When you’re shopping for a microwave for a college dorm room, there are a variety of factors to consider. Still, most people will agree that dimensions and space compatibility are probably top of mind. Finding a microwave with the functionality that you need that fits in your dorm without sacrificing space is going to be important. Likewise, you’ll want to find a microwave that’s at least 700 watts to properly heat and cook food and with an interior capacity that can accommodate plates for reheating meals. And if you’re interested in more than basic functionality, additional cooking features may also be important to you.
After conducting exhausting research of thousands of reviews from real shoppers, we were able to narrow our selections and nominate the Comfee Countertop Microwave as the best microwave for college because it has great auto-cook presets and 700 watts of cooking power with 0.7 cubic feet of interior capacity for a space-saving microwave solution. Keep reading to learn more about our recommendations and the criteria we used to finalize our list of the best microwaves.
Top 10 Best Microwaves for College Dorms
#1 Comfee Countertop Microwave Oven
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Robust auto-cook presets, a memory function, an eco mode, 700 watts, and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space make this one of the best dorm microwaves for 2023.
- Comes with memory function for efficiency
- 700 watts and 0.7 cu. ft.
- Can turn sounds on or off
- May take longer to cook foods
If you like the idea of having a microwave in your college dorm room but you want something with more features, the Comfee Countertop Microwave is one of the best dorm microwaves in our opinion. It’s a happy medium between an appliance with more robust features, and one that’s also affordable and compact. It offers 700 watts of cooking power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space. The external dimensions are 17.3 inches wide, 13 inches deep, by 10.2 inches tall with a removable glass turntable that’s 10 inches in diameter that should fit most dinner plates.
Related: See also the best quiet microwave.
You’ll like that this compact microwave oven comes with an LED display, 11 power settings, six auto-cook options, and two defrost settings. You can turn the sound off if those alert noises annoy you while you’re up studying late at night. Activate the eco mode to engage the energy-saving feature that reduces standby power consumption by up to 50 percent. With the express cook buttons, you can instantly set the microwave to cook from one to six minutes with just the touch of a button. You might also like our best countertop microwave buying guide for additional options.
#2 Toshiba EM925A5A-BS Microwave Oven
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: An intuitive countertop compact microwave oven with one-touch start buttons, 900 watts of power, six quick-touch cooking presets, and an eco-mode to reduce power consumption.
- Includes one-touch start buttons
- Includes an eco-mode and on/off sound buttons
- 900 watts of power
- 0.9 cu. ft. might be too large for some dorm rooms
For many people, a quiet appliance is a good option. So, we like the microwaves that give you the freedom to turn off the alert noises. This pick from Toshiba is another great option that does exactly that. With 900 watts of cooking power and 0.9 cubic feet of interior space, this is another great option for someone who wants to do more than simply make popcorn. The external dimensions are 19.2 inches wide, 15.9 inches deep, and 11.5 inches tall with a 10-inch turntable diameter.
Note that this is one of the deeper microwaves, so people with shallow countertops may find that this model isn’t compatible. We liked that this model also features an eco mode to help reduce power consumption in standby mode. You’ll get six preset auto-cook buttons such as frozen vegetables as well as one-touch quick start buttons to cook from one to six minutes, and a 30-second quick start option. The Toshiba microwave comes with 10 power levels and a memory function too. We think it’s one of the best microwaves for seniors as well.
#3 Panasonic Black 1.6 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave
Award: BEST CAPACITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A large 1.6-cubic foot inverter microwave with an impressive 1,250 watts of cooking power, and 14 auto-cook preset options that are ideal for off-campus housing.
- Powerful 1,250 watts
- Relies on inverter technology
- 14 preset auto cook options
- Dimensions may be too large for smaller dorm rooms
If you live off-campus or in an on-campus apartment, you might have more space than students living in traditional college dorm rooms. And that means that you also might be ready to upgrade your kitchen and cooking prowess with robust appliances that offer more functionality. This Panasonic countertop microwave is one of the larger options that still technically is considered small — but offers so much more than a traditional college dorm microwave. You’ll get 1,250 watts of cooking power and 1.6 cubic feet of interior space.
