Are you running out of space on your kitchen countertops? A microwave is a convenient necessity in most kitchens, but the average unit takes up about two feet of counter space. If your kitchen is on the smaller side or you just don’t have much counter space to work with, a large microwave is probably not the best addition to your space. Instead, you might opt for a compact microwave with a little less power than larger models but a lot of space-saving capabilities.
We reviewed dozens of small microwaves to find the best of the best for your kitchen. We searched for a variety of types, like built-ins and countertop microwaves, to help you find one that works for your space and needs. We also considered price, power, and extra features that make a microwave one of the most helpful tools in your kitchen.
The Panasonic Compact Microwave Oven is our choice for the best small microwave. It’s on the larger end of the small microwave spectrum, giving it more power than other models. Several helpful features, like 11 power levels and an easy-to-clean interior, give you a lot of options in a modest package.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Small Microwaves
|Best Overall||Panasonic Compact Microwave Oven||4.3|
|Runner Up||Toshiba Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor||4.1|
|Best Budget Buy||AmazonBasics Small Microwave||4.0|
|Best Small Built-In Microwave||Panasonic Built-In Microwave Oven||3.5|
|Best Small Under-Cabinet Microwave||Sharp Convection Microwave||4.2|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Panasonic Compact Microwave Oven
The Panasonic Compact Microwave Oven is a microwave with a modest size at just 1.2 cubic feet but a lot of power for its smaller stature. With 1200W of power, this small microwave is as mighty as some larger models on the market, meaning that you’ll get excellent cook times without needing a bulky microwave taking up precious kitchen space.
This microwave is packed with features, too. With its inverter technology, this Panasonic microwave cooks your food quickly and evenly, resulting in less time needed to get a thorough cook. You can also choose between 11 different power levels, depending on the food you’re cooking, and pre-set cooking functions for some of the most common microwaved foods, like popcorn and frozen meals. There’s even a turbo defrost setting to get frozen foods thawed as quickly as possible.
Reviewers rate this microwave highly for its ability to cook foods fast thanks to its high power for a smaller machine. Several also like its ability to cook without being noisy like a lot of other microwave units. Some reviewers do wish that this compact microwave oven had a brighter LED light because it’s somewhat difficult to see everything inside the microwave.
Panasonic Compact Microwave Oven Key Features:
- 11 power levels
- Three popcorn settings
- LED lighting
- Genius Sensor for thorough, even cooking
- Multi-function control panel
- Quick defrost
Our Runner Up Pick: Toshiba Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor
Coming in a close second is the Toshiba Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor. This microwave is the same size as our top pick at 1.2 cubic feet but with a little less power (1100W). However, it has several features that make it a stand-out in the category of small microwaves.
First is its ten power levels that let you change how much power you need depending on what you’re cooking. You can also use the six automated menu choices for rice, potatoes, frozen entrees, frozen pizzas, veggies, or smart sensor reheating that detects how much time your food needs to properly cook different types of food. Finally, this microwave has an ECO mode you can use when you want to save as much energy as possible. When in use, the unit uses 50% less standby power.
One of the most common praises by reviewers for this microwave is that, despite its small size, the unit offers a lot of power for quick and even cooking. One-touch automated menu buttons also make it convenient for users to start their microwave without having to plug in a bunch of numbers or guess times.
Toshiba Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor Key Features:
- Automated menu options
- ECO mode
- 12.4-inch turntable diameter
- 1100W power
- Easy-to-clean cavity
Best Budget Pick: AmazonBasics Small Microwave
Food and cooking can be expensive enough on their own, so if you’re looking to save some money on your appliances, the AmazonBasics Small Microwave can be an excellent choice. Not only is it compact and loaded with all the basic features you’d expect from a microwave, but it also connects to Amazon’s Alexa. With simple commands, you can direct your microwave to start cooking your food and change its settings according to what you’re cooking or reheating.
