Tired of eating a cold lunch at work or cooking food on a camp stove when you’re out in the wild? A portable microwave for car could help you keep your meals warm or diversify your dinner options.
Although different from traditional microwave ovens, portable microwave ovens for cars are designed to cook food, reheat it, or keep it warm. Most units are compact enough for you to take in your office, and the vast majority work with standard and 12-volt car plugs alike.
Now, are you wondering which is the best portable microwave for car to get your hands on? We spent hours researching and testing so that you don’t have to. Check our choices below to find the best portable microwave for you.
Can a portable microwave be used in the car?
Yes, a portable microwave can be used in the car, as long as it comes with a 12-volt plug or your car features a standard 120-volt outlet.
If your car doesn’t have a 120-volt outlet and the oven doesn’t come with a 12-volt plug, you could use an adapter to use a portable oven in the car. However, you must make sure the adapter features a transformer that allows you to use the oven safely.
Is it safe to use a microwave in the car?
Generally, it is safe to use portable microwaves in the car. These ovens are similar to lunch boxes but incorporate a hot plate. Depending on the model, the plate can heat up to 300°F and can defrost, cook, heat up, or keep food warm.
The hot plate is set inside an insulated bag that keeps the oven’s exterior cool to the touch. This feature makes it safe to place the oven on an empty seat, plug it in, and cook your meal while you’re driving or hiking.
Aside from cooking in the car, you can also use a portable power generator to power the appliance.
When the cooking is done, you can simply unplug the unit and carry it to your office as you would do with a lunch bag.
What are the advantages of using portable microwaves in cars?
The main advantage of using a portable microwave in the car is that you can eat a freshly cooked lunch or warm up your food wherever you are.
These portable ovens are also ideal for students who don’t have space for a larger microwave in the dorm.
Moreover, a portable oven gives you the opportunity to cook your own meals in the dorm without breaking the rules in case your dorm doesn’t allow students to use standard microwave ovens in their rooms – these portable units rarely consume more than 120 watts.
How to Choose a Quality Microwave for a car?
Portable microwave ovens are simple appliances, but there are a few things to check out before spending your hard-earned money.
The most important thing to check when buying a portable microwave oven for the car is the capacity, especially if you plan to use the appliance while camping to cook for larger crowds.
Most units on the market have a capacity of 1.5 to 1.6 quarters. If you need a larger unit, perhaps you should consider investing in a mini microwave oven.
There are two types of portable car ovens on the market: a softshell or a hard plastic bag. The softshell type looks like lunch bags and generally comes with removable heat plates.
These models have a removable heat plate, which means that you can use the plate and the bag either together or separately.
Those portable microwave ovens with plastic cases may or may not have a removable heat plate, so you may not be able to use the lunch box separately.
Another thing to check when buying a car microwave is the max temperature it reaches. Most portable microwaves for cars reach temperatures up to 300°F. These models are perfect for those who want to cook raw or frozen foods.
Other units can only reach up to 130°F. The main advantage is their lower wattage, but you can only use these appliances to reheat foods.
In addition to the temperature, you should also consider the power levels your oven has. Most portable car microwave ovens have two power levels: low and high.
Models designed to work as warm lunch packs may only have one power level. Those designed for campers can have six power levels or more. Consider your needs and decide which option is best for you.
Keep Warm Function
While all portable microwaves have a keep-warm function, you might want to check how long the unit keeps the food warm before turning it off automatically.
Some of the best models can stay on for up to 12 hours, which is plenty of time for hikers and workers alike. Other models will turn off automatically after about three hours, and sometimes even less.
Last but not least, check the power source. If you’re looking for a portable microwave for car, you might assume that all models come with a 12-volt plug. However, this is not always the case. Some models can have a regular wall socket plug.
The reason some car microwaves have regular plugs is that most cars nowadays are equipped with standard 110-120-volt sockets.
Some people may also need a portable microwave to use with a power generator, at a mountain cabin, or even in a tiny home.
Some portable microwaves only have 12-volt car plugs, whereas others come with both connector types. Again, consider your needs and pick what’s best for you.
With this in mind, let’s find out which are the best portable microwave ovens for cars.
Best Portable Microwave for Car
1. HotLogic Mini Portable Oven
Coming in a range of solid colors or fun designs, the HotLogic mini car oven is the best food warmer you can find.
The capacity of 1.5 quarters is enough to feed one or two people, while the possibility to choose between a 12-volt and standard plug makes it easy to use the lunch box wherever you want.
Designed with busy folks in mind, this portable oven can cook your food, reheat it, and keep it warm without monitoring.
You can use this portable oven with all kinds of containers, including glass, plastic, 304 stainless steel, aluminum foil containers, and so on.
Reaching a maximum temperature of 212°F, this car microwave is perfect for cooking frozen food, raw food, or reheating leftovers.
While this portable lunch box can cook raw or frozen foods, the process can take three or more hours. A higher temperature would have helped cook your meals faster.
The unit lacks an on/off switch, and the only way to turn it off is to unplug it. While this isn’t a problem for most people, some users may find it clumsy.
