The Best Small Microwave

Whirlpool WMC20005YD 0.5 Cu. Ft. Microwave

Our Top Pick for 2016: Whirlpool WMC20005YD 0.5 Cu. Ft. Microwave
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $145.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

The microwave oven has become an essential appliance in just about every kitchen. But, the microwave was invented by accident, and it is older than you would probably guess. In fact, it was developed shortly after World War II. A man named Dr. Percy Spencer worked with the magnetrons that were part of the U.S. and British radar systems during the war. One day, he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket was melting when he got too close to the magnetron. After much experimentation, the microwave was developed. It was over five feet tall, weighted over 750 pounds, and cost thousands of dollars. Microwaves have become much smaller over time, and most are reasonably priced. They started becoming a household item in the late 1970s. Today, you can find a microwave in almost every home. Below we’ve reviewed the best compact small microwaves we could find.

Table of contents

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0.6 Cubic Feet
0.5 Cubic Feet
0.7 Cubic Feet
6 Convenient Cooking Power Levels
Add 30 Seconds Option
Electronic Panel
30 Minute Timer
Enough Room For A Dinner Plate
10 Power Levels
Audible End Of Cooking Signal
Control Lock Feature
Electronic Child-safety Lock System
600 Watts Of Cooking Power
Unique Rounded Back
700 Watts

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Whirlpool WMC20005YD 0.5 Cu. Ft. Microwave

Whirlpool WMC20005YD 0.5 Cu. Ft. Microwave Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $145.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe Whirlpool Countertop Microwave is the top pick because of its many great features. Not only does it have a sleek look, but it is also very functional. The Whirlpool name is well-respected in the appliance world,and this model meets the high expectations customers have of the brand. Users will enjoy this microwave for so many reasons.

Size is often a big consideration when one is choosing a microwave oven. A small amount of countertop space may be one reason for wanting a small microwave. Others may choose this size if they are college students living in a dorm room with limited space or simply a single person who cooks individual portions. Sometimes individuals want to put a microwave in their office space, and a small model is the best fit. A small microwave oven is the perfect size for reheating a cup of coffee, reheating a plate of food, or popping popcorn. That’s just what this Whirlpool Countertop Microwave delivers.

With 0.5 cubic feet of space inside, most users still find that there is just enough room for a dinner plate. People purchase this model because of its small size and are happy with its stylish looks. One reviewer at Best Microwave Reviews comments that she likes the small size, stylish look, and simple features. While some users claim otherwise, she does have a complaint in that her large plates do not fit into this oven. Other reviewers, particularly those on Amazon, claim that a regular dinner plate does fit into this microwave without problems. Since dinner plates can vary in size, you will need to measure your plates before purchasing this microwave if this is something that you will be using for reheating. With interior measurements given between 11 inches and 11.5 inches, you will need to decide if your plates will fit. Additionally, this microwave does have a rotating turntable. The turntable plate is reported at 11 inches in diameter, so anything 11 inches or smaller will surely fit.

Beyond the size, this microwave oven has more useful features. First of all, it has 750 watts of power, more than many of the smaller microwaves on the market do. This power allows it to cook your food more quickly. Reviews, however, are conflicting about how well the microwave actually heats. The reviewer at Best Microwave Reviews claims that it takes “a long time” for food to get hot. Many reviewers at Amazon contest this. One even says it heated her food just as quickly as a 1000 watt model did. There were many more reviews that are happy with how quickly this microwave heats their food. Those that say it is slow are in the vast minority.

In addition, this microwave is easy to use. It has convenient plus (+) and minus (-) buttons for increasing or decreasing the cooking time, and it also has an “add 30 seconds” button, allowing you to push one button and go. With the increase and decrease time buttons, you can go faster or slower through the numbers depending on how long you hold the button down. This is often more convenient than typing in a number which is the way that many other microwaves work. .

Moreover, this microwave has a pre-set button to pop popcorn. This makes it a simple job for kids to make their own popcorn without worry about burning it. The variable power levels also make it easy to defrost foods without cooking them through. There are 10 power levels on this Whirlpool model. This allows you to make sure that you get just the right amount for every application.

