Best Built-In Microwave Ovens to Save Space In Your Small Kitchen

As humans living in this day and age, aren’t we always on the run? Even when we’re not busy, we have 10 other better things we’d rather do than spend time in the kitchen doing kitchen jobs, right? Oftentimes, space is also a major concern. You may have time, but then you don’t have enough countertop space. Hence, the best built-in microwave ovens.

The microwave in every person’s home is one of the most useful appliances. After all, it makes the harrowing task of cooking simpler and quicker. But then what do you do when you want to buy something high-performing and high-quality yet not too space-consuming? There’s a solution for this kind of a twisted problem too.

1. Panasonic NN-SN686S Countertop/Built-In Microwave Oven

Let’s start the list with this phenomenal built-in microwave oven by Panasonic, which is also a contender on our list of the top-selling Panasonic microwave ovens with the convection function. It’s outfitted with the brand’s popular and exclusive Inverter Technology. This takes care of delivering consistent power for evenly prepared food.

Then there’s Panasonic’s Turbo Defrost technology too, which thaws frozen items quickly and easily. Plus, a compact design with a larger interior capacity.

Key Features

  • Built-in or countertop microwave convection oven
  • Inverter Technology provides constant power for even cooking
  • Turbo Defrost accelerates the defrosting process
  • Genius sensor adjusts time and power automatically
  • Higher powered, Keep Warm feature, and compact design

2. Frigidaire Built-In Microwave Oven

It’s time to replace your old built-in microwave with this powerful, quiet new Frigidaire innovation. Compare it to just about any outdated oven, and you’ll see just how much better everything about it is. Such as the inclusion of more functions, which you may not even use but it’s always convenient to have that option, right?

Furthermore, this is an extra-large unit with the ability to adjust cooking times and power levels automatically. So there’s no room for any guesswork, no matter your recipe or cooking needs.

Key Features

  • Large-capacity microwave oven
  • Automatically adjusts time and power
  • One-touch reheat button
  • Made of smudge-proof stainless steel

3. Frigidaire FPMO3077TF Professional Built-In Convection Microwave Oven

You can cook large or multiple dishes more effectively in this convection microwave oven by Frigidaire. All thanks to its ability to distribute heat evenly. Plus, feel free to roast and bake large batches of food as well.

Obviously, the footprint, much like the previous Frigidaire model, is bigger. But then you also get a more powerful motor to turn this appliance into a reliable workhorse in your kitchen.

Key Features

  • Higher powered microwave convection oven
  • Larger capacity, thus larger footprint
  • Convection function for crisping, browning, and baking
  • Power Sense Cooking and Power Sense Defrost
  • Smudge-proof stainless steel

4. RecPro RV Microwave

Built-in microwaves are a huge hit among RV enthusiasts as well. Because even they want to purchase an oven that’s space-saving. Your fifth wheel, camper, RV, or just about recreational living space is sure to become more enjoyable since now that means you can prepare foods like pizzas, popcorn, soups, and a lot more.

No doubt, the RecPro RV Microwave is an upgrade. Yet the oven has a compact design with maximum functionality and convenience.

Key Features

  • RV microwave with 10 different power settings
  • Multi-section cooking
  • Defrost options by time and weight
  • Touchpad controls, child lock safety, and LED display

5. Sharp KB6524PS Microwave Drawer Oven

The indispensable drawer design is the best part of course. Another piece of great news is that this 24-inch microwave oven heats quickly and evenly. Even the drawer mechanism attracts nothing but compliments.

Moreover, there are 11 sensor programs that eliminate the guesswork that often messes with the defrost and cooking times.

Key Features

  • More accessible microwave drawer oven
  • The drawer opens and closes in two different ways
  • Auto-Touch control panel and Easy Open handle
  • 11 sensor programs for precise defrost and cooking times

6. Bosch HMD8451UC 800 Stainless Steel Microwave Drawer

The easiest-to-use built-in microwave is manufactured by none other than the brand Bosch. It’s a convenient option for children and grandparents too. Heating up milk and making popcorn now becomes much easier.

Also, this microwave doesn’t have a rotating glass tray, which for some people is a plus point. The oven is spacious enough to heat up almost everything you want without any complaints.

Key Features

  • Microwave drawer with 10 power settings
  • Automatic sensor programs prevent under and over cooking
  • Touch open/close and LCD display

Types of Built-In Microwaves

Conventional Built-In Microwave

The conventional type of microwave is the most practical choice for heating tea/coffee, reheating leftovers, and defrosting frozen meat. Needless to say, these models are the least expensive of the lot. With only basic features, which are more than enough for simple, everyday microwaving tasks.

