If counter space is at a premium in your kitchen, you can reclaim some precious work surface area and make more room to create. How? By opting for a microwave installation that is built-in or integrated with your kitchen cabinets, wall or island.
There are several ways to get the built-in look with a microwave in your kitchen, depending on the size, power and features you need as well as the way you cook, bake and create. Use this buying guide to learn about your options and to help you decide which microwave will help you bring out the best in your culinary talents.
What is a Built-In Microwave Oven?
A built-in microwave oven is a kitchen appliance that is designed to be installed in your kitchen cabinets, rather than placed on a counter or another surface. There are several styles of built-in microwaves, from undercounter microwave drawers to drop-down door models designed to complement a wall oven.
Built-in microwaves give your kitchen a custom look with appliances, cabinets and other fixtures working together in an integrated design. Plus, you don’t have to do a full kitchen remodel to enjoy the convenience and space savings of a built-in microwave oven. In many kitchen designs, you can cut an opening or replace a single section of existing cabinetry to make room for a built-in model.
Built-In Microwave Oven Styles and Sizes
Built-in microwaves integrate into your kitchen by sitting within a cabinet, with some flush installation styles available to provide a seamless look. You can install the microwave at a comfortable height and in the location that best suits the way you use your kitchen space. Many people choose to place a built-in microwave oven near their wall oven, creating an easy way to move dishes from one to the other.
With a built-in microwave, you can not only choose its location in your kitchen, but also its size and style. Built-in microwaves offer three door options: right-to-left swing-out, drop-down or a slide-out drawer. The swing-out style is common in countertop and over-the-range microwaves, while many built-in microwaves feature drop-down doors that open the same way as a traditional oven.
Undercounter Microwave Oven Drawer Style
One way to add a built-in microwave in your kitchen is with an undercounter microwave drawer. These top-loading appliances are installed in your lower cabinets so they’re easy to reach into, and they’re also tucked out of the way, allowing for additional storage space in your upper cabinets.
Much like cabinet drawers that pull out from their base on slides, a microwave drawer also extends and retracts from the cabinet. An undercounter microwave oven drawer design also makes it easy for you to check or stir foods during cooking, and the countertop is nearby to place the dish once you’ve removed it from the microwave. The auto touch feature on the KitchenAid® 24" Under-Counter Microwave Drawer lets you push a button to open and close the microwave drawer, providing easy access even with your hands full.
With a 1.2 cu. ft. capacity and 950 watts, you’ll be able to cook, reheat and defrost your favorite foods, including deep bowls or tall glasses. Includes 10 preset programs and an internal sensor to monitor humidity and adjust cook time. The Keep Warm function lets you time your meals perfectly, whether or not you’ve used the microwave to cook.
Built-In Microwave Oven Widths
When purchasing a built-in microwave for your kitchen, consider the width of the cabinet you want to install the appliance in. Built-in microwaves are usually available in 24-inch, 27-inch and 30-inch widths.
With a powerful 1000 watts and 1.4 cu. ft. capacity, you can quickly cook family-sized portions. Available in black or stainless steel finish, with an elegant stainless steel inside on each. Comes with trim kits to install into a 27- or 30-inch cutout. A matching trim kit helps integrate a microwave oven into your cabinets and fills any gaps surrounding the appliance and adjacent cabinets.
Combines the power of a 900-watt microwave with a 1200-watt convection element to increase cooking speed. Also features the EasyConvect™ Conversion System to take the guesswork out of convection cooking, a broiling element and Crispwave™ technology to grill and pan fry with the included crisper pan.
Same features as the above model, but three inches wider. Also includes EasyConvect™ Conversion System, Crispwave™ technology and pre-programmed microwave functions for softening/melting, reheating, popcorn, defrosting and steaming.
How do Built-in Microwaves Differ from Over-the-Range Models?