The stylish design and small footprint of this Whirlpool microwave help it fit into any décor. The stainless-steel look of the microwave is current with today’s trend of stainless steel appliances. In addition, the control panel is not too crowded with buttons. There are only enough buttons to allow for easy use while still allowing the oven to look great. In fact, the door to this microwave opens with a simple pull rather than needing a special button to do the job.

Overall, reviewers like this microwave oven. When looking only at Amazon reviews, 81 percent gave it either four or five stars, meaning that most people really liked this model. Positive comments range from loving the size and style to the fact that the Whirlpool microwave does everything it needs to do. The reviewer at Best Five Reviewed even commented, as did others, that this microwave is especially quiet to operate, making it a top choice.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Westinghouse WCM660W 0.6 Cubic Feet Counter Top Microwave Oven

Westinghouse WCM660W 0.6 Cubic Feet Counter Top Microwave Oven

View it on Amazon for $68.90*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Westinghouse brand name has always stood for quality. This small microwave oven is no exception to the consumer opinion of the brand. Reviewers have commented about the longevity of this model, and this is no surprise given the simplicy of the microwave. While it may be simple, it does the job better than most.

Although most people look for more features on the microwave they are considering, the simplicity of the Westinghouse model is what draws consumers to it. In fact, this model is so simple that it only has two dials. One dial can set the temperature, and the other dial sets the timer. That’s it, it is all mechanical and there is no keypad to deal with. Simplicity makes this microwave perfect for seniors, kids, and those who may have poor dexterity, poor vision, or have trouble with directions.

Yet, this microwave has six different power settings: high, medium/ high, medium, medium/ low, defrost, and low. Turn this dial to the temperature you desire, and next, you will set the timer. You can set the timer from one to 30 minutes. Once you turn the timer on, the microwave starts cooking. It doesn’t get much easier than that. One thing you should know, however, is if you leave excess time on the timer and open the door to take out your food, when you close the door again, the microwave will continue to cook. You should turn the timer off if you take food out before it is done so that it does not run empty, which is never a good idea with a microwave.

Reviewers commented that this simple set up was perfect for senior citizens who either did not understand the complicated keypads of other models or those who did not have the dexterity to push said buttons. It was also perfect for children, according to one Amazon reviewer. Her 10 year old child was easily taught how to heat up simple foods to help his sick mother. Of course, you want to teach your children how to use this safely, but it is simple enough for older children to use independently.

Furthermore, the size of this microwave is perfect for certain users. Users who live in small apartments with limited counterpace are prime candidates. Additionally, those who live in dorm rooms will find that this is perfect. One commenter said that her son put the microwave on top of his dorm frig, and it was the perfect set-up for the situation. To make it even better, this microwave does not have a digital clock or any digital features to keep a user awake when the microwave is in the same room where one sleeps.

Similarly, the lack of digital features is one way that makes this microwave more energy efficient. The low wattage of the Westinghouse model also helps to keep it more energy efficient. The Best Countertop Microwave Guide comments that the 600 watts of power is enough for every day use. While larger foods may take a little longer, smaller things do not see too much difference in time than with larger microwaves. Better still, when you receive your energy bill, you will be glad to notice that this microwave oven does not cause bills to increase too much.

Cleaning this microwave is also quite simple. The included turntable is dishwasher safe, and it can easily be washed that way. The interior of the microwave is easily wiped clean using mild soap if needed. Again, the small size comes in handy for this as there is only so much area to clean, and reaching is not too hard. The exterior is easily wiped clean as well.

But, the 0.6 cubic foot interior volume is just large enough for most needs. A dinner plate will easily fit inside as will fairly large bowls, according to one Amazon user. This microwave will meet the needs of most singles or those who only use the microwave for smaller tasks such as defrosting and reheating.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Daewoo KOR7L0EW 0.7 Cu Ft 700 Watt Countertop Microwave Oven

Daewoo KOR7L0EW 0.7 Cu Ft 700 Watt Countertop Microwave Oven

View it on Amazon for $79.90*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardFor a small microwave, this Daewoo model is packed with features to make it a top pick. It will make a great choice for those with small kitchens and those who only use it for small jobs. The compact Daewoo will surprise you with its quick cooking, easy operation, and perfect size.

