A microwave oven is a modern household staple: A great appliance that helps heat food and drinks rapidly while also saving you time and money on cooking. But, sometimes, you want an appliance that gives you both form and function, and this is where retro microwave ovens come in. Their vintage style is simply elegant. The best retro microwave oven will appeal to your aesthetic needs and give the normal functionality you need in an oven.
A Brief History of Microwave Ovens
Out of all the advancements of technology in home and kitchen appliances, perhaps the most practical and welcome addition to every household is the countertop microwave oven. The concept of using high-frequency radio waves for heating substances was actually discovered in 1920. Still, it wasn't until more than a decade later when a United States company known as Bell Laboratories filed a patent in 1937.
Since then, numerous renditions of the machine were built until 1960, when Japan's Sharp Corporation started manufacturing the product. It was also the same company brand that first introduced a microwave oven with a turntable.
So, What is a Retro Microwave?
A retro microwave is a compact version of a modern microwave, highlighted by an old-time design. Typically, it comes with a smaller capacity and may not include all the features seen on modern models. That being said, the compact design means it can fit into smaller spaces, making it ideal for homes with smaller kitchen spaces or limited counter space.
How Does a Retro Microwave Work?
A retro microwave works like a conventional microwave. The magnetron, as it is known, creates radiation in the microwave. This sets water molecules into oscillation at the touch of a button. Consequently, the vibrations produced generate heat in the microwave for heating and cooking food while preserving its nutrients.
Safety Tip: Considering how retro microwaves work, you should avoid using plates with plastic or metal rims.
What Can You Expect from Retro Microwaves?
1. Designed to Appeal to a Particular Style
Most microwave ovens come in drab colors with the same old look. Retro ovens are designed to appeal to a specific vintage style. The sleek retro design can easily transform your kitchen and give it an overall stylish appearance.
2. Lower Power
Despite the elegant design, most retro ovens usually have lower power levels. They generally range around 700-1000 watt output power. The lower the cooking power, the longer it takes to heat up or cook your food.
3. Smaller Size
Most retro microwave ovens fall in the small class, ranging between 0.7-1 Cubic Foot. They have a turntable diameter of about 10 inches or the size of a small pizza.
4. Simple Features
Retro microwaves are designed to be simple and functional. That means:
- They feature few and simple control knobs with minimal functions.
- Most models lack automated cooking, thus no sensor cooking or inverter technology.
- They generally don't have a grill function.
- They are normally more affordable than standard microwave ovens.
Suffice it to say, microwave ovens have been making our lives easier for nearly a century. And in all those years, it has remained an important part of every household. So, as an homage to the well-loved 100-year-old appliance, we came up with a list of the 5 best retro microwaves on the market today.
Make sure you also check out our list of The 5 Best Retro Toasters!
Which is the best brand for retro microwave oven?
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1. COMFEE' CM-M093ARD Retro Microwave
- Retro and stylish design in vibrant ruby adorns your kitchen.
- 9 preset programs satisfy your daily cooking needs: popcorn, beverage,...
- Express buttons allow for easy operation and convenient fast cooking.
- The multi-stage cooking function enables you to finish defrosting and...
- Compact footprint but equipped with 0.9 cu. ft. large capacity that...
The COMFEE CM-M093ARD is indisputably the best retro microwave oven you can add to your kitchen for that vintage touch. First, it comes in a sleek and compact design, with a vibrant ruby color that really oozes the old times. Second, it has a large 0.9 Cu. Ft capacity, meaning it can easily accommodate four dinner plates and even cook a 10-inch pizza.
It comes with 9 preset cooking programs, making it easy to prepare all your favorite foods. That includes a multi-stage cooking function that allows you to defrost and cook at the same time. Furthermore, the Easy Defrost feature automatically defrosts food depending on its weight and how long it needs to be defrosted. That and Express Cooking provide options to cook for seconds at maximum power or increase cooking time by 30 seconds.
