If you're short on space, it can be tough to imagine yourself cooking in your kitchen. But, given that home cooking is a great creative outlet that even has benefits for your mental health, it can pay to invest in small space kitchen appliances. If you’ve avoided getting a microwave due to limited countertop storage space, you’re in luck: The best compact microwaves can provide many of the same features and performance of conventional microwaves at a fraction of the size. Compact microwaves generally offer between 0.7 to 1.2 cubic feet of cooking capacity. To guide you on what else to look for in these space-saving gadgets, here are some pointers.
Since the capacity for a microwave generally refers to the cooking cavity, not the actual footprint, it’s a good idea to check the overall dimensions to be sure it fits where you plan to put it. The compact microwaves recommended below all measure between 10 and 12 inches tall, and range between 13 and 20.5 inches wide, and 12 to 14 inches deep.
For functionality, you’ll get the most from your microwave if it comes with programmed settings and shortcut options like a 30-second timer. Having the option to change your microwave’s power setting also gives you a bit more versatility if you’re using it for cooking in addition to reheating. And microwaves with a spring-loaded door (rather than a handle), are easy to open if your hands are occupied.
If you’re looking for a high-quality appliance but don’t want to sacrifice space, the best compact microwaves will have you covered.
1. The Best Compact Microwave
- Dimensions: 17.3 x 13 x 10.2 inches (length by width by height)
This sleek, 700-watt microwave from Black&Decker has 0.7 cubic feet of capacity, and it comes equipped with 10 power settings and six preset programs for popcorn, potatoes, pizza, frozen vegetables, beverages, and a dinner plate. For quick jobs, there’s a 30-second timer, as well as an option to defrost frozen items based on their weight. Do you enjoy late night snacking, but don't want to wake up the rest of the house? Use the mute option to turn off the microwave’s audible prompts so you won’t disturb others. The microwave's door opens with a spring-loaded button which gives it more of a low-profile look than options with a handle. This model measures just 17.3 inches across, 13 inches deep, and 10.2 inches tall. If you want a little more capacity, the Black&Decker is also available in a 0.9-cubic foot option.
According to one reviewer: "Love the microwave! Quiet and compact! When I pulled it out of the box I was concerned it was going to be too small but dinner plates fit just fine and so does a bottle! I’d say it’s about 2/3 the normal size of a microwave! A little on the pricey side but it definitely looks nice so I’m not mad about it!"
2. The Splurge: A 1200-Watt Compact Microwave
- Dimensions: 20.7 x 15.8 x 12.2 inches (length by width by height)
It's a bit larger than the option above, but this microwave from Panasonic operates at a more powerful 1200 watts and has a larger 1.2-cubic-foot capacity. Using Panasonic’s inverter technology, a sensor precisely cooks foods evenly by ensuring there aren’t any hot or cold spots, even with frozen items. This allows it to cook foods up to 40% faster than conventional microwaves, since you won’t need to flip items, or start and stop the machine. A whopping 16 auto-cook settings give you the versatility to cook common foods like popcorn, soup, potatoes, and oatmeal. It has 11 power levels, and even three levels for popcorn alone, so you don’t have to worry about burnt or un-popped kernels.
According to one reviewer: "I use the Panasonic CompactMicrowave Oven to replace my existing one at home. This microwave oven is well constructed. It is noticeably lighter and easier to carry as compared to my old one. It also packs with a lot of nice features with 11 levels of power and sensor reheat function. The turbo defrost function works nicely on the frozen [bagels]."
3. The Best Value: A Compact Microwave For Under $70
- Dimensions: 17.75 x 12.50 x 10.25 inches (length by width by height)
For those who plan to use their microwave sparingly, it may not make sense to invest in an expensive unit. This 600-watt option has a compact, 0.6-cubic-foot capacity and takes up minimal space on countertops. Though the functionality is a bit more limited compared to the other two microwaves featured here, it comes loaded with four heating settings and a defrost setting. It also has eight time settings that range from one to 30 minutes for general microwaving jobs.
According to one reviewer: "I wanted a small simple microwave that works well and this definitely fit the bill. I chose this one because it needed to be compact to fit under my cabinets which are very low above the counter top. I also like this for the added bonus of using it in my pop up camper and being able to run it off a low wattage generator."