First, the size of this microwave is ideal for fitting in a dorm room or even small apartment kitchens. One reviewer on The Best Microwave Store commented that she bought it for her mother in an assisted living facility because of the limited counter space in the studio-type apartment she had. The Daewoo Microwave fit on the countertop, and it worked without a hitch. Her mother used it mostly for reheating meals and boiling water for tea, both applications that were perfect for this model. You will find that you do not have to heat up the whole kitchen with a tea kettle and its steam in the summertime, just pop a mug of water into the Daewoo Microwave to heat. The size may also be useful for a kitchenette or common area in a larger office. Workers can use it to heat the lunches they brought from home. The Daewoo will fit in any snug space, even on top of a short bookshelf.

Not only is the microwave a good size, but it does the job efficiently. You can fit a dinner plate into this microwave with ease and heat up your plate of food quickly with the Concave Reflex System. This Concave Reflex System and Dual Waves are a special feature used by Daewoo. As it is explained on the Daewoo Electronics website, the waves from the electromagnet are specially reflected by changing the shape of the microwave cavity. This specially designed shape allows for fast and even heating of your food every time.

Furthermore, the electronic keypad on this microwave is relatively simple to use. This is where you will find some of the interesting extra features of this microwave model. There are three one-touch cooking menus, five auto-cook menus, and a defrost menu. With 10 power levels, you will be able to adjust this microwave to your cooking needs whether it be defrosting meat, heating foods, or boiling water. These buttons are designed to make your life simpler. You do not have to think about how much time or what power to cook your food on. You can simply use the pre-programmed features. jThis may be especially helpful for those who are not used to using a microwave oven at all, from the very young to senior citizens.

To round out this model, there is a digital clock that can be set for 12 or 24 hour time keeping. This is always a nice feature, especially in a small apartment where it may be used as the only time piece. In addition, this microwave features an electronic child-safety lock. This is essential if you have small kids who like to open doors or press buttons. It will keep them safe from burns and spills.

Overall, this Daewoo 700 watt microwave has plenty of power to do the jobs of any small microwave oven. It is one of the best choices on the market because of its numerous features and great operating power. There are many possible applications for the use of this microwave. The electric you will save by not using a bigger, higher powered model is one consideration above all else. Most reviewers in the market for a small microwave seemed to like this model and the fine features it offers.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Danby 0.7 cu.ft. Countertop Microwave

Danby 0.7 cu.ft. Countertop Microwave

View it on Amazon for $48.49*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickMicrowaves can be expensive, but everyone seems to need their food cooked quickly. For those on a budget, there are still great models available to choose from. One top budget-friendly choice is the Danby 0.7 cubic food Countertop Microwave.

Starting with the size, the Danby is a smart choice for those living in small apartments or other small spaces. In fact, one user on the Danby website commented that they had this installed in their camper and used it extensively. It fit well into the small, given space allowed, and it afforded them with opportunities they might not otherwise have had. Other users commented about the small footprint that this microwave had on their countertops, yet it still holds a full sized dinner plate inside for cooking.

And, the Danby has enough power to reheat meals and cook foods. One Amazon user wrote about her experiences and stated that she found that the cooking times were only insignificantly more than her older, higher watt model. She wrote that she only had to add a few seconds more in some cases, and none in other cases. When one really needs a small sized microwave, higher wattages are often not available, but the 700 watt Danby uses is just perfect for most cooking applications. In addition, the fact that it uses less watts allows the user to save on energy and electricity bills which is always a plus when you are in a budget in the first place.

The features on the Danby Microwave are also received positive comments by users. They appreciated the simplicity of the keypad, the 10 different power levels, and the pre-programmed choices. This model does, in fact, have pre-programmed options for six popular uses. Additionally, it has speed defrost, defrost by weight, and cook by weight features available for users.

Equipped with an automatic turntable, this microwave can heat your food more evenly because it is always moving. As one Amazon user stated, there is no need to stop the microwave to turn the food during cooking.. Moreover, the LED clock and timer are useful and easy to set.

Overall, users were pleased with this microwave. One hundred percent of the reviews on the Danby website and just about three quarters of the users on Amazon rated this microwave with a positive score of at least four stars. Of those that rated it lower, many were looking for a larger microwave, and thus were in the wrong market in the first place. This Danby Countertop Microwave fits the bill for many users.


Pre-purchase considerations

Where will the microwave be located?

