Compact microwave ovens are great kitchen aids, especially if space is limited. They may not have the power or oven capacity to cook a three-course meal, but they work well as a backup when traditional oven space is at a premium. If you live with a small kitchen but still want the comfort of all cooking capabilities, then a small microwave might be right for you.

This article looks at the top small microwaves available on the market today. Following our list of basic specifications, we’ll offer a few insights as to why these models should be on your shopping list for outfitting a smaller kitchen, before rounding up with a handy buying guide and our overall recommendations.

  • Oven capacity: 1.0 cu. Ft.
  • Memory function
  • 1000-watts of power
  • 8 pre-set programmes
  • 10 power levels
  • Limited 3-year warranty

  • Capacity 0.7 cu. ft.
  • 700-watts of power
  • Convenience cooking controls
  • Auto and timed defrost settings
  • Stainless steel exterior
  • One-year warranty.

  • Oven capacity: 0.8 cu. ft.
  • 950-watts of power
  • Keep warm feature and one-touch auto cooking
  • Inverter technology
  • Turbo defrost
  • One-year warranty.

  • Oven capacity: 0.7 cu. ft.
  • 700-watts of power
  • 6 quick-set menus
  • Child safety lockout buttons
  • White exterior styling
  • One-year warranty.

  • Oven capacity: 0.7 cu. Ft.
  • 700-watts of power
  • Available in Black, White, and Stainless steel
  • 6 pre-set menus for simple cooking
  • Speed defrost setting
  • One-year warranty.

  • Oven capacity: 0.9 cu. ft.
  • 900-watts of power
  • Power saving mode and child safety lock
  • Quick-start button plus an “Add 30-second” function
  • 6 pre-set buttons for convenience
  • One-year warranty.


Cuisinart CMW-100 Small Microwaves

Compared to other microwaves on this list, the Cuisinart is positively huge! At 1.0 Cu. Ft, it is the largest oven capacity of the smaller microwaves reviewed.

Combined with this generous capacity, the Cuisinart has a lot of options to keep even the fussiest cook happy. With a powerful 1000-watts, 2 defrost options and 25 pre-programmed settings, this machine makes convenience cooking even easier. It also offers 8 preset modes, with additional serving-size options, and 2-stage cooking functionality.

The glass turntable is 12-inches, so handles dinner plates easily, and with the quick-start facility, you won’t go hungry waiting for the food to get hot. It even has a memory function so you can customize how you like your food cooked for next time. The LCD touchpad controls are intuitive to navigate, so you’ll feel like a pro chef with little effort.

One thing to note is that this model states it works as a convection oven combo, too, but many users have found this function doesn’t work particularly well. Therefore, it’s best used just as a microwave. There have also been reports of a whining noise during use and the door handle is quite weak, so should be used with care to avoid damage. However, this microwave offers the longest warranty period of any of the models on our list at 3-years; so should you encounter an issue, you’ll be able to get it fixed.

Pros

  • Clever technology like memory function and 2- stage cooking
  • 8 presets for convenience
  • 1.0 cu. ft. of oven space
  • 1000-watts of power, plus convection setting
  • Stainless steel inside and out
  • Long warranty period of 3 years

Cons

  • More significant than the rest of the compact microwave ovens
  • Expensive compared to other microwaves
  • Build quality issues

GE JES1072SHSS Small Microwaves

This GE microwave is a fantastic small microwave oven that weighs next to nothing and will easily fit in any small space. It has only 700-watts of power, but that’s more than enough for the day-to-day tasks you’ll want it to perform.

The sleek steel and black design has a stylish feel which will blend well into every kitchen. Featuring a plethora of easy-to-use cooking controls, this small microwave makes quick meals effortless. The auto and time defrost options are great for convenience, while the add 30-seconds function makes bringing food up to the right temperature easy if you miscalculated the first time around. Some users have found this microwave oven takes a little while to heat up, so you may find yourself using the additional 30-second option frequently until you get used to it.

Offering a 0.7 cu.ft capacity, this microwave oven has enough room for most single-person meals. With an overall width of 17.3 inches, the GE JES1072SHSS doesn’t take up much space on the kitchen counter, but it cannot be mounted under or over the range.

Pros

  • Light and compact
  • Easy to use control panel
  • Add 30-second feature for ease
  • Great styling

Cons

  • Cannot be mounted over/under a range
  • Takes a while to heat up

Panasonic NN-SD372S Small Microwaves

This Panasonic delivers inverter technology for even distribution of power during cooking. This means food tastes and cooks better. Though small, this unit packs a punch with 10 power levels and a total 950-watts, while its additional turbo defrost, auto reheat and preset cooking functions mean it is a great all-rounder for many types of cooking, especially if you’re short of time.

The built in sensors work intelligently to adjust the cooking temperature and cooking times required, so you can rest easy knowing that your food will be cooked perfectly every time.

Rounding out its features is a child lock, delayed start timer and an easy-clean facility, so you won’t need to spend hours of scrubbing off any cooked-on food should a spillage occur.

