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To find the best built-in microwaves, you’ll need to consider the size, heating method, wattage, and control panels. You’ll want a microwave with dimensions that are compatible with your cabinets and allows for proper ventilation. Likewise, you’ll want to think about the interior capacity and the wattage as this can impact how quickly foods are cooked and whether you can fit more than dinner plates and small dishes inside of them. Serious cooks should prioritize convection or inverter-based models while casual users should be fine with intermittent or variable wattage models. And also consider whether you want a microwave with intuitive auto-cook presets and functionality or if you’re fine with a model that has minimal features.
After conducting thorough research through thousands of reviews, we nominated the Panasonic NN-SN686S built-in microwave as our Top Pick. Keep reading to learn more about our selection criteria and to review our recommendations for the best microwaves.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: One of the best built-in microwaves, thanks to 1,200 watts of power, inverter technology, and 14 auto-cook options that make this a smart pick for casual and power users.
If you’re focused on a built-in microwave, more than likely, you want something that has a sleek exterior that will blend in with your cabinets or wall oven. We like the Panasonic NN-SN686S because it’s one of the best built-in microwaves that we found during our research. While you can use it as a countertop microwave, with the purchase of a trim kit, you can quickly create an upscale effect in your kitchen. The Panasonic microwave has external dimensions that measure 20.69 inches long, 15.81 inches deep, and 12.25 inches tall. It also has a 13.4-inch turntable which is good for most dinner plates. The 1,200 watts makes this one of the more powerful microwaves in our guide while the 1.2-cubic foot interior capacity is ideal for a couple or an individual to use.
Note that this microwave relies on inverter technology, which gives you better temperature control and more even cooking. You’ll also appreciate the 14 auto-cook options that include popular foods such as quinoa along with standard picks like baked potatoes or frozen vegetables. And thanks to Panasonic’s Genius Sensor technology, this microwave auto-adjusts the power and time to ensure perfect results every time you use it. Other key features include Turbo Defrost speeds, Keep Warm, and Quick 30 to add 30 seconds to the timer. Choose from three finishes including stainless steel, black, and white. For additional countertop options, check out our best countertop microwave buying guide.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best built-in microwave with a trim kit that can be purchased separately with a compact 1.2 cubic feet of interior space and 1,200 watts of power that relies on inverter technology with 16 sensor cook settings.
Keeping with the idea of more compact built-in microwaves, we have the Panasonic NN-SN67KS. We think this is one of the best built-in microwaves with a trim kit that can be purchased separately — which is fairly standard for built-in microwaves from most brands. We like that this is another inverter technology-based microwave that offers a powerful 1,200 watts for cooking and 1.2 cubic feet of interior capacity. This model measures 20.7 inches wide, 15.8 inches deep, and 12.2 inches tall with a turntable that has a 13.4-inch diameter.
We like that this pick has comparable features to other Panasonic microwaves. This includes smart sensor cooking that auto-adjusts during operation for perfectly cooked food as well as 10 sensor cook settings, three popcorn cooking options, and a smart reheat feature. Of course, you’ll also get turbo defrosting and an easy-to-clean interior — all in a sleek exterior that looks great on your countertop or as a built-in configuration. For more options from Panasonic, check out our best Panasonic microwaves guide.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best microwave that relies on powerful inverter technology and intuitive features such as nine auto-cook presets and 950 watts of cooking power — all at an affordable price for budget shoppers.
Typically, inverter and convection-powered microwaves are more expensive. But the Panasonic NN-SD372S is a great option for budget-focused shoppers. In addition to being our Best Quality, it’s also our Best on a Budget pick because we think it’s the best microwave where you get a variety of premium features along with inverter technology at an affordable price. The NN-SD372S is one of the smallest inverter microwaves that we’ve seen with an interior capacity of 0.8 cubic feet. We don’t think this would be a great pick for a large family, but it could work for a single person, or as a go-to solution in an office break room. The external dimensions measure 19.2 inches long, 14.81 inches deep, and 11 inches tall with a glass turntable that measures 11.25 inches in diameter.
Compared to other Panasonic models, this one comes in at just 950 watts. While this is still well above the recommended minimum of 700 watts, power microwave users may find this to be a deal-breaker. Still, this microwave comes with plenty of functionality. This countertop microwave can be reconfigured as a built-in if you opt to upgrade it by buying additional trim kits. Other important features with this pick include nine preset cooking options, Turbo Defrost, Keep Warm, and a Quick Minute for fast reheating. It’s a good option if you’re looking for the best microwaves for seniors.
Related: Also check out the best over-the-range convection microwave.
Award: BEST AESTHETICS
WHY WE LIKE IT: An efficient built-in microwave that includes a grilling feature and comes with a ceramic plate to create crispy, perfectly cooked foods without the need for an oven or fryer.
If you’re all about aesthetics, then the Samsung MS19M8020TG/AA microwave is going to be a smart choice. We like that the exterior features a sleek black finish that will look perfect as a built-in microwave. Keep in mind that you’ll need to buy the trim kit separately. We like the space-saving design of this countertop microwave, which has 950 watts of cooking power and an internal capacity of 1.9 cubic feet. The external dimensions measure 23.5 inches wide, 18.5 inches deep, and 13.5 inches tall, which is perfect for most standard-width cabinets.
You’ll also get a 14-inch diameter glass turntable that can accommodate dinner plates and larger dishes. One of the most interesting aspects of this model is that it includes a grilling element and ceramic plate, giving you the power to create grilled and crispy foods in your microwave. Other important features include a variety of cooking presets, the PowerGrill function, an eco-power-saving mode for energy efficiency, and a ceramic enamel interior that’s easy to clean. You also get a child safety lock and although it’s not convection or inverter technology, the triple distribution heating system ensures more evenly cooked meals. For more Samsung picks, visit our best Samsung microwave buying guide.
Award: BEST UNDER COUNTER DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best built-in microwave for under-the-counter placement thanks to a sleek hidden control panel, easy-touch automatic opening system, and 1,000 watts of power.
When most people think about built-in microwaves, they think about installing the microwave in the upper cabinets. But some people like the idea of a more discreet placement, such as in the lower counters. We’re including the Sharp SMD2470AS because it’s one of the few under-counter options we discovered in our research. This is why we think it’s the best built-in microwave for under-the-counter placement. As is standard, you’ll need to purchase the trim kit separately. We like that this model offers 1,000 watts, which puts it in the median range for power, and 1.2 cubic feet of interior capacity. The external dimensions measure 23.88 inches wide, 26.19 inches deep and 15.41 inches tall. So this may be a tight fit for standard cabinets that are 24 inches wide.
We also think this is a great pick because it features an easy-touch automatic drawer that smoothly opens the interior. This mechanism also allows for hands-free closing. You’ll also get a discreetly hidden control panel that can be operated at a 45-degree angle. Note that this pick lacks a turntable but is rated as having enough interior space to support a four-quart casserole dish and is tall enough to hold a 20-ounce beverage cup. While this model does come with some presets, the options aren’t as robust as many of the other built-in microwaves that we reviewed in this guide. If you prefer to install your microwave over your stove, we’ve also identified the best over-the-range microwaves to give you more options.
Award: BEST FOR WALL INSTALLATIONS
WHY WE LIKE IT: The perfect microwave drawer wall installation that offers 950 watts and 33.9 liters of interior capacity.
Under-cabinet or wall installations are incredibly popular these days. So, we included the Bosch HMD8451UC because it’s a sleek solution for people who prefer the look of a drawer-style microwave that can blend in with your cabinets or a wall oven unit. This pick comes with 950 watts of power and 33.9 liters of interior capacity — making it a small but effective microwave. The external dimensions measure 23.87 inches wide, 23.37 inches deep, and 16.31 inches tall. While it lacks a turntable, you’ll still get plenty of space to support a four-quart casserole dish or a large 20-ounce beverage cup.
We like that this pick features an AutoTouch key that automatically opens and closes the door when your hands are full. You’ll also get several sensor programs designed to automatically cook specific types of foods along with a Keep Warm, Warm, and melt option. This Sharp option is also available in three finishes: stainless steel, white, and black. Note that although this is a drawer built-in microwave, the control panel isn’t hidden as is common with other models. If you want more cooking options, check out our best convection microwave oven buying guide.
Award: BEST POWER
WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful built-in microwave that uses inverter technology with 1,250 watts of power and a large 1.6 cubic foot interior capacity, and a 15-inch turntable make this a great pick for serious microwave users.
You don’t have to settle on power or functionality just because you want a built-in microwave. We like the NN-SN766S Panasonic microwave because while it can be configured to be built-in, it’s also one of the most powerful built-in microwaves that we discovered in our research. We like that this model offers 1,250 watts of power and an interior capacity of 1.6.The external dimensions measure 21.88 inches long, 19.44 inches deep, and 11.94 inches tall.
The only real drawback we found with this Panasonic microwave was that the trim kit must be purchased separately. But in truth, this is an issue you’ll have with pretty much every microwave that can be configured as a built-in design. Still, we liked that this microwave relies on inverter technology and comes with 14 auto-cook options. It also features Genius Sensor technology and a large 15-inch turntable that can accommodate dinner plates as well as many cooking dishes. You also get common Panasonic features such as Turbo, Keep Warm, Sensor Reheat, and Quick 30. Choose from three finishes including stainless steel, black, and white. If you need something a little smaller, the best compact microwaves could be a better option for you.
Award: BEST CAPACITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A sleek stainless steel built-in microwave oven with a 2.2-cubic foot large capacity that’s perfect for a large family or people who use their microwaves as oven replacements.
