Best Commercial Microwave for Restaurant
Buying Guide

What is the Best Commercial Microwave for Restaurant Use?

More and more, restaurants are employing microwave ovens along with conventional electric ovens and stoves or gas ranges in order to cook their meals and dishes. Microwaves are quite useful to the average chef because of how quick it’s able to reheat any food with water content inside it.

With that in mind, you can’t just buy any microwave for use at the restaurant or even convenience store. You need something that’s hard-wearing and heavy-duty due to constant use.

So what’s the best commercial microwave for restaurant use?

Buying Guide for Microwaves for Restaurants or Commercial Use

There are a number of things you need to take into consideration when buying restaurant microwaves for commercial use. They include the following:

Microwave Oven Wattage and Cooking Times

When buying a commercial microwave for use in a restaurant, the two most important things to consider are usage level and wattage. How often you use the microwave is closely related to how powerful the microwave is in terms of watts.

As far as commercial restaurant microwaves are concerned, the higher the wattage the faster the cooking time. In restaurants, even those that aren’t fast-food restaurants, it’s imperative that you get a high-power microwave to do all your cooking and baking for you in a jiffy.

A dessert that requires a 1-kilowatt microwave to cook for 30 seconds should cook twice as fast in a 1.8 or 2.2-kilowatt microwave.

Here are the approximate microwaving times of a baked potato for reference.

Max Power Level Cooking or Reheating TimeOutput per Hour
1 kilowatt4 minutes and 3 seconds13 baked potatoes
1.2 kilowatts3 minutes and 10 seconds17 baked potatoes
1.8 kilowatts2 minutes and 40 seconds20 baked potatoes
2.2 kilowatts1 minute and 50 seconds28 baked potatoes

Benefits of a Commercial Microwave for Restaurants

Why should you get a commercial microwave? If your establishment or at least break room requires 50 or so uses of the microwave by multiple people then a light-duty to heavy-duty commercial microwave might be required.

This is especially true of restaurants, especially those with quick turnaround times for heating entrees.

  • Microwaves offer versatile, fast, and efficient cooking options with a quick turnaround time.
  • Quick-cooking at the push of a button ensures quicker meals without going the fast-food route of frying food and whatnot.
  • Microwaves are great for bigger operations. They’re also good for minor tasks like cooking or reheating at your own home kitchen.
  • The different programmable presets give you more cooking options without watching your food like a hawk so it doesn’t get burned down.
  • Commercial-grade machines and many hybrids like rapid-cook ovens don’t require the ventilation hood, thus they’re more adaptable and less limited.
  • These machines can quickly defrost food, which is great when you can’t wait for hours for something to thaw out under running water or in the refrigerator.
Commercial Microwave
Commercial Microwave

Drawbacks of a Commercial Microwave for Restaurants

There are disadvantages to using a commercial-grade microwave, of course—chief among them expensiveness and the fact that sometimes, your situation doesn’t call for 50 to 150 microwaving sessions in a day.

  • Rapid food heating can also change the food’s texture and taste when cooked or baked normally on a stove or standard oven.
  • A microwave can easily overcook products in less than a minute or two if you’re not careful. Container ventilation and proper timing are required.
  • Uneven microwave cooking can lead to cold spots on your food. Many foods should be stirred or flipped at incremental points to ensure even heating.
  • Microwaves are more energy inefficient than an electrical stove (a 600-watt microwave is actually 1 kilowatt but its only effective output is 600 watts).

Types of Microwaves

When shopping for a restaurant microwave, you need to have a clear knowledge and understanding of what these appliances are and what they’re capable of. Read the types of commercial microwaves out there to know which ones are a perfect fit for your needs.

There are also different types of commercial microwaves you can choose from. They’re categorized according to wattage.

  • Light-Duty Microwaves: These microwaves have wattages of about 1 kilowatt or 1,000 watts and below. However, usually, anything below 1 kilowatt isn’t considered a commercial-grade microwave and is more of a mini or solo microwave for personal use (typically 700 watts).

“Light-duty” in this case involves establishments that use the microwave at least 50 times or less daily. The following types of businesses are better suited for light-duty microwaves compared to heavy-duty or medium-duty ones.

  • Wait Stations: They use microwaves to heat up beverages, soups, rolls, and desserts.
  • Concession Stands: They reheat food items that have been sitting on the display for a good amount of time.
  • Break Rooms: Company break rooms use these microwaves for reheating frozen meals, beverages, and lunches.
  • Breakfast Bars: They heat occasional beverages, leftovers, oatmeal cookies, and muffins for your breakfast needs.
  • Medium-Duty Microwaves: Naturally, medium-duty microwaves require more powerful devices to ensure faster service for customers. Their power level ranges from 1.2 kilowatts to 2 kilowatts for increased cooking speed. They’re also used up to 150 times daily.

They’re a perfect fit for commercial establishments with usage that could overwhelm your typical light-duty model due to their increased demand. They include the following.