However, the LCD display is quite dim, so it’s better to position the microwave out if direct sunlight if possible so that you can read it easily.

Pros

  • Inverter technology for even power distribution
  • Turbo defrost and auto reheat options
  • 10 power levels to make the most of the 950-watts
  • Intelligent cooking sensors

Cons

  • Screen display can be hard to read.


Hamilton Beach Microwave Oven Small Microwaves

This microwave scores well for interior space because while the others on the list have the same cubic capacity of 0.7 cu. ft. –  the actual plate size they can take varies. This Hamilton model handles plates of 10.25-inches with ease and is also available in a red color for those with a bold taste in design.

The add 30-seconds button is a handy feature, as is the time and weight defrost settings for when you don’t have time to wait to defrost your food overnight. This small microwave also offers a convenient range of 6 pre-set menu options for simplicity,  while the child safe features mean you can relax if you have little ones around the home.

Unfortunately, this model is quite loud when operating, so this may be an issue for you if you’re sensitive to noise. Also, the print on the buttons tends to wear out quickly with frequent use.

Pros

  • 30 second boost button
  • Weight/time defrost feature
  • Child safety lock feature
  • Compact and stylish
  • Large interior space

Cons

  • Buttons wear out easily

Danby DMW7700BLD Small Microwaves

The Danby DMW7700BLD model builds on the standard preset buttons by also offering three specialty settings that enable this unit to cook and defrost by weight. It also offers a speed defrost setting for when you are cooking in a hurry. It’s available in white, black, and stainless steel, so finding a color to match your look shouldn’t be a chore.

Offering 0.7 cu.ft. capacity, this microwave is in line with its competitors. The 700W power with 10 settings is strong enough for most meals, while the one-touch operation and 30-second boost modes make quick and simple cuisine a reality at the end of a busy day.

However, these modes may take a bit of trial and error as the preset timings and power may not match your food exactly.

Pros

  • Available in many colors
  • 3 specialty settings including speed defrost
  • One-touch operation
  • 700W/10 power levels

Cons

  • Presets require some trial and error for different meal sizes

Daewoo KOR-7LREW Small Microwaves

The Toshiba compact is a simple little microwave that will sit comfortably on your small countertop. It offers a 0.9 cu.ft capacity, a power saving mode, which is great for those of us that want to use less energy, and also a child safety feature – to deter those curious hands.

The LED screen and touchpad comes with clearly defined functions, and reheating will be easy with a quick-start and +30-second function. The 6 pre-set menus make cooking a breeze and the lightweight design means it’s not too heavy or cumbersome to move around if required.

Overall, this small microwave will be your new kitchen best friend, lending a hand when you need that something extra. Just be careful not to place over-filled containers inside, as the glass turntable wobbles a little and could result in spillages.

Pros

  • Child safety features and power saving mode
  • Quick-start and +30-second functions
  • 6 pre-set menus
  • Child lock

Cons

  • Unstable glass turntable could lead to spills
  • Door closing mechanism loud
  • Lightweight so moves around when opening the door or pushing buttons

Comparison Chart

FEATURESGE JES1072SHSSPanasonic NN-SD372SHamilton Beach Microwave OvenDanby DMW7700BLDToshiba EM925A5A-SSCuisinart CMW-100
Dimensions (inches)W 12.75 x H 7.87 x D 11.62W 12.3 x H 8.1 x D 14W 17.3 x H 10.2 x D 13.4W 17.3 x H 10.1 x D 13W 19.2 x 15.9 x 11.5W 20.5 x H 12.8 x D 15.25
Wattage7009507007009001000
Capacity (Cu.Ft)0.7 0.80.7 0.70.9 1.0
Preset Cooking Mode
30 Second BoostX
Intelligent CookingXXXX
Child SafeXX
Weight (lbs)2120.92123.527.333.5
Warranty1-year1-year1-year1-year1-year3-year

Buyer’s Guide:

Small Microwaves

There are two reasons for choosing a small microwave oven: One is space, and the other is use. Small microwave ovens are great, especially if you want a side-kick in the kitchen that’ll always be there to add that little bit extra to your cooking capacity when needed – but you don’t need a big, potentially expensive appliance to do it.

But don’t think that just because they’re small they aren’t clever. Many small microwave ovens come with an impressive array of advanced features. Given this cutting edge design, we recommend considering several key factors before committing to your preferred model. We take a look at some of the most important features to consider below.

Functions

Do you want your microwave to work on the periphery, like warming sauces or steaming vegetables, or do you want it to become an integral part of the cooking process? It’s best to start with basic microwave functions, such as timers, 30-sec boost and defrost options and work up from there. If you like to cook a wide variety of meals, a model which has preset and intelligent cooking functions will be a better choice.

