best countertop microwave oven

Nowadays, it seems almost impossible to exist without the convenience of a microwave. Perhaps because of this universal necessity, there are more options than you could care to know about. Still, some research is required to ensure you get a microwave that fits your needs—and your space. Especially when budget hunting, you want to be sure that you’re getting a quality appliance rather than a glorified Easy-Bake oven. Check out the quick reviews below of best countertop microwave oven, best countertop microwave oven combo and best countertop microwave convection oven or scroll deeper for more helpful buying info and full reviews of those models plus other high-ranking options.

Best Countertop Microwave Oven

1. Best overall- Panasonic Compact Microwave Oven

Panasonic Compact

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: COUNTERTOP
SIZE: 1. 2-CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER: 1,200 WATTS
SIMPLE: INVERTER TECHNOLOGY AND GENIUS SENSOR
MATERIAL: STAINLESS STEEL
DIMENSIONS: EXTERNAL: 12 1/4 X 20 11/16 X 15 13/16 INCHES
 INTERNAL: 9 15/16 X 13 15/16 X 14 3/8 INCHES

The Genius Inverter countertop microwave from Panasonic, adds style and convenience to your kitchen. Features you will love are the cool blue LED, a functional and logical control panel, and attractive stainless steel design. 

Perfectly cooked, and evenly heated food is what you can expect from this compact 1.2 cubic foot microwave with a 13-inch turntable, and Panasonic’s Inverter technology. 

With one touch, you can cook a perfect meal in your microwave, thanks to the Panasonic Genius Sensor button. This handy feature automatically adjusts the power setting and cooking or defrosting time, for a perfect result, every time.

This powerful countertop microwave comes with patented Inverter technology and a genius sensor making a sophisticated addition to any household

It is the perfect solution for large families or singles alike. 

If you’re looking for the best microwave on the shelves, look no further.

Pros

  • Ease of Use. Inverter technology, genius sensors and advanced inverter turbo defrost are just a few high end features that make this microwave great.
  • Size. Compact but 11 power intensities, smart controls and a 13. 4 inch turntable make it perfect for feeding a large family.
  • Consistent Even Heating. Distributes consistent cooking power at all temperature levels for more equally cooked meals.
  • Stress-Free. It includes 16 cook settings, 3 popcorn settings and a turbo defrost button

Cons

  • Some consider it large for countertop
  • A tad noisy
  • The interior light is a little dim.

Wrapping up

If you’re in the market for a compact, do-it-all smart microwave that takes all of the stresses out of cooking, take our advice, pick up a Panasonic Compact Microwave Oven.


2. Runner up – GE JNM3163DJBB Over-the-Range Microwave

GE JNM3163DJBB

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: OVER THE RANGE
SIZE: 1.6 CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER: 950 WATTS
SIMPLE: 300 CFM VENTING WITH 2 SPEEDS BUILT-IN
DIMENSIONS: 15.9 X 29.9 X 16.4 INCHES

It’s hard to go wrong when you select an appliance from one of the most trusted appliance names in America. The GE 1.6 cubic-foot, over the range microwave, gives your kitchen a timeless, yet modern look and feel. 

This stylish, all black microwave is easy to use and comes with intuitive controls, to make cooking a great meal or snack a breeze.

All GE appliances come with the most up-to-date technology, and feature cooking controls that make using your microwave simple. Some of the features that we love include the automatic and timed defrost options, a handy 30-seconds button, and a turntable that you can turn off for larger dishes. 

With 1000 watts of power, you can be assured that you can quickly cook most of your favorite foods, and with 10 different power levels, you won’t have to worry about over cooking your favorites.

This is one of the best over the range microwaves on the market. It is a great replacement or substitute for a range hood. 

This tiny power house has a 2-speed, 300 GPM venting fan, with a replaceable charcoal filter, that will suck up even the most fragrant cooking smells. Leaving your kitchen air fresh and free from grease and odors. 

You’ll also find the cooktop lighting handy, especially the night-light feature which gives your kitchen just enough light to search out a midnight snack.

Pros

  • Automatically or manually program defrost feature
  • Its 1.6 cu. ft. capacity can accommodate several small dishes.
  • The turntable on/off option was convenient
  • Replaceable charcoal filters

Cons

  • Sometimes rattles if not tightened properly
  • The door can be problematic

3. Best budget choice – Daewoo KOR07R3ZEL Retro Countertop Microwave Oven

Daewoo KOR07R3ZEL

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: COUNTERTOP
SIZE: 0.7-CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER: 700 WATTS
SIMPLE: 5 AUTO-COOK OPTIONS & 5 POWER LEVELS
MATERIAL: PLASTIC, METAL
DIMENSIONS: 12.7 X 17.6 X 10.6 IN

This 80’s inspired microwave by DAEWOO combines a stylish design with efficient performance. The retro pastel colors are certain to change your room’s aesthetics to a cooking throwback. IDEAL for keeping that Retro look and it is equipped with child lock safety function and has 2-Way Defrost so you spend less time thawing food.

