Best Small Microwave | Gadget Review
Best Microwaves

Best Small Microwave

Best Small Microwave
Find the best small microwaves for limited countertop space or perhaps a college dorm.

If you’re looking for the best small microwave, we’ve got you covered. We purchased the top 10 small microwaves and tested them on leftovers, frozen items, coffee, water, milk, sauces and of course popcorn to find the best of the best. As we tested the microwaves, we looked for features like size, overall power, defrosting capabilities, presets, ease of cleaning and the type of buttons on the unit.

So, with all these features in mind, we settled on the Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave for our #1 pick, which at 1.2 cubic feet of cooking space is small enough to fit in tight corners, but doesn’t give up useful features like One touch start for multiple foods and 10 power levels.

Keep reading to learn more about the other 2 small microwaves that made our list so you can find the best microwave for your compact spaces.

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Toshiba EM131A5C-BSFarberware FMO07ABTBKACommercial Chef CHM660B
Rank#1 - Editor's Pick/Best All-Around Small Microwave#2 Pick - Most Useful Shortcuts#3 Pick - Best for Tight Spaces
Amazon Ratingfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars
Watts1100700600
Capacity1.2 cubic feet0.7 cubic feet0.6 cubic feet
Dimensions20.5 x 17.1 x 12.817.8 x 12.9 x 10.1"17.75 x 12.5 x 10.25"
One Touch Buttons30 Seconds, 6 Menu Buttons30 Seconds, 6 Express Cooking Buttons, 6 Menu ButtonsN/A
Power Levels10106
Price$101.09-104.71$60.00$75.99
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How We Choose the Best Small Microwave

Naturally, we first look at how compact the dimensions of a microwave are to find the best small microwave, the average of which offered around 0.7 cubic feet of internal cooking space. This is typically enough for average-sized plates and mugs (things taller than around six inches may not fit well, but there’s some variance here). This size is ideal for apartments, dorms, and other living spaces where counter space may be limited. Then we looked carefully at usability: if you want a time-saving model that doesn’t require learning any new controls, you probably aren’t interested in small convection microwave ovens with too many unnecessary features. Finally, we took a look at options like power levels (which may be useful even on small models) and automatic buttons for popcorn and other foods that can save even more time for the busy/lazy user.

Read More: How Can You Clean A Microwave Easily

Why You Should Buy a New Small Microwave

Because they’re increasingly just like big microwaves – except more affordable! If you are looking for compact microwave dimensions to fit into your own unique (and somewhat tiny) space, these are the units that will help you out. Whether you are trying to find a save microwave for that small dorm ledge or looking for a compact model that can squeeze in that almost-too-small apartment corner, these small, countertop microwaves can help out. From college students to first-time microwave buyers, they’re an excellent choice – and you don’t have to give up any features if you buy the right model.

Read More: Can You Microwave Styrofoam?

#1 Pick Toshiba EM131A5C-BS – Best All-Around Small Microwave

No features are compromised in the making of this model.

Price: $104.71 | Watts: 1100 | Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet | One Touch: 30 Seconds, 6 Menu Buttons | Power Levels: 10

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Power, durability, and ease-of-use combine to make this smaller unit just as impressive as the large microwaves we’ve seen.

This Toshiba model may be small, but we were very impressed how little it sacrifices for its size. All the features that make larger microwaves useful can be found here as well. There’s a rotating turntable, 10 different power levels to choose from (although keep in mind that with an 1100 watt microwave, you may want to choose a higher power level than you are used to), and defrost options. The menu buttons include nine different options for specific foods like popcorn, frozen vegetables, pizza, dinner plates and so on – more than we expected from a small microwave. Plus, from a purely aesthetic perspective, the stainless steel finish looks great and can match any kitchen: If you want the best compact microwave stainless steel can provide, here’s the model for you!

The Toshiba EM131A5C-BS also has a couple more unique features that we found worthwhile. There’s the “EasyClean” coating on the inside of the microwave, a slick-feeling layer that’s designed to help you clean off spills or flecks of food without resorting to harsh, smelly chemicals. We’re not sure how long the coating will last through the years, but it does complement regular maintenance well.

Additionally, the EM131A5C-BS comes with a child lock that you can turn on or off – not something all microwaves include, but smart for counter-based microwaves in a family with growing, curious children. Finally, you also have a power saving feature that shuts down power on the microwave to save energy when you won’t be using it for a while.

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#2 Pick  Farberware FMO07ABTBKA – Most Useful Shortcuts

Farberware fmo07abtbka

With a ton of customization features, this small microwave is great for those who like to play around.

Price: $70.00 | Watts: 700 | Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet | One Touch: 30 Seconds, 6 Express Cooking Buttons, 6 Menu Buttons | Power Levels: 10

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: With a lot of preset options and plenty of power to handle any type of food, the Farberware doesn’t even know it’s tiny.

The LG model won top spot for its high-quality design and in-depth features, but this Farberware model manages to include many of the same features at a far lower price. We weren’t quite as impressed with design (it’s not great with greasy fingerprints, for one), but if you want to save money while still getting a powerful little 700 watt microwave, it’s a good bet. Additionally, it’s a bit smaller than the LG model, which is useful if you have that one corner or nook for a microwave but need a very small model to fit inside.