The external dimensions of this microwave are 21.88 inches wide, 19.44 inches deep, and 11.94 inches tall with a 13.4-inch diameter turntable. We like that this model comes in a sleek black finish. You’ll get an impressive 14 auto-cook presets and one-touch controls for everything from popcorn to defrosting, and a “keep warm” setting as well. Note that this is an inverter microwave that offers more consistent heating and reduces the chances of hot or cold spots in your food. For additional options from Panasonic, check out our best Panasonic microwave guide.
#4 Commercial Chef Counter Top Rotary Microwave
Award: BEST SMALL INTERIOR
WHY WE LIKE IT: A simple dual-rotary countertop microwave oven that’s perfect for quickly reheating meals or a cup of coffee with just 0.6 cubic feet of interior space.
- Design maximizes ease-of-use
- Available in black or white
- Dual rotary dial controls
- Limited functionality in the control panel
If you’re not comfortable using a microwave for more than reheating food or a beverage, then the models with expansive control panels might be overwhelming. We’re including the Commercial Chef microwave because it’s a simple compact microwave that’s perfect for a college dorm room. The exterior dimensions measure 17.75 inches wide, 10.25 inches tall, and 12.5 inches deep so it’s a great space-saving design. You’ll get 0.6 cubic feet of interior capacity and a 9.5-inch rotating turntable.
Even though this unit has a lower wattage rating at just 660 watts, we still think this is a great option. The simple dual rotary dial controls make it easy to set your time and the power level. However, someone who’s more experienced with microwaves may feel that this is a little limiting as the only included presets are speed and weight defrost. Still, you can set the timer from as little as one minute to as much as 30 minutes. It’s a great option if you simply want the best small microwave.
#5 Black & Decker EM720CB7 Digital Microwave Oven
Award: BEST COMPACT DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: A straightforward microwave with 700 watts of cooking power, 0.7 cubic feet of space, and a 10-inch turntable that’s perfect for reheating plates of food and beverages.
- 10 power levels
- 700 watts and 0.7 cu. ft.
- Stainless steel finish
- Lacks fingerprint resistance
Anyone who’s visited a college dorm room knows that often enough, those rooms aren’t known for being massive. So, if you’re trying to maximize space but still want a microwave, it’s important to find one with smaller dimensions. We like that this Black & Decker microwave is one of the smallest in our research with external dimensions that measure 17.3 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and 10.2 inches tall.
You’ll still get 700 watts of cooking power and an interior capacity of 0.7 cubic feet. The Black & Decker microwave features a fairly standard touchpad control panel that includes six auto-cook presets, express quick start cook buttons for one to six minutes, defrost, and a memory feature. You’ll get 10 power settings as well as a glass turntable that measures 10 inches in diameter. For more versatility and stronger cooking power, check out our best convection microwave oven buying guide.
#6 Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SD372S
Award: BEST CONTROL PANEL
WHY WE LIKE IT: A sleek stainless steel finish 900-watt inverter microwave with nine auto-cook presets, and an easy-to-use push-button and dials for a low-profile effect.
- Available in 3 gorgeous finish options
- Comes with 9 auto cook options
- Inverter powered for even temperature regulation
- Some may not like the dial controls
This pick from Panasonic is another great medium-sized microwave for college. While it’s getting close to the upper limits of the compact microwave category, it’s an excellent choice because you get a wide array of features in a smaller unit. This is one of the smallest inverter options with an 0.8 cubic foot capacity and 950 watts of cooking power. The external dimensions measure 19.2 inches wide, 14.81 inches deep, and 11 inches tall with an 11.2-inch diameter turntable.
If you don’t like touchpad control panels, you’ll like that this model is a little different with push buttons and a dial that is paired with a digital timer display. You’ll also get nine auto-cook presets, 10 power levels, and other intuitive features like Turbo Defrost, Keep Warm, and a Quick Minute for fast reheating, making it one of the best speed cooking microwave options on our list.
#7 Panasonic Compact Microwave NN-SN65KW
Award: BEST FUNCTIONALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: An affordable inverter microwave with 1,200 watts of cooking power, 1.2 cubic feet of space, and 15 auto-cook presets which makes this perfect for more than making popcorn.