Few functions, such as timed cooking, pre-set cooking modes, etc., are a part of the experience, no doubt.

Convection Built-In Microwave

Built-in microwaves with the convection cooking feature are space-saving and budget-friendly units that allow you to microwave and do convection cooking. The latter involves roasting, grilling, and baking. Therefore, these types of microwaves are exceptionally versatile and powerful.

So you can make, for example, delicious and buttery homemade cookies very easily. Or your favorite smoky-flavored barbecue grill recipe without having to use the charcoal grill or gas.

But are these better in comparison to standard convection ovens? Yes, surprisingly, they are. Because the former features a heating element that is responsible for circulating heat more evenly, which encourages faster cooking with less energy.

Oven-Microwave Combo

This combination includes an oven with a convection or standard microwave at the top. And it’s the most suitable for those who love baking. You can even find it the most useful as a large-capacity oven in a high-spec, convenient-to-use microwave. You get 2 different zones for cooking. And this paves the way for preparing multi-course meals at once.

It goes without saying that an oven-microwave combo is more space-consuming. Certainly more than a separate microwave or oven. So don’t make the mistake of buying one if you have a small kitchen with not enough cabinet space. But what about installing it into the cabinet? That can be done as long as the height of the appliance is between 28 inches and 35 inches.

Most Important Factors That You Should Consider

1. Size and Dimension

No denying that size matters when it comes to installing new appliances in your home space. For in-built microwaves, check the dimensions of the wall or cabinet properly. It’s the first step for installation, right?

Moving on, do you bake more often than others? What sorts of recipes do you usually prepare? And using what size of cookware? The answers here should help in narrowing down your search in terms of what is the right size of a microwave for you.

The smallest size (0.5-0.8 cubic feet) is perfect for 1-2 members. As for the largest size (1.7-2.0 cubic feet), it’s an ideal option for a big family. And whatever is in between is best for an average-sized family of 3-4 members.

2. Installation

Once you buy your microwave based on the dimensions of your cabinet, the installation part comes next. For measurements, use a measuring tape to find out the depth, width, and height of the cabinet. And just to be sure, take these measurements twice.

You don’t need us to tell you that the instructions for installation are almost always provided by the manufacturer. So follow them diligently. Just don’t forget to leave enough clearance (more of that in the FAQs) at the top, bottom, and sides of the appliance.

The length of the cord also matters here. It should be long enough to reach the electric supply outlet without the help of any extension cord.

3. Features

Here are the basic and some advanced features your microwave, whether built-in or otherwise, should have to make the experience worthwhile…

  • Add 30 seconds button and/or quick minute option.
  • Pre-set cooking time ranging from 1 minute to 6 minutes.
  • Child safety lock to lock the keypad when the microwave is not in use.
  • Automatic sensors that adjust the power level and time automatically to prevent both under-cooking and over-cooking.
  • Others include auto defrost, auto reheat, steam cook, mute, popcorn, etc.

4. Power (Wattage)

The higher the number of watts, the faster and more thorough the cooking? In a certain way, YES. High-powered built-in/countertop microwave ovens offer a power of 1000-1200 watts. Obviously, there are even higher-powered models for better performance. And these, more often than not, are for more complicated recipes and larger serving sizes.

Also, don’t forget that higher wattage means more consumption of electricity. Whatever your choice, just avoid buying a microwave that performs below 700 watts. If that’s the case, then it’s best to rather use an oven.

5. Turntable

Is a turntable absolutely necessary? You should know that every microwave oven has hot spots. And this is not because of the shape or design of the interior of the appliance. It’s actually because of the size and shape of your food, which always varies. So the turntable ensures proper heating simply by rotating.

But should it be a ceramic or glass turntable? Ceramic is more lightweight as well as tougher to withstand sudden temperature changes.

As for the size, make sure it accommodates your dinner plates and cookware.

6. Price

Are built-in microwaves more expensive than countertop ones? Unfortunately, these space-saving options are indeed more expensive. But you’re likely to find relatively affordable microwave ovens too with the built-in advantage. You just have to look in the right places, such as this article.

7. Warranty

Every reliable brand offers an excellent warranty. Just bear in mind that if the warranty is extremely limited or seems suspicious in any way, then it means the product may be more likely to break down once the warranty period is up.

What about an extended warranty though? Is it worth it in the case of microwaves? Actually, it depends on how much you’re spending. The more money involved, the better the decision of getting an extended warranty for just-in-case scenarios.

How Hard Is It to Install A Built-In Microwave?