In addition to the handy works-with-Alexa feature, this AmazonBasics microwave features a turntable for even heating, a child lock to keep the kids safe, and a kitchen timer function. You can also choose between ten power levels to meet the cooking and reheating needs of your food.
With an average 4-star rating and more than 2,000 reviews, it’s clear that this is a popular microwave for those looking for a compact unit with a lot of capabilities. A common praise for this microwave is that it also has built-in features to protect it from malfunctioning with Alexa, such as not starting through Alexa if it’s been too long since you opened the microwave’s door.
AmazonBasics Small Microwave Key Features:
- Ten power settings
- Choose between Alexa and non-Alexa control
- 17.3-inch width
- Includes one-year limited warranty
Best Small Built-in Microwave: Panasonic Built-In Microwave Oven
A microwave that you can build into cabinetry instead of placing it on your countertop can save you even more space in the kitchen. The Panasonic Built-In Microwave Oven is one of the best of its kind in the small microwave category because of its compact size that doesn’t sacrifice features. You can even use it as a countertop microwave if you choose.
This microwave is 0.8 cubic feet, so a bit larger than the smallest microwaves. However, it has several convenient features that make it a good mix of convenient and functional. Use the 14 pre-programmed sensor settings to give specific foods thorough reheating, warm your food for up to 30 minutes with the warming function, and take advantage of the inverter technology that steams food instead of drying it out or cooking it unevenly.
You can purchase a trim kit for your cabinet opening to make this microwave fit perfectly into your cabinetry, saving more space in your design. There’s also a 1.2 cubic foot version of this microwave that you can choose if you want to go a little bigger.
Panasonic Built-In Microwave Oven Key Features:
- Bright LED display
- Warming function
- Inverter technology provides even and quick cooking
- Lightweight unit
- 14 cooking settings for oatmeal, pizza, soup, and more
Best Small Under-Cabinet Microwave: Sharp Convection Microwave
An under-cabinet microwave can also be an excellent choice for people with small kitchens or limited counter space. The Sharp Convection Microwave can mount under a cabinet or above your stove to keep it up and out of the way – and even safely tucked away from kids in the kitchen.
This 1.1 cubic foot microwave has a modest 850W of power, but it’s able to cook your foods in a variety of ways thanks to its dual convection mode to give you quick cooking and reheating while keeping your food’s texture and flavor. Roasting, broiling, and browning are just a few ways you can enhance your microwaved food with this unit. A built-in exhaust system ensures proper airflow when mounted in surrounding cabinetry.
Several reviewers purchased this model for use in their RV because of its compact size, but it also works well in a regular kitchen. A common praise for this microwave is that it’s so versatile when it comes to cooking. Whether you’re cooking or reheating vegetables or meat, the microwave keeps your food intact and tasty with a few setting tweaks.
Sharp Convection Microwave Key Features:
- Convection-microwave combo
- Interactive LED display
- 13-inch turntable
- Includes mounting bracket
- Stainless steel
- Repositionable vent fan
Who Should Buy a Small Microwave
Most people buy small microwaves to save space in their kitchen. Whether you have a small kitchen itself or very limited counter space, a small microwave can help you save some much-needed workspace in your kitchen. Compact microwaves are usually shorter and less deep than medium or large microwaves, leaving you some room to work next to or in front of them.
Some small microwaves can even be mounted under a cabinet that sits over the stove or over your workspace or built into your cabinetry to save more space without overwhelming your small kitchen’s design. These types of microwaves have special venting systems that are different from regular countertop microwaves.
You also might consider a small microwave if you use an RV for traveling. Most RVs have very limited space, especially in the kitchen area, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice convenience. A compact 0.7 or 0.8 cubic foot microwave can leave a small footprint in your RV’s kitchen while still giving you the ability to cook and reheat food quickly.
If you’re in the market for another type of cooker, why not try a slow cooker? We have The Best Crock Pots listed with plenty of groundwork on what to consider.