- An affordable inverter option
- 1200 watts and 1.2 cubic feet
- 15 auto-cook presets
- Lacks “keep warm” feature
If you’ve stayed away from inverter microwaves because you heard that they’re pricey, this Panasonic pick will change your mind. While it’s more than some of the truly budget picks in our guide, it’s one of the most affordable inverter models. We like that this model features 1,200 watts of power and a 1.2 cubic foot capacity. The external dimensions measure 20.7 inches wide, 15.8 inches deep, and 12.2 inches tall, with a 13.4-inch diameter turntable. So again, this is a larger option within the compact microwave category.
More importantly, we like that this Panasonic pick offers plenty of intuitive microwave features that will turn this into an essential appliance in your dorm room or off-campus apartment. This microwave comes with Genius Sensor technology, 15 auto-cook settings, 11 power levels, Turbo Defrost, and a Quick 30 option. Choose from three finishes including black, stainless steel, and white. Additionally, you might want to check out our best Samsung microwave buying guide.
#8 Emerson 1.2 cu. ft. 1100W Griller Microwave Oven
Award: BEST FOR COOKS
WHY WE LIKE IT: A microwave that doubles as a grill with 1,100 watts of power, 1.2 cubic feet of cooking space, and 10 power levels for the serious college cook.
- 11 power levels
- 1,100 watts and 1.2 cu. ft. of cooking space
- Griller level with grill technology built into the interior
- Features may be too robust for someone seeking a basic microwave
Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean that you aren’t interested in making gourmet meals. If this sounds familiar, some of the more basic compact microwaves may not appeal to you. So, we’re including this model from Emerson because it offers plenty of power and space along with a standout feature — grilling! The Emerson microwave offers 1,100 watts of power and a 1.2 cubic foot capacity. The external dimensions measure 20.6 inches wide, 17.3 inches deep, and 12.8 inches tall with a 12.4-inch diameter turntable.
This microwave features a somewhat unique built-in griller element at the top of the interior space. This special feature is ideal if you like the idea of grilling meats and vegetables but aren’t able to use a grill on campus. You’ll also get 11 power levels, nine auto-cook presets, a time and weight defrost option, and express cook buttons for one to six minutes. For built-in options, you can check out our best built-in microwave buying guide.
#9 Nostalgia Retro 0.7 cu. ft. Microwave
Award: BEST AESTHETICS
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you feel like your appliances should reflect your personality, and you have a thing for vintage-inspired styles, this pick from Nostalgia is right up your alley. This great retro microwave is perfect for people who only need it for simple reheating functions. The classic red and chrome-accented exterior makes a statement. However, if red isn’t your color, there are eight other finish options available. You’ll get 700 watts of power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space.
The external dimensions measure 18 inches wide, 14 inches deep, and 10.25 inches tall. While this model combines a classic knob and button control panel with a digital timer, remember that the timer displays in military time. This means that you’ll see hours written from zero to 24. Still, this microwave features 12 auto-cook presets, five power levels, as well as a defrost function.
- 700 watts of power
- 12 pre-programmed settings
- 0.7 cu. ft. of interior space
- Clock displays in military time
If you feel like your appliances should reflect your personality, and you have a thing for vintage-inspired styles, this pick from Nostalgia is right up your alley. This retro-themed microwave is perfect for people who only need it for simple reheating functions. The classic red and chrome-accented exterior definitely makes a statement. You’ll get 700 watts of power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space.
The external dimensions measure 18 inches wide, 14.17 inches deep, and 10.25 inches tall. While this model combines a classic knob and button control panel with a digital timer, remember that the timer displays in military time. This means that you’ll see hours written from zero to 24. Still, this microwave features 12 auto-cook presets, five power levels, as well as a defrost function. It’s great for popping a bag of the best microwave popcorn.
#10 Farberware 700W Microwave
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: An impressive and affordable classic compact microwave oven with 700 watts of power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space makes this one of the best microwaves for a college dorm.
- Best on a budget
- Child safety lock
- 700 watts and 0.7 cu. ft. of interior space
- Only standard auto-cook presets
When most of us think of college dorm rooms and microwaves, you’re usually picturing a compact option that has a simple touchpad control panel. The Farberware microwave is our Best on a Budget recommendation because it’s an affordable solution that manages to combine a classic design with compact dimensions and quick cooking, making this one of the best microwaves for a college dorm.
