Woman cooking in front of her over-the-range microwave

5 Types of Microwaves to Choose from for Your Kitchen

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 five 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-counter, countertop, under-counter and convection microwaves below.

Stainless steel built-in microwave Stainless steel 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 oven and microwave. Microwave wall oven combinations are also available from KitchenAid brand. This type of appliance provides a streamlined combination of a wall oven and a microwave to help prepare multi-course meals and integrate with your kitchen flow. Built-in microwaves also 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 on your own.

Woman placing food into an over-the-range microwave Woman placing food into an over-the-range microwave

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 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.

Stainless steel countertop microwave Stainless steel countertop microwave

3. Countertop Microwaves

Countertop microwaves provide quick access right where most of the making happens—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 homes. 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, KitchenAid® countertop microwaves offer features like convection cooking and sensor cycles.

Drawer microwave built into undercounter cabinets Drawer microwave built into undercounter cabinets

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. And, its top access lets you check or stir foods without removing the dish from the microwave. Often placed at waist height, they’re 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 convection microwave with a fan Inside of a convection microwave with a fan

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 undercounter.

Man placing bowl in an over-the-range microwave Man placing bowl in an over-the-range microwave

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 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. 

Do You Have a Clean, Streamlined Aesthetic?

Built-in and under-counter microwaves will 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 KitchenAid brand’s Professionally Inspired Design. Check out our stainless steel microwave designs. We also have available options in black stainless steel.

Woman cooking in front of a low profile microwave Woman cooking in front of a low profile 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. Find the best microwaves for you.


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