and reheating. Rather than choosing a time and hoping it’s right, you choose the weight and type of food and the microwave will calculate using the humidity how much time is needed.
Throw in a child lock, keep warm mode and “turbo defrost” and you’ve got an awesome yet petite microwave. Who says good things don’t come in small packages?
How Is Size Calculated?
Microwaves are a funny beast in that there are three separate ways to calculate the size.
- Cubic feet. The most common way is to give a volume in cubic feet. A smaller microwave might be 0.7 cu. ft whereas 1.8 cu. ft would be large. This helps as a rule of thumb but is pretty useless if you need specific measurements for it to fit somewhere.
- Turntable diameter. The glass plate that rotates when you’re microwaving food, called the turntable, can be used to give an idea of how large a microwave is (and how big the plates it can fit inside are). On the low end, you’re looking at around 10″ whereas the larger microwaves go up to 15″ or 16″.
- Dimensions. The dimensions are the length, width and height of the microwaves in inches. This tells you precisely how big the actual microwave is but makes it tricky to compare between microwaves and harder to visualize.
For each of my listed microwaves I’ll include all three measurements for you to compare.
If you just need small, go for the smallest cubic feet microwave you like the look of.
If you’ve got a space in mind and need to check whether it can fit, you’re best bet is to use the dimensions and check it.
What To Know Before Buying A Small Microwave
- Smaller microwaves are less powerful. The machinery that produces the microwaves used for cooking (the magnetron) is like an engine. The bigger it is, the more energy it can generate. So a small microwave will have a lower pwoer and it will cook more slowly.
Each of the microwaves in this list have a wattage that represents their power output. The typical range for household microwaves might be 700-1300W. Don’t worry about your purchase not being powerful enough though. You can still cook all the same things, it’s just a matter of how fast it gets cooked.
- Smaller microwaves are cheaper. Dovetailing with the above is that smaller microwaves require less parts and less power, offer fewer features and thus are cheaper. This is an added bonus to buying a small microwave.
- Smaller microwaves have less features. The microwaves listed above can all heat, cook, reheat and defrost perfectly well.
What is missing is handy advanced tech like sensor heating or inverter technology. If you use your microwave a lot for heating, reheating then you might consider whether it’s worth the extra space and expense to have more features available to you.
Why Don’t Microwaves Get Smaller Than 0.6-0.7 Cubic Ft?
The products on this list all hover around a standard range of 0.6-0.7 cubic feet and a 10″ turntable. Unfortunately, microwaves don’t get any smaller.
A turntable smaller than 10″ is simply too small. Ready meals, tv dinners and even medium-sized bowls and plates won’t fit into the oven. On top of that, the technology that produces the microwaves (the magnetron) is limited in how small it can be.
Buyer’s Guide For Best Microwave For Small Spaces
Your first and most important decision when choosing a microwave is to decide what amount of watts is necessary. The wattage of a microwave is a measure of its power, or more simply, how fast it cooks.
Generally speaking, the more the better. A higher wattage cooks things more quickly, a huge advantage whether you’re preparing a meal for ten people or just reheating yesterday’s leftovers.
The upper end of microwaves at around 1300W are almost twice as fast as the 700W or 800W microwaves you might be used to.
One caveat is that instructions and cooking times on packaged meals are for microwaves in the 700-900W range. However, you can simply reduce the power for most microwaves or just work out the time difference.
For example, a cooking time of 3 minutes (180 seconds) at 900W can be converted into 1200W using the following equation.
You might wonder why anyone would get a low wattage microwave. The technology used in microwaves gets exponentially more expensive to produce those higher wattages. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the extra power is worth the cost.
Dial or keypad
Microwaves use either a rotating dial or a keypad for input.
The keypad is the modern option. You have an LED display showing the remaining time and a plethora of buttons that offer different features or preset options.
A dial-based microwave is more simple and provides less information. You spin the dial to the amount of time you want. It’s tricky when doing smaller cooking times and doing increments of 30 seconds is often a guessing game!
