Best Small Microwave To Save Kitchen Space

Enjoy meals in minutes with the best compact microwaves.

Best Small Microwave

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

If you are tight on space, having a small microwave will save you countertop space for other appliances and food preparation. Microwaves are a blessing for those on a busy schedule who enjoy meal prepping or who haven't quite mastered their cooking skills yet. The average microwave oven lasts about seven to ten years with normal use. However, you should think about replacing this appliance every ten years. But how do we go about that?

When choosing a microwave, consider whether you are looking for a retro microwave that won't stick out like a sore thumb, a cheap and cheerful compact model or a touch screen appliance – there is something for every modern kitchen. Consider elements such as size - and how much counter space you have available for an appliance. Furthermore, a small and compact microwave can fit dinner plates up to 10 inches in diameter.

Best Small Microwave At A Glance

Best overall small microwave: Panasonic NN-E28JMMBPQ Compact Solo Microwave Oven - View Offer on Amazon UK
Best budget small microwave: ESSENTIALS CMW21 Compact Solo Microwave - View Offer at Currys
Best retro small microwave: Russell Hobbs RHRETMM705C 17L - View Offer on Amazon UK

Besides the size, capacity and counter space, you'll need to consider what functions and features suit your cooking requirements, with your household size and budget helping to dictate what's best for your home. With budget microwaves under £100 all the way up to pricier models, our small microwave buyer's guide will give you that helping hand in choosing the correct (and compact) microwave for your kitchen and getting the best for your money.

Let's take a look at the best small microwaves to save you space in your kitchen.

Best Small Microwaves

Best overall small microwave

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This Panasonic NN-E28JMMBPQ Compact Solo Microwave Oven not only offers a 20-litre capacity for a super small footprint but packs a punch with 800W of power. It contains valuable functions that a full-size microwave offers, such as nine auto cooking programmes and auto-defrost mode - for under £100. If you lack countertop space but don't want to compromise on cooking power, this is a great pick.  

Customer Review: "Great little oven, which is easy to use, especially as I panic at rows of dials, knobs and multi-function displays. This 800-watt microwave oven with defrost and reheat programmes is straightforward. I like the easy cooking programmes for things like automatically cooked baked potatoes. After my last oven decided to retire, I went for this Panasonic as I know they have a good reputation, and so far, I have found it to be so. My modest requirements for a microwave oven are well fulfilled."


  • Compact and smart
  • Powerful and spacious
  • Easy to use and clean


  • Simple appearance

Best budget small microwave

Save £10

ESSENTIALS CMW21 Compact Solo Microwave
Price: £54.99 (was £64.99)

Besides being the smallest and cheapest model on the list, this 15-litre microwave squeezes in a respectable 245mm turntable to heat an average dinner portion. Easy to use with six power levels, this ESSENTIALS CMW21 Compact Solo Microwave is straightforward, small, and does the job for a small price tag.  

Customer Review: "Small and compact, bought for a caravan. It fits in neatly and is simple to use."


  • Great value
  • The smallest model on the list
  • Ideal for small kitchens


  • Not the best-looking

Best retro small microwave

Get 11% off

If you are into retro kitchen decor, then this small Russell Hobbs RHRETMM705C 17L 700W Retro Microwave has a charming design if you are looking for a quirky addition to your kitchen. The old-school design looks excellent, but the dials can make it tricky to be accurate when setting the timer, so it isn't the most precise. Featuring five power levels and a large handle, this Russell Hobbs model comes in cream, red or black.  

Customer Review: "The microwave looks really nice, and the dials are simple! If you want a good-looking microwave that does the job at a reasonable price, then you could do worse than this."


  • Stylish, retro design
  • Easy-to-clean interior
  • Three colours available


  • Not too accurate due to dials

Best small flatbed microwave

Save £40

Sharp 20L Digital Flatbed Microwave with Grill - Black
Price: £99.97 (was £139.97)

Sometimes all you want to do is simply defrost a ready meal or eat leftovers and this Sharp 20L Digital Flatbed Microwave will help you with just that. There are 12 auto programs to use on the straightforward control panel. Although, it is fairly large compared to some of the other appliances on the list. The best feature of this small microwave is the grill function, which will help with busy dinnertimes. Plus, the flatbed design makes it easy to clean.


