What Kinds Of Microwaves Work For Kitchen Islands?

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Designing a kitchen can be a very stressful process. There are so many (very expensive) decisions that have to be made and one wrong one can ruin the functionality of the entire kitchen!

When it comes to choosing a space for appliances, microwaves specifically, people tend to get the most frustrated. And even more so when the only place they can place it is on the beautiful kitchen island.

So today, we will look at what kinds of microwaves will work best for kitchen islands. In short, you can choose between a countertop option or a built-in or drawer microwave. Each of these has a list of pros and cons, but both will give you are least one option that will work.

In this jam-packed article, we will explore exactly what your options are, how to choose the best one for your specific kitchen island, and how to weigh the pros and cons of each.

By the end, you should have a much clearer idea of where to start your search for a more specific type, brand, and model.

Can You Use A Microwave On/In A Kitchen Island?

This is one question people struggle with most when it comes to designing a kitchen or moving into a new one that has a kitchen island: is it possible to have a microwave in or on a kitchen island?

The short answer is yes. However, the design of the island will greatly affect what type of microwave you can use and where you can (or have to) put it. It can even determine whether or not you can have one at all!

In today’s article, we will discuss two options that you can use for your kitchen island.

But first, you need to determine whether or not your kitchen island can accommodate this appliance.

Power Supply

Okay, so first things first, your microwave will need power. If you have a simple kitchen island that doesn’t have some sort of electrical socket, that means you need to run the microwave power supply cable along the floor.

Obviously, this cannot work. And before you say “I can tape it down,” there are still a ton of risks you are (unnecessarily) taking on in doing so.

Think about it: you are working in a kitchen where the floor is the dirtiest area of the entire space! If the cable gets wet, it can cause a shortage and even ruin the entire house’s wiring. This may be a tiny issue, or it could cost you thousands!

Another issue with running the cable along the floor is that you can trip over it.

“Okay, but just use a strong tape or one of those cable coverings to keep it down.”

Nope. Neither of those options lasts forever.

They all eventually become loose and can cause some serious harm to the person falling over the cable as well as the kitchen.

A microwave flying off the countertop, hitting the cupboards, damaging the floor – it’s all a big mess that can be avoided entirely.

Bottom Line:

If your kitchen island doesn’t have a power supply inside or on top, having a microwave here won’t work. 

You can always install a power source, but it will cost some money to do it safely.

Size / Available Space

Now, if your kitchen island has an electrical socket where the microwave can be plugged into, the next thing to consider is whether or not you have the space.

This counts both for a specific model you have in mind (for buying) or the one you already have. And, that also goes for counter space and cupboard space (for built-in options).

To determine that, you can have a look at how your kitchen island has been designed. 

If you have a small kitchen island or one that doesn’t have shelves, it’s likely that a microwave will take up too much space.

If you have an island that only has selves, you won’t be able to add a built-in microwave, only a countertop one. 

And, if you are still designing an island, make sure you incorporate a designated space for the microwave of your choosing. If it is a built-in option or drawer microwave, make sure you leave the exact correct amount of space. The designer should incorporate your specific model into the design.

Bottom Line:

Look at whether or not you have the space for a microwave and which type of microwave you will be able to get.

You can decide between a built-in or countertop microwave. Then, you can also decide whether you want it on top of the island, in an overhanging counter, or built directly into the cupboards below.


One of the biggest regrets people have after designing a kitchen is appliance placement, which ultimately affects the functionality of that kitchen. 

Here are some things you can consider when deciding where to place the microwave in your kitchen:

* How often do you use a microwave? If it is often, you don’t want it in a difficult-to-reach area. If you don’t use it often, you can consider placing it underneath a counter or away from the island entirely. The island space can be better utilized for more functional items and tools.

* What is the aesthetic of the kitchen? If it is clean and sleek, you will likely want a modern built-in microwave that “hides” the appliance rather than feature it on a counter.

* Do you need counter space? If the answer is yes, you would be better off getting a drawer microwave than a countertop one. This goes hand in hand with the “space” section above but directly affects functionality.


No one ever wants to think about money, but the reality is that it plays an important part. 

If you have a kitchen island and want to add a built-in microwave, you will need to change the design of the island. That cost money. Is it worth the money? That’s up to you.

If you are designing an island from scratch, it’s cheaper to incorporate a built-in microwave from the get-go than to change the layout later. So, think long and hard before making a final decision on kitchen design and functionality.

Microwave Options for Kitchen Islands

Now, as we have mentioned numerous times so far, there are two types of microwaves that can work for kitchen islands. 