If you’re part of a big family or just love to cook large dishes, then you need a microwave with a large interior capacity. With 2.2 cubic feet of internal space, you can easily accommodate large casserole dishes or even a turkey for Thanksgiving. You’ll get 1,200 watts of cooking power as well. The external dimensions measure 26.5 inches wide, 21.25 inches deep, and 16.75 inches tall. This unit can be used on a countertop or installed, and it is available in two cabinet trim size options: 27-inch and 30-inch.
While it doesn’t have quite as many robust auto-cook features as some competitors, we do like that you still get key microwave features like Sensor Cook, soften/melt, and a handful of presets. You only get nine power levels as opposed to the 10 or more levels that most competitors offer. Still, you’ll also get express start buttons for one to six minutes of quick cook time and a digital display control panel. If cook time is a big factor in your purchasing decision, check out our best speed cooking microwave buying guide. You might also consider a Frigidaire built-in microwave because it offers one of the largest capacities that we found in this appliance category.
Award: BEST CONTROL PANEL
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best built-in microwave convection oven with intuitive controls that let you shift between convection, microwave, and combination settings for even cooking that includes a large 2-cubic foot capacity and 1,100 watts of cooking power to make even the most complex meals.
Some people are very particular about the type of microwave that they use — specifically with how air is moved. If the heating method is important to you, then you’ll like this convection oven from Dacor. It’s a great built-in microwave convection oven that offers 1,100 watts of power and two cubic feet of interior capacity. The external dimensions measure 24 inches wide, 19.13 inches deep, and 13.38 inches tall which may not be compatible with 24-inch wide cabinets.
While this model is only available in a stainless steel finish, we like that you still get a variety of sensor cooking modes for food that’s perfectly cooked every time you use the microwave. You’ll get a wide range of auto-cook settings including options for rice, ground meat, fresh seafood, and frozen and fresh vegetables. You also get a keep warm function. As is standard, you’ll need to purchase a separate trim level if you want to install this as a built-in microwave. It’s definitely one of the best stainless steel microwaves on our list.
Award: BEST FOR OVERSIZED COOKING
WHY WE LIKE IT: A large built-in microwave with 1.9 cubic feet of interior capacity, 950 watts of power, and an eco mode to reduce power consumption when your microwave isn’t in use.
If you’re focused on how easily you can clean your microwave’s interior, then you can’t go wrong with the Samsung MS19M8000AS. This microwave comes with a ceramic enamel interior that can easily be cleaned by simply wiping it with a damp cloth. You’ll get 1.9 cubic feet of interior capacity and 950 watts of power. However, we did note that as opposed to convection or inverter power, this appliance uses variable wattage. The external dimensions measure 23.62 inches wide, 18.43 inches deep, and 13.28 inches tall.
While the variable wattage may be a dealbreaker for serious cooks, you’ll still get plenty of other functions that make this a great microwave option. Samsung’s Sensor Cook ensures that foods aren’t being over or undercooked while the Eco Mode serves as an energy-efficient solution to prevent using too much power in standby mode. You’ll also get a range of cooking and defrosting presets, and a Melt/Thaw option for softening butter or ice cream. If you’ve got a college student in the family, we’ve also identified the best microwaves for college dorms to help you get ready for school.
Built-in microwaves are a great solution for a kitchen appliance when you’re either trying to maximize counter space or want your microwave to integrate seamlessly into the rest of your kitchen decor. To create our guide, we focused on the following key features — size, heating method, wattage, and control panels.
Likewise, we include a range of wattage ratings but kept them between 950 and 1,250 watts. If you rely on a microwave as an oven replacement, looking for models with 1,000 watts or higher ratings is a smart choice. Whereas casual users will be fine with a 950-watt microwave.
Next, we considered the heating method. You’ll find that many of our recommendations are inverters. While inverter and convection microwave ovens tend to be more expensive than variable or intermittent pulse models, it is possible to find budget-friendly inverter models.
In terms of size, your biggest constraint is going to be the installation location. Since most cabinets are designed to be 24, 27, or 30 inches wide, you’ll need to keep that in mind as you shop for a built-in microwave. However, you can also use the internal capacity listed in cubic feet as a guide. In our guide, sizing ranged from as small as 0.8 cubic feet to as large as 2.2 feet.
And finally, we considered the control panel and overall functionality. All of our guides featured control panels with a digital timer display. But we did include models that relied on rotary dials and buttons as opposed to a touchpad. You’ll also want to consider whether you need auto-cook presets or a wider array of power levels.
As you search for the best microwave in 2023, keep these factors below in mind. Whether you’re buying the best in-cabinet microwave or the top built-in microwave of 2023, just understand one thing: If you don’t have the measurements or wattage correct, you’ll be stuck with a great built-in microwave oven that you can’t use. Bummer.
In that case, avoid getting stuck with a lemon and keep reading to find out what you need to get the best under-cabinet microwave in 2023.