It’s really not such a difficult or complicated undertaking in our opinion. And that’s not because we’re a team of professional handypeople. Rather because all you need for installing your brand new built-in microwave is a dedicated circuit of 20 amps right above the appliance. And then just follow these simple instructions…

  1. 1
    Position the back mounting frame of the microwave on the wall. Mark the required holes with a pencil to mount the bracket.
  2. 2
    Then move on to the top mounting frame. Hold that against the cabinet bottom to mark the spot to drill the 2 holes into the bottom of the cabinet.
  3. 3
    Using a pencil again, mark the location of the wall studs.
  4. 4
    The next step involves identifying the holes at the back mounting plate within the width of the stud. These areas you will use for securing the back plate into the wall.
  5. 5
    At this point, check if the back mounting frame is level. You can make use of the level for maintaining correct alignment.
  6. 6
    Now comes the part of securing the back mounting plate into the wall studs with the help of heavy-duty mounting screws (often provided by the manufacturer with the microwave).
  7. 7
    Remember the 2 spots you marked earlier below the cabinet? It’s time to drill through those holes with a 3/4-inch drill bit. Make sure it’s a keyhole bit.
  8. 8
    Then drill one hole into the bottom of the cabinet close to the wall for the power cord of the microwave.
  9. 9
    You can now place the microwave oven on the rear mounting bracket. Fit the 2 hinges into their respective rear slots to minimize the weight of the microwave.
  10. 10
    Align the 2 holes at the top of the appliance with the 2 holes in the bottom of the cabinet by lifting up the front of the microwave. Don’t forget to slide up the power cord into the cabinet before that.
  11. 11
    Insert the bolts and start tightening them securely. And then just plug in your newly installed built-in microwave oven and set the time.

Pro Tip for Installation - Don’t do it alone. Microwaves are usually heavy, so it’s easier to complete the task without any professional help if 2 people are doing the installation.

And one last thing. Check the power cord location before drilling the hole into the cabinet bottom. The hole and the exit of the power cord from the microwave should be on the same side.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put a Countertop Microwave in a Cabinet?

The built-in version comes with a wooden frame that covers the entire unit, unlike countertop microwaves. Even so, you can install the latter into a cabinet, but with extra caution. Don’t forget that countertop microwaves have vents at the back. So it may not be 100-percent safe to do so.

What is the Difference Between a Countertop and a Built-in Microwave?

The countertop unit is placed on the kitchen counter. As for the built-in type of microwave, you install this one into a cabinet or wall.

  • Countertop is portable while built-in is not.
  • Countertop is not as expensive as built-in, with no high maintenance cost or installation charges.
  • Built-in doesn’t take up space on the kitchen counter since it’s placed in a cabinet or wall. Countertop microwaves, on the other hand, demand space.

Built-in vs. Freestanding Microwaves - Which is Best?

Aesthetics and an uncluttered, clean look - that’s the beauty of built-in microwaves. The downside, however, is the professional and costly installation. On top of that, if something goes wrong later on, you have to go through the trouble of removing the whole unit to fix it, which means more spending.

As for freestanding microwaves, they’re easier to use, more flexible, and require no professional installation. So what’s the catch? The extra space they demand on your kitchen countertop. Unlike the built-in design, they cannot be tucked away.

So if you have a smaller kitchen, you should consider choosing a built-in microwave oven. But in terms of flexibility and convenience, the freestanding choice is better.

Is it Easy to Replace a Built-in Microwave?

No doubt, built-in microwaves are the most complicated to replace or install. And when not done properly, the whole experience can end up costing you a lot of money and also inconvenience.

As for how much does it cost? When you hire a professional, he/she can charge you anywhere between $100 and $200 for installation. And add $500-$1,500 for electrical work if that’s not available.

Does a Built-in Microwave Need Ventilation?

When the microwave is placed into a cabinet, ventilation around the appliance is a must. This means the cabinet space should be deep enough. Otherwise, you run the risk of the appliance overheating because of blocked air vents.

How Much Clearance is Needed Around a Microwave?

The mounting height should be a minimum of 66 inches, starting from the floor all the way up to the top of the appliance. This 66-inch dimension allows around 13 inches to 16 inches between the microwave bottom front and the cooktop.

Plus, there should be at least 3 inches of room between the top, back, and sides of the microwave and the wall.

Summing It Up…

So why buy a built-in microwave oven if the installation part is tricky and thus requires professional assistance? Simply because it saves space. Plus, the built-in design looks more visually appealing. But it’s the space-saving factor that matters the most, especially if you have a smaller kitchen.

But then you also have to take into account your budget, right? That means buying a countertop microwave oven seems like a more rational decision. Not if you can get your hands on cost-effective built-in microwaves, such as those we have reviewed for you in this very post.

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