Spec Check: Microwave

Due to varying sizes, wattages and capabilities, it is important for operators to do their homework before choosing a microwave.

When specifying a microwave oven, foodservice operators and their supply chain partners have a number of factors to weigh. Here are three critical factors to consider.


Operators need to have a good sense of what they intend to use the oven for, including the types and volumes of food. Determine whether the unit will be used to heat single portions or for bulk reheating.

If steaming is necessary, consider a unit that provides this capability.


Considerations should be made on what size of plates and containers will be used in the oven as well as how fast food will need to be heated. This will help determine what size microwave cavity is warranted.


The type of food being prepared and volume will help determine the appropriate wattage. For example, bulk defrosting will require a higher watt unit.

When specifying a microwave, confirm that there are no power restrictions. For example, if a facility is limited to 110 volts, microwaves will need to be 1200 watts or less.

Controls and Options

Decide if the menu warrants a microwave that stores cooking programs, offers stage cooking or has multiple-quantity options.

Determine whether touch or dial controls are preferable.

Keep in mind that microwaves are sensitive units and should not be placed on top of open burner stoves, directly above heat lamps or next to fryers. The heat from these units can compromise the oven's service life.

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