  • Coffee Shops or Cafés: Baristas heat various coffees and beverages. They can also use the oven to heat baked goods and lunchtime items.
  • Convenience Stores: Attendants at the convenience stores will typically be there to heat up prepackaged foods, snacks, meals, and various sandwiches.
  • Back of the House or Kitchen: A busy kitchen can use the microwave to heat up appetizers, sauces, and soups.
  • Restaurants: These microwaves can be used to heat up entrees or assist in reheating dishes for mid-sized restaurants or humble roadside eateries.
  • Heavy-Duty Microwaves: A heavy-duty commercial microwave oven uses about 2 kilowatts to 3 or more kilowatts. They’re the most powerful microwave type.

They’re also known for their durability, cooking quickness, and long-lasting operation even when used 200 times or more daily. They’re constructed for the sake of working in the following businesses and locations.

  • Caterers: Companies in the catering business cook mass-produced products or at least does quick heating of them.
  • Cafeterias: The cafeteria staff uses microwaves to heat large portions of meals quickly. It also reduces waste with continuous holding.
  • Back of the House or Kitchens: It’s powerful enough to melt cheese, heat or defrost entrees, and steam various vegetables and seafood.
  • Restaurants: In particular, those quick-serve restaurants that require high-volume, high-speed heating of entrees with fast turnaround times require this microwave type.

Choosing the Right Microwave Size

Here are the different interior capacities or sizes of a typical commercial microwave.

  • 3 to 0.8 Cubic Feet: This capacity accommodates high-temperature food pans in ¼ to ⅙ sizes. They can also fit small, oven-safe chinaware like small plates and bowls.
  • 8 to 1.0 Cubic Feet: It accommodates ½ and ⅓ sizes. You can also use this size of microwave to microwave microwaveable takeout containers as well as medium-sized plates and bowls.
  • 2 to 1.6 Cubic Feet: This capacity accommodates most full-size high-temperature food pans as well as oven-safe microwaveable plastic muffin trays. No metal trays or containers, please.

If you need a big Microwave to fit your needs, there are some ones for you.

Reviews for the 7 Best Microwaves for Restaurants

Here are the top 7 best microwaves for restaurant use, mostly on the medium-duty side.

1. It’s the Toshiba EM131A5C-BS But Bigger at 1.3 Cubic Feet and Smarter with Alexa Voice Integration

Features:

Power1.1 kilowatts
Power Levels10
Capacity1.3 cubic feet
Size20.4 x 16.6 x 12.4 inches
Weight35.05 lbs
MaterialStainless steel (black)
User InterfaceInput keypad and buttons
TypeMedium-Duty

The Toshiba ML-EM34P(SS) is the bigger, smarter version of the Toshiba EM131A5C-BS. Kind of. They look alike, they function alike, they have the same power level, but the Toshiba ML-EM34P(SS) simply offers a little more to make it a little better than its EM131A5C-BS counterpart.

Toshiba ML-EM34P(SS)
Toshiba ML-EM34P(SS)

It also has a humidity sensor, ECO mode, and an energy-saving LED cavity light to boot. It has everything the EM131A5C-BS has plus a little extra.  For example, its main claim to fame is its hands-free operation care of integration with the Alexa voice-activated assistant from Amazon.

It also has a mute feature—known here as the sound on/off function—wherein you can get rid of the beeping sound when the cooking has finished. This is good when you’re focusing hard on your restaurant cooking tasks without distractions.

2. Your Smart Cooking Assistant with Smart Sensor and 23 Presets for the Preprogrammed Menu

Features:

Power1.1 kilowatts
Power Levels10
Capacity1.2 cubic feet
Size17.14 x 20.51 x 12.83 inches
Weight34.6 Pounds
MaterialStainless steel (black)
User InterfaceInput keypad and buttons
TypeMedium-Duty

The Toshiba EM131A5C-BS is a medium-duty microwave with heavy-duty longevity. It’s Amazon’s Choice in Countertop Microwave Ovens by Toshiba. You can avail of a 1.3 cubic feet version for $140 (this 1.2 cubic feet version costs $130).

Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven
Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven

As a requisite for a commercial-grade microwave for restaurants, it comes with 10 preprogrammed presets for 23 popular foods like pizza, vegetables, and more, Eco Mode to save electricity, and mute function. It also comes with a turntable (versus all the flatbed commercial microwaves on this list).

It’s constructed of black stainless steel, it has an easy-clean interior, and it comes with a smart humidity sensor that detects temperature, vapor content, and duration to estimate whether or not your food has been cooked properly.

3. Jack-of-all-Trades Light-Duty Microwave with Spacious Interior and Auto-Cancel Dial Timer

Features:

Power1 kilowatt
Power Levels1
Capacity1 cubic foot
Size21 x 16 x 12 inches
Weight37 pounds
MaterialStainless steel
User InterfaceElectronic dial
TypeLight-Duty

Here’s another one from Sharp. The Sharp R-21LCFS is a 1-kilowatt, 120-volt medium-duty microwave with stainless steel construction for longevity and a dial timer for easy cooking. It’s also quite easy to operate among the restaurant microwave options on this list.

Sharp R-21LCFS
Sharp R-21LCFS

It’s spacious with its 1 cubic foot capacity, it comes with an auto-cancel timer that cancels the timer when you open the door, and it offers a heating time guide to know how long it is to cook different foods and dishes at a glance.