This model comes with 5 auto-cook menus and 5 different power levels that will take you from a novice to a skilled cook in no time.

Pros

  • The exclusive Concave Reflex System heats food more rapidly and evenly
  • It’s not heavy so you can rearrange your kitchen with ease.
  • The vintage aesthetics are very RETRO
  • Comes in 6 cool colors to fit your style

Cons

  • Sometimes it gets hot to the touch
  • Seems a bit unstable

4. Best for over-the-range microwave- Sharp R1874T Over-the-Range Convection Microwave

Sharp R1874T

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: OVER THE RANGE
SIZE: 1.1-CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER:  850 WATTS
SIMPLE: SMART AND EASY SENSOR SETTINGS
MATERIAL: STAINLESS STEEL
DIMENSIONS: EXTERNAL: 29-15/16 X 16-11/32 X 15-9/32
INTERNAL: 13-13/16 X 8-1/16 X 17-1/8

If you’re looking for a stylish, stainless steel option for an over the range microwave, look no further. This 4-way convection system included a built-in exhaust system and has low and high racks. With both microwave and convection cooking options, this Sharp, 850-watt microwave is the perfect addition to your kitchen.

With three venting options, you can easily replace your vent hood with this microwave, freeing up your countertop for food preparation. The interactive cooking controls make this microwave easy to use, and cooks food perfectly each time.

The convection cooking system allows you to brown, bake or crisp foods that might otherwise end up soggy in other microwaves.

The feature we love the most? The CompuBroil/Bake/Roast options automatically calculates the perfect cooking time, and temperature settings for a variety of foods.

Pros

  • Easy four way convection and temperature control
  • Built in exhaust and multiple venting options
  • Large capacity turntable
  • High rack for two-level baking plus a low rack for roasting, broiling or more baking

Cons

  • The door can be tricky
  • On the higher end price wise.

5. Best for small spaces – Toshiba EM925A5A-SS Microwave Oven

Toshiba EM925A5A

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: COUNTERTOP
SIZE: 0.9-CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER: 900 WATTS
SIMPLE: EQUIPPED WITH ONE TOUCH START BUTTONS
MATERIAL: BLACK STAINLESS STEEL
DIMENSIONS: EXTERNAL: 19.2 X 15.9 X 11.5’’
INTERNAL: 12.36 X 13.66 X 8.7’’

A perfect small-sized microwave to meet your needs in a small condo or apartment kitchen. With 0.9 cubic feet of cooking space, this powerful 900 watt microwave features ten power levels, an easy to read digital display, and bright LED interior lighting.

This tiny but handy Toshiba microwave makes cooking simple with one-touch buttons that take the guesswork out of cooking your favorites, including popcorn, potatoes, pizza, and frozen veggies. This microwave even makes warming leftovers simple with a handy dinner plate button.

One feature we really like is that this compact microwave has a multi-stage cooking option that lets you easily program cooking times and powers for a variety of foods.

Looking for a microwave for a small space? The .9 cu. ft. Toshiba fits the bill.

Pros

  • Equipped with one touch start, power-saving eco mode and sound on/off option.
  • A good sized turntable for such a small microwave.
  • You can choose by time or by weight for defrost
  • The Eco-mode and mute functions are an added bonus

Cons

  • Turntable comes off track easily.
  • Internal light sometimes flickers

6. BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 Digital Microwave Oven

BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: COUNTERTOP
SIZE: 0.7-CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER:  700 WATTS
SIMPLE:  PUSH-BUTTON DOOR RELEASE FOR EASY ACCESS
DIMENSIONS: 17. 3” X 13. 0” X 10. 2”

This compact microwave from BLACK+DECKER offers 700-Watts of power in just 0.7 cu. ft. of capacity. 

It’s the perfect size for small kitchens, break rooms or dorms. With 10 different levels of power, a well-lit digital display and bright interior lighting it heats food quick and easy. 

It doesn’t take up much counter space at all. There are several pre-programmed settings so you can kick back, relax, and let your microwave do all the work.

If you need a compact microwave to heat up some small plates, this will work just right.