The express buttons, clock & kitchen timer mean operating this appliance is a total breeze. The ease of operation is further enhanced by a Mute Function, a Turntable Reset Function, a bright LED display, interior light, a removable glass turntable and ECO mode that helps you reduce standby power by 50%. On top of that, it has child lock safety features to make it safe for families with young ones.
2. Faberware Classic FM011AHTBKN
- QUICK & EASY: Prepare meals and snacks in a snap with this compact...
- CONVENIENT: Farberware 1.1 Cu. Ft. metallic red microwave oven is the...
- COOK EASY & POWERFUL: Microwave offers 10 power levels with...
- GET A CLEAR VIEW: The LED display with kitchen timer and clock lets...
- STYLE & FUNCTION: Stylish Black Stainless-Steel front and handle for a...
The Faberware Classic is a superb choice if you're looking for a large capacity, high-powered retro microwave. This 1.1 Cu. Ft oven produces 1000 watts of cooking power to ensure that you can prepare or reheat your food in no time. The power can be adjusted in 10 different levels, from 10% to 100%, for convenient multi-stage cooking for your custom meals.
It features Quick Start controls for 1 through 6-minute Express Cooking. It also has an Add 30-Seconds cooking setting to help you get the best results every time you cook. It also has 6 One-Touch cooking functions for popular foods, such as Popcorn, Potato, Frozen Vegetable, Dinner Plate or Vegetable. Plus, its Memory Function stores and retrieves cooking settings instantly.
This retro microwave comes with a removable rotating glass turntable. It also features a Digital Control, including a LED Display with a digital clock and kitchen timer. Finally, the appliance comes backed by a 1-year warranty.
3. Galanz GLCMKA07BER-07 Retro Microwave Oven
- 700W With 6 Variable Power Levels Galanz 0.7 Cu.Ft, 700 Watts...
- Interior Light & Child Lock Interior Light For Checking The Status...
- Defrost & Led Display For All Your Frozen Foods, Defrost By Time Or...
- 360°Rotating Evenly Heating 360° Heating And Rotation Of Glass...
The Galanz GLCMKA07BER-07 is an equally stylish addition to any kitchen, home office or recreation room. Despite the vintage look design, particularly the sleek chrome door handle, it still offers modern functions that set it apart. The best part is, it's arguably one of the more affordable options on the list.
It's a 700-watt 0.7 Cu. Ft countertop microwave that can cook, defrost and reheat. It comes with 6 variable power levels, allowing you to adjust the power level depending on the cooking task and food item. It also has one-touch menus that let you easily navigate cooking settings.
This microwave also has a 9.6" glass turntable that rotates 360° to cook food evenly. It also features a child safety lock to prevent your young ones from accessing the control panel.
4. Nostalgia RM04AQ Retro Microwave
- 800 watts cooking power: At 0.9 cubic foot, this microwave provides...
- Convenient cooking controls: 12 pre programmed cooking settings, delay...
- Digital clock: Easy to read LED display, lights up the digital clock...
- Even cooking: Rotating glass carousel helps cook food evenly
- Retro accents: A sleek chrome door handle, control panel and accents...
Very few brands can match up to Nostalgia when it comes to retro-style appliances, and their microwaves are certainly no exception. The RM04AQ comes with retro-inspired chrome lines that make this an elegant addition to any countertop. More so, this 800-watt microwave can cook almost anything pretty quickly, from casseroles to leftover pizza.
It's a large microwave, making it an excellent choice for people who love to cook and require a lot of space. It has several pre-programmed cooking settings to offer you everything from slow cooker meals right down to single programmable settings like "crockpot". More so, it has 12 preset menu items on the LED control panel, such as popcorn, potato, vegetables, rice, bread, frozen entrees, pizza and vegetables to help streamline your cooking.
It also features a rotating glass carousel that allows food to cook evenly. The three power levels give you flexibility in the cooking power needed as well as the heating times and textures of the food cooking inside. Moreover, the Turn-and-Push Program Dial makes it easy to operate, allowing for preset cooking settings or individualized cooking times.
The retro microwave is available in 5 different classic colors, so you can always find something that works for your kitchen. It also comes backed by a one-year warranty to give you full value for your money.