Unsurprisingly, it’s Amazon’s Choice in Commercial Microwaves by Sharp (yes, it was chosen over the other Sharp microwave). It’s a good restaurant microwave investment for $270 (at the time of this writing).

4.  An Powerful Medium-Duty Microwave That Does Even Cooking without a Turntable

Features:

Power1.2 kilowatts
Power Levels4
Capacity1.2 cubic feet
Size20.25 x 21.75 x 14.25 inches
Weight64 Pounds
MaterialStainless steel
User InterfaceInput buttons
TypeMedium-Duty

The Amana RFS12TS is a commercial-grade, medium-duty microwave. It doesn’t have a consumer version though. It’s strictly for use in establishments like restaurants, cafes, convenience stores, or busy kitchens. Customers on Amazon can vouch how an Amana can work well for several years or decades.

It’s built to last by being constructed with stainless steel, it uses input buttons for easy control, it has 4 power levels, it’s quite quick at cooking meals with its 1.2 kilowatts of power (it heats up baked potatoes in 3 minutes), and it has a rotating antenna instead of a rotating turntable.

Furthermore, it has top and bottom antennas to ensure even cooking compared to your usual turntable or rotating platter microwave. Its door is also easy to open to close care of its ergonomic handle, which is what you want for the lunch rush hour for your restaurant.

5. A Light-Duty Microwave That Cooks by Length of Time Instead of Power Levels

Features:

Power1 kilowatt
Power Levels1
Capacity1 cubic foot
Size24 x 21 x 15 inches
Weight21.99 pounds
MaterialStainless steel
User InterfaceInput keypad
TypeLight-Duty

As for the Sharp R-21LVF, its main claim to fame on this list of restaurant microwaves is the fact that it’s a stainless steel countertop microwave from a world-renowned electronics manufacturer that delivers up to 20 memories of programmable presets.

What’s more, for something that costs about $300, it’s quite the pint-sized (24 x 21 x 15 inches and 21.99 pounds) powerhouse, offering a cubic foot of capacity for a small appliance and express defrost for last-minute defrosting at the push of a keypad button.

In terms of flaws, there’s the fact that it lists itself as a medium-duty microwave even though it’s only light-duty since it only has 1 kilowatt of power. Furthermore, its presets differ in the amount of cooking time, not power level. It can only go up to 1 power level instead of 3 or more.

6. This Light-Duty Commercial Microwave Has 100 Programmable Settings or Presets

Features:

Power1 kilowatt
Power Levels5
Capacity0.9 cubic feet
Size12.25 x 20 x 17 inches
Weight32.2 pounds
MaterialStainless steel
User InterfaceInput keypad
TypeLight-Duty

The main claim to fame of the freestanding Waring WMO90 steel commercial microwave is its 100 programmable settings or presets. It comes with 10 programmable memory pads and you can adjust up to 100 settings on it for your restaurant-cooking needs.

There’s also the fact that for a compact microwave, it has impressive 1-kilowatt power and its 0.9 cubic feet capacity. Also, unlike the Sharp microwave on this list, it can go up to 5 power levels. It’s a shame it’s a light-duty microwave because mid-sized restaurants can use its many presets.

Sure, Waring isn’t as renowned a manufacturer as Sharp but it’s about as well-known (as in not well-known) as Amana, at least. The main claim to the infamy of Waring is its price. It’s listed at $650 but thankfully you can avail of it on Amazon at $300 at the time of this writing.

7. This Countertop Microwave Has High-Tech Touch Control Keypad and Bottom Energy Feed

Features:

Power1 kilowatt
Power Levels1
Capacity0.8 cubic feet
Size16.56 x 20.12 x 12 inches
Weight39.75 pounds
MaterialStainless steel
User InterfaceTouch control keypad
TypeLight-Duty

Every restaurant should have their own Panasonic NE-1054F. It’s as high-tech as they come and actual restaurants depend on its light-duty power yet heavy-duty longevity. Yes, like Sharp, it only has 1 power level. However, its 20 memory presets can allow for a multitude of cooking variations.

Panasonic Countertop Commercial Microwave
Panasonic Countertop Commercial Microwave

It has fast cooking results with its 1-level bottom energy feed system that cooks the food in a balanced and even manner with no extremely hot spots or cold spots. Its touch control keypad even has Braille on it for the vision-impaired.

The touchscreen version is available for about $275. You can get the same model for cheaper by getting the dial control timer version for about $245.

The Bottom Line

The best commercial microwave for use at the restaurant or even convenience stores is the Toshiba ML-EM34P(SS). This is followed by Sharp R-21LCFS in second place.

When shopping for a commercial microwave, you should get something made of high-quality materials and long-lasting construction. Go for reputable manufacturers for good measure so that you’re assured of a microwave that can shoulder the demands of multiple customers and thousands of meals.

Your microwave of choice should also allow for ease of use, simple controls, and multiple express cooking options from reheating food to cooking and baking functions.

Through the years, the microwave oven has become a standard appliance for all homes. It is safe to say that there is no home without a microwave oven. If you are looking for a microwave oven that best fits your needs, You find the right website.

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