You can either choose a countertop or traditional microwave, or you can choose a built-in or drawer microwave.

For each of these, there are many different options and models. For example, you can buy a microwave oven that has multiple functions.

Appliances like this are another way you can free up some space in a kitchen. Instead of having two appliances, you have one very handy one. And, it can even save you some money!

So, let’s take a closer look at each of these options, their pros, and their cons.

Counter Top / Traditional Microwaves

Most traditional countertop microwaves are cheaper than built-in microwaves.

That’s because the technology is simpler and has been around long enough to easily (and cheaply) be produced.

There are many different types of countertop microwaves. You can buy them in different sizes, with different functionalities, and in different designs.

So, it is super easy to customize this appliance to suit the style of your kitchen while performing the functions you require.

And again, you can buy multi-functional appliances like a microwave oven to save the kitchen more space.

However, there are some downsides to this option – only if you specifically consider it as an option for kitchen islands.

The back of appliances, especially microwaves, is not something you want to put on display.

So, we would not recommend countertop microwaves for, well, on top of the counter on a beautiful kitchen island.

Furthermore, if you do put it on top, it will take up a ton of space. Personally, kitchen islands should be as spacious as they can be and intended for chopping or eating.

Again, the design of your island will majorly affect this and there are ways to hide the back from your guests. But personally, we believe that it’s easier to put it on a shelf below or get a built-in microwave instead. 

And, if you won’t be using the microwave often, just place it somewhere out of the way instead of on a countertop.


* It is easy to find options in-store or online.

* Many options out there that vary in function, style, and size.

* Price ranges from very cheap to extremely expensive (depending on what you get, the brand, and the design).

* Can easily be placed on the kitchen island or on a shelf below.

* It is very easy to move the microwave around as your needs change. It isn’t fixed to one position in your kitchen.


* These types of microwaves are very bulky and can take up a lot of space.

* There is a limited area where you can place these (either on a counter or a shelf). So, if you don’t have a lot of counter space or shelves, you will have a functionality issue.

* While there are stylish options out there, a microwave stays a microwave.

* It is hard to hide the ugly backside of this appliance when it is displayed on the countertop of a kitchen island.

Drawer / Built-In Microwaves

These types of microwaves are generally more expensive and because there are fewer options out there, more difficult to find.

Don’t get us wrong, you won’t have a shortage of options. But finding one that perfectly suits your needs may take longer than looking for a countertop option.

Nevertheless, there are many benefits to this design.

First off, these microwaves have a much more elegant look and come in many stylish designs. As with regular microwaves, you can also find different sizes and some with multiple functional qualities.

Another great benefit is that they don’t take up any counter space. This is especially useful if you have a small kitchen island or one with a sink or stove top.

These built-in microwaves have also been designed to overcome ventilation issues that countertop versions have (which is why you cannot put them in a cupboard).

So, you can have them out of your way without worrying about the consequences or functionality.

Now, the downsides.

The biggest downside is the price. As we’ve said, they are more expensive.

But with that comes benefits. 

Then, it will also cost you some money to install it. It would be best to have the appliance installed while you are building the kitchen island, but this obviously only works if you ARE making the island from scratch.

If it’s already there, you will need to get someone to install it.

Furthermore, if you already have an island, you will need to find an option that fits the space you have available. And, then you still may need to customize the island to accommodate for this microwave.

As you can see, major issues. However, they are all easily avoidable if you plan properly and find the best option for your needs.


* Very stylish appliances that come in many different designs.

* Almost all of these built-in microwaves have very advanced technology (far above entry-level microwaves). You can also buy multi-functional options, like a built-in microwave oven.

* These don’t take up any counter space and are perfect for smaller kitchens and islands.

* Offers your kitchen exceptional functionality, especially if you frequently use a microwave.


* They are costly and then still need to be installed by a professional.

* You can only build them into the bottom of the kitchen island. This does save space, but you may need to alter the island or its design in order to incorporate it into your kitchen.

* One small thing we didn’t mention above is that they are more difficult to clean because you cannot put them on a counter. You will need to bend over, which is uncomfortable for a lot of people.

Related Questions

Can you put a countertop microwave inside a kitchen island?

This option can only work if your island offers enough ventilation for this type of microwave. You cannot and should not place the countertop microwave inside an enclosed space or against the back of the counter. This is why built-in microwaves tend to work better for kitchen islands.

What’s the difference between an under-the-counter microwave and a drawer microwave?

They both go in the same place and have to be installed. The main difference is how they are designed. A drawer microwave pulls out to open the space. An under-the-counter one simply opens like a regular microwave (or oven door) but doesn’t pull out.

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