How to Select the Perfect Microwave for Your Kitchenette

 A microwave is an essential appliance for any kitchenette, offering convenience and versatility in food preparation. Whether you're reheating leftovers, defrosting ingredients, or cooking a quick meal, the right microwave can make all the difference. But with so many options available, how do you choose the perfect one for your needs? This guide will walk you through the key features, types, and considerations to help you select the perfect microwave for your kitchenette.

A modern kitchenette with a sleek countertop microwave, stylishly integrated into the space.

Understanding Microwave Types

Countertop Microwaves

Countertop microwaves are the most common and versatile type. They come in a range of sizes and power levels, making them suitable for various cooking tasks. These microwaves are easy to install—just plug them in and start cooking.


  • Ease of use: Simple to set up and operate.
  • Variety: Wide range of sizes, power levels, and features.
  • Portability: Can be moved easily if needed.


  • Space: Takes up counter space, which can be an issue in small kitchens.

Over-the-Range Microwaves

Over-the-range (OTR) microwaves combine a microwave and a range hood in one appliance. They are installed above the stove, freeing up counter space and offering ventilation for your cooking area.


  • Space-saving: Does not occupy counter space.
  • Integrated ventilation: Acts as a range hood to remove smoke and odors.
  • Built-in lighting: Provides extra lighting for the stovetop.


  • Installation: Requires professional installation.
  • Cost: Generally more expensive than countertop models.

Built-in Microwaves

Built-in microwaves are designed to be installed into cabinetry or a wall, offering a seamless, integrated look. These models are perfect for modern kitchens where design and aesthetics are important.


  • Aesthetics: Provides a clean, integrated look.
  • Space efficiency: Frees up counter space.
  • Customizable: Can be installed at a convenient height.


  • Cost: Often more expensive due to installation and cabinetry customization.
  • Installation: Requires professional installation.

Microwave Drawers

Microwave drawers are installed below the countertop, allowing you to pull out a drawer to access the microwave. This design is ergonomic and space-efficient, perfect for contemporary kitchens.


  • Ergonomics: Easy to access without bending.
  • Space-saving: Frees up counter and overhead space.
  • Modern look: Sleek, integrated design.


  • Cost: Generally more expensive than other types.
  • Installation: Requires professional installation.

Key Features to Consider

Size and Capacity

When selecting a microwave, size and capacity are crucial factors. Measure your available space and consider the size of dishes you’ll be using. Microwave capacity is measured in cubic feet, and common sizes range from 0.7 to 2.2 cubic feet.


Microwave power is measured in watts, with higher wattage providing faster and more even cooking. For most households, a microwave with 800 to 1200 watts is sufficient. Higher wattage is beneficial for cooking large meals or using the microwave frequently.

Cooking Functions

Modern microwaves come with a variety of cooking functions, including:

  • Sensor cooking: Adjusts cooking time and power automatically based on the food’s humidity.
  • Pre-programmed settings: Offers one-touch cooking for specific foods like popcorn, pizza, and beverages.
  • Defrost function: Thaws food evenly and safely.
  • Convection cooking: Combines microwave and convection heat for baking and roasting.

Control Panel

The control panel should be intuitive and easy to use. Look for models with clear labeling, responsive buttons, and a readable display. Some high-end models offer touch screens for added convenience.

Turntable vs. Flatbed

Most microwaves come with a turntable that rotates food for even cooking. However, some newer models use flatbed technology, which eliminates the turntable and provides more cooking space. Flatbed microwaves often use advanced wave distribution for even heating.

Additional Features

Consider additional features that can enhance your cooking experience:

  • Child lock: Prevents accidental operation by children.
  • Interior lighting: Helps you monitor the cooking process.
  • Easy-clean interiors: Non-stick coatings or steam cleaning functions make cleaning easier.

Top Microwave Brands to Consider


Known for their innovative inverter technology, Panasonic microwaves provide consistent power and even cooking results. They offer a wide range of models, from compact countertop units to large, high-power options.


GE microwaves are known for their reliability and versatile features. They offer both countertop and over-the-range models with advanced cooking functions and intuitive controls.


Samsung microwaves combine sleek design with powerful performance. They offer models with sensor cooking, convection capabilities, and stylish finishes that fit modern kitchens.


LG microwaves are equipped with smart features and modern technology. Their NeoChef series is popular for its even cooking, compact design, and easy-to-clean interiors.


Breville microwaves are favored for their smart technology and premium build quality. They offer models with Element IQ technology, which adjusts power levels for optimal cooking results.


How do I choose the right microwave size?

Measure your available space and consider the size of the dishes you'll be using. Choose a microwave that fits comfortably in your kitchenette and can accommodate your largest dish.

Is a higher wattage microwave better?

Higher wattage provides faster and more even cooking. For most households, a microwave with 800 to 1200 watts is sufficient.

What is sensor cooking?

Sensor cooking adjusts the cooking time and power automatically based on the food's humidity, ensuring optimal results without guesswork.

Can I install an over-the-range microwave myself?

While it’s possible to install an over-the-range microwave yourself, professional installation is recommended to ensure proper ventilation and secure mounting.

Are convection microwaves worth the extra cost?

Convection microwaves are worth it if you plan to use your microwave for baking and roasting. They offer more versatility and can replace a traditional oven for some tasks.


Selecting the perfect microwave for your kitchenette involves considering your space, cooking habits, and desired features. Whether you opt for a countertop, over-the-range, built-in, or microwave drawer, there’s a model out there that fits your needs. By focusing on key features like size, power, and cooking functions, you can find a microwave that enhances your kitchen experience and makes meal prep a breeze.