5. Nostalgia RM077AQ Retro Microwave
- 700-watts cooking power: At 0.7 cubic feet, This microwave provides...
- Convenient cooking controls: 12 pre-programmed cooking settings, delay...
- Digital clock: Easy-to-read LED display lights up the digital clock...
- Even cooking: Rotating glass carousel helps cook food evenly
- Retro accents: A sleek chrome door handle, control panel and accents...
The RM077AQ is yet another testament to Nostalgia's supremacy when it comes to vintage appliances. This 700-watt 0.7 Cu. Ft unit delivers enough cooking power to quickly cook and reheat foods. That includes 12 pre-programmed cooking controls for convenient cooking, a delay timer and Express Cooking for optimal heating of your favorite foods, from pizza and popcorn to potatoes and veggies.
It has an easy-to-read LED display that lights up the digital clock and displays each cooking setting. It also comes with a simple program dial so that you can easily navigate cooking settings with just a turn-and-push. The microwave also features a rotating glass carousel that allows your food to cook evenly.
6. COSTWAY Retro Countertop Microwave Oven
- 5 MICROWAVE POWER LEVELS------Featuring with 5 power levels: Defrost,...
- 360°ROTATING EVENLY HEATING------360° heating and rotation of glass...
- SIMPLE OPERATION & AUTO REMINDER------ There are two mechanical knobs...
- CUSTOMIZABLE AUTO COOKING MODE------ The retro microwave oven has...
- TECHNICAL & INTIMATE DETAIL------Overall Dimension:...
The COSTWAY 0.9 Cu. Ft 900-watt microwave is an excellent choice when it comes to a sleek retro design. It has 5 different power levels: Defrost, M. Low (40P), M. High(80P), High (100P) as well as speed cooking for optimal heating. This allows you to customize and refine your cooking experience and get the best results each time.
It features a 360°rotating glass carousel that ensures your food heats evenly from all sides, hence faster. More so, it has pre-programmed cooking settings, Auto Cooking Mode, that can automatically cook some of your favorite foods. In addition, it has two knobs and two buttons that allow you to cook your food for a given time and beeps when the time is up. A sleek chrome door handle further accentuates these classic vintage controls.
This microwave is fairly quiet in operation. It also comes with an ETL and UL-certified power cord that ensures safe operation. It also features a child lock function that is only activated by holding down the pause/cancel button for three seconds to protect your young ones.
7. Winia W0R07R3ZEC Retro Microwave
- Compact 0.7 cu. ft. Capacity - Perfect for small spaces, 0.7 cu. ft....
- 700 Watts of Cooking Power - 700W Cooking Power handles many cooking...
- Unique Retro Design - The unique retro design captures a vintage...
- Exclusive Concave Reflect System (C.R.S) - The Concave Reflect System...
- 5 Auto-Cook Programs - Cook and reheat a variety of food and beverages...
The WINIA Retro Series brings you a great vintage microwave with modern conveniences. This 0.7 Cu. Ft 700W unit comes with 5 different power levels, including an auto-cook function for 5 different menus at the touch of a button, to give you much-needed flexibility in the kitchen. Furthermore, it also introduces a new cooking and heating system that is set to flip the industry.
The Concave Reflex System (CRS) is faster at cooking food than traditional microwaves, thanks to the even heat distribution that reduces overcooking spots. The dual wave technology maximizes the microwave's efficiency while minimizing fat and smoke from your food. On top of that, it also features Zero On technology that only consumes power when the appliance is in use, thus bringing down your energy consumption.
The WINIA Retro Microwave comes with more than average room, plus recessed turntables designed to give you more space and accommodate different-sized dinner plates. Additionally, it features a 2-way defrost function that allows you to thaw your frozen foods by weight and time. And you also get two color options, white and red, so you'll find an option that goes well with your decor.
8. Nostalgia MCM09FTSG Mid-Century Retro Microwave
- 900-WATTS COOKING POWER At 0 9 cubic feet this microwave provides the...
- CUSTOMIZABLE COOKING SETTINGS 8 pre-programmed cooking settings and...
