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Having a built-in microwave in your kitchen might seem unnecessary at first. If you have space on your countertop, what’s wrong with a normal freestanding microwave? Well, there’s nothing wrong with it.
But a built-in microwave will make all the difference. Once you start using this sleek, space-saving, device, you will wonder how you ever did without it.
Built-in microwaves save so much space and will make cooking and reheating food a lot easier.
Microwaves are also known as microwave ovens, so it makes sense to have your microwave built-in. Just like your convection oven.
Depending on your kitchen layout, your built-in microwave will likely be placed next to or above the oven.
Although this isn’t standard in every home, it makes the most logical sense once you think about it. But, when it comes to microwaves, they often look the same.
So, to help you find the best built-in microwave for your kitchen, we’ve put together a list of the best options available.
Plus, make sure to keep reading to check out our Buyers’ Guide and FAQs sections. These will give you all the information you need to find the best built-in microwave.
Ready for your kitchen to be finished and want your built-in microwave ASAP? No problem, skip the browsing and check out our top pick for the best built-in microwave.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Our top pick for the best built-in microwave is this over-the-range microwave from GE Store. It has several impressive features that combine everything you could need and want in a microwave.
This microwave is perfect for being installed in a modern kitchen. It has a very sleek appearance and many impressive features. It looks almost like a conventional oven with just a barely-there handle at the side.
This isn’t the sort of microwave that you would want hiding inside a cabinet. This is a microwave to be displayed. It is very simple with a stainless steel edge and black window.
The buttons and controls are all easily displayed and lined up below the window. This is an excellent use of space and will be very user-friendly.
There might appear to be a lot of different buttons and controls. But these shouldn’t overwhelm you. This microwave has the essential settings with a few extra features that are useful and impressive.
The settings include simple numbers for you to just throw in some food to heat up for a few minutes. But it also has specific settings for cooking potatoes, popcorn, and defrosting.
The most impressive part of this microwave, and the main reason we have chosen it as our top pick, is that it doubles as a stovetop hood.
Having a microwave directly above your stovetop might seem practical. But it will be dangerous if it doesn’t also have the necessary fan and ventilation systems of a traditional stove hood.
At the base of this microwave is a vent that will ventilate the steam from food cooking below. This is very practical and allows you to have all your cooking in one place.
- Doubles as stovetop hood
- Multiple settings
- Easy to use
- Sleek design
This is a very simple and traditional microwave with some extra features. This is one of the reasons why it is so affordable for a built-in microwave. But, that doesn’t mean that this microwave is basic or unimpressive.
The settings and controls are simple and easy to use. There is no handle but the door is opened with a button at the base of the controls. This gives the microwave a very sleek style.
Installation of the microwave will be very simple. Along the top and base of the microwave are additional pieces of metal that can be screwed into your kitchen cabinetry.
We’re not suggesting that you install this microwave yourself (unless you have the necessary skills and experience) but it will be very quick to install.
The settings and controls allow you to choose the time yourself. Or you can choose between preset timings for popcorn, potatoes, pizza, frozen vegetables, beverage, and dinner plate.
So you can quickly reheat a meal or last night’s pizza. Or you can just make a quick snack.
- Easy to use
- Easy to install
- Basic design
This is a very simple microwave that will easily slot into your kitchen cabinetry.
Unlike some other more complicated (and more expensive) built-in microwaves, this Panasonic microwave will essentially feel as though you have just moved a standard countertop microwave into the cabinets.
Available in three neutral colors, this microwave will look great in any kitchen. But, unfortunately, the price does get more expensive, depending on the color.
Whether or not this is a good thing is up to you. It depends on the kind of cooking you usually use your microwave for. This microwave has some very basic settings.
You can easily set the timer yourself. Or you can choose specific settings that include popcorn, sensor reheat, sensor cook, inv. Turbo defrost, and keep warm.
As this microwave can reach a powerful 1,200w, you can also adjust the power settings. This isn’t a feature that many microwaves have, even more sophisticated and expensive styles.
This is great for cooking a wide range of dishes. But this is no surprise from a brand as reliable and of good quality as Panasonic.
- Easy to use
- Easy to install
- Well-known and reliable brand
- Price varies depending on the color
This is another impressive microwave. It is an over-the-range microwave. But it can be installed in cabinetry anywhere. This means that it has a ventilation system at its base.
There are two different ventilation speeds so you will be able to cook up a storm on the stovetop below and heat up whatever you need in the microwave above.
That said, this microwave can do more than just heat up food. This is another built-in microwave from GE Store.
It is similar but not identical to our top pick microwave. Unlike the other GE Store microwave on this list, this microwave has less of a sleek design.
But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A sleek and modern style won’t suit every kitchen. If you have a traditional or rustic kitchen then a modern microwave is going to look out of place. And a built-in microwave is much more eye-catching than a countertop one.
Although it doesn’t have the most modern design, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have up-to-date features. This microwave has many different settings.
These include popcorn, beverage, potato, reheat, and defrost. But you can also control the surface light, the turntable, and, of course, the vent fan. All of which are included on our top pick microwave. But this microwave is much more affordable.
