A small microwave oven has advantages over a larger microwave oven, particularly if you’re planning to place it on your countertop. Kitchen countertop real estate is valuable and a small microwave oven can save space that you can use for other appliances or for meal preparation.
You might be thinking that if you get a small microwave oven you will have to sacrifice performance and features and in many cases that’s true. You will generally find that manufacturers choose to put the most features and power in their larger microwave ovens.
A lot of it has to do with size as smaller microwaves don’t have the space for larger magnetrons with more power, or complex microprocessor controllers to handle enhanced capabilities.
A small microwave also doesn’t need as much space, because it doesn’t have the interior room to put larger foods that would need the power to cook them in a reasonable period of time.
That said, manufacturers have continued to improve small microwaves to the point where they have many of the same features as larger microwave ovens.
What should you look for in a small microwave oven?
Opinions differ on what constitutes a small or compact microwave oven, but for our purposes, a small microwave oven is less than 1.0 cu. ft. in capacity.
Interested in seeing other countertop microwave ovens? Be sure and see our other articles about some of the best!
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As we have said, compact microwave will be equipped with less power and reduced performance when compared to larger models. You can expect most small microwaves to have between 700 and 900 watts. If you need the power, opt for a model as close to 1000 watts a possible.
Inverter microwaves have true variable power whereas a traditional microwave does not. A traditional microwave often will have multiple power settings, but it’s always using full power when its operating. It simulates variable power settings by turning itself off and on. For instance, if you choose 50% power, it will operate half the time at full power. This sort of fake adjustable power might be fine for popcorn, but for more delicate foods, it produces poor results.
An inverter microwave actually varies the power according to your settings. When you select 50% power, it produces half its rated power for the time you specify. This makes it ideal for a wide variety of foods that you wouldn’t normally consider cooking in a microwave oven and produces better results for all foods.
Unfortunately, inverters are rare in compact microwaves. Only microwave in our list is an inverter microwave.
A turntable rotates your food to uniformly distribute the microwave energy and cook more evenly. Turntables are common in larger microwaves, but not in small microwaves.
Sensor cooking is the latest technology to hit the microwave world. It uses sensors that measure the steam emitted from your food during the cooking process to determine when food is at the ideal temperature. It can produce better automatic results than power and timing alone.
Multistage cooking allows you to program multiple stages of the cooking process and their cooking times at the same time. When one stage of the program completes, the next stage starts automatically. For example, if you want to defrost the food before cooking, you can program the microwave to defrost the food first and then cook the meal automatically.
Popular Food Presets
Many modern microwaves come with preset “Smart Touch” settings that allow you to cook popular foods like popcorn, pasta, frozen entrees, potatoes, vegetables, pizza, and hot beverages. You just place your food in the microwave and push the appropriate button to cook your food automatically without having to worry about time and power settings.
We searched forums, social media sites, manufacturer sites, customer review sites, retail sites, and consumer sites to find the most popular, highly rated compact microwaves available.
Take a look at our list and see if one of these small microwaves is the best microwave oven for your needs!
Small Microwave Oven: Top 7 Most Popular Compact Microwave Ovens
The smallest microwave oven in our list, the Whirlpool WC20005YB 0.5 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave Oven in Black is not small on performance or features. It has a unique design that will fit neatly in a corner of your countertop out of the way to save precious countertop space yet still has the capability to perform just any microwave cooking task. It features 750 watts of power, a large 11-inch glass turntable, and variable power settings so you can tailor power to individual foods. With its nimble design, choice of colors, and performance features, you will appreciate the space you save using this popular small microwave oven. Here’s what you need to know.
