Best Microwaves for Dorms

Updated October 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

46 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
498 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best microwaves for dorms

Last Updated October 2019

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.

Many microwaves offer multiple power settings. However, if you’re a simple microwave cook who doesn’t tend to configure power settings for different foods, you probably wouldn’t find the extra expense to be worth it.

Key considerations

Dorm rules and regulations

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.

Microwave size

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.

Finding a spot for your microwave

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.

Cooking power

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.

Power supply

Don’t forget to check whether there’s a nearby outlet! Your microwave needs electricity to run.

Features

Design and construction

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.

Cook settings

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?

Pre-programmed functions

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.

Minute button

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.

Sound muting

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.

Turntable

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.

LED display

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.

EXPERT TIP

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.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Here are a few accessories you may want to pack, along with your new dorm microwave:

  • Microwave cleaner: If microwave grime and splatters hardens over time, it’s hard to clean up with a simple wipe. When that happens, simply fill your microwave cleaning tool with water and lemon juice and zap for seven minutes to steam loose those stubborn bits of food. We love the Angry Mama microwave cleaner from TOPIST, and we think your favorite college student will, too.
  • Microwave-safe dishes: Buy a set of inexpensive dishes for your dorm room that won’t overheat and are safe to use in the microwave. These colorful plastic bowls from Youngever may be just perfect for popcorn and other snacks.
  • Microwave pasta maker: You don’t need a fully equipped stovetop to enjoy a satisfying bowl of pasta. Fill one of these with water - like Fasta Pasta’s Microwave Pasta Cooker. Add your favorite pasta, microwave, then open up a jar of your favorite sauce. Hello, Dorm Gourmet.
EXPERT TIP

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.


Staff  | BestReviews

Microwaves for dorms prices

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.

Tips

  • On a budget? Ramen noodles are the king of microwave meals. Unfortunately, these instant soups are not particularly nutritious. Try bumping them up a notch nutritionally by adding fresh or frozen vegetables.
  • Use your microwave to steam veggies. Steam them as a side dish with dinner — or for an anytime snack.
  • If your food heats unevenly, try cooking it in short increments. Cook for 30 to 60 seconds, remove, stir, and heat again as needed.
  • Did you know that you can enjoy breakfast straight from your microwave? Buy English muffins, microwave bacon, and a microwave egg cooker to whip up a hearty morning meal.

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.

Other products we considered

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.

Buy a container of popcorn kernels instead of packaged microwave popcorn and use a microwave popper to prep your snack. It’s healthier and cheaper.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Writer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey