What is a Built-In Microwave?

If counter space is at a premium in your kitchen, you can reclaim some precious work surface area and make more room to create. Opt 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 article to learn what you should consider when buying a built-in microwave, discover built-in models available and explore features to help you explore your culinary curiosities.

Man standing in front of an over-the-range microwave Man standing in front of an over-the-range microwave

What is a Built-In Microwave?

Built-in microwaves are designed to be installed into your kitchen cabinets or into a fixed wall to free up counter space and create an integrated look to your kitchen. 

KitchenAid® 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 may be able to cut an opening or replace a single section of existing cabinetry to make room for a built-in model.

When shopping for a built-in microwave, consider the following:

  1. Built-In Microwave Style

  2. Built-In Microwave Dimensions

  3. Built-In Microwave Features

Stainless steel built-in microwave control panel Stainless steel built-in microwave control panel

Built-In Microwave Style

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 KitchenAid® countertop and over-the-range microwaves, while many built-in microwaves feature drop-down doors that open the same way as a traditional oven.

Learn more about microwave placement options.

Stainless steel built-in microwave above wall oven Stainless steel built-in microwave above wall oven

Built-In Microwave Dimensions

Besides style, you can also choose the microwave size that fits your kitchen area best. 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. Find out more about built-in microwave sizes.

If you’re trying to determine which size microwave will best fit your kitchen, consider where you are going to install the appliance and how you are going to use it. Kitchens with limited cabinet or wall space may benefit from 24” models like this KitchenAid® 24" Built In Microwave Oven. If you have ample space and plan to use your microwave to heat family-sized meals, a 30” model like this KitchenAid® 30" Built In Microwave Oven may be the right choice for you.

Nachos inside a stainless steel built-in microwave Nachos inside a stainless steel built-in microwave

Built-In Microwave Features

When choosing a built-in microwave for your kitchen, be sure to consider the features available to find one that will best match your making style. Here are a some built-in microwave features available on select KitchenAid® models:


  • 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 Conversion System: 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, steam green beans, 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.


Stainless steel over-the-range microwave Stainless steel over-the-range microwave

What is the Difference Between Over-the-Range and Built-in Microwaves?

Over-the-range microwaves are almost always installed over your stove or cooktop as they often combine the microwave with a range hood and a stove light, while built-in microwaves can be installed anywhere in your kitchen.

It’s easy to replace the microwave you already have with the same size and style as you won't need to do any remodeling to make room. 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 brand has a range of microwave hood combinations to choose from.

Woman sliding casserole dish inside built-in microwave Woman sliding casserole dish inside built-in microwave

What is the Difference Between a Countertop and Built-In Microwave?

The main difference between countertop and built-in microwaves is the installation. Countertop models are installed on your kitchen counters by simply plugging the appliance into a nearby outlet, while built-ins are installed directly into cabinets or walls in your kitchen. Learn more about different types of microwave ovens.

Which Microwaves Can be Built-In?

You can mount your countertop microwave on a shelf or in a cabinet for a built-in look to conserve space. Trim kits from KitchenAid brand allow you to close any gaps around the appliance to create a seamless finish.

Stainless steel built-in microwave installed in a kitchen island Stainless steel built-in microwave installed in a kitchen island

What is an Undercounter Microwave Oven Drawer Style?

One way to add a built-in microwave to 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. 

Microwave drawers open like a cabinet drawer. The drawer design of undercounter microwave ovens 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" Undercounter Microwave Drawer lets you push a button to open and close the microwave drawer, giving you effortless 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. This undercounter microwave design includes 10 preset programs and an internal sensor to monitor humidity and adjust the cook time. The Keep Warm function lets you time your meals perfectly, whether or not you’ve used the microwave to cook.

Close up of a microwave control panel Close up of a microwave control panel

Is a Built-in Microwave Worth It?

You may want to consider opting for a built-in microwave if you prefer your countertops to be uncluttered. Built-in microwaves can open up your kitchen counters to provide more room to create.

If your kitchen has limited cabinet space, or if you live in a rented unit that doesn’t allow you to remodel, a built-in microwave may not be the right fit.

Woman placing a bowl inside built-in microwave Woman placing a bowl inside built-in microwave

Does a Built-In Microwave Need Ventilation?

Yes, built-in microwaves require adequate ventilation. The amount of cabinet depth required for proper ventilation can vary by model, but is typically about 15–22 inches.

Not sure which microwave you should buy for your kitchen? Explore this microwave buying guide to learn about the features and factors to consider when choosing a microwave.

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Shop Popular KitchenAid® Built-In Microwaves

If you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen aesthetic with seamless integration while enhancing your meal preparation, a KitchenAid® built-in microwave may be the perfect fit. Whether you need to reheat, steam or fully cook a meal, a built-in microwave oven brings versatility and extra cooking space to your kitchen.


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