- Easy to use
- Easy to install
- Sophisticated features
- More outdated design
This Frigidaire built-in microwave has some very specific features. The settings and controls allow you to set the time and cook or heat your food as you like.
But there are also preset controls for popcorn, potatoes, veggies, reheating, snacks, sensor cooking, auto cooking, and melting or softening food.
These settings have pretty much every kind of cooking and heating covered. This microwave also allows you to control the power level.
This means that, when the packaging tells you to heat the food for 2 minutes on a 900w microwave and 2 ½ minutes on an 800w microwave, you don’t have to work out which yours is.
(Because no one knows the strength of their microwave). You don’t have to guess, you are in complete control.
This built-in microwave has a sleek design but isn’t too modern. The stainless steel frame around the black glass window and control panel will suit any kitchen.
- Neutral style to suit any kitchen
- Sophisticated settings and controls
- Easy to use
- Slightly more expensive than average
Best Built-in Microwaves Buying Guide
Built-in Microwave vs Free-Standing Microwave
So, why should you invest in a built-in microwave?
They require installation, whereas a countertop microwave just needs to be near a socket. In-built microwaves are also a lot more expensive than countertop microwaves.
And, unless you are pretty handy yourself, you’re going to need to pay installation costs on top of the main price.
So, built-in microwaves require more effort and are more expensive. Are they worth it? We say absolutely, yes. Having a built-in microwave is like having a second oven. This is especially true if you choose an over-the-range microwave.
A built-in microwave will make cooking a lot easier. You won’t have to keep worrying about forgetting food in the microwave (as is very easy to do).
A built-in microwave will also save you so much space. It will free up countertop space and look much sleeker. The microwave will be placed inside the cabinetry of your kitchen.
So the front will be almost flush with the cabinet doors. This will look much better than a clunky old microwave cluttering up your workspace.
If you choose an over-the-range microwave, you will also save yourself money in the long run. Although these are very expensive for a microwave, they are very affordable for a stovetop hood that doubles as a microwave.
You are essentially getting two products in one. Instead of buying a separate hood and microwave, you are making incredibly efficient use of space.
Rather than an outdated countertop microwave and a large, clunky (and let’s be honest, usually very unattractive) stovetop hood, you have a great piece of technology.
Think of an over-the-range microwave less like a microwave that can provide ventilation. And more like a stovetop hood that can also cook and heat up food.
This is ideal if you often find yourself using the microwave and the stove as you’re cooking. If you have an oven built-in below the stovetop, you have all of your cooking appliances right in front of you.
The size of the microwave you buy will all depend on the space you have available in your kitchen. Although microwaves are all of relatively general size, built-in microwaves are a little different.
Some built-in microwaves will be fitted in exactly as they come. That is, there will be no additional material added around the edges.
Others, however, including some on this list, will have additional metal or plastic surrounding them. This will be similar to a built-in oven. The microwave sits inside this material and the material is what is physically attached to the cabinets.
This should be your main consideration when it comes to size. Even if you choose a microwave with no additional material, the person installing it might decide that it is necessary.
Depending on the shape of the microwave and the shape of your kitchen cabinets, there might not be the right amount of space for a built-in microwave without additional material.
Another factor to consider when choosing the size of your new microwave is what you will be using it for. If you primarily use your microwave for reheating leftovers in a Tupperware box, then you don’t need anything too big and industrial.
The power of a microwave is usually 800w or 900w. The difference between the two isn’t very much. But it will determine the amount of time your food will need to heat up or cook.
Unsurprisingly, an 800w microwave will need longer to heat up or cook food.
Some microwaves, including several on this list, go up to 1200w. This is very high but it allows you to adjust the power for different foods and gives you complete control.
This isn’t the most important feature but it’s worth considering. Especially if you are very specific about what you use the microwave for and how you use it.
Installation is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a built-in microwave.
Not only will you need to single out space in your kitchen cabinets but the space needs to have some very specific features. For example, it shouldn’t be near any sources of water.
One of the best spots is above your oven. This is true whether you have a wall oven or an oven below a cooktop. If you have a wall oven, then there will likely be space above that is currently used as a cabinet. This is an ideal space for a built-in microwave.
If you have an oven below a cooktop, you likely have a hood above it with a fan and lights. Depending on the size of this hood, you might be able to install the microwave above it. But, don’t forget that you will also need to be able to easily reach the microwave.
So, another option is in a cabinet next to the oven. Or it can be somewhere else entirely. The choice mostly depends on the space you have available. But, it must also depend on the strength of the cabinet.
To support something like a microwave, the base of the cabinet will need to be pretty strong. Most cabinets are built to store packets of food, and maybe a food processor or two, but not something as heavy as a microwave.
Installing a microwave above a stovetop will also require extra ventilation. This means you will need a built-in microwave that includes an air vent at its base. These are easy to find (we have two of them included on our list).
But this is a very important feature to consider. Without a vent above your stovetop, the steam and heat will rise up into the microwave and the cabinetry.
