In today's big guide we take a close look at the 5 smallest microwaves currently on the market. Which tiny microwave is best for your compact kitchen? Find out in our comprehensive guide.
Microwaves are not what they used to be.
As a child, I remember my parents getting a microwave and being pretty excited about the fact.
But, it was huge and took up valuable countertop space which annoyed my mom no end.
Fast forward 25 years and technology has seen off those giant, cumbersome microwaves of the past.
We now have the mini microwave.
A fraction of the size but crucially retaining all the features that make a microwave a "must have" kitchen appliance, these tiny microwaves are a dream for those with limited space.
In this guide, we review the 5 smallest and most functional microwaves on the market right now.
Find out how they compare, and which one we'd choose over all others.
Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The Top 3 Miniature Microwaves Compared
Before moving on to the more detailed reviews, see how the best small microwaves compare in the table below.
These are the compact microwave ovens that we recommend over all others.
Commercial Chef Countertop
Our #1 Recommendation
The dimensions are measured in inches and have the order Width x Depth x Height.
Capacity is a measure of how much space (volume) there is inside the oven. It's measured in cubic feet.
The Best Compact Microwave Reviews
In this section, we take a closer look at each model.
Find out what we think of each microwave and which one we'd choose over all others.
Our Top Pick
The perfect blend of modern features packed into a tiny frame.
Now let's get one thing straight before we explain why we like this tiny microwave so much.
This is not THE smallest microwave on the market (that's coming next).
It is, however, a very small microwave and a very fine piece of kitchen technology.
If you're only interested in the smallest countertop microwave ovens then stick around for the Commercial Chef model coming up next.
With that out of the way, let's get down to business.
This Panasonic model is in our opinion the best small microwave currently available.
There are a variety of reasons for this, and over the course of the next few paragraphs, we'll explain why. But we'd better start with some stats...
At 0.8 cubic feet of capacity, this ranks as one of the larger of our recommended microwaves.
Having more space for food means that it does, of course, take up a bit more space in the kitchen than some of the others.
At 14.8" it is also one of the longest of our choices and that may be enough to put some off, but if you can afford that extra inch or two of space then you won't be disappointed as the Panasonic SD372S is feature packed.
For a start, it packs a serious punch. At 950 watts of power, you don't need to be worried about sacrificing cooking times by downsizing your microwave.
The patented Inverter Technology and Turbo Defrost add to the cooking power at your disposal. Expect evenly cooked food in less time than your old microwave and a defrost function that's better than ever.
Besides controlling the power output you also have the options of defrosting by weight or time, and also a simple timer mode.
These basic modes work nicely with the six automatic settings, which offer one-touch heating of specific foods. These 9 pre-programmed automatic functions include potato, popcorn, pizza, frozen vegetables, dinner plates, and beverages.
A 'keep warm' feature is also included so that food can be kept warm and delicious until it's ready to be served.
So why would we choose this tiny microwave over all others?
Well, sorry to use the old cliché but it's the complete package.
It's compact, feature-rich, powerful, and maybe above all, it's good value for money.
It's a really thoughtfully put together little microwave that includes little design touches that are overlooked by the competition.
No, it's not the smallest, but if you can spare a couple of inches here or there then you won't regret it.
The perfect microwave oven for small spaces.
It packs a huge amount of cooking power and versatility into a tiny little package.
It's the one we'd choose over all others.
The Smallest Microwave
Commercial Chef Countertop
A tiny footprint with some punchy heating output!
If only the smallest space saving microwave will do then this little gem from Commercial Chef deserves your attention.
Measuring just 17.75" x 12.5" x 10.25" it's an incredibly compact little microwave that will squeeze into the tightest of kitchen spaces.
If counter depth in particular is a problem for you then at just 12.5 inches long, this is one of the shallowest microwaves on the market.
Commercial Chef manage to pack some nifty features into this tiny package too. Many compact appliances skimp on features in the quest to save space but that's not the case here.
At 600 watts of heating output, it's not the most powerful microwave oven out there but 600 watts is just fine for anything you're going to need it for. Heating last night's leftovers, making popcorn, this will handle it all with ease. It might just take a bit longer than it does with a 900 watt microwave.
