The 10 Best Small Microwaves
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in August of 2015. If your office eating area is cramped or you only have a galley kitchen in your apartment, a mini microwave might be the best solution for enjoying the convenience of reheating leftovers and making bagged popcorn. Though they take up very little space, these compact units still come with many of the features of full-sized models and are offered in an array of colors and styles. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 05, 2020:
Since one of the purposes of using a microwave is to take some of the hassles out of cooking, we looked for features that improved convenience even more, like intuitive control panels and pre-sets for popular items. Though they're diminutive, it was also important that our choices were still powerful.
We instantly appreciated the extensive options on the Magic Chef MCM770B, with its eight preprogrammed settings, memory function, and kitchen timer. We also liked that the Black & Decker 1.1 Digital lets you input an item's weight in defrost mode. The keypad on the Danby Designer shows wear and tear after little use, making it nearly ineffective, so we removed it.
It was important that our choices were attractive, and varied in aesthetic, so we included the classic-looking Nostalgia RMO7RR, the very modern LG NeoChef, and the somewhat industrial Breville Compact Wave. Though stylish, the Daewoo Retro struggles to make bagged popcorn, and since that's a very popular microwave food, we decided to eliminate it.
We wanted users to be able to reheat entrees and complete meals, so we like that the Sharp Compact and Black & Decker 1.1 Digital both can accommodate full-size dinner plates. The Hamilton Beach Red struggles to get hot enough and can produce inconsistent results, so it lost its place during this update. Another choice that has some reliability issues is the Toshiba 900 Watt. Some items can come out either burnt or not warm enough, so we removed it, too.
November 13, 2019:
In updating this list we replaced a few choices with its newer updated model, like the Kenmore Countertop and the Commercial Chef Rotary.
We added the Black+Decker Digital in place of the GE Stainless Steel because users report better reliability in the long term, plus the control panel has large lettering and good contrast so it's much easier to read.
The Bella 700 is no longer available, plus the Amazon Basics that works with Alexa needed to be added to this list. It's an excellent option for someone who likes to do the same things over and over, as it has the ability to learn and add presets to voice commands. The most common complaint about this microwave is that users wish it was available in a full size option.
Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen Stainless-Steel Microwave The Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen Stainless-Steel Microwave has ten power levels, express cooking, and weight defrost functions to make reheating and preparing meals easy. Its durable housing should hold up to plenty of use and its glass turntable is removable for cleaning. williams-sonoma.com
Why Go With a Small Microwave (As Opposed To a Big One)?
The console has been simplified to account for a tighter space.
Let's start with some basics. A small microwave is, well, small. And while the compact size may not be ideal for an elaborate kitchen, it is usually superb for any dorm room, break room, mobile home, or basement bar. A small microwave is easy to transport, which means that you can take it along on vacations, weekend getaways, and even camping trips. You can fit a small microwave into the trunk of any car, which is a major plus if your job or lifestyle requires you to constantly be out on the road.
Smaller microwaves are generally easier to operate than their bulky counterparts. The console has been simplified to account for a tighter space. Rather than needing a user's guide to familiarize yourself with all of the digital options, a compact microwave will accommodate its owner via an ample list of one-touch settings. These settings may not be as intricate, but they are adequate for getting each job done, all the same.
Smaller microwaves are lighter (most models weigh between 20-40 lbs), and they don't take as long to clean as their larger counterparts. In addition, smaller microwaves don't require as much energy, which should reduce your electric bill while minimizing the amount of stress that you place upon a circuit or a fuse box.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to owning a small microwave is that it functions in the same manner that a big microwave does. In the end you're enjoying a lot of the same benefits. You're simply paying less from the point of purchase to the amount of savings that you'll enjoy every month.
Several Little-Known Uses For a Microwave
Most people have a clear understanding of what they can cook inside a microwave, but they may not be aware of some of the other ways in which a microwave can be used. Consider a tube of hardened mascara, for example, or a container of dried-up skin cream. Thirty seconds inside a microwave will re-soften these items. The same goes for clumped-up sugar, or crystallized honey. Any microwave can penetrate these items, forcing their molecules to spread apart.
Of course, all of this activity might cause your microwave to get a little dirty.
A microwave's electromagnetism is outstanding for removing any odor-causing bacteria. You can deodorize anything from a dish sponge to a pair of socks by placing them inside of a water-filled container, and then microwaving the contents for 30 seconds. The same applies to pasteurizing soil, with the only difference being that the soil should be damp, but not wet.
Speaking of odors, placing onions inside a microwave for several seconds prior to cutting them can eliminate some of the penetrating smell that causes a person to tear. In addition, placing a clove of garlic or a piece of fruit inside a microwave can help to draw out moisture, thereby making it easier to peel off the surrounding skin.
Of course, all of this activity might cause your microwave to get a little dirty. You can moisturize a microwave by placing a couple of wet paper towels inside for 40 seconds. The microwave will spread each towel's mist around the chamber, loosening any stains during the process. Once that's done, you can wipe the chamber down by mixing some lemon juice or vinegar with hot water. Leave the door open to let the microwave dry before using it again.
A Brief History of The Microwave (By Way of Its Inventors)
Electromagnetic waves were originally discovered by a German physicist named Heinrich Hertz in 1888. Hertz was able to prove the existence of these waves by developing a rudimentary transmitter that was capable of sending separate coded frequencies by way of air. Hertz's experiments provided the basis for early radio and television technology, along with radar and telephonic communication. In addition, Hertz laid the groundwork for what would eventually become known as microwave technology - a form of radiation featuring electromagnetic frequencies that range between 300 MHz and 300 GHz (It is worth noting that a frequency's given unit of measurement is called a hertz).
Instead, Raytheon gave Spencer a rather paltry one-time payment.
The fact that a microwave could induce heat wasn't discovered until 1945. As the story goes, a self-taught engineer named Percy Spencer was using microwaves to operate a radar set when he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket was beginning to melt. This led Spencer to experiment, first by cooking some popcorn via the same process, and then by cooking an egg from the shell to the yolk.
What was happening was that the radar's transmitter had started sending out a series of microwaves. These waves were capable of penetrating any nearby food, causing its water molecules to vibrate at a rate of 2.5 billion times per second. The ensuing heat proved so intense that it caused certain foods to cook - or melt - much faster than they would inside a stove.
Spencer was working for an electronics company named Raytheon when he discovered the link between microwaves and cooking. Raytheon patented Spencer's technology, and two years later the company introduced The Radarange - a commercial microwave that measured 6 ft tall by 3 ft wide. A few months later Raytheon unveiled a giant vending machine that could microwave several hot dogs in less than a minute. From that point forward the microwave, as an industry, was born.
Today, Raytheon is a publicly-traded defense contractor with billions in annual revenue. Percy Spencer remained on the Board at Raytheon until his death in 1969. Spencer was never paid any royalties as a result of developing the world's first microwave oven. Instead, Raytheon gave Spencer a rather paltry one-time payment.