This can cause damage to both the cabinets (especially if they’re made from wood) and the microwave. So a ventilation fan for an over-the-range built-in microwave is essential.
The look and style of a microwave are important. Especially if it is built-in and at eye level. But when it comes down to practicalities, the settings are the most important factor.
Power and wattage are important things to consider but, when you come down to it, as long as it’s powerful enough to heat food through (which should be every microwave), you don’t have to worry about that too much.
What you should seriously consider are the settings. Some microwaves will be very simple. The most basic will have two dials without specific numbers that, usually, relate to the number of minutes on the timer.
Then there will likely be low, medium, and high settings, with perhaps a defrost setting.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are microwaves that have settings for very specific foods. For example, there are some standard settings for defrosting fish.
But there are some that will have settings that are perfect for cooking a baked potato.
Whichever microwave you choose will need to suit your needs. If you feel pretty sure about the best ways to microwave certain foods and for how long, then you will be fine with a few basic settings.
But, if you’re completely in the dark about using a microwave, something with specific settings will be ideal.
Microwaves vary a surprising amount when it comes to style. The first thing to consider is the color. Most will be black, stainless steel, or white plastic.
But, white plastic is mostly considered to be out-dated now. So, you will likely be choosing between a sleek black microwave or an industrial-looking stainless steel option.
The style should, of course, fit in well with your kitchen. This should be relatively easy as microwaves are designed to go well with most kitchen colors.
This is one of the reasons why they are usually neutral colors like black or silver. (Try as you might, it will be pretty difficult to find a pink or blue microwave).
But style isn’t just important in terms of aesthetics. The style of your microwave will also determine how it is used. As mentioned above, modern microwaves have a lot of different settings.
With these settings come a lot of different controls. Some are very simple and have a dial or two. But some will have more complicated buttons.
Turntable vs Flatbed
The vast majority of microwaves will have a turntable inside. This allows the heat to hit the food equally. But, there are other options available.
You will have noticed that some microwaves have a flatbed, similar to a conventional oven. But this doesn’t mean that the food is just pelted with microwaves from one angle.
Instead, the flatbed microwaves have a rotating antenna that sits beneath the flatbed. So, instead of the food rotating, the heat and microwaves rotate instead.
But which is the better option? You’re more likely to find yourself a rotating microwave, so let’s start with their benefits.
Turntable microwaves allow for the food to be heated more evenly. Although flatbed microwaves do heat food evenly, the food itself doesn’t rotate.
This means that you might find yourself having to remove the food to turn it over or mix it up to ensure the food is properly cooked or heated through.
Although turntable microwaves might allow you to cook your food more thoroughly and quickly, flatbed microwaves will allow you to cook more food.
We have all had the irritating experience of placing a Tupperware box in the microwave, only for the corners to catch as it attempts to rotate.
You likely very often find yourself heating up food in rectangular boxes on a circular turntable. This won’t happen with a flatbed microwave. This is because the flatbed doesn’t move at all.
So you won’t have to worry about your food falling, getting in the way, or not fitting properly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you put a microwave inside a cabinet?
Technically, yes. But this will be logistically difficult. If you just place a microwave in a cabinet, then you will need to find somewhere for the cord to go. You will also need to place it near a socket.
Unlike an in-built microwave that will have the cord hidden away, a microwave just placed inside a cabinet will have the cord sticking out.
With a properly built-in microwave, the cord will be hidden away. The microwave will usually be built-in in the same way as a built-in oven. So it will appear almost flush against the cabinets and as part of the overall cabinet design.
Depending on the type of microwave you have, it also might be dangerous and damaging to put it inside a cabinet. This is because the vents at the top or back of the microwave will be blocked which can be a fire hazard.
Is it worth buying a combination microwave?
This depends on the overall layout of your kitchen. If you have a very small kitchen, then a built-in combination microwave might be the best option.
This will take up much less space than a traditional convection oven.
It will also free up counter space. But, you will then likely need this for a portable stovetop or hot plate.
Combination microwaves also won’t provide exactly the same kind of cooking and roasting as a traditional oven. But they will still cook your food thoroughly.
So, the choice mostly depends on the type of cooking you usually do. As well as the amount of space you have.
If you have a traditional microwave and are wondering whether to change it for a combination microwave, rather than considering a microwave instead of a traditional oven, then we say go ahead.
Do built-in microwaves need ventilation?
Yes, microwaves need adequate ventilation. You will notice the vents on either the top, side, or back of your microwave. If you’re concerned about ventilation, speak to the person installing your built-in microwave.
They will likely have considered ventilation but it’s worth double-checking.
Ventilation is an important factor to consider when choosing where to have your microwave installed. If you have a specific place in mind, consider how spacious it is and whether your new microwave will have enough ventilation.
This is very important because, as we have already mentioned above, poor ventilation can be a fire hazard. It will also cause the steam to become trapped inside the cabinetry.
If this happens, it can cause mold to build up. The steam can also, over time, cause wooden cabinets to soften and rot.