Speed and weight defrost functions are easily selected with the flick of a knob and six heating options allow a high level of control over the heating output.
The lower heating modes are great for warming and melting things like milk and butter while the medium options are preferable for defrosting. The high power modes are perfect for cooking frozen meals.
It's controlled by two mechanical rotary dials which is an ode to microwaves of the past. Some might say these are old fashioned controls these days but they're still quicker and easier to use than digital buttons.
If digital controls are something you just can't do without then don't miss the Black+Decker model we recommend next. It's the one for you.
One final point on this compact cooker is the price tag. Compared to the competition it's small just like its footprint. A pleasant surprise when so many compact appliances are charged at a premium these days. If you're on a budget, then this is the personal mini microwave for you.
If you're really struggling for space in your kitchen then this is the compact microwave oven of your dreams.
It's a 'no frills' microwave that does what it needs to with the minimum of fuss.
Tiny in stature as well as in price, it gets full marks for size and value.
A Great Alternative
An amazing "all-rounder" that's compact, good value, and feature rich.
This awesome little microwave is another that comes highly recommended by us if you're low on kitchen space.
Measuring just 17.3" x 13" x 10.2" it has a really compact frame that makes most microwaves look enormous and cumbersome.
At 17.3 inches wide, it's actually the narrowest microwave of our recommendations.
You'll be hard pushed to find anything narrower than this and it losses out on our 'smallest' tag only because it's not the shallowest microwave on our list (that's the Commercial Chef model). But, the differences are negligible really.
It also takes up very little vertical space (just 10.2 inches) so it could be just the ticket for those struggling in this department.
We get it, it's a short, skinny microwave but is it actually a dependable and functional little device?
Well, thankfully, yes it is. Let's talk details.
This digitally controlled microwave oven has 10 power levels, a 10" removable glass turntable and a 0.6 ft3capacity.
At 700 watts, this microwave could be described as being a little on the lower side with regards to power, but then this is significantly smaller than your average microwave oven. It just means you'll need to wait a few extra seconds for your food.
There are 6 quick push preset buttons for popular foods. These include: popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetable, beverage, and frozen dinner plates.
There's also a 30 second express button which is the button I personally use the most. It's perfect for a quick blast to heat up cold coffee or a couple of presses for my porridge in the morning.
There are two defrost options which is a nice choice to have. You can defrost by weight or by time. There's a button for each, which makes controlling it easy too.
A large LED display shows a countdown timer and a clock when not cooking. There's an internal light and also a child safety lock to keep those prying hands out.
One final point about this microwave is that it happens to look great too! A stainless steel finish gives it a modern sheen that looks the part.
A really narrow microwave that will squeeze into the most compact of kitchen spaces.
It's got all the important features you need too, which makes it a real standout when it comes to space saving kitchen design.
Daewoo KOR-7LREW - Stylish & Small
Daewoo's new retro line of appliances includes this classic microwave that looks amazing and has all the modern functions that you'd expect too.
In our opinion, it's the most attractive model on this list by some margin and one of the few microwaves in the world that a teenager might describe as looking "cool".
It could definitely bring a bit of 'life' to a dreary kitchen with its stylish finish. It comes in a choice of colors, but the standard cream/white is our favorite.
Aside from looking great, it has all the features and performance that you'd expect from a modern microwave oven. It's one of the smallest models on the market too with a 0.7 cubic feet capacity and space saving design to minimize its footprint in the kitchen.
This model takes up very little vertical space (just 10.5 inches) so it could be just the ticket for those struggling in this department.
There are three quick settings for heating food. There's the standard timer (with 5 adjustable power settings), an auto-defrost setting and even an autocook function. These sit beside the 5 pre-sets for specific food types (beverages, soup, baked potato, fresh vegetable, and frozen vegetable).
It puts out 700 watts at full power which is a little on the lower side, but then this is significantly smaller than your average microwave oven. A nice touch is the 'Eco' mode which uses zero power when the device is not in use.
