Commercial microwave buying guide for restaurants and caterers

Microwave Kitchen

No commercial kitchen is complete without a microwave. They're ideal for when you need to defrost ingredients or warm desserts. In fact, depending on the model you buy, they can even be used to cook dishes from start to finish.

There are lots of different commercial microwaves on the market, and this can make it difficult to choose which one to buy for your business. There are so many things you need to consider, from how much power you need to the features you think will come in handy. Here, we're going to walk you through the process of buying a new microwave for your commercial kitchen. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

What kinds of microwaves are available?

commercial microwaves

When it comes to picking out a new commercial microwave, you'll find that there are three different kinds: microwave-only, grill, and combi. So, when choosing the perfect microwave for your business, it's important that you carefully consider what kind of food you serve, whether your menu is likely to change in the future, and what kind of microwave is going to suit your specific needs. Here, we'll discuss the features, pros, and cons of all three.


Also known as 'solo' microwaves, microwave-only models are ideal for completing simple heating tasks more quickly than a gas or electric oven would. They also do a great job of defrosting ingredients quickly and efficiently, which is ideal when you're pushed for time.

What are the benefits of a solo microwave?

  • Affordable
  • Lots of models to choose from
  • Great for simple defrosting and reheating tasks

What are the downsides of having a solo microwave?

  • Limited functionality


With a grill microwave, you'll get all of the features of a standard model, but with the added benefit of an internal grill. This allows you to brown the food you serve and, for more complex dishes, you'll be able to cook using a combination of microwave energy and heat from the grill.

What are the benefits of having a grill microwave?

  • Great for simple heating and defrosting tasks
  • Crisp and brown the food you make
  • They do a great job of cooking pizzas

What are the downsides of having a grill microwave?

  • More expensive than a standard microwave
  • Not as many cooking options as a combination microwave

Combination microwaves

Combination microwaves have all the features of a grill model, but can also bake your food like a conventional oven. In fact, they're so versatile that you can use them to cook every element of a traditional roast dinner.

Most will come with pre-set programmes that allow you to complete complex tasks at the touch of a button, or you can programme these yourself. Taking advantage of this could save you and your staff a lot of work and stress. Plus, you can cook with a combination microwave's heat sources independently or all at once, which will give you plenty of cooking options.

What are the benefits of a combination microwave?

  • Plenty of flexibility and cooking options
  • Cook food like a conventional oven, but in less time
  • Typically come with a range of helpful features and auto functions

What are the downsides to having a combination microwave?

  • The most expensive kind of microwave
  • Might be too heavy duty if you only use microwaves for simple defrosting and reheating tasks

What do you need to consider when choosing a microwave?

There's a huge range of microwaves on the market, and they come with a whole host of different features. Here, we'll outline what you need to consider before taking the plunge and investing in a new microwave for your commercial kitchen.

Domestic vs commercial

If you're buying a microwave for commercial use, it's important that you don't opt for a domestic model.

Commercial microwaves are built to withstand heavy everyday use, and they can heat and cook food much more quickly and efficiently. Microwaves designed for domestic use, on the other hand, tend to be much less powerful, and will usually only have one heating element or magnetron. They're also built from cheaper and less robust materials like plastic. If used in a commercial kitchen, they'll typically fail quite quickly, and any warranty would be invalidated.

If you're shopping for a microwave to use in your commercial kitchen, it's always best to opt for one that's fit for the job.

How much power do you need?

To decide how much power your microwave needs to have, you should ask yourself how much food you want to be able to cook at once, what kind of portion sizes you'll want to reheat, and how quickly you want your microwave to work. You'll also need to consider the capacity of your microwave, because a bigger oven will require more power. Commercial microwaves can roughly be divided into three groups:

  • Low power (1000–1400w)
  • Medium power (1500–1800w)
  • High power (1900–3000w)

All of these will outperform the average domestic microwave, which tends to be 800–900w.


When shopping for a microwave, you'll find that they all come with a different list of features. So, you need to consider which combination of these is likely to serve you best, and then choose the appliance that has everything you need. Here, we'll explain what the most common features are, what they're used for, and why you might want to have them on hand in your commercial kitchen.

Sensor cooking

Some modern and high-tech microwaves come with a sensor cooking feature, which monitors how much steam is created while your food is being cooked, and adjusts the cooking time or temperature accordingly. Once the food you're making is completely cooked, these microwaves will usually turn themselves off as well. This can be very helpful when you've got a lot to do and can't necessarily keep an eye on everything.

Pizza function

If your eatery or catering business serves a lot of pizza, it can be helpful to have the safety net of being able to pre-make pizzas and reheat them when things get hectic. Unlike warming pizza on a standard microwave programme, using this specialist feature can help to preserve the taste, look, and texture of the pizzas you serve.

Vegetable steamer

As you'll know, steaming vegetables is one of the healthiest ways to cook them, and it can also take very little time. So, investing in a microwave that has a vegetable steaming option could help you to cut the time it takes to make vegetable dishes and sides without you having to invest in another piece of equipment. 

Chaos defrost

Many microwaves come with a chaos defrost feature, which uses random pulses of power to defrost food faster and more evenly. This is typically only used for bread and meat, but is a very helpful feature when you need to get ingredients from freezer to plate quickly and efficiently.

Turntable on/off feature

A microwave's turntable can help to ensure your food is cooked evenly. But, if you often cook with dishes that are too large to be rotated comfortably, being able to disable this feature can be very helpful. Choosing a microwave that has a turntable on-off feature can give you more freedom, as well as reduce the risk of your microwave and crockery getting damaged during cooking.

Drop-down door

Microwaves with drop-down doors are quite popular in commercial kitchens, as they make it easier to transfer your food in and out. When open, they also offer extra space to rest hot plates — particularly handy if you have a compact kitchen.

Energy save mode

Reducing the amount of energy your kitchen uses can help to save you money, and will also help to ensure you're doing your bit for the environment. Making even the smallest of changes can make a difference, and buying a microwave that has an energy-saving mode is a great place to start.

Built-in vs standalone

When it comes to where your new microwave will sit within your commercial kitchen, you have two options: you can choose one that will sit on your countertop, or one that's built-in. There are benefits to both. For example, standalone microwaves offer a lot of flexibility, as they can be moved around to suit your needs. Plus, they don't have any installation costs: you can simply plug them in and get started.

However, opting for a built-in microwave will mean you don't have to sacrifice any of your worktop space. Plus, they can give your kitchen a more streamlined feel. Their ventilation also tends to be better, which can help to extend their lifespan.

By considering all of these factors, you'll find it much easier to choose a microwave that's right for you, your business, and your staff.

Here at Alliance Online, we offer a wide range of commercial microwaves. They all come with different features, so you have plenty of freedom to choose one that suits your cooking, defrosting, and heating needs perfectly. Be sure to browse our selection today.

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