best budget microwave

Wirecutter Best Microwave Reviews

One of the most annoying things that can happen to a person after a long day of work is to come home to a cold dinner.

The thing is, while the food in question will still be nutritional and kill the hunger pains, the taste certainly won’t be the same, which is a shame if you prepared your meal diligently, then something popped up that you had to deal with, and when you come back – your spaghetti has gone cold.

One of the best ways to ensure this doesn’t happen would be to have a contraption that you can use to heat up food that’s gone cold quickly and easily in a matter of minutes. Typically, a regular microwave would do a great job here, but if you live alone, or you don’t prepare big meals – you may not need the regular-sized microwave oven.

If this situation describes you, then wirecutter has a solution to your troubles. It comes in the shape of a special ‘subspecies’ of the microwaved called – compact microwave ovens. What these contraptions essentially are are smaller versions of a regular microwave. This means they don’t use as much electricity, can be easily carried around, and tend to prepare your food somewhat quicker.

To help you avoid frustration, Wirecutter spent hundreds of hours researching and testing the best microwave oven for every budget and space. Among them we recommend Toshiba EM131A5C as #1 choice as you can cook your favorite foods with ease. The pre-programmed sensor menu ensures optimum heating for items like pizza, potatoes and veggies. Moreever, its Custom Defrost feature lets you defrost foods by weight for evenly cooked results, while the 1 lb. Auto Defrost setting automatically adjusts power and time settings for perfect thawing every time.

In this article, we’re going to talk about compact microwaves and why they are so useful when it comes to heating up or preparing food in the comfort of your home.

Top Picks : 5 Best Microwave Wirecutter

Top 5 Best Microwave Wirecutter Reviews

1. Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor

TOSHIBA EM131A5C-BS Countertop Microwave Ovens 1.2 Cu Ft, 12.4' Removable Turntable Smart Humidity Sensor 12 Auto Menus Mute Function ECO Mode Easy Clean Interior Black Color 1100W

Don’t let your cooking skills go stale – keep them sharp with this powerful 1100-watt microwave oven from Toshiba. With ten power settings to choose from, you can cook anything your heart desires. The large digital display makes it easy to keep an eye on your food, while the easy-to-read control panel ensures that you’re always in complete control of your meal. And for those who like their food just a little bit crispy, the glass turntable is perfect for evenly cooking everything from pizza to popcorn. So why wait? Add this microwave oven to your kitchen today and enjoy delicious home cooked meals every night of the week!

Made out of high-quality stainless steel, this Toshiba microwave oven is both a good-looking kitchen appliance that will easily blend in with the remainder of the kitchen décor and a powerful microwave with plenty of options to choose from when it comes to the way you use it.

As far as the functionality of this thing is concerned, the interesting thing would be the presets, which you can choose and then have the microwave do all the temperature adjusting and the timer setting. There are six such presets, reserved for different commonly prepared microwave meals such as pizza, baked potatoes, popcorn, and many more.

With a power rating of 1100 Watts, this thing packs more than a powerful enough heating punch to allow you to heat up and prepare a wide variety of meals. What’s more, the folks at Toshiba made sure to set the power of the heater. What you have is a scale from one to ten to work with, so there are more than enough options for you to choose from when it comes to making different dishes.


  • Made out of high-quality stainless steel
  • Power-saving ECO mode
  • 900 Watts of power
  • Comes with a bright and easy-to-read digital display
  • 6 pre-programmed settings
  • Features a mute option


  • Some users complained that heating up food can take longer after a while
  • Some users may not like the design of this unit

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2. Nostalgia Retro Countertop Microwave Oven Review

Nostalgia RMO4AQ Retro Large 0.9 cu ft, 800-Watt Countertop Microwave Oven 12 Pre-Programmed Cookin, Digital Clock, Easy Clean Interior, Aqua, Cu.Ft

For anyone looking for a microwave with all the functionality of a modern-day kitchen appliance but with a nostalgic appearance of one of the old microwave models, this Retro countertop microwave oven can be an excellent solution. It comes in five colors including an aqua light blue, red, ivory, jet black, as well as seafoam green.

As the description of this product suggests itself, this microwave packs a powerful heating punch of 800 Watts, which is more than enough to tackle all sorts of heating-up and cooking tasks. Speaking of cooking, in case you want to make some of the most common dishes in this microwave, you’ll love the fact that there are 12 presets for quickly preparing popcorn, pizza, vegetables, and some other foods.

Also, what you get with this model is a retro chromed handle, as well as a control panel with stylish buttons. There is a digital display, too, where you can see the timer, as well as the cooking, presets you’ve chosen.