2. FORABEST Portable Food Warmer
FORABEST is an electric lunch box and food heater designed to do just that. It doesn’t get warm enough to cook raw or frozen food, but it’s a great choice if you want to keep your lunch or dinner warm. The oven can reach a temperature of 127°F and comes with loads of accessories.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect lunch box for the office or to keep in your RV, this one might be it. It doesn’t cook but comes with a stainless steel container, a removable plastic container that’s perfect for salads, a spoon and fork, and an insulated carry bag.
Dual-use power cables
You can use this lunch box in your car, truck, or even in the office thanks to the dual-use cables it comes with.
The containers and lid are very easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher. The tote bag is also easy to wipe clean.
This warm lunch box is exactly this. It doesn’t reach a high enough temperature for cooking.
While the box is fantastic, the plastic parts can break. Or you could lose some accessories. Unfortunately, the brand doesn’t sell them separately.
3. Koolatron 12V Black Heating Lunch Box Stove
If you’re looking for a heating lunch box stove to use in your car, the Koolatron 400209 might be it.
This portable microwave features a hard case lunch box with a locking clasp and stainless steel interior. The heating elements can reach up to 300°F, making this option a great choice for those who want to cook rather than warm up foods.
The lunch box is one of the most powerful on the market. It is a perfect choice for truck drivers and people living off the grid who don’t have enough space for a standard stove and oven.
The ABS exterior and locking clasp are more durable than a soft case and zipper. You can expect this lunch box to stay by your side for years to come.
The unit doesn’t come with a removable cord, but it features cord storage hooks for easier transport and storage.
This mini stove has a stainless steel interior that you can wipe clean. However, the containers are not removable, so you can’t wash them under running water.
We would have preferred more power levels for a portable stove. This unit only has two.
4. ROTTOGOON Portable Microwave
Similar to HotLogic but reaching a higher temperature, the ROTTOGOON is another portable microwave ideal for campers and office workers alike.
It comes with a removable hot plate that can reach up to 239°F. Two power levels allow you to slow-cook food or keep food warm.
Like standard microwave ovens, this portable microwave can sense the temperature and steam from your food, adjusting the temperature to avoid overcooking.
You can use it with plastic, stainless steel, glass, or ceramic containers, as long as they’re heat-resistant and have a flat bottom.
You can take the hot plate out of the carrying bag for easier cleaning.
This portable oven does what it says it does, but it’s very slow. It can take up to three hours or more to cook raw food.
While this is one of the cheapest portable microwaves on the market, it is not as durable as the more expensive options on this list.
5. SabotHeat Smart Portable Microwave for Car
Last but not least, the SabotHeat is the perfect portable microwave for car for those who want more than a heated lunch box.
This unit can reach up to 302°F, which is hot enough to cook raw or frozen foods. At the same time, it has six power levels and several options for cooking numerous dishes.
You can use this lunch box as a portable microwave, rice cooker, kettle, and electric stew pot – the perfect choice for campers, truck drivers, and people living off the grid.
The power cord features a control panel that allows you to choose the power level and set the auto-off timer (between 30 minutes and three hours).
The hot plate is set inside an insulated carry bag and is removable. You can clean it easily, use it separately, and even use the bag separately if you want to keep things cool rather than warm them.
The plate gets very hot, and it melts anything made of plastic. You can only use it with stainless steel, ceramic, or glass containers.
Like other portable lunch boxes, this one needs a lot of time to cook raw or frozen foods. You might want to plan your meals way in advance.
Portable Microwave for Car Comparison Table
|HotLogic 16801056-AF||FORABEST FB-400||Koolatron 400209||ROTTOGOON Mini||SabotHeat VPB02A-BLACK|
|Capacity||1.5 qt.||1.5 qt.||1.6 qt.||1.5 qt.||1.5 qt.|
|Wattage||45 watts||90 watts||120 watts||90 watts||90 watts|
Portable Microwave for Car-Related FAQs
How to install a microwave in a truck?
You don’t have to install a microwave in a truck. All you need is a portable microwave for your car that you can plug into the 12-volt socket. If you’re looking for an RV microwave, choose a mini microwave that you can install into a cabinet or a countertop microwave oven.
Do car microwaves use electricity?
Yes, car microwaves use electricity, and you will have to plug them into the 12-volt socket (while the vehicle is running). Alternatively, you can use the small portable microwave with a power generator.
How can I heat up food in my car?
Simply plug in your portable microwave for the car and wait until your food is warm.
What happens if I cook a car battery in the microwave or oven?
You should never cook a car battery in the microwave or oven. The battery could explode, release harmful gases, or catch fire. It could also cause your microwave or oven to catch fire.
As you’ve seen, there are plenty of options to choose from if you need an electric lunch box or a small microwave oven. Simpler units can only keep food warm, whereas others can cook frozen or raw foods.
Whether you want a portable microwave oven for the car to use while camping or looking for the best 12v microwave to keep in your truck, we hope this guide can help you find the right one.