best basic microwave

Microwaves are a super convenient kitchen staple that allows users to cook food, reheat meals and even defrost frozen items. Countertop microwaves are the most common and generally the most affordable and simple to use. These styles don’t require any extra installation, simply unpack the box, plug it in and microwave. We’ve gathered a list of our favorite best basic microwave reviews and following our review we’ve included a buying guide with things to consider when purchasing a new microwave.SeniorsMatter participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn commission when you click on or make purchases via links.

The Best basic Microwave

1Commercial Chef Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven

TOP PICK

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The Commercial Chef Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven is a super compact and simple appliance. The mechanical rotary dials make it great for those seeking a basic operation. The dials allow you to set a timer ranging from 1 to 30 minutes and to choose from among the six cooking power levels.

This is a great option for someone with minimal space, looking for a simple microwave to prepare small items.

KEY FEATURES 

  • Mechanical rotary dials
  • Easy to grasp grip type handle to open and close the door
  • Speed and weight defrost
  • 6 power levels
  • Removable glass turntable

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Brand: Commercial Chef
  • Dimensions: 17.75 (W) x 12.5 (D) x 10.25 (H) inches
  • Capacity: 0.6 cu. ft.
  • Power: 600 watts
  • Weight: 23.1 lbs
  • Color: white

PROS

  • Simple to operate, easy to read dials
  • No electronic controls to malfunction

CONS

  • Doesn’t have a digital display

2COMFEE’ Countertop Microwave Oven

HONORABLE MENTION

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This COMFEE’ microwave oven features convenient one-touch cooking buttons, 11 power levels, and a removable turntable. The large LED digital display has a clock function and can also display a kitchen timer. This model includes an energy-saving eco mode where the LED display can be turned off to save energy.

KEY FEATURES 

  • Easy auto-cook functions including; popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen veggie, beverage, and reheat
  • One-touch cooking function with 1-6 minutes and +30 seconds functions
  • Two defrost settings (by weight or by time)
  • Energy saving eco mode
  • Child safety lock
  • Large LED digital display

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Brand: COMFEE’
  • Dimensions: 17.3 (W) x 13 (D) x 10.2 (H) inches
  • Capacity: 0.7 cu. ft.
  • Power: 700 watts
  • Weight: 20.3 lbs
  • Color: Black

PROS

  • Easily popular food items with the touch of a button
  • Stylish black stainless steel color

CONS

  • Does not have a handle or push button door open feature

3BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 Digital Microwave Oven

ALSO CONSIDER

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The Black + Decker model comes with a 10-inch removable glass plate that rotates when the microwave is on to prevent hotspots and allows food to cook more easily. The plate is easily removed and cleaned with warm soapy water.

This model comes with a large LED digital display that serves as a clock, countdown timer and displays remaining cooking time. The microwave can be turned on for one to six minutes at 100 percent power by simply touching the number. The door is easily opened with the push of a button. Stop the microwave at any time by pressing the stop button.

KEY FEATURES 

  • Pre-programmed buttons for popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetable, beverage and dinner plate
  • 10 power settings
  • Large LED digital display
  • Removable 10” glass turntable
  • Push-button door release for easy access

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Brand: Black + Decker
  • Dimensions: 17. 3 (W) x 13 (D) x 10.2 (H) inches
  • Capacity: 0.7 cu. ft.
  • Power: 700 watt
  • Weight: 24.1 lbs
  • Color: Black and stainless steel

PROS

  • Clean modern design

CONS

  • Print on the function keys can be difficult to read
  • The door might be difficult to open for some

4Toshiba EM925A5A-SS Microwave Oven

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With 900 watts the Toshiba EM925A5A-SS Microwave oven is one of the most powerful in our review. In general the higher the wattage of the appliance, the faster the cooking time. This model is also slightly larger than other models in our review.

It is equipped with an LED light, glass turntable, energy-saving eco mode, a mute button, and clock and kitchen timer functionality. We love that the door handle is super easy to grip.

KEY FEATURES 

  • 6 preset menus – popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetable, beverage and dinner plate
  • One-touch start from 1 to 6 minutes or 30 seconds cooking at full power
  • Easy defrost – choose defrost by time or by weight
  • 10.6-inch glass turntable
  • Mute buzzer feature

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Brand: Toshiba
  • Dimensions: 19.2 (W) x 15.9 (D) x 11.5 (H) inches
  • Capacity: 0.9 cu. ft.
  • Power: 900 watts
  • Weight: 27.3
  • Color: Black and stainless steel

PROS

  • 10 cooking power levels – offers more flexibility while cooking
  • Works quietly

CONS

  • The only way to input defrost weight is in ounces
  • Turntable may slip off track for some

5Magic Chef MCD770CW White Retro Countertop Microwave Oven

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Step back in time with the Magic Chef Retro Microwave Oven featuring a towel bar door handle and rotary dials. This appliance has a compact footprint, 700 watts of power, and 7 power levels.

We love the clean stylish look of this option. It is very compact and would be a great option for those looking to heat up small simple items.

