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.
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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.
The Top 5 Miniature Microwaves Compared
Before moving on to the reviews, see how the best small microwaves compare in the table below.
OUR TOP PICK
Power: 950 watts
Dimensions: 14.8 x 19.2 x 11
Counter Space: 285.6
Capacity: 0.8 ft3
Power: 750 watts
Dimensions: 13.75 x 15.5 x 14.1
Counter Space: 213.1
Capacity: 0.5 ft3
Power: 700 watts
Dimensions: 13 x 17.5 x 10.5
Counter Space: 227.5
Capacity: 0.7 ft3
Power: 700 watts
Dimensions: 12.5 x 17.75 x 10.25
Counter Space: 221.9
Capacity: 0.7 ft3
Power: 1200 watts
Dimensions: 15.8 x 20.65 x 12.25
Counter Space: 326.3
Capacity: 1.2 ft3
The dimensions are measured in inches and have the order Depth x Width x Height.
Counter Space is a simple measurement of how much area (depth x width) the device will take up in the kitchen. It doesn't take into consideration the height of the microwave.
Capacity is a measure of how much space 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
A great 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.
It is, however, very small as microwaves go and a very fine piece of kitchen technology.
If you're only interested in the smallest of the very small microwave ovens then stick around for the Whirlpool review 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.
Whirlpool WMC20005 ** The Smallest Microwave on the Market **
Taking up just 213.1 square inches of counter space in the kitchen, this tiny 0.5 cu ft microwave from Whirlpool is as small as they get. It has a unique rounded back so that it will fit nicely in the corner of a countertop too.
Be warned though, what it lacks in countertop inches, it makes up for in height. This is the tallest of our recommended small countertop microwave ovens. Standing at 14.1" tall, just be sure you have the extra clearance.
Let's get the other big negative out of the way while we're at it. It's expensive.
It's actually the most expensive model on our list by some margin. It seems there's a price to pay for saving space on the kitchen countertop.
The Whirlpool WMC20005 actually puts out a fair amount of power and despite being smaller, isn't underequipped by any means. At 750 watts of cooking power, it's the 3rd most powerful microwave on our list.
The power modes are split into 10 levels. There are also 'Quick Touch' buttons to add an extra 30 seconds and for popcorn. The further cooking modes allow for easy defrosting and reheating.
It's not as feature rich as some of the other models on this list, but that's a sacrifice you'll have to pay in the quest for the ultimate in compact microwaves.
Bottom Line: If you're really struggling for space in your kitchen then this is the personal mini microwave oven of your dreams.
It's the smallest microwave oven on the market, but unfortunately, what it lacks in size it makes up for with the price tag.
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.
Westinghouse WCM770B *** Cheapest Small Microwave ***
This little gem from Westinghouse has a lot going for it. It was an easy decision including it on this list of the top models in this class.
Let's start with the price. It's the cheapest model in this guide and represents amazing value for money. If you're on a strict budget then this is the tiny microwave oven for you.
And it really is tiny. At just 12.5 inches depth it's the shortest of our picks. If you're dealing with shallow shelves or narrow countertop space then this microwave might be the one you need.
It's also the shortest. At only 10.25 inches tall, it's able to squeeze into those tight spaces that others just can't.
With such slender dimensions, you won't be shocked to hear that it only has a capacity of 0.7 cubic feet. You won't be heating up whole turkeys in here, but single meals are no problem.
The side effect of keeping the cost low is a cutback with the user interface. Instead of LCD displays and one-touch buttons, this model uses old-fashioned mechanical rotary dials.
The positive here is that there's absolutely no confusion in the operation of this microwave oven. Dial interfaces like these are so simple to understand and operate that you shouldn't really even need to look at the instruction manual. Some digital interfaces, on the other hand, aren't exactly very user-friendly.
This model keeps things very simple and uses two of these rotary dials for operation. One controls time and the other controls the cooking modes. The cooking modes are simply 5 power levels controlled by a timer (low, medium-low, medium, medium-high, high) and a defrost by weight setting.
Bottom Line: This is the perfect mini microwave oven for small spaces. It's not flashy but very functional and excellent value for money.
Panasonic NN-SN686S * Multiple Features & Bigger Capacity *
Though we class this as a mini microwave it is the largest of our recommendations and probably not the one for you if space is really tight. It is however 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 model really is the exact opposite of the Westinghouse. While the Westinghouse keeps things really simple, this model from Panasonic has so many options that you might never use them all.
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 Whirlpool model takes up the least counter space. However, it is also the tallest model on our list.
If height is an issue then the Westinghouse model is the shortest, and also has a pretty lean footprint overall.
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 piece of kit.
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.
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 0.5 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. For the overall footprint taken up by a device in your kitchen see the next section.
The size of a microwave oven in our reviews is represented in two ways. Firstly, we have been sure to include the overall dimensions (depth x width x height) of each model in inches.
We've also listed the overall counter space that each model takes up in the kitchen. This measurement is simply the depth x width.
When accounting for the space that a microwave will take up in your kitchen be sure to add an inch or two to the depth measurement as they need a bit of clearance at the back.
- 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.
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!
Recommended: Unsure how to remove that burnt smell from your microwave? We've got it covered!
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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