Packing 900 watts of cooking power. 10 power settings. Capable of defrosting by time or weight. Features 1-touch starts for 6 pre-programmed functions. One of the few models to offer a sound-muting option.
Oven can slide when using the door because of its slick plastic feet.
Simple, no-frills design features dial controls and a variety of food cooking and thawing settings. Compact size is great for small spaces. Best for preparing small items and snacks. 6 power levels. Handle is durable and easy to grip.
A bit under-powered at 600 watts. Turntable is loud and makes annoying squeaking sounds.
A compact microwave with a streamlined design and an appealing price. Wields 700 watts of cooking power and features several handy presets like speed defrost, pizza, popcorn, and reheat.
Somewhat noisy when running. Takes a little extra time to heat thoroughly compared to some competitors.
Compact, 700-watt unit that's Amazon Alexa compatible. Features 10 power levels, a kitchen timer, turntable and child lock. Can fit a coffee cup, small plate, bag of popcorn and other small items.
Not as powerful as some other microwaves in its class.
Boasting 900 watts of cooking power, this oven offers 10 power levels and 6 pre-programmed settings. 1-touch buttons for popular items like pizza and popcorn. Digital timer and LED display. Features a child-safety lock.
It's on the noisy side. Some units quit working within a short time of ownership.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Heading off to college is an exciting time. You’ll learn new things, make new friends, and enjoy a new kind of independence. Before the hard work in the classroom begins, however, think about your new living space. It’s important to create a room that suits your needs. A microwave for your dorm room can be a big part of that, and it can help ensure that you remain fully fuelled as you embrace new challenges in college.
Without home-cooked meals, you’ll be fending for yourself in the food department. The campus cafeteria may be right around the corner, and pizza is always just a phone call away. But neither of those options are budget-friendly. Nor are they always the healthiest choices.
A dorm microwave can help you stave off hunger when you’re in a rush, economize when you need to, and satisfy snack cravings when you’re hanging out with pals watching a movie. Read through our buying guide to decide which microwave for dorms is best for you.
Not every dorm allows students to have microwaves in their rooms. Don’t waste money on this type of appliance if it’s not allowed. A peek at your college’s website may also include a list of items already included in your soon-to-be living quarters. Many dorms have communal spaces, which often include things like microwaves and fridges. Also, if you’re rooming with someone else, you may be able to split your purchases, so you’re not doubling up on items.
You could buy any microwave and stick it in your dorm room, of course, but in a small space, you’re better off opting for a compact unit. It’s doubtful you’ll need to whip up microwave dinners for a crowd, so most mini models would probably work out just fine. Thankfully, compact units are typically cheaper and lighter than standard-size options.
When browsing microwaves, pay attention to the internal dimensions, which are usually listed in cubic feet. For tight spaces, opt for a unit with under one cubic foot of interior space. Check the exterior dimensions, too. Some microwaves billed as “compact” are surprisingly big on the outside.
Is your dorm room partially furnished? Is there a dresser where you can set your new microwave? If not, you’ll need to purchase a small table or shelf.
Powerful, compact cooking
The small but mighty Toshiba 0.9 cu. ft. Stainless Steel Microwave offers up 900 watts of power so you can zap those frozen dinners in no time. An interior LED light helps light your way when you have a middle-of-the-night craving for your favorite hot snack.
Compact microwaves aren’t necessarily less powerful than standard-size units, but check the wattage before making your final purchase. More wattage translates to faster cook times and a higher price tag, but if speed isn’t a priority, feel free to spend less. Still, if a microwave offers significantly less than 700 watts of power, cooking times will increase greatly.
Don’t forget to check whether there’s a nearby outlet! Your microwave needs electricity to run.
Microwave designs vary considerably. Choose a sleek stainless steel model to accent a modern dorm room, or select a colorful retro-style unit to add a bit of whimsy to your living space.
Take a quick peek at the buttons on the appliance you’re considering. Do you want specialized cook settings like “Defrost” or “Keep Warm”? Fancier microwaves have built-in sensors that take the guesswork out of cooking food and automatically decide on the optimal time and power level required to heat your meals. The style of controls varies from model to model, as well. Do you prefer a simple knob interface or big, easy-to-read buttons?
You can avoid allocating brainpower to cooking microwave foods and leave the thinking up to the appliance. Simply choose a unit with preset cooking functions that heat certain foods for a pre-programmed amount of time. If popcorn is your favorite snack, a popcorn button is a must-have!
Expect your microwave to outlast your college years. Most units will last at least a decade.
A “Minute” function allows for quick and efficient heating with the touch of a button. Need to cook your food a little longer than expected? A simple press of the minute button is all that’s required.
Loud beeping is sure to wake your roommate when you’re zapping a quesadilla in the middle of the night. Choose a microwave with a mute setting to avoid bothering anyone else, whether they’re studying or snoozing.
Many microwaves have turntables that rotate slowly during the cooking process to help evenly heat your food. If you choose a microwave with this feature, make sure that the turntable is removable so you can wash it as needed.
Cook in the dark of night with the help of an LED display and backlit buttons, but know that this minor light pollution may affect your sleep. Can the lights be disabled? If not, you may want to opt for a different model, especially if you’re a light sleeper.
A defrost setting is only useful if your dorm room is equipped with a freezer … or if you plan to buy and cook frozen food purchased from a nearby shop.
Here are a few accessories you may want to pack, along with your new dorm microwave:
Love to drink coffee from the local cafe? If it cools too quickly while you’re studying, pop it in the microwave to reheat it.
Compact microwaves are usually less expensive than regular-size units, so don’t worry about breaking the bank to outfit your room. Expect to pay under $100 for a compact microwave for your dorm with an internal capacity of under one cubic foot. The closer the interior space is to one cubic foot, the higher the price tag will be. You’ll also pay more for a microwave with higher wattage. Microwaves with sensors and pre-programmed settings also tend to cost more than pared-down units with simple interfaces.
Low-cost mini microwave
The Westinghouse Rotary Microwave has a smaller 0.6 cubic foot interior. Operation is simple thanks to the basic dial design. A few added functions on this budget unit, such as defrost and multiple power levels, allow for a bit of cooking customization.
Are you moving into a dorm with a little extra room? Opt for the Panasonic Countertop Microwave Oven with a broiler feature, and use your unit to prep toast in the morning or boil water at night for a macaroni-and-cheese dinner. It’s pricey, but is equipped with smart sensors and a spacious turntable. We also like the Kenmore 70719 Microwave, a 0.7 cu. ft. model with a quick-add button that tops up the countdown clock when you notice your food needs more time. The interior turntable is made of sturdy glass and is removable.
Q. Is there anything I shouldn’t put in my microwave?
A. Avoid putting anything made of paper in your microwave. It may catch fire. Also, be careful when heating anything in a plastic container. Check that it’s microwave-safe first. And, of course, anything made of metal or wrapped in aluminum foil should stay out of your microwave.
Q. How can I prevent food from splattering the interior of my microwave?A. Use a plate to cover your bowl or a bowl to cover your plate before starting up your microwave. Alternatively, you could buy a special microwave food cover to prevent nasty messes inside your unit.
Q. Can I put my microwave anywhere in my dorm?
A. Avoid putting it on the floor. You’ll only be wasting space. Don’t store it up too high, either. Accidents and spills are more likely to occur if you’re always struggling to reach inside your microwave.
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