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Which Microwaves Can Fit a Casserole Dish? What About a Whole Chicken?

by Bill Welles

We all know what a microwave is, and we’ve come to love and appreciate all that it does for us. These little kitchen boxes are responsible for heating our favorite snack foods, frozen goods, holiday leftovers, and everything in-between.

But did you know the available space in a microwave is measured by cubic feet? Do you know what cubic feet means in terms of microwave size? This means you can’t throw an endless pile of pizza bagels in the microwave and expect it to cook. There are exceptions to how much your microwave can contain depending on its size.  

Don’t press that additional 30-second button and walk away—stay a while as we discuss some general rules regarding high-capacity microwaves and answer some common cooking questions. 

Microwave Size 

Now your first question may be, “will an entire chicken fit in the microwave?” While that is a good question to ask, before you start flapping your wings with excitement, let’s first learn a bit more about microwave sizes. 

As we mentioned, microwaves are measured in cubic feet and that determines the amount of food that can be cooked at one time. You would calculate this by multiplying the length, width, and height inside the microwave—the larger the cubic feet, the larger food items can comfortably fit. But the size also depends on the type of microwave you want to buy. Countertop, over-the-range, built-in, and drawer microwaves will all vary slightly in size.  

Countertop microwave sizes typically range from a smaller compact design at 0.5 cubic feet to an extra-large design at 2.2 cubic feet. You can easily fit a regular 10-inch dinner plate in a compact microwave if your go-to cuisine is a frozen TV dinner, but if you’re trying to reheat that 9x13 casserole tray full of lasagna or enchiladas, you’ll need the best large capacity microwave. Over-the-range microwaves are available in a variety of sizes, most commonly measuring in at 1.6 cubic feet or larger—meaning, you can fit an even bigger 15-inch casserole dish inside.  

Microwave drawers vary in size depending on the available space in your cabinetry. Known for freeing up counter space, high-capacity microwave drawers can be installed below the countertop and they open like a drawer either manually or automatically. There are different exterior widths—some 24-inches and some 30-inches, but the inside will remain the same at 1.2 cubic feet. 

Built-in microwaves also depend on the space you need to fit seamlessly within your cabinetry and allow for proper ventilation. They are similar in size to the over-the-range model, so if you’re warming baking trays and cookware often, a larger built-in microwave is another fine choice.

If you want to learn more, here some additional microwave dimensions:  

  • 1.4 cubic feet microwave is between 21 to 29 inches wide and 12 to 16 inches tall.  
  • 1.5 cubic feet microwave is 23 to 29 inches wide and 14 to 17 inches tall.  
  • 1.7 cubic feet microwave has a width of around 27 inches and a height of 16 to 17 inches. 
  • 1.8 cubic feet microwave has the same height as a 1.7 cubic feet model, but the width is slightly larger at 29 inches.
  • 2.0 cubic feet microwaves are the best large capacity model that range from 24 to 29 inches wide, 13 to 16 inches tall, and 15 to 19 inches deep.  


The microwave capacity can also impact the wattage. Essentially, a watt is energy that is transformed into heat to warm your food in the microwave. Most microwave recipes call for at least 800 watts and the standard microwave is somewhere between 750 to 1200 watts. The greater the microwave capacity, the greater the wattage or power your appliance will have. 1,000 watts will ensure every dish is cooked evenly and efficiently—so keep this in mind next time you’ve got a pile of frozen burritos to heat.  

How to Microwave a Whole Chicken  

Now, the question you’ve all been waiting for— “will an entire chicken fit in the microwave?” The answer is yes—if you have a large microwave. If you do, this is how you prepare your bird:

First things first—you want to make sure the chicken is fully thawed.  

  1. Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, remove most of the skin from the chicken. Leaving a little behind is perfectly fine.  
  2. Get a large microwave-safe pan and place the chicken breast side up. 
  3. Sprinkle your preferred seasoning mixture on the exterior of the chicken or douse with a homemade marinade.  
  4. Remove any gizzards and stuff the bird with onions or other veggies for flavor.  
  5. For a whole chicken, you’ll need at least a 1.2 (or larger) cubic feet microwave. Reduce microwave power to 70%.  
  6. Rule of thumb is to microwave for about 10 minutes per pound. If you’ve got a five-pound bird, that’ll be 50 minutes in the hot box.  
  7. Be sure to allow at least 10 minutes to rest before cutting. There you have it—an entire chicken prepared in the microwave.  

A microwave will always remain a convenient, time-saving appliance, so no matter the type of microwave you choose, just be sure it will fit in your kitchen space and fit your warming needs. Whether you need a compact microwave to reheat noodle bowls or a large microwave to thaw tonight’s dinner, carefully measure your kitchen and cabinet space before investing in a new product.  

And if you have any questions or want to further explore our line of kitchen appliances, give us a call or visit our store. No need to push our buttons, but you can certainly test out every microwave that we have available. Stop by today.