- MULTI-SEQUENCE COOKING Allows you to use up to four separate cooking...
- DIGITAL CLOCK Easy-to-read green LED display lights up the digital...
- EVEN COOKING 10 63-inch rotating glass carousel helps cook food evenly
It comes as no surprise that NOSTALGIA has yet another retro microwave featured on the list. This one even includes a sleek chrome door handle and swanky splayed legs. The MCM009FTSG 900-watt is a high-powered unit that's ideal to quickly cook and reheat your popular foods.
This 0.9 Cu. Ft microwave comes with 8 pre-programmed cooking settings, as well as a delay timer, meaning it can easily handle a variety of dishes. The multi-sequence cooking setting allows you to create custom cooking sequences for your special recipes. Moreover, it also allows you to employ up to four separate cooking sequences for every cooking program.
True to the vintage style, it features two buttons and a spinning dial, making usability simple. That adds to the bright LED display, making usability as simple as possible.
9. Willz Countertop Small Microwave Oven
- 【11 Power Levels & Multistage Cooking】Willz 700 Watt Microwave...
- 【6 Preset Menus & Express Cooking】Easy To Cook With 6 One-Touch...
- 【Child Lock & Defrost Functions】The Optional Safety Lock Helps To...
- 【Interior Light & Led Display】The Compact Microwave Comes With...
If you're looking for a small and compact retro microwave oven, it's hard to find a better option than this one. This Willz is a 0.7 Cu. Ft unit that delivers 700 watts of power. It comes in a brilliant green to complement various kitchen styles. However, its cooking power is what truly sets it apart.
It features 11 different power levels and two cooking stages to give you full control over the cooking process, even when you're reheating leftovers. That includes six one-touch preset cooking modes for some of your popular foods, such as Popcorn, Potato, Pizza, Frozen Dinners and Beverages.
Despite the small size, it has a large turntable that allows your food to turn easily. It also features 6 easy-access buttons to make operation as straightforward as it gets. Furthermore, it has internal lights that allow you to see how your food is cooking, as well as an LCD screen that shows time, power and status.
10. Hamilton Beach Retro Microwave Oven
- 10 power levels, 6 quick set menu buttons
- Child-safe lockout feature, Kitchen timer/clock,
- Weight and time defrost, LED display
- 1000W, Microwave oven with black housing and white painted cavity
- Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H): 20.20 x 17.10 x 12.10 IN
The Hamilton Beach Retro Microwave Oven is designed as a high-capacity, high-powered yet affordable option. It has a large 1.1 Cu. Ft capacity with a 1000-Watt energy consumption rate. This entails 10 power levels and 6 Quick-Set menu buttons to help you prepare your popular foods quickly and easily.
This microwave oven can defrost depending on weight and time. It comes with buttons, a touchpad for easy operation, as well as an LED display with a digital clock and kitchen timer. Just as important, it also features a child-safe lockout feature.
Factors to Consider in the Best Retro Microwave Oven
1. Type of Retro Microwave
There are two different types of retro ovens that could suit you and your kitchen:
a). Undercounter Retro Microwave
An under-counter retro oven is permanently fixed in the kitchen unit or sturdy cabinet. That means you need to consider the weight of the microwave as well as your cabinet's load-bearing capacity. Additionally, the installation has to be well thought out since repositioning later might be impractical or require a lot of effort.
On the other hand, the set-up gives you plenty of free working space, a welcome bonus, particularly for small kitchens. That being said, you'll still need to account for the optimal room for ventilation.
b). Freestanding Retro Microwave
Freestanding microwaves can be placed flexibly. The only fixed requirement is ensuring there's a power outlet nearby, meaning repositioning is not a challenge either. Furthermore, there are few to no extra costs that come with a purchase.
Retro microwave ovens have wattages that range from 700 watts to 1000 watts. Some models come with the capability to regulate the wattage yourself. One thing to keep in mind is the lower the wattage, the less electricity the appliance consumes.
All in all, anywhere between 700 watts and 800 watts is perfectly sufficient for most households.