With 10 power levels to choose from, a glass turntable, and a child lock, this Farberware also boasts plenty of features that were once only relegated to large microwaves. However, it’s the preset and one-touch options that impressed us the most. The six preset menus include a couple different options than we usually see, like preparing frozen veggies, and we loved the express cooking options, which let you choose from one to six minutes with a single button. Once you learn how well your microwave heats the foods/drinks you love, these express buttons are perfect for fast, customized start-ups. There are even options to save commonly used cooking and multi-stage settings for complex cooking work. All in all, it’s a great model for more complicated microwave cooking, even at its small size.

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#3 Pick Commercial Chef CHM660B – Best for Tight Spaces

Need a microwave for an extra tight space? Try this one!

Price: $75.99 | Watts: 600 | Capacity: 0.6 cubic feet | One Touch: Manual Dials | Power Levels: 6

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The compact design of this model certainly doesn’t limit the power or super-easy interface options.

For some people, 0.7 cubic feet is small but just not small enough. In that case, we offer this super-tiny Commercial Chef model, which is about as small as you can get without switching to a toaster. The 0.6 cubic feet capacity makes this unit perfect for super-tight corners in lofts or squeeze-in apartments where counter space is slim to none but you still need a microwave. It’s not just about size, though – we were also impressed with 600 watt rating, which is a lot more power than we expected for this model. It makes the 6 power level customization option much more meaningful, as well as ensuring that you aren’t lengthening your cooking times by giving up size. Speaking of size, you can fit up to an 11-inch dinner plate in this unit, so feel free to break out your measuring tape and check out your plates before buying.

Otherwise, this model is short on customization features and lacks buttons entirely, focusing instead on simplicity. The manual dials only allow you to change the power level and set the cook time – which, hey, that may be all you need. In all, this is an excellent model for the small living space that really needs a microwave for quick-heat meals, but it can’t really take the place of an oven. The one potential downside is the price, which is high for such a compact unit.

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Small Microwave Features to Look For

  • The Right Measurements: Focus not only on internal measurements, but also take a look at external sizes as well! For example, we love microwaves like the RAC RMW1414 or the Samsung MG14H3020, but these are huge microwaves well over 1 cubic foot on the inside, let alone the outside, and they just can’t fit in small kitchens. The best small microwave options are usually between 10 and 13 inches wide and deep: If necessary, take out your tape measure before you start buying.
  • Power: Our top picks all have power levels in the 700-watt range, which is about as low as microwaves ovens go. Fortunately, modern design makes these microwaves very effective anyway, and the addition of power levels gives you a handy amount of heating. Remember, in large microwaves the wattage increase doesn’t necessarily mean you get more heating, just a larger space that needs to be heated. So look for new, compact microwaves with plenty of features here.
  • Short Cut Options: Small countertop microwave ovens are perfect saving time. Think about what you nuke most often in a microwave, and check to see if there are one-touch buttons for these items.
  • Automated “Popcorn” Buttons: Automated buttons for foods like popcorn or potatoes are handy shortcuts, but can also be much more. On the best microwaves, these buttons tap into sensors that microwaves use to sense moisture, food amount, and more. They can save time and adjust cooking periods to prevent burning or scorching!
  • Cleaning Options: Anything that makes a microwave easier to clean, from coatings to settings, is definitely worthwhile.
  • Price: Small microwave prices can fluctuate a lot. While they can be less expensive than large models, this isn’t guaranteed, so keep an eye on the price when you are choosing the size!

Read More: Best Microwave Popcorn

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Cooking at the Same Times as Before: Small microwaves tend to have lower wattage and less power than bigger versions (not always, but often). When making the switch, you’ll probably need to switch your average cooking times too. Don’t stick with what worked before, because it may not be as effective.
  • Ignoring Features That You Have: We’ve made a big deal about all the upgraded features small microwaves have these days, but they don’t mean much unless you use them. We know its easy to get stuck in a microwave rut of pushing the same buttons over and over, but if your microwave comes with menu buttons and power levels, it’s smart to at least experiment with them. You don’t know what you’re missing!
  • Installing a Small Microwave Permanently: One of the nice things about countertop small microwaves is that they’re easy to move around if you need to switch cities or apartments on the fly. Make sure your microwave remains easy to move!
  • Forgetting to Measure Your Dishes: We talked about measuring space, but it’s also important to measure your dishes to make sure they’ll fit in a smaller microwave!

What Else You Should Know

After taking a look at our top microwave pick, you may prefer to shop around a little and get the lay of the land before making a purchase decision. If you really prefer to use your microwave for complex tasks and full-out cooking or extensive reheating, a small microwave probably isn’t your best bet. There are plenty of other modern options for cooking microwaves and even microwaves that will help you stick to a diet out there. Smart microwaves that can sense food or provide high-tech touchscreens for programming will help you more, even if compact microwaves are less expensive. Sometimes, spending more money is worth it. Finally, keep up with the latest Gadget Review news to learn about the latest kitchen tech, smart stirring gadgets, cooking apps, and more!

3 Comments to Best Small Microwave

  1. Doru L Iliesiu

    YES! IT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO HAVE THE DIMENSIONS AND ALSO REQUIRED CLEARANCES!

  2. bruce

    So, this review is about “small” microwaves and you don’t even give us dimensions!
    Fail.

    • Christen Costa

      Bruce, it’s a great point. We’ll update the chart accordingly. Thank you for your comment.

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