Person cooking on a stovetop with a KitchenAid® over-the-range microwave above

TYPES OF MICROWAVE OVENS AND FEATURES

Microwaves are an ordinary kitchen appliance with major possibilities. Finding the right one can unlock new culinary options and even provide secondary oven space. Microwaves can even be used as an alternative to a stove or oven, depending on the recipe you’re creating. Use this guide to learn about different types of microwaves, their benefits and what to consider when choosing the microwave that’s right for your kitchen and the unique way you create.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MICROWAVES?

There are generally six different types of microwaves to choose from to complement your kitchen and cooking style. Start your shopping journey and learn more about built-in, over-the-range, countertop, under-counter and convection microwaves, as well as microwave oven combinations below.

KitchenAid® built-in microwave KitchenAid® built-in microwave

1. BUILT-IN MICROWAVES

Built-in microwave ovens are installed directly into pre-existing cabinet space for a custom look that integrates seamlessly with your kitchen style. They can be installed in a variety of locations in the kitchen, but are usually placed above a wall oven for easy transitions between your oven and microwave. Built-in microwaves also often feature doors that open from the front, like an oven, rather than the side, for quick access.

As well as enhanced aesthetics, expect to find innovations in these models, like KitchenAid® built-in microwaves that can transform into a true second oven. If you’re considering a built-in microwave, find the right one with the KitchenAid® built-in microwave buying guide, or learn how to install a built-in microwave.

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Person using a KitchenAid® microwave to warm food Person using a KitchenAid® microwave to warm food

2. OVER-THE-RANGE OR MICROWAVE HOOD COMBINATIONS

Over-the-range microwaves, also called microwave-hood combinations, get your microwave off your countertop by placing it over the range, where it can double as a vent hood, helping clear smoke and odor from the air. Over-the-range microwaves from KitchenAid brand free up counter space while centralizing cooking tasks.

Find out if a microwave hood or range hood is better for your kitchen.

A very popular option, these models are typically available with premium finishes and all the latest features. For example, KitchenAid® over-the-range microwaves are created from professionally-inspired designs and are available in the PrintShield Finish, which resists smudges and fingerprints.

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3. COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES

Countertop microwaves provide quick access right where most of the making happens—on the countertop. All they need is an outlet and a stable, flat surface, so installation is as easy as it gets. You can even take them with you if you move. Countertop microwaves can also be installed in cabinets, much like a built-in microwave, with an additional trim kit.

These versatile microwaves come in a variety of sizes with a range of features. For instance, select, KitchenAid® countertop microwaves offer features like convection cooking and sensor cycles.

KitchenAid® under-counter microwave KitchenAid® under-counter microwave

4. DRAWER OR UNDER-COUNTER MICROWAVES

Drawer microwaves are ideal for open kitchen designs and islands. Under-counter and in-wall installation options free up counter space for ingredients and food preparation. This model’s top access lets you check or stir food without removing the dish from the microwave. Often placed at waist height, drawer microwaves are easy to reach and, if you don’t want a lot of visual attention on your microwave, they’re fairly discreet.

Expect these models to have similar features and functionality as other types of microwaves, like the KitchenAid® Under-Counter Microwave Oven Drawer with Sensor Cooking and Keep Warm functions.

Inside of a microwave Inside of a microwave

5. CONVECTION MICROWAVES

A convection microwave utilizes oven-like heating elements and a fan to circulate heat around the microwave cavity. Convection microwaves typically let you bake, broil and roast similar to the way you would in a full-sized convection oven. For instance, the KitchenAid® Microwave-Hood Combination with Convection Cooking circulates heat around the oven cavity with a 1500-watt convection element that allows baking at temperatures up to 425° F. You can find convection cooking in any microwave type: built-in, over-the-range, countertop and under-counter models.

Learn more about microwave placement options.

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6. MICROWAVE OVEN COMBINATIONS

Microwave oven combinations integrate a wall oven and microwave into one streamlined appliance, helping prepare multi-course meals while blending in seamlessly with the flow of your kitchen.

Select KitchenAid brand models feature Even-Heat True Convection in the lower oven. This technology circulates hot air throughout, ensuring consistent temperatures. Additionally, these models offer microwave convection in the upper oven. Microwave oven combinations can be a great option for multitasking in the kitchen. You can use the upper oven to bake dessert while the lower oven cooks dinner.