While you only get the six standard cooking presets, we do like that it’s a budget-friendly option with 10 power levels. You’ll get 700 watts of power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space. The external dimensions of this Farberware microwave measures 17.75 inches wide, 12.91 inches deep, and 10.1 inches tall, with a 10-inch glass turntable. It’s a great option for anyone looking for the best compact microwaves. There is also a child lock if that is a concern for you.
How We Decided
Microwaves are almost a must-have for college dorm rooms these days. To create our guide for the best microwaves for college students, we focused on the following key features — wattage, size and style, heating methods, and controls. All of our recommendations are countertop models that range between the categories of compact and small. Given the limitations most students will receive from their respective universities, over-the-range or microwave drawer models didn’t make sense to include in our guide. Most students will want these kitchen appliances to take up little counter space and help reduce the cook time of their favorite foods.
Wattage is a feature that’s going to matter especially if you’re looking to use a microwave for more than simply reheating food. In our guide, wattages ranged from 600 watts to as high as 1,250 watts. The higher wattage models also usually came with larger internal capacities and enhanced functionality.
And this takes us to size. If space is at a premium, a smaller interior capacity is going to make more sense. So, we included several options that were less than one cubic foot of interior space. Still, we also recognize that not everyone lives in a dorm, or even if they do, they may not have a roommate. To that end, we did include options larger than a cubic foot but didn’t go beyond 1.6 cubic feet of interior space.
You’ll find that in our guide we’ve included affordable inverter models as well as pulse heat options. Because inverter technology is focused on providing even and consistent heat, you’ll note that the inverter models also include more robust cooking options.
Finally, we focused on the control panel. While almost every microwave we reviewed came with a child safety lock, this wasn’t a feature we highlighted given the audience we’re addressing. You’ll see an array of options in our guide from rotary dial options to models that included an Alexa voice assistant, or even enhanced cooking controls such as including a grill element in the interior space. You’ll need to consider which functions are most important to you and whether you prefer a touchpad, tactile buttons, knobs, or a hands-free smart appliance interface. While you are at it, learn what is a microwave cover to help make keeping your oven clean.
Best Microwaves for College Dorms Buyer’s Guide
The Most Important Factors to Consider
Wattage refers to how quickly a microwave can cook foods. Although, dorm microwaves with more watts are often pricey. That said, even some of the mini microwaves for dorms can be costly, but space-saving.
- At a minimum, look for a dorm-sized microwave, like this RCA microwave, with a rating of at least 700 watts. Anything lower than this may not cook food evenly or may cook at a slower rate.
- Alternatively, you can find great microwaves for dorm rooms with interior space of 0.5 to 1.5 cubic feet, and with up to 1,000 watts of power.
- For the most compact models, try countertop microwaves. Affordable microwaves may not have as many cooking times or functions (like a warm feature) as expensive microwaves do, but they can get the job done.
- Size and Style
Considering that most college dorms aren’t spacious, you’re going to want to prioritize a fine compact microwave. Knowing you need a smaller unit makes it easier than trying to figure out what size microwave will fit a dorm room. But, we do have some key guidelines to keep in mind:
- Countertop models that have around a cubic foot or less interior space are good dorm room microwaves since they’ll usually be smaller and take up less space.
- On the other hand, if you’re skilled at conserving space you won’t be restricted to college microwaves.
- Reading reviews of the best dorm microwaves for 2023 will help you contrast and compare models to find the right one before buying anything. Depending on your price range, you can get retro designs or ovens with a stainless steel exterior, although that will obviously cost extra money.
- Heating Method
The heating method will impact how efficiently your microwave cooks food. While convection and inverter microwaves are some of the best options because they’re the most effective, they’re also more expensive. More budget-friendly models usually rely on intermittent pulsing to move air. Although great for your wallet, these tend to be the least efficient option. Also, be sure to learn what is microwave safe and which of your dishes are before using them in your oven. This may be the reason why you have asked why some plates get hot in the microwave.
Think about how you plan on using your microwave, and shop accordingly. Not all college students are looking for a basic microwave to heat last night’s pizza. If you’re a more serious cook and want to use your microwave as an oven replacement, then look for models that — while compact — still offer key features like auto-cook presets, defrosting, soften/melt functions, 10 power levels, and more.