KEY FEATURES 

  • Stylish towel bar door handle
  • Dual rotary dials
  • 7 power levels

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Brand: Magic Chef
  • Dimensions: 12.8 (W) x 17.7 (D) x 10.2 (H) inches
  • Capacity: 0.7 cu. ft.
  • Power: 700 watts
  • Weight: 22 lbs
  • Color: White

PROS

  • Stylish retro look

CONS

  • No light when you open the door
  • No digital display
  • Roman numerals for microwave power can be difficult to read

6AmazonBasics Microwave, Works with Alexa

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An Echo device (not included) is required to use the voice control features and quick-cook voice presets on the AmazonBasics Microwave.  To start cooking, use your voice or just press the Ask Alexa button and say your cook time. The button will instantly wake up your paired Echo, just like saying “Alexa” does. You can say commands like “cook for 3 minutes” or “cook frozen vegetables,” and the microwave will start cooking.

We love how simple this appliance makes heating something up. This would be a great option who is familiar with how Alexa works and is looking for a simple appliance to heat up small items.

KEY FEATURES 

  • 10 power levels
  • Child lock feature
  • Removable turntable
  • Kitchen timer and clock

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Brand: Amazon
  • Dimensions: 17.3 (W) x 14.1(D) x 10.1 (H) inches
  • Capacity: 0.7 cu. ft.
  • Power: 700 watts
  • Weight: 21.9
  • Color: Black

PROS

  • Voice activated with Alexa makes microwaving super simple

CONS

  • Some reviewers had serious malfunctioning issues

7COSTWAY Retro Countertop Microwave Oven

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The COSTWAY model is one of the largest microwave ovens in our review, and at 0.9 cu. ft. capacity, it is considered a mid-sized microwave.

We love that this model is super user-friendly and simple to use with just two knobs, two buttons and an LED display time screen. The microwave comes with a rotating glass turntable and offers multiple functions and default cooking presets.

KEY FEATURES 

  • Two mechanical knobs and two buttons allow you to select power level and time from 0-60 minutes
  • 5 cooking levels
  • Rotating glass turntable
  • Easy-to-read LED display
  • Cooking presets for popular foods such as popcorn, pizza, potatoes
  • Child lock function

SPECIFICATIONS 

  • Brand: Costway
  • Dimensions: 19.5 (W) x 14 (D) x 11 (H) inches
  • Capacity: 0.9 cu. ft.
  • Power: 900 watts
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Color: Mint Green

PROS

  • Unique and stylish design
  • Super simple turn knobs to set power level and cooking time

CONS

  • Continues to beep after the timer has gone off until the door is opened

Our Best basic Microwave Guide

When it comes to purchasing a new microwave oven, it is important to research the different features each one offers. Make sure you understand what each can do, how you will use it, and if it will suit your needs.

Before you go shopping, consider the following:

What You Cook

Microwaves ovens will have variable wattages ranging from 600 to 1200 watts. Higher wattage microwaves will cook food faster but often come with a higher price tag.

If you are planning to use this primarily for cooking, do note that most recipes specify at least 800 watts to ensure that food is cooked thoroughly and evenly.

If you are a light user and plan to use your microwave primarily for reheating items or making popcorn, you likely won’t need a higher wattage or a lot of fancy features.

Size

The internal capacity of microwaves ranges greatly from 0.5 cubic feet (big enough to fit 10-inch dinner plate) to over 2 cubic feet (accommodates larger cookware).

Most simple microwaves will fall into the compact of mid-sized range, coming in at 0.5 to 1.3 cubic feet.

Consider what you will be using your microwave for, the type of cookware you will be using and if the capacity will be adequate.

Features

If you have young children in your home, or those that visit often, consider the child lock feature to keep them safe.

Consider if you plan on using your microwave for common items such as; pizza, popcorn or frozen vegetable.

If so, having a model with cooking preset buttons may be a convenient option.

How to buy a microwave

This buying guide is what you need if you’re looking for a new microwave.

Your Pizza Rolls deserve a good microwave. This countertop wonder, whose origins date back to the 1940s, is probably one of the most frequently used appliances in your kitchen thanks to its ability to reheat food fast (and cook a mug cake or two). There are a variety of options when it’s time to select a microwave, so we’ve broken down the options you have when you’re ready for a new microwave.

Location

The first decision you need to make about a new microwave is where in your kitchen you want to put it. The location affects the price, features, size and installation of the appliance. You have three main options:

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Countertop

This is the most common type of microwave. They generally cost less and are significantly easier to install than other models. Just find a spot on the counter for it to sit, plug it into an outlet and you can use it right away.

The biggest issue with the countertop microwave is how much space it needs. If you have limited room on your countertop, you may either want to look at the smaller countertop models available, look into placing your microwave on a small cart, or consider another style of microwave.

Price: $40 to $700

External dimensions: From roughly 10 by 18 by 14 inches for compact models to roughly 14 by 24 by 20 inches for larger models

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

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Some of GE’s stoves and over-the-range microwaves are connected via Bluetooth.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Over-the-range

You install this style of microwave above your range, which will save you some counter space. These models have vent systems that take the place of the oven hood and lights to illuminate your cooktop.