Although nowadays you see some modern microwaves offer a dial input and LED display.
This option is useful for those who might have issues with a button-based input such as the disabled or elderly.
Size / Capacity
The standard measurement for size of microwaves in the USA is using cubic feet. Personally, I find this clunky and unhelpful. Here’s a rule of thumb to make sense of this measurement.
0.7 cubic feet – small microwave
1-1.5 cubic feet – normal-sized microwave
1.7+ cubic feet – larger microwave
It’s easier to judge size based on the diameter of the turntable on which you place your food. All microwaves I have reviewed have this diameter in the listing for your convenience.
To work out if a microwave will fit in your kitchen, it is best to use the dimensions of length, width, and height. These are available on any Amazon listing you can find by clicking on the links in the article.
The materials that make up the inner components of the microwave oven are standardized across the industry. For example. the inner panels of the microwave are made from stainless steel which reflects the radio waves (or microwaves) and prevents them from leaving the oven. They are the same in all microwave ovens.
Typically, the outside body of the microwave is made of aluminum which is strong and cheap. In terms of buying a microwave, you don’t need to think too deeply about the material it is made from.
You won’t always want to use your microwave at full power. For example, one neat trick you can do with the microwave is to run it at 10% power to make beautiful and warm melted chocolate. Some microwaves give you more control over power settings than others.
The standard in modern microwaves is to have ten “power levels” where a five corresponds to 50% and a nine to 90% and so on. This gives you a lot of control.
On the other hand, you also come across microwaves that simply offer “medium” and “medium-low” heat, sometimes without even telling you the percentage of the full power that it’s using.
Older and cheaper microwaves have a peculiar quirk when using low power modes. For example, when using a 50% power they will not run at 50% power but will alternate between 100% power and then 0% power. This shortcut is not ideal and can lead to unevenly cooked food.
The issue is that the magnetron, the “engine” of a microwave, can either be turned on or off. Creating a microwave that can produce a steady stream of lower power requires a touch of tech wizardry.
You need to decide if it’s worth the investment to have this “inverter technology” for low power modes like defrosting, softening, melting and so on.
Sensor heating is one of the highlights of modern microwave technology and takes the guesswork out of cooking and reheating.
Essentially, the microwave can detect moisture levels in the food and use this to calibrate precisely how much cooking time is needed. You select the type of food as different foods have different moisture profiles.
No need to put in an amount of time. In fact, some microwaves tell you how long is left before your food is ready.
Sensor technology can be used for reheating but also for cooking some foods from scratch. A valuable feature you may want to splash the cash for in your new microwave oven.
The “keep warm” feature can be a lifesaver for a busy cook trying to juggle cooking five different things at once. Put this setting on and the microwave will keep gravy, soup, desserts or anything else at a steady heat, giving you room to manage the finer points of the meal.
Power saving / eco mode
An “eco mode” offers a reduction of up to 50% of the power used in standby mode, helping you to take a little off your electric bill and do your bit for the environment.
What an “eco mode” cannot do is reduce the amount of power used to cook food. The magnetron uses power at the output of the wattage itself and cannot be made more efficient.
Child safety lock
A microwave with a child safety lock will allow you to “lock” the microwave from being turned on when not in use. This can stop children from fiddling with a potentially dangerous appliance.
Sound on/off option
A “sound on/off” button will turn electric sounds off when selecting options or time and also when the food is finished. Handy for those who share living arrangements to mute the constant buzz of sounds.
A “soften” or “melt” button on a microwave allows you to soften butter or melt chocolate with a single touch. All microwaves have this capability with their low power modes, but a standalone button takes the guesswork out of it.
A microwave with an in-built convection oven offers a great all-in-one appliance for those in dorms or with small kitchens where a separate oven is not an option. It can fulfill almost all the functions of a traditional oven but will rarely be as powerful. The cost is bumped up a fair bit, too.