Electrical appliances are still a drain on power when in standby mode, so this feature will save you energy and money in the long term all be it not vast amounts of it.
Bottom Line: Classic looks blended with modern space saving design. It's very good value for money too.
Panasonic NN-SN686S - Feature Packed & Bigger Capacity
Though we class this as a mini microwave oven for small spaces, it is the largest of our recommendations and probably not the one for you if space is really tight.
But, if you need a bit of extra cooking power or a slightly larger capacity, then this microwave is a great choice.
It's full of modern features that make cooking with it easy, efficient, and convenient.
It uses patented Inverter Technology which Panasonic says will preserve the flavor and texture of your food that microwave cooking can sometimes destroy. This technology is also said to cook more efficiently at lower power settings.
Microwaves struggle with consistency when heating food, with thin or small pieces heating up much quicker than larger pieces. Inverter Technology reduces this inconsistency and delivers more even cooking.
It delivers a massive 1200 watts of power which is a lot, especially for its size. The power delivery is divided into 10 levels that are selectable via a dedicated button.
There's plenty of control over the cooking settings too. With 14 pre-sets for different foods, a 'Quick Minute' button. 'More' and 'Less' buttons, a 'Keep Warm' function, quick defrost, popcorn function, and our personal favorites the 'Sensor Reheat' and 'Sensor Cook' functions. Here the microwave is able to automatically choose the correct cooking cycle settings for the food in question.
This microwave isn't for those that fear technology in any way as there's a lot going on here. While it's still easy to use it on a basic level, if you want to get the most out of it and use all the features then you'll definitely want to read the manual!
Bottom Line: This has all the features that making cooking quick and easy. It's on the larger size but uses technology that makes it stand out from the rest.
If you're simply looking for the smallest microwave oven to wedge into a tight space then the Commercial Chef model takes up the least counter space.
At just 12.5 inches deep, it's the shallowest microwave.
If you need something especially narrow, then at 17.3 inches wide, the Black+Decker model is the skinny microwave of your dreams.
While the tiniest models are just perfect if you have serious space restrictions in your kitchen, they aren't exactly the most feature packed of devices.
For this reason, we recommend the Panasonic SD372S if you can afford an extra inch or two here and there.
It's still a very little microwave but it retains the power and cooking options that a regular sized model would have.
At 950 watts and just 0.8 cubic feet it's an impressively engineered, compact piece of kit.
Commercial Chef Countertop
Our #1 Recommendation
In this section, we outline the main areas that you should be looking at when choosing a personal mini microwave for your home.
The maximum power of a microwave is measured in watts (W). Basically, the greater the power of the device the faster it can cook food.
However, that's not to say you always have to use the maximum power setting and sometimes it's better not to.
Simply put, a 1000W microwave will heat a coffee much faster than a 700W model. If cooking time is very important to you then look for a more powerful microwave.
If you don't mind waiting a few extra seconds for your food then you can afford to do without some heating power.
The capacity of a microwave describes the interior volume. Essentially this is how much food you can cook at any one time. This is measured in cubic feet. This number ranges from 0.6 to 1.2 cubic feet in our reviews.
Be aware that a small capacity does not automatically guarantee a small overall size. This really depends on the design of the device.
We've been sure to include the overall dimensions (depth x width x height) of each model in inches.
When accounting for the space that a microwave will take up in your kitchen be sure to add an inch to the depth measurement as they need a bit of clearance at the back.
It's also important to account for the swing of the door. Will there be enough space to open and close the door without obstruction?
Remember the power cable needs plugged in nearby too!
- Special Features
As standard, microwaves will heat by the timer, and also with a defrost mode that is set according to weight.
However, different models offer all kinds of other features to make life more convenient.
The best compact microwaves will come with many special features to make your life in the kitchen easier.
These include things like:
One touch pre-sets - instead of trying to work out how long something takes to heat properly, simply press a button that has the cooking instructions pre-loaded.
A common example is a 'popcorn' button that will automatically cook your popcorn at the right power and for the correct amount of time.
Some models will include multiple pre-sets like this for various types of food. This takes the "guess work" out of cooking and saves you time too.
