Incorporating a microwave oven into a small kitchen is often challenging. When you only have a few cabinets and every inch of storage space counts, you may have to think twice before getting a built-in appliance. But what if you want to save counter space, too?
In cases like this, a microwave drawer could be your best bet. These compact microwaves are small enough to fit in a drawer in a base cabinet but have enough capacity to suit small to mid-sized families.
Now, are you wondering which is the best microwave drawer for you? I searched the market and tested some of the smallest microwave drawers. Check them out below to find the right one for your kitchen.
What are Microwave Drawers?
Microwave drawers are small, built-in microwave ovens designed to replace a drawer in a base kitchen unit.
The main difference between these appliances and standard microwave ovens is the opening. As their name suggests, microwave drawers are designed to be pulled out of the cabinet and have a top opening instead of a door.
Most drawer units miss the turntable; this design maximizes the capacity, allowing you to fit in rectangular trays and pans. Overall, a microwave drawer is an excellent choice if you want to give your kitchen a streamlined appearance.
Are Microwave Drawers worth it?
Microwave drawers are more than worth it for the right kind of shopper. You may not need a microwave drawer if you have a large kitchen and enough space to place a built-in microwave in a tall unit above the wall oven.
However, if you have a small kitchen, a microwave drawer will give it a more streamlined appearance compared to over-the-range or countertop microwaves.
Next Read: Best 1500 Watt Microwave With Expert Recommendation
Another advantage is the capacity. Even the smallest microwave drawer has a larger capacity compared to a countertop microwave. Microwave drawers are also more powerful, easier to access, and easier to clean. Let’s have a look at the main pros and cons so that you can decide if this is the right appliance for you.
Microwave drawer pros and cons
Easy access: Microwave drawers are very easy to access, thanks to the convenient pull-out design.
Easy to clean: With no turntable and few nooks and crevices, these appliances are a breeze to clean.
Capacity: Thanks to the no-turntable design, you can use larger trays and pans.
High power: Most microwave drawers have higher power compared to a standard same-capacity microwave oven.
Convenience: Microwave drawers are a game-changer for people with reduced mobility or impairments that prevent them from lifting trays or plates above chest level.
- Microwave drawers are more expensive than a standard microwave – some may cost you even ten times more.
- Kids can access and operate the microwave drawer easily. You can’t afford distractions or forget to enable the keypad child lock.
- Due to the higher power, microwave drawers consume more electricity than standard microwaves.
What is the smallest built-in microwave available?
Currently, Sharp manufactures the smallest built-in microwave. Other companies, such as ZLine and Bosch, also manufacture compact microwave ovens with a trim kit and small drawer microwave ovens. The differences in size are generally minimal, so you can choose the preferred brand or the microwave oven with functions that best suit your needs.
Standard microwave drawer sizes
Microwave drawers come in two standard sizes: 24-inch and 30-inch. The size refers to the width of the microwave, comprising the trim kit, and these specific sizes were chosen as the standard because they match the width of standard base cabinets.
The height varies from unit to unit, allowing you to fit it in smaller or larger drawer slots. As a rule of thumb, though, most microwave drawers have more or less the same dimensions and capacity.
With that in mind, let’s see what features and specs to look for when buying a small microwave.
Features and specs to look for in small built-in microwaves
The foremost thing to check when buying a small microwave is the drawer size. As mentioned above, microwave drawers have standard dimensions, but there could be slight differences between one model and another.
Like you’d do with any other built-in appliance, it is crucial to measure the internal size of your drawer slot and make sure the oven you want to buy matches perfectly.
Keep in mind that built-in appliances require some empty space around to prevent overheating. Thus, you should also check the manufacturer’s installation instructions and required clearance before buying.
Consider the details of the microwave oven and its aesthetics. Most microwave drawers have stainless steel trims and black glass fronts, but there are exceptions. Some units fit well in minimalist, contemporary kitchens; others work better in rustic or vintage-inspired interiors.
I mentioned the clearance already but can’t emphasize enough how important it is to ensure proper airflow to prevent overheating. Not only can overheating damage the microwave drawer, but it could set your kitchen on fire.
Microwave drawers vary from simple units to high-tech ones that incorporate pre-programmed cooking options and smart commands.
To make cooking easier, you should get a model that has at least a few pre-programmed settings. Self-cleaning ovens are an excellent choice for busy people, whereas one that connects to your phone via apps or that you can control through smart home devices like Alexa is an excellent choice if you want to find the food warm as soon as you get home from work.
Versatile microwave ovens should output at least 1,000 watts of power. A lower power might suffice if you mostly use the oven for reheating rather than cooking.
When selecting the unit, remember that the input watts are always higher than the output ones. This could matter if you live in an off-grid house or need a microwave oven for your RV.
Is the microwave oven easy to use? Are the controls intuitive? Is the display backlit? All these things matter more than you think, improving your user experience.
Another thing to consider is whether or not the microwave comes with everything necessary for installation. This includes the trim kit, mounting screws, tools, etc. Having everything you need in the box can make installation a breeze.
Smallest Microwave Drawer Reviews
1. Sharp SMD2470AS Microwave Drawer Oven
Microwave drawers are generally expensive, but if you’re looking for one that won’t break the bank, the Sharp microwave drawer could fit the bill. This 24-inch microwave drawer has a capacity of 1.2 cubic feet and is tall enough to accommodate a 20oz beverage cup.
Why I love it
In addition to pre-programmed cooking settings, the sensor cook option calculates the time and cooking power automatically so that you’ll never have to worry about overcooking or burning your meals.
Concealed control panel
This oven’s control panel is concealed under a stainless steel plate for a streamlined look when not in use. The panel reclines to a 45-degree angle for easier operation.
