There are many choices and microwave types to consider when shopping for the best microwave. For example, instead of getting a countertop microwave oven, you might choose an over-the-range (OTR) one instead to save space.
With that said, did you know there are microwaves that don’t have turntables or those glass plates that rotate in order to microwave your food evenly across all sides? Also, what’s the best microwave without the turntable or rotating disc accessories included in it?
Buyers Guide for Microwaves without Turntables
A microwave without a turntable or rotating glass disc that ensures your food is evenly cooked is also known as a flatbed microwave. It gets its name from how flat the bottom surface is. It evenly cooks food thanks to a bottom-feeding antenna that deflects the microwaves straight to your food.
Further reading: Can I Use Microwave without a Turntable?
How Do Microwaves without Turntables Work?
A microwave without a turntable substitutes the turntable with a rotating antenna. This antenna is located at the base of the microwave in order to distribute the microwave rays across the interior and into your food.
These “micro-waves” or small wavelength radiowaves or radio waves bounce of anything metal (hence why you shouldn’t microwave anything made of metal) inside the oven until they reach the food. The radiowaves are invisible to the naked eye and released by what’s known as a magnetron.
Because there’s no turntable hogging the space, your flatbed microwave has more space in its interior, thus it’s able to make more use of that 0.7 to 1.5 cubic feet of capacity for use with larger meals or wider dishes.
How Do Microwaves with Turntables Work?
In contrast, a microwave with a turntable—the more common microwave type—works by using the turntable to rotate the food as it’s bombarded with microwave rays or radiowaves that heat it up by exciting all the water molecules or moisture in the dish.
Once the rays reach the food, the water molecules in them vibrate so fast they produce friction and heat. The faster the vibration the hotter the food or beverage will get. This is why it’s possible to almost boil water in the microwave in a minute.
The food on the turntable has to rotate like the earth would around the sun so that every last side of it would be heated as evenly as mechanically possible.
What are the Different Types of Turntable-Free Microwaves?
Here are the 3 different types of turntable-free or flatbed microwaves.
- Solo Flatbed: A solo flatbed microwave or solo anything microwave is limited in function. It tends to be underpowered and lower capacity as well to meet the needs of 1-2 people living in an apartment or dorm.
It’s as basic as can be. For about 700 watts or so, it’s capable of basic cooking (mostly instant noodles or macaroni and cheese), defrosting, heating, and reheating. The good news is that they’re so basic they’re also much cheaper to buy.
This should be your microwave of choice if you’re shopping for a dependable, basic quick reheating device for your instant coffee or instant noodles. They can also cost as cheap as $50 to $100.
- Combo Microwaves: Combination flatbed microwaves are microwaves that have a combo of features that you can use together or independently. They can reheat, roast, crisp, brown, or grill food.
They’re typically convection microwave ovens with convection heating features to allow for more complicated cooking options. They’re a great addition to any kitchen, particularly when you’re prepping a vast number of meals using various ingredients.
They’re pretty solid when cooking for Christmas dinners or Thanksgiving as well as weekly meal preps. They’re much more expensive than solo microwaves, with their prices ranging from $500 to 2,500 depending on the model and features.
- Grill Microwaves: These are the rarest type of microwaves without a turntable. Ostensibly, the grill microwave is capable of heating up your food by grilling. It has grilling apparatuses available that heat up as your food heats up, absorbing and using that heat to grill it.
They’re like solo microwaves with a grill function, making them more versatile. They don’t heat up your food by convection. They instead add grill functionality to your usual simple cooking and heating features, thus allowing inward microwaving and outward conduction heating.
They’re in the middle of solo and combo microwaves in terms of price. To be more specific, they’re much cheaper than combo microwaves but more expensive than solo microwaves. Therefore, their price falls somewhere between $100 and $500.
See more: What is a Convection Microwave? Things to Consider Before Buying
Advantages of a Microwave without a Turntable
Some advantages of this microwave type include the following.
- More Efficient Use of Power: The extra space inside this microwave type also translates to a more effective use of microwave power. There’s more space for those 1-kilowatt rays deflected by the rotating antenna design to bounce around when all is said and done.
- Easy Wipe-Down Cleanup: Cleanup is a breeze with a microwave that lacks turntables because it lacks a turntable, the rotating mechanism that rotates the disc, and the wheels that help turn the disc. The opening is wider and you mostly only need to wipe it the empty box down.
