The best microwaves will offer convenience to cook and heat up your delicious meals in no time. Not only will they be simple to use and to clean, but the best microwaves will come with handy features to make life easier. These can include automatic programs to set the time by the weight of the dish, or even multi-functional ones that can grill, bake and air fry. You can even find ones with a popcorn setting which is handy for those movie nights.
With so many different types on the market, it can often be tricky to know which microwave is suitable for your home. There are a few things to consider such as the power, design and capacity. Ranging from a smart-enabled microwave to a compact style to suit small kitchens. We’ve selected the best microwaves to suit every home, lifestyle and budget.
After extensive research, we found the best microwave overall has to be the Toshiba EM925A5A. It offers an all-round performance, cooking evenly and offering plenty of preprogrammed settings and power levels. It’s available at a good price as well at just over $100, which makes it the best microwave out there.
If you’re looking for versatility, then the Samsung MC11K7035CG is the one for you. As a convection microwave, it can bake, grill and even air fry. It can also combine settings to give your dish the ideal finish. It can almost replace your oven thanks to the additional settings on offer.
There are two main types of microwave available: countertop and over the range. Here’s what you need to know about each of them, as well as other specifications and features you should keep in mind while choosing your next microwave.
Countertop: These appliances sit on your countertop next to your cutting board and toaster. They don’t require any installation other than being plugged into a nearby electrical outlet.
Over-the-range: Also known as OTR, built-in, or microwave hood, these units are installed above your range, freeing up countertop space and providing a vent that sucks in and filters out smoke and odors from cooking. They require professional installation, as they will be attached to the cabinets or the wall behind them and hooked up to electrical wiring.
The most common size is just under 30 inches wide and about 16 inches deep. Most have a left to right door opening, but some high-end models may have a door that opens downward as on a conventional oven. Either way, check to ensure that any adjacent cabinet-door fittings will not block the microwave or make it awkward to open. Keep in mind. OTRs are less convenient to access, especially for children or anyone wheelchair-bound. Also, be aware that while they do provide ventilation, they don’t exhaust as well as a hood that vents to the outside.
Microwaves are rated by the number of watts that they give out. Wattage can vary from 500 to 1500. For the most part, the larger the oven, the higher the wattage and the faster the oven will cook. However, other factors, like the size and shape of the cavity, can also affect cooking time. You should find 800-1200 watts sufficient.
Be sure to measure both your space and the microwave you are considering purchasing, including its height to make sure it can fit under a countertop.
Microwave oven capacity is given in cubic feet but that number. doesn’t give you a realistic estimate of usable space. Virtually all microwaves have turntables and it’s more important to measure the turntable. Its diameter will affect how big a dish the oven will be able to hold. If you have a favorite microwavable baking dish, either measure it from handle end to handle end or bring it to the store to determine if it will be able to rotate on the turntable. There are a few models that give you the option of deactivating the turntable. However, microwaves heat more evenly with the turntable rotating so we only recommend that you plan on using that feature occasionally to warm up food on a large platter or cook a lasagna.
Sensors cook or defrost foods automatically to a precise degree of doneness. They measure the moisture given off during heating before calculating cooking time; they tailor the time to the actual food rather than cook for a predetermined amount of time.
Preprogrammed keys have preset power levels and times for functions like popping popcorn, cooking bacon, and melting butter. Although most microwaves will have a popcorn button, the other choices will vary from model to model. These programs always cook for the same amount of time regardless of the actual food. Sometimes you are given the option to select the quantity or package size.
Express Keys for 1-minute or 30-seconds or the number on the key let you cook quickly without giving much thought to a precise time or power level.
Convection Cooking or Grilling is available on many ovens. This capability adds considerably to the cost. While it can come in handy, especially around the holidays when you need extra oven space, it rarely works as well as a full-size oven or even some toaster ovens.
Any minor damage, such as a faulty door handle or cracked glass turntable, can be replaced easily. These aren’t very expensive to fix either. Consider the charge before calling up a serviceperson though — a new microwave can cost less than the visit, so check this beforehand. This tends to be the case unless the microwave is built-in. Whatever kind of microwave you own, if the magnetron or control panel have suffered damage, then a replacement is necessary.
These days, microwaves are designed to offer more convenience as well as to look more aesthetically pleasing. Some models now come with touch controls and feature a door-release button rather than a handle on the door itself. Many also come with more compact designs which can fit larger turntables too. Useful features to have include a control lock for safety, quick start buttons for convenience and a self-clean function, although the latter is quite rare. Sensory programs have also been introduced which can automatically set the time based on the weight and food type.
Smart microwaves are relatively new to the market. When connected, you can essentially control these from your smartphone or by your voice using Alexa or Google Assistant. Some smart microwaves can even scan barcodes to predetermine the best settings!
Our guide for the best microwave ovens were based on extensive, consumer report research and online reviews. We rated things like power and how well each microwave performed for various settings. In addition, we looked at how user-friendly and practical it was to use, design, capacity and number of extra features.