3. Size & Capacity
More height and width mean more usable cooking space inside. The perfect size mostly depends on the number of people in the house or the quantities of cooking you do at a go. Therefore, the more you have to prepare, the bigger a microwave you need.
Retro microwaves come in varying capacities: 13L, 20L, 25L, 27L and so on. The lower end of the range should be sufficient for people living on their own or small families. Similarly, 15 liters to 20 liters should be adequate for heating and defrosting food.
It's also worth considering that a larger interior means the microwave takes longer to prepare food. As such, there's no point in buying a big microwave if you won't use all the capacity. The ideal size should always boil down to your specific needs.
Weight plays a crucial role in a microwave, especially under-counter models and their installation process. A retro microwave's weight mainly depends on its capacity; the bigger the size, the more likely it is to be heavier. The weights generally vary between 10 kg and 15 kg.
Knowing the exact weight of your preferred retro oven allows you to determine whether your cabinet or shelf can bear the load over a long time.
5. Pre-Programmed Settings
Microwaves come with different cooking settings and programs depending on the model. The main functions include a grill function, defrost program and a timer.
- The grill function can be used to prepare several foods, from frozen pizza and meat to soups and baby food.
- The defrosting function is suitable for frozen foods like vegetables and typically takes less than 10 minutes.
- A timer function means you don't have to constantly keep an eye on your food and time elapsed. You don't have to worry about the food burning since the microwave stops automatically when the preset time is reached.
The average microwave lifespan is approximately 9 years, but the most durable models can go up to 10-12 years. Therefore, it's important to find a retro microwave that will stand the test of time. We recommend taking some time to read any user reviews on the model you're considering to determine if it offers the reliability you're looking for.
7. Additional Features
When you're looking for the best retro microwave oven, it's important to consider some extra features that could add value to your purchase. However, you should keep in mind that some of the features are not standard on retro microwaves.
You can look out for:
This is the round plate that sits in the microwave oven and rotates the food to cook it evenly. Most retro microwaves have a turntable, but others don't. A sizeable turntable is a must-have feature if you intend to cook large or multiple items at once.
b). One-Touch Cooking
This feature allows you to cook food easily and quickly at just the press of a button. It comes in handy when you're in a hurry or are unsure of how to cook certain foods.
c). Child Lock
A child lock feature enables you to lock the control panel so that a child cannot turn the microwave on accidentally, which can cause safety concerns. It's especially important for families with young kids who may try to access the appliance unsupervised.
d). Sensor Cooking
Sensor cooking employs an internal sensor that automatically calculates how long food needs to cook to reach the proper temperature. This is a valuable feature if you're usually in a rush or occasionally forget to add extra time to your cooking.
e). Sensory Reheating
Sensory reheating also uses sensors to detect internal humidity and temperature level, thus allowing it to reheat food without overcooking it. It's a nifty feature if you reheat food frequently or don't have time to wait for the food to cook.
Chances are, you have come across one or two alarmist articles about microwaves leaking carcinogenic radiation or zapping all the nutrients in your food. However, there's no conclusive research to back up these claims so far.
The genuine safety concerns that come with microwaves include the slight possibility of the appliance catching fire and the critical need to teach kids how to use them carefully. Generally, microwave safety issues have more to do with proper use than the particular model you buy.
That said, it's still important to research the model you intend to buy extensively to see if you come across any warning signs.
Things Worth Knowing about Retro Microwave Ovens
What Dishes Can You Cook with a Retro Microwave?
There are several dishes you can prepare with a retro microwave, and in a matter of minutes, no less:
- Baked goods: 5 - 10 min
- Soup: 3 - 4 min
- Baby food: 1 - 2 min
- Fruit and vegetables: 5 - 15 min
On occasions when your food is dripping frozen, you can use the defrost function to get it done in minutes and start cooking your food.
How to Clean a Retro Microwave
There are plenty of ways to clean your retro microwave oven. You usually only need a cleaning cloth and simple household products, like water and vinegar.
Here's one way you can do it:
- Fill half a glass of water, then add 3 to 4 tablespoons of vinegar.