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Person cooking on a stovetop with a KitchenAid® over-the-range microwave above Person cooking on a stovetop with a KitchenAid® over-the-range microwave above

MICROWAVE OVEN FEATURES AND USES

Microwave ovens have evolved significantly, with some models now featuring advanced capabilities that cater to diverse cooking needs. These appliances are equipped with various features that enhance their functionality, making them indispensable tools in modern kitchens. Here's a look at some key features and uses:

  • Convection Capabilities: Convection mode heats food inside and out to seal in flavors and juices—so you can leave the browning, baking and crisping to the microwave.

  • Steam Cooking: Clear up cooktop space by steaming foods like rice, vegetables and fish right in the microwave. Steam accessories are available separately.

  • Sensor Cooking: This adjusts the ideal cooking time to the meal with select presets for everything from popcorn to frozen vegetables.

  • Smart Capabilities: When you’re busy in another room, use your smartphone to monitor cooking progress, so you’re ready to eat when dinner’s done.

  • Air Fry: This gives you the flexibility of a microwave and air fryer in one appliance to free up counter space. You can air fry chicken nuggets, wings, fries and more to get crispy results at home.

  • Grill Function: Grill meat and vegetables in your microwave with Grill Mode. The Air Fry Basket allows direct heat to sear the outside of your food, creating a nice crust and flavor.

  • Defrost: Defrost foods at preset times and power levels, based on your selections.

  • Venting: Remove smoke, odors and moisture.
  • Capacity Options: Ranging from 1.1 cu. ft. to 2.2 cu. ft., these units accommodate meals of varying sizes. 
  • ADA Compliant: This helps ensure accessibility to all users. 

  • Auto Cook, Reheat, and Defrost: Simplify meal prep and cooking with preset programs.

These features provide convenience and versatility, allowing for anything from quick reheats to elaborate meal preparations. With the addition of smart technology and enhanced cooking methods, microwaves are now more than just a simple kitchen appliance; they provide a gateway to culinary creativity.

Person cooking on a stovetop with a KitchenAid® over-the-range microwave above Person cooking on a stovetop with a KitchenAid® over-the-range microwave above

WHICH MICROWAVE TYPE IS BEST FOR MY KITCHEN?

Finding the right microwave for your kitchen may depend on your existing layout and available space. There are a variety of microwave types from KitchenAid that can integrate with cooking areas of any size and aesthetic.

Learn more about the different configurations and their benefits below.

DO YOU HAVE A LARGE KITCHEN?

Countertop microwaves take up more counter space so they may be a better choice for large kitchens. Drawer microwaves are also a good option for large, open kitchens since they pull out into the space below your countertops, which can get easily cramped with people or other appliances. Learn more about microwave sizes.

DO YOU HAVE A SMALL KITCHEN?

Over-the-range and built-in microwaves are space savers since they can be placed on nearly any wall in the kitchen. They’re usually located closer to chest or eye level so the door opens out into a clear, uncrowded area. Of course, they also free up counter space and more room for making. Keep in mind that many kitchens are designed for over-the-range microwaves and some cabinet modifications may be needed to accommodate a built-in microwave. Learn how to install a built-in microwave.

DO YOU WANT TO USE YOUR MICROWAVE AS A SECOND OVEN?

A lot of the latest microwave features incorporate traditional oven-inspired elements like convection cooking and a broiler element. You can find these features in any microwave style but you’ll have more options in the built-in and over-the-range categories.

DO YOU WANT REALLY STRONG VENTING POWER?

While over-the-range microwaves can get the job done, standalone vent hoods typically have stronger venting capabilities. You may want to choose one of the other microwave styles and get a separate hood if powerful ventilation is a high priority. Learn more about different types of range hoods.

DO YOU HAVE A CLEAN, STREAMLINED AESTHETIC?

Built-in and under-counter microwaves tend to have the cleanest lines and blend in more easily with your kitchen cabinets. Built-in microwaves particularly are more likely to come with premium finishing details like this model, featuring KitchenAid brand’s Professionally Inspired Design. Check out these stainless steel microwave designs. There are also available options in black stainless steel.

KitchenAid® countertop microwave KitchenAid® countertop microwave

SHOP FOR KITCHENAID® MICROWAVES THAT FIT YOUR KITCHEN

KitchenAid® microwaves are boldly designed to bring professionally-inspired styles and technologies into your home. Whatever style you select, you'll be choosing a premium appliance made to keep up with all the ways you create. Take your time and find the best microwave to feed your creative endeavors.

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