  • 12 automatic programmes
  • Comes with an oven grill
  • Easy-touch, LED screen


  • Some find the buttons a bit small

Best small microwave for a Scandi kitchen

This stylish and compact Russell Hobbs RHMD714G 17L 700W Scandi Microwave will look great in your kitchen with the soft touch wood finish and mirrored door. The best part is that it features programs and settings rarely seen on models of this size and price. It has eight auto-cook settings plus various convenient shortcuts to heat your food. At just 700W, this appliance may take a little longer to cook, but if you want a small, functional, and, most importantly - trendy microwave, this is the one for you. 

Customer Review: "This simple unit from Russell Hobbs was the perfect replacement for our old microwave. The colour, wood effect, handle, and dial perfectly fit our kitchen. I'm pleased to recommend this oven which offers good value for money."


  • Stylish, Scandi design
  • Compact for small kitchens
  • Multi-stage cooking


  • Can be slow

Best small microwave with touch control

This modern Sharp R272SLM Solo Touch Control Microwave has a touch control panel and a classic and sleek exterior, and won't stick out in the kitchen. The touch controls are easy to wipe down, plus the 20-litre interior is more spacious than many of the other compact options on this list. The Sharp Solo Touch Control has 800W of power combined, 11 different power levels and a child lock for peace of mind. 

Customer Review: "Does what it says on the tin! Compact but still fits dinner plates and sits nicely under kitchen units; amazing price, I love it. Very compact and easy-to-understand setup details. I would definitely recommend it to other buyers!"


  • Sleek and powerful
  • Touch screen display
  • AutoCook and Defrost


  • It can get worn down quickly, according to some reviews

Small microwave FAQs

What to consider when buying a small microwave

Size: It is good to consider the amount of space the microwave will take up in the kitchen. Check if the height will provide adequate room around it for ventilation. Have you considered a flatbed microwave?

Power: Microwave power levels are measured in watts, and inevitably, the higher the wattage, the quicker your food will heat up. Most compact microwaves have around 700 – 800W.

Volume: The internal space in a microwave is measured in litres. Naturally, you can't expect a microwave to be small and compact on the outside and super spacious inside, so be ready to compromise on how much food you can heat up at once. Small compact microwaves have a capacity anywhere between 15L to 20L, which is big enough for a standard-size dinner plate.

Controls: The type of controls comes down to personal preference. If you are looking for the most straightforward option, opt for dials. The microwaves with one dial for time and another to select the power level are the easiest to use. If you want functions that offer more accurate heating times and have auto-cook programs, you'll need a microwave with digital controls and a display screen, though these can be more complicated to use.

Features: Keep your eye out for essential features like a child lock, timers and cooking modes – the more modes and functions, the higher the price tag. But if you want something under budget, consider finding a microwave deal.

How often should you replace a microwave?

The average microwave oven lasts about seven to ten years with normal use. However, you should think about replacing your microwave every ten years. If your appliance starts making loud noises or unusually loud humming noises can mean that the parts in your microwave are not functioning properly. Also, if you notice any sparks or smoke, you must stop using your microwave immediately.

What size microwave fits a dinner plate?

A small and compact microwave can fit dinner plates up to 10 inches in diameter. Medium-sized microwaves, 14-inch plates and large microwaves can sometimes fit multiple dishes simultaneously. Naturally, a small microwave will not reheat a large plate of food very fast, so it is best to heat up smaller portions at a time.

Woman heating leftovers in microwave

Can a microwave overheat?

Yes, it is possible for a microwave to overheat. A microwave heats food by targeting water molecules, so if there is no moisture in the food to heat, this can cause overheating.

How long can a microwave run at once?

Most microwaves can handle a cooking time of up to 60 minutes. Just be aware that this puts a lot of strain on the magnetron and might shorten the longevity of your appliance.

Ellen Kinsey is a Senior Health & Wellness Product Writer for A Modern Kitchen, specialising in sustainable living and healthy cooking. She lives and breathes all things food, travel and wellness.

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