Important Features to Consider
A small microwave should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a small microwave for your home:
- Small dimensions. The most important factor to consider for your small microwave is its size. Most compact microwaves are no longer than 18 to 20 inches (some are even as small as 14 or 15 inches) and are less deep than larger microwaves. Look for turntables that are around 13 inches in diameter or less to make sure you’re not getting a microwave that’s going to overwhelm your space.
- Cooking settings. Just because a microwave is small doesn’t mean it needs to lack features. Many small microwaves come with a range of cooking settings, like pre-set food times and power level options.
- Door opening direction. If you’re going to have your small microwave in a small space in your kitchen or RV, you may need to look for a microwave that opens a specific way so that it doesn’t interfere with surrounding objects. Most microwaves open from the right side to the left, but you can find ones that open the opposite direction if needed.
- Power level. Compact and budget-friendly microwaves often have lower power levels than larger microwaves determined by their wattage (W). You’ll see some small microwaves have 700W to 900W, which is on the lower end, while other compact microwaves offer a lot more power, up to 1,200W or more. The higher the wattage, the faster your food will cook.
- Cleaning. The smaller the microwave, the more difficult it can be to reach in and clean it. Look for microwaves with helpful cleaning features, such as a removable turntable assembly that you can clean separately. Cleaning your microwave regularly can help you prolong its life and improve its functionality.
- Location. Where do you want to put your microwave? Will it stay on a countertop or do you want it built into, or mounted under, a cabinet? There are small microwaves available for each situation, but make sure you’re purchasing one built for the job. A countertop microwave needs ventilation around its sides, while built-in versions usually have different forms of ventilation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What size is a small microwave?
Small microwaves can come in a variety of sizes and still be considered compact. What you consider small might differ from the opinions of others. Generally, a small microwave is one that’s between 15 to 20 inches wide, and less than 15 inches high and deep, but these measurements can vary. A compact microwave will take up significantly less counter space than a larger microwave even if it’s only a few inches different in size.
Does a microwave need to be vented?
Not all microwaves need to be vented, but you’ll find that most of them do. During your search for a new microwave, you should specifically look for this information. Most manufacturers will indicate a microwave’s need for ventilation somewhere in its product description. Countertop microwaves do require ventilation around their backs and sides. Built-in microwaves usually don’t have the same ventilation needs. An over-the-range microwave can have either a recirculating or external venting system.
Can you put an over the counter microwave in a cabinet?
If the microwave you buy is specifically designed to be a built-in microwave, then yes, you can build the microwave into a cabinet using special installation kits. This allows you to keep your microwave off the counter to free up space in the kitchen while putting it in a convenient location – usually eye-level – for using it. Check with the manufacturer of the microwave before purchasing it to determine how it vents and whether it’s designed for building into a cabinet.
Can you put things on top of a microwave?
In most cases, storing a few lightweight items on top of your microwave won’t hurt it. Things like spice jars or lightweight decorative items can store safely on top of a microwave while keeping your counters free from clutter. However, you should avoid placing anything heavy or sharp on top of the microwave, as these can damage the unit. You may also want to keep anything breakable off the top of the microwave because microwave vibrations while in use can cause items to fall and break. It’s best to buy a shelving unit that can sit above your microwave to store items on, if possible.
Other Small Microwaves We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other small microwaves. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best small microwaves list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your home or RV. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
- Small Countertop Microwaves
- Small Built-In Microwaves
- Small Stainless Steel Microwaves
- Small Colored Microwaves
Small Countertop Microwaves
This small microwave has a modest 700W of cooking power, six pre-set cooking settings, and ten power levels to choose from for cooking customization.
- Child lock function
- Digital clock and setting screen
- 10 power levels
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, simple microwave, this one is an excellent option. It offers all the basics plus some extra convenience with its six pre-programmed cooking settings for common foods.