- Even Food Cooking: The turntable method of making the food evenly cooked is imperfect and results in hotspots. The flatbed microwave method of using a bottom feed rotating antenna results in more evenly cooked food across the board with no cold or excessively hot spots.
- Longevity: A turntable microwave is likelier to break its turntable by accidental dropping or excessive superheating during the cooking process. Because there’s no turntable with the flatbed, it tends to require fewer replacement parts and is thusly more durable as well.
- Increased Cooking Capacity: No turntable means more space. It’s that simple. The flatbed microwave makes more use of even a 700 cubic foot capacity of a mini microwave when compared to a turntable mini microwave thanks to the space occupied by the glass disc.
- A Range of Different Sizes: There are a range of different sizes available for flatbeds, so if you’re short on counter space you can get a smaller microwave without worrying about fitting in your larger plates inside of it. It’s the ultimate space-saving solution.
- Accepts More Types of Dishes: Because of the increased microwave capacity, you’re less limited to the types of dishes you can use on your flatbed microwave when compared to a turntable microwave with no turntable on/off feature.
Disadvantages of a Microwave without a Turntable
Flatbeds cost more money than turntable microwaves because they’re a relatively new tech. Turntables are more optimized and commonplace. You can mitigate costs by buying the appliance while it’s on sale. You can also buy something with fewer additional features (solo vs. combo microwave).
You need to pay extra for the extra vertical space and being able to properly fit larger or irregularly shaped dishes inside a microwave that has bigger space. It doesn’t matter as much that your dish hits the sides of your flatbed, so it’s more expensive due to that reason as well.
Reviews for the 7 Best Microwaves without Turntables
Here are the best microwaves without turntables we could find. Strangely enough, many of them are commercial-grade models from Sharp. Sharp is a seeming expert on flatbed microwaves.
1. A Quality Microwave with No Turntable That Allows the Visually Impaired to Use It and Has 10 Programmable Memory Presets
|Capacity||0.8 cubic feet|
|Size||16.56 x 20.12 x 12 inches|
The Panasonic NE-1054F is a light-duty microwave ideal for use in wait stations, concession stands, break rooms, and breakfast bars as well as smaller restaurants with fewer than 10 tables. Its touchpad is unique from many other flatbeds or microwaves in general because it’s available in Braille.
This allows the blind, legally blind, or visually impaired to operate the device. Although it’s rated as a light-duty microwave for commercial use, in regular home use it can deal with heavy-duty daily use (that is, heavy-duty in the context of home use).
This no-turntable microwave prides itself with its 10 programmable presets, touchpad, and bottom energy feed where the rotating antenna ensures you have evenly cooked chicken, beef, or fish. The dial version costs $250 while this version with the Braille touchpad costs about $280 or an extra $30.
2. A Powerful Medium-Duty Flatbed Microwave with Loads of Interior Space or Cubic Feet Capacity
|Capacity||1.2 cubic feet|
|Size||20.25 x 21.75 x 14.25 inches|
|User Interface||Input buttons|
The Amana RFS12TS is a nice and large microwave with a huge max power level of 1.2 kilowatts. You can also cook your food in various ways due to its 4 power levels as well. This medium-duty microwave lacks a consumer version but you can purchase this regardless of whether you own a restaurant or not.
Although Amana isn’t as well known a name as Panasonic, in the microwave world it’s renowned for its rotating antennas that evenly cook food, easy-to-open door with a handle you’re supposed to lift, and 10 programmed cooking times and power level presets (20%, 50%, and 70% buttons).
The commercial-grade flatbed microwave is mostly availed of by coffee shops, convenience stores, or busy soup kitchens, among other establishments. For home or apartment use, it’s almost overqualified, and its price tag reflects this.
3. This No-Turntable Combo Microwave with a Whopping 100 Programmable Settings for the Ultimate Customization Options
|Capacity||0.9 cubic feet|
|Size||12.25 x 20 x 17 inches|
|User Interface||Input keypad|
As for this no-turntable microwave, the freestanding Waring WMO90 is another commercial-level combo microwave made of durable steel known most for its 100 programmable presets or settings. This allows you to customize it in every way possible for different dishes.
For example, if you were to find out the exact setting and power level to bake fresh spring chicken, you can save it under 1 of the 100 settings with no issues (just refer to the user manual or the Waring website for more details).
You get a default 10 programmable memory pads to start with. It also has 5 power levels on top of the 100 settings, thus allowing you more leeway in microwaving various dishes and meal preps—the sky is the limit in your one-button cuisine choices.