Price: $190 to $1,300

External dimensions: Usually wider than countertop models, about 16 by 30 by 15 inches

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

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Sharp

Built-in

Built-in models that you place among custom cabinets or paired with built-in, full-sized wall ovens are the most high-end (aka expensive) types of microwaves. Some microwaves in this category are even designed specifically as drawers with a compartment you pull out for your food.

Price: $500 to $5,000 and up

External dimensions: This varies widely depending on type, and drawers tend to have more depth than countertop or over-the-range models, hitting about 15 by 30 by 26 inches

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

Size

It’s important to find the right-sized microwave that will meet your food needs and fit in the space you have for it. First, you want to measure the counter or other space where you plan to put your microwave. Then, measure the height, width and depth of any model you’re considering to find out if it will fit on your counter top, over your range or in a custom spot. The external dimensions can vary a lot, from 10 by 18 by 14 inches on the smaller side to 14 by 24 by 20 inches on the larger side.

Then there’s also the internal capacity, which can range from less than 1 cubic foot to 2 cubic feet or more. There doesn’t seem to be any set rule for how internal capacity correlates to size (like 1 cubic foot = small, 1.5 cubic feet = medium, etc.), but here’s an attempt to break it down:

Compact: Under 1 cubic foot

Midsize: 1 to 1.5 cubic feet

Full-size: 1.6 to 2 cubic feet

Extra-large: More than 2 cubic feet

Most microwaves are somewhere around 1.4 to 1.8 cubic feet. Still not sure which size you need? If you’re out shopping, bring in a plate or bowl from home that you plan to use often to make sure that it fits inside the microwave.

Still in doubt? Measure everything, take notes and check with your appliance retailer for help deciding what would work best. For over-the-range and other built-in models, you most likely won’t be the one installing your new microwave, so you can always avail yourself of their expertise.

Wattage

Microwave wattage equals power. In general, the higher the wattage, the faster and more evenly your food will cook. Most microwaves sit somewhere between 600 to 1,200 watts. Larger, more expensive microwaves tend to have a higher wattage, so this is a price and size consideration that can strongly influence microwave cooking performance.

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This GE microwave has scan-to-cook tech via a related app.Chris Monroe/CNET

Features

Many microwaves share common functions. Here are some microwave cooking essentials: cook time, defrost, power level and timer. Each one requires your direct input, but they are usually very easy to set. Most microwaves have touch panel controls and a rotating carousel to spin your food for more even cooking.

Default settings

Many microwaves come with preset cooking modes so you only have to press one button to automatically cook a dish. For example, many microwaves have a “popcorn” button that will cook your bag based on factory settings. This can be handy for common dishes you heat in the microwave, but you’ll have to figure out if the microwave’s default cook times work for your own food. Other common presets include: baked potato, pizza, beverage, frozen dinner and reheat.

Broil

Manufacturers are increasingly including features in microwaves that mimic what we see in full-size ovens, such as a broiler. This is a good addition for finishing off a dish or cooking something for which you’d prefer more direct heat.

Convection

A convection fan that’s built into the back of a microwave oven circulates the heat around the food to cook things more quickly and evenly. (Many new full-size ovens come with at least one convection fan.) However, microwaves with convection fans are generally more expensive than those without.

Inverter technology

Inverter heating is another option available on some high-end models. If you want to heat something at a 50 percent power level, most microwaves actually switch between 100 percent power and 0 percent power to average in at 50 percent power. This doesn’t yield great results if you want to heat something on a lower heat and achieve an even result. So, some models now use inverter technology, which maintains a consistent 50 percent power. That way, you can poach salmon, make a fluffy omelet, etc.

Other advanced features

In addition to new heating technologies, higher-end models usually have more presets than just the basic pizza, popcorn and baked potato standard. Some use moisture sensors to detect food doneness. And we’ve started to see models include LED lighting on the interior.

“Smart” technology, i.e. options that connect microwaves to the internet and other products, aren’t as widespread in microwaves as we’ve seen in other kitchen appliances. However, we’ve seen GE Appliances include Bluetooth technology in some of its over-the-range microwaves. This connection, which GE calls “Chef Connect,” pairs the microwave with compatible GE ranges so the light and fan beneath the microwave automatically turns on when you turn on a burner.

More options

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Will the June Intelligent Oven become the next microwave?Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Other small appliances have started to make a case for forgoing the microwave, such as steam ovens that use water to cook for more moist heating or the basic toaster oven that mimics a full-size stove. These options promise to cook more effectively than a microwave, but it might take longer to reheat your food.

Smart countertop ovens have also started to become an option. The June Intelligent Oven uses facial recognition technology to identify food and cook it automatically, and the Tovala Smart Oven will scan packaged meals for automatic cooking, including frozen meals from Trader Joe’s. These options are promising, but the technology is too new to determine whether or not these will become kitchen staples.

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