Power save mode - Electrical appliances are still a drain on your power supply even when in standby mode.
Some now come with eco-friendly modes that effectively turn them off when not in use. This saves energy and money in the long-term.
Child lock - a child lock prevents prying little hands from using your microwave. A 'must have' feature for those with young families.
A one year warranty is pretty standard with devices like this. Check with the manufacturer to see if you can extend it and also what the limitations might be.
How Does a Microwave Work?
Microwaves were pretty revolutionary when they first appeared in the early 1970s, but even now almost 50 years on it's still hard to be unimpressed by how quickly they can cook food.
So how exactly does that little box manage to heat food so efficiently? Let's find out...
A microwave oven contains a little box called a magnetron. The job of the magnetron is to generate microwaves (small electromagnetic waves with a wavelength of between 0.001–0.3 meters).
When you press the 'start' button, the magnetron starts converting the electrical energy from the power supply into these small but powerful waves. These electromagnetic waves are then emitted through something called a wave-guide.
The wave-guide emits the waves into the food compartment of the microwave. Here they are absorbed by the food and reflected by the interior walls (the reflections will eventually be absorbed by the food too). Most microwaves rotate the food to ensure an even distribution of the electromagnetic waves.
Once enough of these waves are absorbed by the food, they cause the molecules inside it to vibrate.
The molecules vibrate so vigorously that they actually produce heat. It is this heat caused by vibrations that cooks your food.
Simple but very clever!
Microwave Oven Cooking Tips
The characteristics of food can have an impact on the cooking results.
Here are a few quick tips to ensure you get the best performance out of your microwave oven.
- Try and keep the size and shape of the food uniform.
- Smaller pieces will cook quicker than larger ones. Also, uniformly shaped foods will cook more evenly than food that is irregular in shape.
- The more food that needs to be heated, the longer it will take to cook properly.
- If you need to add more time, do so in small, gradual increments.
- The composition and density of foods can have a big impact on the cooking time.
- Porous and light food like cake will take much less time to heat than a dense food like a potato.
- Also, food that is rich in sugar and fats will reach higher temperatures than other foods. Imagine the middle of something like a jam donut. The middle will get extremely hot compared to the outside. Be Careful!
- The temperature of the food will have an effect on the cooking time.
- Foods that are chilled will heat quicker than those that are frozen. Conversely, room temperature foods will heat quicker than chilled.
Tips to Ensure Even Cooking
1. Cover the food.
Covering food while cooking in a microwave oven has multiple benefits. It stops the food from making the interior messy, it reduces the cooking time, and it also helps to keep the food moist. Keeping a lid on something will retain the moisture and stop it from getting unnecessarily dry.
2. Pierce the food.
This tip isn't always applicable but should be carried out whenever possible. Piercing or pricking the skin of something like a potato or sausage allows the steam to escape. This prevents your food from exploding all over the inside of the microwave.
3. Stir/turn the food.
Periodically stir or turn the food to ensure that it is cooked evenly.
4. Account for standing time
Your food will continue to cook even after the cooking cycle has finished. This means that certain types of food can be overcooked quite easily and also that the food may not be cool enough to eat for some time after leaving the microwave.
How to Clean your Microwave
Microwave ovens can get splattered with food quite easily, but thankfully cleaning them isn't too difficult a task.
An easy way to soften the hard food stains that cover the interior is to heat a cup of water for a couple of minutes. The steam that is produced will soften the stains and make them much easier to clean.
You should wipe the interior with a soft cloth and a mild detergent. Avoid using any abrasive scourers or strong detergents.
How to Remove Unpleasant Odors
A great tip for removing the foul smells that can sometimes linger inside a microwave oven is to use lemon juice or vinegar.
Simply heat a cup of water containing a tablespoon full of lemon juice or vinegar for a couple of minutes. The infused steam that fills the microwave will neutralize any unpleasant smells.
That brings us to the end of another guide to compact kitchen appliances. We recently went live with a post on mini freezers which you might find useful too.
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The only dimension that counts is the depth. To get it off the counter it has to be less than 12 “ deep. Height and width are less restrictive. Still waiting to find one.