  • 800-Watts of cooking power
  • 12 pre-programmed cooking settings
  • Easy-to-read digital display
  • Comes with a sleek retro handle
  • Compact size
  • Elegant retro design


  • Some users may not like the design of this unit
  • Some users reported problems with the faulty turntable

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3. COMFEE Countertop Microwave Oven Review

COMFEE' EM720CPL-PMB Countertop Microwave Oven with Sound On/Off, ECO Mode and Easy One-Touch Buttons, 0.7cu.ft, 700W, Black

Featuring a special eco-mode for saving energy and a smooth and stylish stainless steel with a black finish, this COMFEE’ countertop microwave oven can be a great option for a person looking for a microwave that will both do the cooking task you need it to do and look good doing it, so to speak.

What makes this model stand out from the rest would be the sheer number of different smart features it comes with. For example, you get a special child safety lock, a kitchen timer, and even a mute function in case you get annoyed by different bleeps microwaves to produce to let you know the food is ready.

Also, an interesting thing about this model is that it comes with two quick defrost options, so you can easily thaw whatever it is that you can place in this thing in a matter of minutes. (Well, depending on how long it’s been in a freezer and how big it is.) What’s more, you can control all of these different features thanks to the bright and easy-to-read digital display, so setting up a heating-up, cooking, or thawing process with this thing is a breeze.


  • Comes with a child safety lock and a kitchen clock
  • Thawing function for easily defrosting food
  • Energy-saving eco mode
  • 11 power level settings
  • 700 Watts of heating power
  • 1-year limited warranty


  • Some users complained that the heating-up takes too long for cold foods
  • The control panel is not lit

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4. Commercial Chef Countertop Microwave Oven Review

Commercial Chef CHM660 Counter Top Microwave, 0.6 Cubic Feet

Sporting an all-white color pattern, and small interior capacity of 0.6 cubic feet, this Commercial Chef model is a compact microwave for people who do not plan to cook only for themselves or perhaps another person. While this model may not be the perfect option for family people or professional cooks, it will work fine for a person looking for a simple microwave for smaller heating-up and cooking tasks.

As far as the controls on this model are concerned, what you get is fairly straightforward. There are two knobs you can turn left or right. The upper one controls the power (temperature intensity), while the lower one allows you to set the timer. The temperature controls include a low-intensity level, a defrosting function, as well as four additional levels ranging from medium-low to high. Combined with the timer, you can set up a wide variety of combinations to tackle many different cooking tasks.


  • Tough construction + a white coating
  • Easy-to-hold handle
  • Defrosting function
  • 5 levels of heat intensity
  • Easy-to-use timer
  • Rotary controls


  • Fairly small in size (not suitable for families, but works well for a single person, or two people at most)
  • Some users reported that the turning table inside the microwave makes a lot of noise

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5. BLACK & DECKER Digital Microwave Oven Review

BLACK+DECKER Digital Microwave Oven with Turntable Push-Button Door, Child Safety Lock, Stainless Steel, 0.9 Cu Ft

Coming from a world-renown digital appliance company BLACK&DECKER, this microwave oven represents a cutting-edge contraption you can use for a wide variety of heating-up and cooking tasks. Although this microwave may not be the most powerful model currently on the market, with its 700 Watts it can do wonders for a small to medium cooking ventures.

To help you use those 700 Watts efficiently and easily, the folks at BLACK&DECKER built-in 10 different power settings. This means you won’t have to go full blast on some smaller cooking tasks, which will help you save energy. Also, since there is a timer on board, you can set up the exact parameters for the heating-up or cooking process of your choice and then go do something else – because this thing will notify you when your food is ready.

Some of the other features this model has included a large LED digital screen, a child safety lock, as well as an easy-to-read control panel.


  • Pre-programmed buttons for a variety of foods
  • LED digital screen
  • 30-second express cooking mode
  • 700-Watts of power
  • Comes with a clock and a timer
  • 10 power settings
  • Child safety lock


  • No control panel light
  • Some users reported that this model doesn’t heat up food that evenly

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Buyer’s Guide To Best Microwave Wirecutter

1. Power Rating

Regardless of the size of a microwave oven, its power rating will determine how good that particular model is at heating up food.

The thing is, the power rating of a microwave oven relates to how powerful its heater is, so the more power a microwave has (measured in Watts), the easier it will be able to heat up your food and the quicker the heat-up or cooking process will be.

That said, the capacity of a microwave (measured in cubic feet) also plays a role here. The smaller the capacity, the less power a microwave is going to require to run. The most common power rating for smaller to medium-sized microwaves goes from about 600 to 1,000 Watts, so that’d be the range to look for when buying one of these compact microwave models.