Technically, an over-the-range microwave is not built-in, even though it is installed into your cabinets and matches other kitchen appliances. Over-the-range (OTR) microwaves can only be installed over your stove or cooktop, and they often combine the microwave with a range hood and a stove light. Although they are a popular space-saving option, OTR microwaves can limit your kitchen design choices by keeping your microwave and range paired.
Many people want to upgrade their kitchen appliances without doing a full remodel. Over-the-range microwaves can often be installed in place of an existing range hood in your kitchen. And, if you already have an OTR microwave that’s past its prime, or that simply no longer meets your needs, KitchenAid has a range of microwave hood combinations to choose from.
Want to replace your existing range hood with an over-the-range microwave, but don’t want to do a full remodel? You’ll love this low profile microwave hood combination that’s designed to fit in the same space as a standard range hood.1 At only 10.3" in height, you can easily stir your tall pots on the stove underneath while your microwave is still tall enough to comfortably fit a mixing bowl and wide enough for a 9" x 13" casserole dish. You don’t have to sacrifice capacity and features to fit a microwave into your kitchen, and you’ll upgrade your kitchen with a single appliance.
1. Based on 24" minimum install for undercabinet hoods and Low Profile Microwave Hood.
Unlock your creativity with the combined power and speed of this microwave convection oven that reaches 425 degrees and broiler. Includes Crispwave™ technology so you can grill or fry in your microwave and our most powerful 1200-watt model.
Combines a high-power, 1000-watt microwave oven with a convection oven and sensor-monitored cooking cycle to steam and simmer in the included container. Elegant, easy-to-clean stainless steel interior.
Getting a Built-In Look Using a Countertop Microwave
While countertop microwaves are portable and can easily be added to a kitchen, they take up valuable surface area. To conserve space, you can mount your countertop microwave on a shelf or in a cabinet for a built-in look. Trim kits allow you to close any gaps around the appliance to create a seamless finish. Trim kits can usually be found in 24-, 27- and 30-inch widths and in finishes to match your microwave.
Although not technically a built-in microwave, this option appeals to many people who want the built-in look without a kitchen remodel.
Features to Consider When Buying a Microwave Oven
Wattage: KitchenAid® microwave ovens range from 950 to 1200 watts. Higher wattage sometimes means faster cooking time depending on the food you are preparing.
Timed Defrost: Defrosting frozen foods in the microwave is done by lowering the setting to 30-50% power and adjusting the time for the weight of the item being defrosted. With timed defrost, simply enter the weight and type of the frozen item and the microwave will adjust the power and time to defrost quickly and safely without you having to do any math.
Sensor Cooking: Using temperature and humidity sensors, some microwaves may automatically adjust the time for optimal reheating, defrosting or cooking. You might see this displayed on your microwave by preset buttons such as “Popcorn,” or “Potato” or “Auto Reheat.”
Convection cooking: Your microwave oven can become a second oven or a combination oven if you opt for a model that includes convection cooking. In addition to reheating and cooking frozen meals, your microwave convection oven can now roast a chicken or bake cookies, doing double duty in your kitchen.
EasyConvect™ Convection conversion: Convection ovens use fans to circulate heated air. But most recipes don’t list temperatures and times for convection ovens. If your microwave has the EasyConvect™ feature, it will convert the time and temperature to convection settings for easy use and great results.
Broil element: Imagine being able to finish your microwaved food with a quick broil to melt the cheese on top or add browning. You can if your built-in microwave contains a broiling element.
Crispwave™ Technology: Your microwave will do so much more than pop popcorn or melt butter if you have the crisper pan and Crispwave™ technology to grill, fry, brown or crisp foods.
Sensor steam cycle: Use the steam container to perfectly steam veggies or fish. Your microwave can take the guesswork out of steaming by monitoring the moisture level inside the cooking cavity.
PrintShield™ Finish: This specialized coating for stainless steel resists smudges and fingerprints and is easy to clean with just water and a soft cloth.
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