There are basically two types of microwave oven locations: countertop and installed. Countertop models simply sit on the counter. They are easy to install. You simply plug them in, and they are ready to use. Additionally, countertop models tend to be less expensive then installed models. The disadvantage is that they do take up a good deal of valuable counter space. Built in models can be over-the stove or other installed locations such as a special drawer. Either way, these are more complicated to install before using, and they do tend to be quite a bit more expensive. Those installed over the stove usually do have a dual duty, however as they often function as range hoods in addition to a microwave oven. They do save space on small countertops, and they can sometimes be hidden to protect the aesthetics of your kitchen.

What size is best?

Microwaves come in a variety of sizes from compact to extra large and everything in between. The smallest tend to hover right around 0.5 cubic feet of interior space while the larger models can be just upwards of 20 cubic feet. While compact microwaves save space, they also do not fit the larger dishes a big family may employ such as casserole pans. Larger models, however, take up a great deal of space and use more energy. The right size will depend on your family, your space, and your cooking needs.

What wattage do I need?

Wattage is a measure of how much energy and power the microwave uses. The higher the number, the faster and more evenly your food will cook. Smaller models often have lower wattage though this is not necessarily true in all cases. Typical wattage for microwaves ranges from 600-1200 watts.

What features do I need?

Microwave ovens come with a variety of features. Some of the lower end models have very few features while more expensive models usually have more. Few features may be fine if you are not planning to use your microwave for many different functions. For instance if you only plan to use the microwave to reheat food most of the time, you can figure out how much time you need to cook it without additional features.

Additional features may help you with defrosting foods simply or by cooking some of your favorites with the touch of only one button Many models have pre-programmed buttons for popcorn or a frozen entrée, for example. Others can have up to 100 pre-programmed foods for you to choose from. Additionally, some microwaves have a button where you can add 30 seconds to the cook time either before or during cooking. Still others offer a delayed start for cooking which can come in handy if you are particularly busy, but don’t want to forget the veggies you are cooking in the microwave, for instance.

Do I need a turntable?

Frankly, it is very handy to have a turntable inside your microwave. It keeps the food moving so that it heats more evenly. If you do not have a turntable, you will need to set your microwave to cook a short period, open it up and turn the food, then cook some more. You may need to turn it several times to ensure even heating, depending on how dense the food is and how long you have to cook it.

Do I need Interlock or Child Safety Locks?

Most microwave ovens have an interlock feature which will not allow the microwave to keep cooking if the door is opened. This is for general safety and you want to make sure that your model does have this features. As for child safety lock features, this is an option on some models to protect children from opening the door and hurting themselves with hot food. Models that include it will have a button or series of buttons to push on the control panel to lock the door when you do not want your children to get inside.

Do I need variable power or sensor cooking?

Variable power control comes in handy when you are trying to defrost foods. You can set the microwave to cook at half of its normal power level so that you only defrost, but not cook, your food. If you plan to defrost food in your microwave, it is a helpful feature to have. But, if you are only going to be reheating foods or boiling water, it is probably unnecessary. Sensor controls is becoming more popular as well. Sensors inside of your microwave can tell when your food is sufficiently hot via the steam it emits, and it will turn off automatically. This is handy at times, but probably unnecessary. It is really a personal decision.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

The small microwave buying choices on today’s market allow for the perfect model for everyone. Since everyone’s tastes and needs vary, what is right for one person may not be right for the next. Each person should ask themselves the pertinent questions before making a purchase decision. It is also good to take actual measurements of your space if you are extremely limited so that you do not wind up with a microwave that does not fit.

Microwaves simplify our lives in so many ways. When you are used to having one and suddenly find yourself without, you figure out all of the ways you use it. This can actually help you to make your buying decisions.

Whatever model you choose, take care to follow all instructions for use and cleaning. This will help ensure that your microwave lasts for many years. Microwave ovens may have been discovered by accident, but their convenience is something that most people cannot live without.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Megan Wollerton, Microwave buying guide, CNET, September 23, 2013
  2. 0.7 Cu.Ft. White Countertop Microwave KOR-7L0EW, Daewoo Electronics USA
  3. Danby 0.7 cu. ft. Microwave, Danby.com
  4. Don Vandervort, Microwave Ovens Buying Guide, HomeTips.com, March 11, 2016

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