Small Microwave Oven Features
- Powerful 750W, 0.5 cu. ft. microwave oven with corner-friendly, rounded back, and choice of colors
- The specially-designed, sleekly styled, rounded back fits neatly into corners of small kitchens, offices, dorm rooms or wherever you need to save space
- Surprisingly large 11-inch glass turntable can accommodate larger cooking dishes
- Add 30-Seconds feature allows you to either set a cooking time of 30 seconds or add time in 30 second intervals so you can set a just-right cooking time
- ControlLock safety feature locks the microwave to prevent inadvertent operation by children
- Cook popcorn quickly, properly, and automatically with the Quick Touch popcorn button
- Set the perfect power level for your favorite foods using 10 variable power level options
- 1-Year limited warranty
With a striking retro red color and accents reminiscent of 1950s diners, the Nostalgia Electrics RMO400RED Retro Series 0.9 Cu. Ft. Microwave Oven features 800 watts of power and a small microwave oven capacity of 0.9 cu. ft. Larger than their 0.7 cu. ft. RM0700RED model, it also has a unique oval window and special chrome accents like a chrome door handle that will look great in any room you put it in. Simple and easy to use, it has a built-in LED display with digital lock and a turn-and-push cooking control dial. You will appreciate its 12 pre-programmed cooking settings designed to handle a variety of popular foods and its delayed timer that allows you to start the microwave before you get home for dinner. Here’s what you need to know.
- 800-watt, 0.9 cu. ft., 50s retro-look, compact microwave oven
- Beautiful red exterior with oval window and chrome accents like a deluxe chrome handle
- 12 pre-programmed cooking settings are designed for the most popular microwaveable foods
- Delayed timer lets you set a cooking time in the future such as right before you get home from work
- Handy, intuitive turn-and-push program dial allows you to easily control all cooking settings
- LED display features a digital clock
- Turntable distributes energy for more even cooking
- Long 57.5-inch power cord provides more flexible placement
- Dimensions are 19L x 15W x 11H inches and it weighs in at 30.66 lbs.
Kenmore is one of the most trusted brands in home appliances. The Kenmore 73092 0.9 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave is one of the largest and most powerful in our list with 900 watts of power and a capacity of 0.9 cu. ft. It features multi-stage, programmable cooking capability which, for example, allows you to program the microwave to defrost and then cook your food. Its 6 Smart Touch settings allow you to use automatic presets for popular foods at the touch of a button without having to worry about time or power settings, while its memory cooking function saves your favorite cook time and power level combinations for later easy use. It provides you with 10 microwave power levels which allow you to tailor your cooking to individual foods. Its large 10.6-inch diameter glass turntable provides the ability to heat food more evenly, can accommodate larger dishes, and it’s dishwasher safe. A built-in LED display shows you cooking times and power levels at a glance. Here’s what you need to know.
- 900-Watt, 0.9 cu. ft., countertop microwave oven
- Programmable multi-stage cooking capability automatically moves from stage to stage of your cooking program
- Memory cooking lets you create and save customized cook time and power level combinations
- 10 power levels allow you to tailor cooking power to individual foods
- 6 preset Smart Touch settings automatically cook popular foods, including popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetable, beverage, and dinner plate, at the touch of a button without the need to set time or power level settings
- Extend Cook allows you to increment cooking time 30 seconds at a time
- Large 10.6-inch diameter glass turntable rotates to cook food more evenly, can accommodate larger cooking dishes, and is microwave safe
- Built-in LED display shows cooking times and power levels at a glance
- Heating type incandescent interior light
- Child lock
- Power cord is 3.28 feet
- 1-Year limited general warranty
Slightly smaller than the Nostalgia Electrics RMO400RED, also in our list, the Nostalgia Electrics RMO770RED Retro Series 0.7 Cu. Ft. Microwave Oven features a similar clean, sleek, retro design that will be the talking point of any kitchen. It delivers bold, 50s styling in a modern appliance with plenty of power and features. With its 12 preprogrammed features and modern dial control, it’s easy to get great results cooking your favorite foods. Five power levels provide great results with a variety of foods. Here’s what you need to know.
- 700-Watt, 0.7 cu. ft. capacity, compact countertop microwave oven
- Beautiful retro series styling in bright red with chrome and silver accents
- 5 power levels let you tailor power to individual recipes and foods
- 12-preprogrammed features allow you to cook popular food automatically without worrying about cooking time or power levels
- Dial control is a feature most often found in high-end microwaves
- Modern LED display features a digital clock
- Child safety lock
- Long 56.75-inch power cord provides placement flexibility
- Dimensions are 18L x 14.2W x 11H inches and it weighs in at a lightweight 27.6 lbs.
With a 0.6 cu. ft. capacity and 600 watts of power, the Westinghouse WCM660B 600-Watt 0.6 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave Oven in Black definitely qualifies as a small microwave oven. It’s really the perfect size footprint and power for small apartments and dorm rooms where space is at a premium. Don’t let the size fool you though, it comes with 6 power levels and a simple-to-use mechanical dial that allows you to precisely tailor power to your recipes. If you like simple and no-fuss operation, it is the perfect small microwave oven to reheat individual dinner plates, cook personal frozen pizzas, warm up your beverages, and much more. A simple 30-minute timer lets you know when dinner is ready and cleanup couldn’t be easier. Here’s what you need to know.
- 600-Watt, 0.6 Cu. Ft. capacity, countertop microwave oven
- Simple design and operation features an easy-to-use mechanical dial with 30-minute timer to announce the end of cook time
- Accommodates dishware up to 9.5 inches
- Comfortable grip handle
- Removable glass turntable
- Dimensions are 17.8W x 13.3D x 10.2H and it weighs in at 23.1 lbs.
- Low Maintenance
Also available in white as model Westinghouse WCM660W >>>
The Panasonic NN-SD372S 950W 0.8 Cu. Ft. Countertop Inverter Microwave in Stainless Steel is a very popular small microwave oven that feature inverter technology with true variable power control. Inverter cooking delivers outstanding cooking performance and better results that non-inverter models. Traditional microwaves turn on and off to simulate multiple power levels, but while they’re on they are always producing maximum power. That’s fine for popcorn, but it makes it all but impossible to get good results when cooking more delicate foods. An innovative compact inverter magnetron makes it possible to have inverter cooking technology in such a compact microwave oven. 10 levels of true variable inverter microwave power provide better success with all types of foods including appetizers, entrees, breakfast, and after-school snacks. Defrost faster without pre-cooking food with Inverter Turbo Defrost. One-Touch Auto Cook buttons automatically cook a variety of your favorite foods, including pasta, frozen entrees, potatoes, vegetables, and beverages, without worrying about times or temperature levels. Handy Keep Warm feature pulses very low microwave power for up to 30 minutes while you wait for friends and family. The combination of an easy-clean, stylish stainless steel front with outstanding cooking performance will make this small stainless steel microwave oven the perfect addition to any kitchen countertop. Here’s what you need to know about this Panasonic microwave.
- 950W, 0.8 cu. ft., countertop inverter microwave oven with compact inverter magnetron
- Beautiful stainless steel exterior will look good on any kitchen countertop
- Get better success cooking a variety of foods including delicate recipes with 10 levels of true variable inverter microwave power
- Inverter Turbo Defrost defrosts faster without pre-cooking food
- Cooking is easier with One-Touch Auto Cook buttons that automatically adjust variable power levels and cooking times for a variety of your favorite foods
- Reheat multiple servings of leftovers using the Auto Reheat feature without setting power or time
- Set or add to cooking times quickly and incremental using the Quick Minute feature
- Keep Warm feature pulses very low microwave power for up to 30 minutes while you wait for friends and family
- Upscale, easy-to-use, Pop-out spin dial controls multiple functions
- Additional features include three cooking stages, a more/less control, a popcorn button and delayed start
- Compact magnetron leaves room for a very large 11-1/4-inch glass turntable
- Unit measures 15-9/16L x 19-3/16W x 11H inches and weighs only 21 lbs.
- A child-safety lock prevents accidental operation of the microwave by small hands
If you’re looking for a small microwave oven with an elegant design and superior cooking performance, the very popular Danby Designer DMW077BLSDD 0.7 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave in Black/Stainless Steel has all that and some great features. With its compact size and durability, it’s the perfect small microwave oven for homes, apartments, dorms, lunchrooms, offices, kitchens, and more. 10 power levels allow you to tailor power to your recipes and its simple one-touch cooking function delivers the perfect time and temperature level automatically for six of your favorite foods. Here’s what you need to know.
- 700-Watt, 0.7 cu. ft. countertop microwave oven
- Stylish black and stainless steel finish will go with any home décor
- 10 power level options provide cooking flexibility
- One-Touch cooking function provides automatic time and power level settings for six popular foods
- Smart electronic controls are easy to read, program, and monitor, and feature a bright, built-in LED timer and clock
- Dimensions are 17-5/16W x 14D x 10-1/8H inches and it weighs in at 26.46 lbs.
- 18-Month limited warranty on parts and labor
Small Microwave Oven Comparison
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