Whether you’ve got a tiny kitchen or your countertops are already crowded with other gadgets, finding a mini microwave compact enough to give you room to chop your vegetables isn’t always easy.
Then when you do find one it’s so low powered you might as well be cooking in a normal oven, or it’s too small to fit your plates in, or… well you get the idea. We’ve collected together the best microwaves that will fit in the smallest kitchens without compromising on quality and performance.
What to look for in a small microwave
Power: As far as microwaves go in general the more wattage the better. This means it will cook food faster, although to get an even cook you will need a turntable or otherwise will have to stop it every few minutes to stir whatever you are cooking.
A 600W microwave will cook an average sized baked potato in around 9 minutes, 700W takes about 7 minutes, 850W in about 5 minutes and 1000W in about 4 minutes. It’s worth noting that often variable power settings don’t actually drop the power but rather start and stop while cooking to approximate the power you select.
Capacity and plate size: These two are all about how much you can fit in the oven. Capacity is measured in litres and is the full volume of the microwave including the height. Plate size should also be considered as this is the width of the oven and will determine what size of plate you can put in the oven to cook your food on.
Cleaning: The main concern when it comes to cleaning is the material of the inside of the oven. Ideally you want something that can’t rust so you can easily wipe it clean such as stainless steel.
Design: While fine design might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to buying a microwave, this will be something you have to look at everyday in your kitchen so it is worth paying attention to. Consider your other appliances and the style of your kitchen, would a super modern or a more retro style appliance fit the room better?
Price: Price is obviously an important factor no matter what you are buying and you may be surprised at how expensive some microwaves can get once you get to the “professional” end of the market. For a small domestic microwave, we would say it’s best to look between £50 and £150 area to get a decent model that suits your needs.
The Smallest Microwave in the UK
Daewoo QT1 Compact Microwave Oven
This might not be the best microwave on our list but it is the tiniest microwave on our list measuring just 22.5 x 31.6 x 42.4 cm. It means that it only has a capacity of 14 litres, but it is a great choice if you’re really short on space.
It is a bit noisy and it only cooks at 600W, so will take a bit longer than some models, but it is a very capable microwave and you won’t find many smaller, especially ones that will still fit in a 10-inch plate.
For around £55 it’s reasonably priced but it’s still not the cheapest microwave you can buy.
Read our full Daewoo QT1 review.
Best Small Microwaves
Swan Retro digital microwave
Small doesn’t mean cutting back on the style with this retro number from Swan that comes in a choice of 9 different colours. It’s not the most compact in our round-up, measuring in at 29.7 x 45 x 25.6cm, but that does mean it still has a capacity of 20l so is big enough to fit in a 27cm turntable.
Cooking at up to 800W it is powerful enough for everyday tasks although does lag behind some of the more expensive models. Pleasingly it does include 12 auto cook settings for a variety of foods, as well as having simple and easy to use controls for regular use.
Available for around £80, it is a great balance of performance and price – with a load of style thrown in for good measure.
Read our full Swan Retro microwave review.
Caterlite CD399 Commercial Microwave
If you’re after something with a bit more of a professional feel to it you could try the Caterlite CD399 Commercial Microwave. While being small, measuring 48.3 x 39.6 x 28.1 cm, the CD399 can still pack a punch, cooking at 900W so you won’t be left waiting around.
It is entirely stainless steel – including the inside of the oven itself – making it easy to clean and this should also prevent issues with rusting in the long term.
It has a no-nonsense control system using two dials on the front of the microwave. This gives the CD399 a professional feel and is easy to use, although it lacks any automated programs beginner cooks might find helpful.
It is expensive, with a RRP of almost £200, but it can be found for around £170 and sometimes available on sale for closer to £100.
Russell Hobbs RHMM701C
The Russell Hobbs RHMM701C is a small microwave that doesn’t skimp on style. Measuring 51 x 39 x 30.6 cm it’s still very much in the compact category but the mirrored front and neat finishing make it look as good as some of the top-end large models.
Available in a range of colours, you should be able to find one that fits your kitchen, although you may find that you will have to clean the mirror front often as it does show finger marks and smears easily.
Like other small microwaves it’s not the most powerful and at 700W it will take some time to cook compared with higher wattage models, but for around £55 it’s a decent compact microwave with a reasonable capacity of 17 litres.
Samsung F300G microwave
With a capacity of 23 litres this model from Samsung is a good choice for a family, although at 37.4 x 48.9 x 27.5cm it does start to strain the definition of compact. It’s nicely designed with a black and metal finish and the interior of the microwave is ceramic so it is easy to clean and won’t discolour over time.
The F300G comes with an eco mode for saving power when in standby mode and it also includes 20 pre-set cooking modes for quickly finding the right settings for different foods.
At around £85 it’s a bit more than some of our options but it is a high quality 800W microwave.
Sharp 25 Litre Solo Microwave
The Sharp 25 Litre model is the largest model in our round-up at 42.9 x 51.3 x 30.6 cm, so it may not be small enough for everyone’s needs, but it is a good middle ground between ultra-small models and regular-sized microwaves.
At 900W it is powerful enough to cook at a decent rate and the preset buttons for cooking popcorn and jacket potatoes etc work very well. The touch controls are reasonably responsive, although there are a lot of small buttons on the front in small type so older people, or those with visual impairments, may struggle to find the right button.
Parents will appreciate the child lock function, although if you do use this it will take over the display and you will no longer be able to see the clock which is a shame.
Available for around £75, it is a good solid choice if you don’t want a full-size microwave but still want good capacity and high wattage.