2. Capacity

Speaking of the devil, the capacity of compact microwaves rarely exceeds 0.9 cubic feet, which is enough room for preparing a meal for one or two people. (Of course, it all depends on the shape of the meal and the preparation process.)

Best Microwave Wirecutter

The lower capacity limit for these contraptions is something like 0.5 to 0.6 cubic feet, and the models that belong to this lower end of the spectrum, so to speak, are suitable for simpler cooking tasks for one person as well as for heating-up and defrosting small meals.

3. Pre-Programmed Settings

One of the most useful features the modern-day microwave ovens come with would certainly be the preset cooking options.

The way this work is that the manufacturers will set up certain cooking options, that come as bundles of preset cooking parameters, so to speak. So, if you choose the ‘popcorn’ preset, the microwave will automatically set both the timer and the correct temperature for making popcorn. All you need to do is place a bowl of corn inside the microwave and then the machine itself will do the rest.

In a way, these preset represent shortcuts for preparing different meals, so they can be fairly convenient for quickly preparing your favorite meal.

4. Control Panel

The way you set up the temperature on your microwave, as well as choose the cooking presets and other parameters for the cooking tasks of your choice is via the control panel.

Of course, there are some models of microwave ovens that don’t have a control panel per se, but those usually have some rotating dials you can use instead.

Anyway, those models that do come with a control panel make it easier to choose the settings the microwave in question comes with, so if you don’t like to set the temperature of cooking and timers manually, look for a model that comes with a digital control panel.

5. Warranty

As is the case with virtually all electrical appliances, it’s always useful to have some sort of warranty to fall back to, in case you get a lemon of a product or something doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to during the use of the product.

When microwaves are in question, the thing that tends to break the most is turntables and heaters, both of which can be expensive to replace. What’s more, if one of these two crucial parts break down, you may as well get a new microwave altogether rather than trying to fix the existing one.

Frequently Asked Questions On Best Compact Microwave Oven

Q: What is the smallest 1,000-Watt microwave?

Ans : There are many different microwave models currently on the market that would fit the description of a 1,000-Watt microwave.

For example, companies such as BLACK&DECKER and Oster offer many models with this power rating, so it all depends on what sort of other functions you like to see in your microwave oven other than the power rating itself.

Q: What is the smallest-size microwave?

Ans : Currently, probably the smallest microwave model on the market would be Whirlpool WMC 20005. This thing has the capacity of only about 0.5 cubic feet, and it doesn’t take more than 213 square inches on the countertop. (Or, wherever else you plan to put it.)

Also, models such as the 600-Watt Commercial Chef rotary microwave oven with its 0.6 cubic feet of cooking room, so to speak, would come as a close second.

Q: Is a 900-Watt microwave powerful enough?

Ans : For most cooking tasks – it is.

The thing is, microwave ovens do not need to be as powerful as stoves, because typically the cooking tasks you might want to perform with them are not as complex as the ones you’d need a stove for.

What’s more, many compact microwave models don’t have more than 700 Watts and they work just fine, so a 900-Watt model will likely perform excellently, as long as you don’t plan to make meals that are too elaborate in it.

Q: Can I use a microwave in a cupboard?

Ans : While the idea of placing a small microwave in a cupboard where it will fit snugly and won’t take up too much space may seem like an attractive prospect, it may not be the best solution, so to speak.

You see, microwave ovens, even the smallest ones, have an exhaust system, which allows them to control the temperature and get rid of the excess hot air or steam inside them. This means that putting a microwave in an enclosed space will only lead to the air inside getting stuffy and the entire area will get moist after a while. This can then cause the accumulation of mold, which can make the cupboard stinky and unsanitary.

So, the best course of action when it comes to finding a spot for your microwave would be to simply put it somewhere on the countertop, where it won’t take up too much space. (or, some other surface – the important thing is that the area isn’t enclosed)

Q: Do microwaves open left-to-right?

Ans : Most microwaves open the other way around – right-to-left.

While this design may seem counterintuitive at first, the reason behind it is fairly simple. The thing is when you open a microwave, chances are – you have a plate of food or a cup full of a beverage in your other hand. Now, since most people are right-handed, the idea is that you open the microwave door with your left hand and then place whatever it is you’re holding in your right hand in the microwave.

This way, the entire process of placing food in the microwave and taking it out can be performed at once.


Microwave ovens are useful contraptions that can perform a variety of functions related to the preparation of food. If you don’t have that much space for a full-sized microwave in your kitchen, getting a compact version can be just the thing you need. We hope you found this article helpful and wish you a merry and hassle-free purchase.

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