Power

Power is key to the speed of the cooking process. Compact microwave ovens tend to have around 700-watts as standard, which is less wattage than larger models, this means some meals which require higher power will take longer to cook. If you look hard, though, you can get some small models that pack more of a punch, up to around 1000 watts – like the Cuisinart CMW-100

Styling

You want a microwave that stands out in its performance, not in the way it distracts from the overall design aesthetic of the kitchen. Consider the look of the other appliances in the kitchen and determine if your space leans toward clean modern lines of stainless steel or the colorful pop of retro styles.

Product Warranty

Brands which are confident that their products will last offer generous warranty periods. We would recommend looking for a model which includes 1-years warranty at the very least, but the longer, the better. This way, if you have the misfortune of purchasing a faulty model, you won’t have to fight to get a replacement.

Brand Reliability

It is almost always beneficial to opt for a reliable brand. Look at customer reviews listed on Amazon, and speak to family and friends, or stick with the models we have recommended in this article. There is never a guarantee that even the most reliable brand’s model will work as we hope, but backing from these sources can reassure that you are making a smart investment.

Just like small freezers and slow cookers, small microwaves are perfect for those who have limited kitchen space. The compact footprint of these appliances is well-suited to small apartments, college dorms and even office kitchens.

They are also a great choice for single people or the elderly, who may not need, or wish to, cook large meals using the oven or hob. The convenience of a small microwave, especially those with a myriad of cooking functions, is also useful for those occasions when you have forgotten to defrost your meal, or simply want a hot meal which requires little time or preparation before it is ready to eat. They can also be used as an extra helping hand in the kitchen to prepare side dishes for people who like to cook large meals but have limited oven space.

Pros:
  • Space Saving – Small microwaves, by their very nature, are compact and take up little space on the counter. This makes them a great option for those who have limited room in their home kitchen, office, or college dormitory.
  • Easy To Use – Small microwaves often feature many different, easy-to-use cooking functions, so you can create a variety of meals with just a few button presses.
  • Convenient – Microwave cooking offers a quick and convenient alternative to conventional cooking methods. Small microwaves are even more convenient, as they allow the user to cook hot meals with very little space required.
  • Preset Cooking  Modes – Many small microwaves feature a selection of pre-set cooking modes for particular foods. These are perfect for beginners or busy users, as you simply place the food inside, press a button and let the microwave do all the work.
Cons:
  • Limited Capacity – Small microwaves will naturally have a smaller internal capacity than standard sized microwaves. This means they will be less suitable for families or those who like to cook large meals.
  • Limited Power – Due to their compact size, small microwaves have limited power output. This means that certain meals which require a higher wattage will take longer to cook in a small microwave than a standard sized microwave.
Small Microwaves

Pros

  • Compact
  • Easy to Use
  • Convenient
  • Preset cooking modes

Cons

  • Not suitable for large meals
  • Not as high powered as larger models

  • Is 700-Watts Enough Power?
  • It depends; what do you want the microwave to do? For heating small items, yes, 700-watts is plenty, but for larger meals, a higher powered microwave will achieve this in a shorter time. Unfortunately, to save space, you will have to make allowances for the fact that compact microwaves are not as powerful as larger models.

  • What Are the Dimensions of a Typical Compact Microwave?
  • Most compact microwaves measure around W 15/17-inches x H 10/12-inches x D 13/15-inches. These are typical measurements, but not exact, so some models may be slightly larger or smaller. No matter what, always measure your available space carefully and leave about a half inch either side as a buffer.

  • Does the Height Measurement Include the Feet at the Bottom?
  • The height stated on the packaging and listed on Amazon does include the feet. It is a measurement of the actual standing height when fully functioning. Make sure to measure the space you have carefully, though, to eliminate human error from the equation.

Final Thoughts

The motivation for buying a small microwave oven is often different from purchasing a larger model. Restricted space, limited budget, or plain old essential functions might be the reason you’re in the market for a compact microwave, but as we’ve seen, small can be mighty, little can mean a lot, and compact can be clever!

Our favorite among this list is the Cuisinart CMW-100. This microwave gets the award purely on the basis that it pushes the boundaries in ways that the others don’t. It has a very generous capacity of 1 cu.ft. which is the largest of any of the small microwaves on our list.

The memory function allows you to fine-tune your cooking preferences for the future, while the 1000W power output, 25 pre-programmed modes and LCD screen make this model super-easy to use for a range of cuisine. Sure, it is one of the priciest models we have reviewed, but the attractive 3-year warranty is a major selling point not offered by its lower-priced competitors.

However, if the Cuisinart CMW-100 is out of your price range for a small microwave, we recommend the Hamilton Beach Microwave as our budget pick. This feature-packed model offers a 0.7 cu. Ft. capacity, wide range of presets for a variety of meals, child-lock and a handy 30-second boost button for those occasions when you underestimate the cooking time. The buttons may not be as durable as other models, but at its price point, this small microwave is hard to beat on a budget.

No matter which model you choose, we hope this article has helped you to appreciate the culinary benefits a small microwave can bring to your small cooking space. If you’re not lucky enough to have a large kitchen packed with appliances, the right small microwave will allow you to continue to enjoy all your favorite meals with little fuss.

Further Reading

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