4. A Light-Duty Turntable-Free Microwave from Sharp That’s Solidly Built and Simple to Use
|Capacity||1 cubic foot|
|Size||23.5 x 21.25 x 15 inches|
The Sharp R-21LTF is a stainless steel flatbed countertop microwave whose main claim to fame is that it has 10 variable power levels along with 10 variable cooking settings. It costs about $460 at the time of this writing, though.
It can be considered a high-end RV or camper microwave with its 1-kilowatt power and 1 cubic foot of capacity. It’s also made to operate as simple as possible. Instead of picking over 100 settings, you’re dealing with 10 variable power levels for precision control and memory check to confirm the settings.
In terms of flaws, it lists an item weight of 8 pounds on its Amazon page but it actually weighs 37 pounds on the company-provided information. The unit itself has reports of at least one unit making a clunking noise when it’s turned on.
5. A Sharp Turntable-Free Microwave That Offers Space-Saving Heavyweight Construction, Twin-Touch Dual Controls, and Heavy-Duty Power
|Capacity||0.750 cubic feet|
|Size||22.56 x 17.5 x 13.63 inches|
The Sharp R-CD2200M is a highly rated (legitimately) heavy-duty microwave with a power of 2.2 kilowatts and a capacity of 0.75 or 0.750 cubic feet. Yes, for something so powerful it’s funny how it has a capacity reminiscent of a mini microwave.
Thankfully, it’s a turntable-free restaurant microwave, so you actually have more space to work within that 0.75 cubic feet. No wonder it costs about $1,300. It’s pretty heavy though, weighing 78 pounds or more than double the weight of most of the machines on this list.
It also has propriety twin-touch dual controls that allow you to reach and use the microwave from the low or high shelf (there’s a control on top and on the side of the device).
6. A Touchpad-Based Sharp Light-Duty Microwave That Cooks by Length of Time Instead of Power Levels
|Capacity||1 cubic foot|
|Size||24 x 21 x 15 inches|
As for the Sharp R-21LVF, it’s renowned for its 1 power level and its presets based on cooking time instead of lowering the power level. That means it consistently microwaves everything at 1 kilowatt so the presets depend on the length of exposure to 1-kilowatt microwave rays instead of lowering the power.
The pint-sized powerhouse only measures 24 x 21 x 15 inches and 21.99 pounds but has a light-duty power of 1 kilowatt on a 1 cubic foot interior. It’s capable of express defrost or defrosting frozen food at the last minute with a touch of the touchpad.
Other microwaves have more power level variations, meaning they can drop from their max power to half power in order to microwave a wider amount of ingredients.
7. This Sharp Light-Duty Microwave Comes with Intuitive Rotary Dial, Auto-Cancel Timer, and 1 Power Level
|Capacity||1 cubic feet|
|Size||21 x 16 x 12 inches|
|User Interface||Rotary dial|
The Sharp R-21LCFS Commercial Microwave Oven may be committing false advertising by claiming it’s medium-duty instead of light-duty (anything rated 1 kilowatt or below is considered light-duty in the world of commercial microwave ovens), but its actual specs don’t lie. It’s a keeper.
This specific no-turntable microwave from Sharp makes itself unique from the rest of the Sharp microwaves due to its rotary dial or control knob. The dial is easy to use like many old-timey appliances. Anyone can use this microwave, but it’s particularly recommended for seniors or the elderly.
Aside from its dial, the 120-volt flatbed microwave also has an auto-cancel timer wherein the timer resets and the microwave stops whenever you open the door. This feature exists for safety’s sake.
The best turntable-less microwave on this list is Sharp R-CD2200M by ratings. The Panasonic NE-1054F is the true king, gaining 4.5 out of 5 stars from 690 ratings (at the time of this writing).
The reason why the heavy-duty Sharp R-CD2200M or the light-duty Panasonic NE-1054F is the best microwave without a turntable is because of all its high specs and approval by most of the users who bothered to review it after buying.
Regardless, across the board, all flatbed or turntable-free microwaves allow you to make more use of that cubic feet capacity. This is because there’s no turntable to get in the way. Additionally, it’s also easier to clean because its interior is merely an empty metal box.
- “Flatbed Microwaves vs Turntable Microwaves: Which Is Best?“, MyBudgetRecipes.com, Retrieved May 29, 2021