- Put the jar in the microwave and allow it to heat for a couple of minutes on maximum.
- The steam allows you to wipe off the grease and oil easily and quickly.
If you don't have vinegar, you can use lemon instead. You'll need the juice of half of a lemon to get the desired results.
Alternatives to Retro Microwave Ovens
If you're not fully satisfied with a retro microwave, there are other types of microwaves with different designs and outputs you can consider:
Gastro microwaves are ideal for restaurants and large kitchens. They have larger capacities as well as more programs to choose from. They also produce more wattage, up to 1500 watts.
Microwaves with steamers are better at preserving nutrients and vitamins in food. They can be as large as 46 liters but are also more expensive.
Truck microwaves are suited for people who are on the road a lot, like truck drivers, and those who spend a lot of time outdoors, like campers. They might not be as powerful as conventional microwaves, but they still get the job done quite well. The best part is, they can be used both outdoors and at home.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Retro Microwave Ovens
1. Which microwave brand offers retro styling with modern functionality?
In some cases, brands tend to dwell too much on a product’s appearance rather than its full functionality. You will always find a microwave oven that doesn’t seem to get the job done and is only cute, comes in nice colors or was only bought to compliment the design of the kitchen.
While there’s nothing wrong with going for looks and aesthetics, you always have to keep in mind that the main purpose of a kitchen appliance, a microwave oven in this regard, is to make your kitchen life more convenient and efficient. And that entails having modern functionality despite its retro design.
Out of all the products listed above, a brand that has the perfect balance of vintage style and the latest technology is the Farberware Classic Microwave Oven. It may not be as retro as all the other products mentioned, but as the name suggests, it evokes a classic appeal to it. But that’s not all because it boasts of the latest technology in microwave ovens such as express cooking functions and one-touch cooking programs. If you’re not too ardent about the retro look, this can be a good option for you.
Be sure to match it with a cool juicer while you are at it!
2. What is the best retro microwave budget option?
As always, budget is your main concern when it comes to buying kitchen appliances. As much as possible, we want our purchases to be worth their value. They don’t have to be a lifelong investment, but it surely would be nice if they could last you a good few years without needing repairs or parts replacement.
But if you are keen on sticking to a budget without compromising the quality of the product, you might want to go for the Hamilton Beach 1000-watt Microwave. Even though it's cheaper than most retro microwave ovens out there, it doesn’t scrimp on performance as proven by the 5-star ratings the product has on Amazon.
Remember that going for the more affordable option doesn’t mean you have to settle with sloppy products that never should have left the factory. You just have to be patient and meticulous in browsing all choices available to you.
3. Is Mint Green the most popular retro microwave color?
As common as mint green might be when it comes to color options of retro microwave ovens, it has a tough rival in the color red.
While we can’t exactly name red or mint green as the most popular among all available colors, the best way to give you an idea of their popularity is this. Where you can see a mint green retro microwave oven, that same brand almost certainly has the same product in the color red.
4. How do you choose which retro microwave option will work best for you?
After scouring the web, scanning pages upon pages of data, studying product descriptions, and reading customer reviews, there is still a chance you haven’t made up your mind as to which brand of retro microwave oven you will get for your kitchen. And that is fine. It’s actually quite challenging comparing products with each other just so you can be sure that you’re getting the best value for your money.
But like with any other home and kitchen appliance out there, you are the only person who can determine which particular product fits your needs. As a tip, ask yourself these questions: How much space do you have at home to accommodate a microwave oven? If it’s not much, go for compact-sized products. What kind of meals are you looking to prepare using the microwave?
If it’s going to be used mostly for reheating leftovers or defrosting food, opt for the ones with less complex technology. These may be mundane questions, but ultimately, the best retro microwave oven for you is the one that caters to your needs.
5. Do retro microwave ovens destroy food nutrients?
Any cooking method alters nutrients in one way or another, as some are heat sensitive. However, as much as microwaving includes radiation, it doesn't completely destroy the nutrients in your food. That's because the less water is used to cook food, the more nutrients are retained.
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