Pros

  • It’s LED digital display is large, the control panel is easy-to-read and the interior light is bright.
  • Even with its compact size, a 10-inch turntable that rotates, prevents hotspots and cooked food evenly.
  • Quick 30 second express cook button
  • 10 power levels and Pre-programmed buttons for potatoes, pizza, popcorn, frozen vegetables and beverages

Cons

  • Not the most durable
  • Seems a bit noisy

7. Panasonic NN-GN68KS Countertop Microwave Oven

Panasonic NN-GN68KS

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: COUNTERTOP
SIZE: 1.1-CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER:  1000 WATTS
SIMPLE: GENIUS SENSOR COOKING BUILT IN
MATERIAL: STAINLESS STEEL
DIMENSIONS: 15.8 X 20.7 X 12.2 IN

No one loves mushy food, and honestly, most microwaves leave your food soggy. If you want crispy, browned food, you have to use your oven, right? Well, not anymore.

This amazing Panasonic countertop microwave comes with the FlashXpress broiler feature that turns your microwave into a mini-oven. No more soggy foods, with this microwave. Brown, crisp and reheat everything from mac n cheese to nachos, French fries and even fried chicken, without losing the crisp and without using oil like air fryer.

Panasonic’s Inverter technology provides a constant stream of power to your microwave, allowing foods to heat evenly, and even allows for multiple cooking styles in the same program.

When other microwaves make you stop and change between cooking techniques, Panasonics’ countertop microwave, can do it all with one simple program.

Our favorite feature of this great microwave is Panasonic’s Genius Sensor. This great feature allows you to cook all of your favorite foods, just perfectly, with a single touch.

The sensor perfectly cooks foods, from frozen dinners to left overs to fresh vegetables, thanks to an internal sensor that turns off the microwave when your food is done. Never again fret over a meal that is over-cooked, mushy or tough.

Pros

  • Ease of Use. It has FlashXpress broiler, Inverter technology and Genius sensors making it very user friendly
  • Capacity. This microwave is available in compact up to X-large to fit your needs
  • Versatile. 18 auto-cook options allow for numerous 1 touch cooking

Cons

  • Browning time could be quicker
  • Start button need to be pressed after every command
  • The lighting could be brighter

8. Best for College students –  AmazonBasics Microwave

AmazonBasics  Alexa

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: COUNTERTOP
SIZE: .7-CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER: 700 WATTS
SIMPLE: ALEXA ENABLED
DIMENSIONS: EXTERNAL: 17.3 IN. X 10.1 IN. X 14.1 IN.
INTERNAL: 10 7/8 IN. X 6 7/8 IN. X 10” IN.

The AmazonBasics Microwave is a perfect space-saver for budget students. With .7 cubic feet capacity, it will fit in any dorm and allow students to reheat leftovers or whip up popcorn.

This 700-watt AmazonBasics microwave features 10 power levels, a stylish black finish and a dedicated “Ask Alexa” control.

The addition of Alexa capabilities, with a growing list of presets, is the biggest selling point for this microwave. 

Alexa can even re-order supplies whenever you run low on popcorn via Amazon’s ‘Dash Replenishment’ technology.

Pros

  • Ease of Use: Just ask Alexa to replenish your popcorn
  • Capacity. It is small but perfect for dorm rooms.
  • Very affordable on a student’s budget
  • Versatile. Defrost and reheating leftovers are 2 key functions

Cons

  • Doesn’t include any advanced cooking features
  • Only 3oz bags of popcorn allowed

9. Best with Convection – Toshiba EC042A5C-BS Microwave Oven

Toshiba EC042A5C

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SPECIFICATIONS

STYLE: COUNTERTOP
SIZE: 1. 5-CUBIC-FOOT CAPACITY
POWER: 1,000 WATTS
SIMPLE: A MICROWAVE OR CONVECTION COOKING IN ONE APPLIANCE
MATERIAL: BLACK STAINLESS STEEL EXTERIOR, STAINLESS STEEL INTERIOR
DIMENSIONS: EXTERNAL: 21.8X21.5X13’’
INTERNAL: 15.5X15.35X10.2’’

This is the microwave you’ll want when hosting a family gathering with multiple dishes being prepared. The Toshiba EC042A5C is a full featured microwave with convection capabilities. It is IDEAL 2-1 convection microwave with durable interior and exterior.

With a 1,000 watts of power (microwave), 1,400 watts of convection power and large capacity there’s not many meals you cannot prepare.

It comes with 13 pre-programmed menu options, a warm-hold function and ECO-mode to save energy.

Pros

  • Easy to use Smart Sensor with 13 auto menus
  • Capacity. Large 13.6’’ turntable
  • The stainless steel interior is easily cleaned, scratch and rust-resistant. Save energy and operating cost by turning on ECO mode.
  • Save energy and operating cost by turning on ECO mode.

Cons

  • It’s big and heavy
  • Seems to have some button issues

How to buy a 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:

Whirlpool_Microwave.png
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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

ge-pb911sjss-oven-product-photos-2.jpg
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

Sharp_builtin_microwave.jpg
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.

ge-smart-microwave-7
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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