- Black and steel exterior combination
- Six one-touch cook settings
- LED timer and clock
Choose between six auto-cook settings and ten power levels with this compact microwave by Emerson, which also includes a digital timer and an express cooking setting.
- Memory function
- Two ways to defrost
This stylish compact microwave features 900W of power and 10 power levels to reheat and cook food quickly and conveniently.
- Handle on door
- Digital clock and timer
- Cook up to 99 minutes and 99 seconds at a time
Several helpful features make this small microwave a stand-out in its category. Keep reheated food warm with the Keep Warm function, cook seven specific foods with pre-programmed settings, and pick the right power level for your microwaved popcorn.
- 3 popcorn power levels
- Delayed start feature
- 900W of power
This tiny microwave isn’t the most budget-friendly, but it’s definitely the smallest on your list. The compact unit could be the perfect choice for an RV.
- Fits plates up to 11 inches in diameter
- Locking control panel
- “Add 30 seconds” feature
This small microwave from Willz offers all the basics with 900W of power, including special settings for popcorn, potatoes, and drinks, and a speed defrost setting.
- Choice of 0.7 and 0.9 cubic feet
- 10 power levels
- Reminder sound when finished cooking
Small Built-In Microwaves
This sleek black built-in microwave can fit conveniently into a small cabinet in a home or camper to keep your counters free from clutter.
- Includes trim kit for installation
- Door handle
- 10 power levels
This commercial-looking microwave keeps things simple and compact with 0.8 cubic feet of space and minimalistic controls.
- Child safety lock
- Defrosting feature
- Six auto-cook settings
This small built-in microwave is on the larger end of the small microwave range, but it also features 1000W of power, express cooking settings, and a large turntable to rotate your food for an even reheat.
- Up to six minutes of express cook time
- Keypad control lock
- Vegetables, popcorn, and four other automated cook settings
Small Stainless Steel Microwaves
The sleek and compact BLACK+DECKER stainless steel microwave offers a large LED display for easy viewing and programming.
- Several different sizes from small to medium
- Beverage, potato, pizza, and other pre-programmed cook settings
- Push-button door
Black stainless steel makes the Farberware compact microwave stand out in almost any kitchen design while remaining rust-proof and durable.
- Nine one-touch cook settings
- Interior LED lighting
- 10 power levels
This microwave is one of the smallest available, but it doesn’t sacrifice convenience for size. You’ll still benefit from defrosting settings, one-touch preset controls, and a stylish stainless steel finish.
- 700W of power
- Extremely compact at 0.7 cubic feet
- Child lock controls
Customers love that this microwave doesn’t take up much room in the kitchen yet feels like it has plenty of space inside for most of their cooking needs.
- Cook-by-weight setting
- Easy-to-use control panel
- Stainless steel door handle
Those who prefer darker stainless steel might opt for this Toshiba compact microwave with its black stainless steel finish and 900W of power.
- 10 power level options
- LED cavity light
- Wide stainless steel handle
Small Colored Microwaves
This retro-style microwave from COMFEE’ looks like it’s straight out of the 70s with its turn-dial control and curved door handle.
- Three color options
- Includes kitchen timer function
This compact microwave is less than 18 inches wide to take up minimal space in the kitchen, but its retro looks will certainly stand out.
- Eco-friendly zero-standby function
- Child safety lock
- 10-inch turntable
Are you looking for a microwave with a unique look that doesn’t take up too much space? This one by Farberware offers four different styles to match your decor.
- 900W of power
- 0.9 cubic feet of cooking space
- Up to six minutes of express cooking
If you’re not into black or white microwaves, this red option from Magic Chef might be the right choice for you – and it’s only slightly over 18 inches wide.
- Lightweight model
- Six auto-cook menus
From its oval window to its turn dial, this microwave looks like those from decades ago. However, it has tech-forward functions for your convenience, like 12 pre-programmed cook settings and a digital LED display.
- Rotating turntable
- Express cook setting
- Chrome door handle