One-touch automatic drawer system
You can open the oven with just one touch and close it by slowly pushing it. This automatic system makes it easy to close it even when your hands are not free.
What could be better
Automatic drawer system
While the drawer opening and closing system is great overall, you have to wait for the drawer to open or close completely before you can reverse the operation. This could be annoying if you push the button accidentally.
The control panel is intuitive but lacks a backlight. Readability could be improved.
2. ZLINE MWD-1 Built-In Microwave Drawer
Perfect for modern homes, the ZLINE MWD-1 showcases clean lines, 11 power levels, and six pre-programmed cooking settings. A handle makes it easy to pull the drawer, or you could use the automatic open and close buttons. Like our top pick, this microwave drawer has a width of 24 inches and outputs up to 1,000 watts of power.
Why I love it
Ideal for anything from keeping food warm to cooking, this microwave drawer features 11 power levels. This is one of the most versatile units in this size range.
All pre-programmed cooking settings come with one-touch buttons that start the cycle as soon as you press them. No more annoying pressing of the setting button and the start button.
The control panel is not only intuitive; it is also perfectly angled for easy use by disabled people and the elderly.
What could be better
This microwave oven has a child lock, but the exposed control panel makes it easy for the kids to operate it accidentally.
This microwave drawer would benefit from higher-quality door sensors. The sensors sometimes fail to recognize the door as closed, which can be frustrating.
3. Bosch HMD8053UC 800 Series Drawer Microwave
If you need a larger microwave drawer, the Bosch HMD8053UC is an excellent choice. It has a width of 30 inches but the same capacity as the other microwave drawers on our list.
A difference between this model and our other picks is the lower power output – of only 950 watts. However, it still boasts 11 power levels and lots of pre-programmed cooking options.
Why I love it
Pre-programmed cooking settings
Ten pre-programmed cooking settings make it a cinch to prepare all sorts of microwaved meals. In addition, the 11 power levels allow you to keep food warm or reheat leftovers.
Sensor popcorn and reheat function
Whether you want to pop popcorn without burning it or reheating foods without overcooking, this oven makes it a breeze. The sensor calculates the time and power automatically, leaving the guesswork out of the game.
Perfect for modern kitchens, this oven matches other appliances from the brand, including a wall oven, steam oven, and warming drawer.
What could be better
Control panel design
While the panel is intuitive, it is not tilted and is harder to access when the oven is located below waist level.
Like all appliances, the Bosch HMD8053UC may not always work perfectly. While issues are rare, the aftersales support isn’t the most effective.
4. Sharp SMD2489ES loT Microwave Drawer
Do you love smart home devices and the convenience of the Internet of Things? Then the Sharp SMD2489ES is undeniably the best small microwave drawer for you.
This IoT microwave drawer works with Alexa and also connects to your phone via an app for easy control, even from a distance.
Why I love it
This microwave drawer incorporates seamlessly into your smart home. You can place the meal in the oven before going to work and start the cooking cycle right before you get home with a simple command.
Like the Sharp SMD2470AS, this 24-inch microwave oven has a concealed control panel for a flawless appearance when not in use. Kids will also find it harder to access it.
The 1.2 cubic feet capacity suits small to mid-sized families. The oven is tall enough to accommodate a 20oz cup.
What could be better
This microwave oven has 11 power levels and pre-programmed cooking settings, but it could have had more than 950 watts of power, considering the price tag.
Next Read: Best 12 Inch Deep Microwave to fit inside kitchen cabinets
The Sharp SMD2470AS is one of the most expensive microwave drawers on the market. The IoT feature and seamless control make up for the higher premium, though.
Smallest Microwave Drawer Comparison Table
|Sharp SMD2470AS||ZLINE MWD-1||Bosch HMD8053UC||Sharp SMD2489ES|
|Capacity||1.2 cu. ft.||1.2 cu. ft.||1.2 cu. ft.||1.2 cu. ft.|
|Size||24 inches||24 inches||30 inches||24 inches|
|Max power||1,000 watts||1,000 watts||950 watts||950 watts|
|Installation||Built-in drawer||Built-in drawer||Built-in drawer||Built-in drawer|
Microwave drawer oven maintenance tips
Microwave drawers are easy to clean and maintain. The lack of a turntable and drawer-like interior makes it easier to wipe out crumbs and splashes. Here are a few maintenance tips:
- Clean the oven after each use. Getting rid of grease and crumbs is crucial to preventing fires.
- Don’t force the automatic closing and opening of the drawer.
- Always lock the keypad to prevent young hands from operating the unit.
Microwave Drawer Related Questions
Why do microwave drawers have no turntables?
Manufacturers don’t equip microwave drawers with turntables so that they can maximize the interior space. This feature allows you to use them with rectangular pans and trays that wouldn’t fit otherwise.
Where can you install a microwave drawer?
Many people believe that you can only install microwave drawers in base kitchen cabinets. However, you can also install it in a tall cabinet unit. For access purposes, it is recommended to keep it behind chest level, though.
How much clearance do you need for a microwave drawer?
Microwave drawers generally require at least three inches of clearance on the sides and one inch of clearance on top. However, you should always check the user manual for specific requirements.
How long do drawer microwaves last?
Quality microwave drawers can last for years. You can expect at least 5-10 years of use.
Microwave above the range vs. drawer microwave?
Both are solid options if you want to save counter space. Here are a few things to consider:
- Do you have enough space to install a range hood under the microwave?
- Can you lift heavier trays to load them into the oven?
- Do you like microwaves with turntables, or would you prefer one without a turntable?
- What is your budget? An over-the-range microwave is generally cheaper.
One of the smallest microwave drawers could be the best solution for a small home. I hope this guide can help you select the right unit.