Best microwave oven

A microwave oven that’s worth your investment should offer the ultimate combination of value, quality, ease of use and cooking performance. 

Our general standard for cooking performance is based on the most common use for a microwave: reheating leftovers. However, we also take into consideration how well a microwave oven handles other cooking tasks, such as baking, grilling and defrosting. We also differentiate the impact of unit’s size, type and feature set to ensure that your desired oven will fit both your space and intended use and to find the best microwave oven for you.

Best Microwave Oven

1. Type of Microwaves

There are three types of microwave ovens to choose from, namely solo, grill, and convection.

Solo Microwave 

Solo microwaves are good for simple tasks like reheating, cooking, and defrosting. They can’t grill or bake. They have the fewest features and are the cheapest of the three types, but they still fulfil all the basic home cooking needs. 

Solo microwaves range in price from $50 to $200, depending on their size, capacity, and feature set. 

Grill Microwave

Simply speaking, grill microwaves are standard microwaves that include a grill function. They come in handy for grilling meat and barbecuing veggies. For those who are addicted to a barbecue-grill-smoky flavor but live in an apartment where a gas or charcoal grill is not allowed, grill microwaves make good options. They’re also the perfect middle ground for those wanting to do more than mere reheating, but find the extra features (baking or roasting) redundant. 

Grill microwaves’ prices range between $85 and $600, depending on their size, capacity, and feature set. 

Convection Microwave

Convection microwaves add together all the functions of a microwave and a convection oven combination. They can cook almost everything in a variety of ways, from baking to grilling and roasting. While food baked in a conventional oven would not usually have browned or crisped surface, a convection microwave can achieve otherwise. 

Convection microwaves have a fan with a heating element around it. The fan circulates the air inside the oven so that the heat is more evenly distributed around the food. This brings about a significant reduction in cooking time and helps the food to be cooked more thoroughly.  

Convection microwaves are the most expensive models of all, with prices starting at around $300. But, with the many benefits offered, they’re definitely worth your consideration. 

While most users are quite positive about the baking performance of convection microwave ovens, these powerful devices do have some limitations. For instance, you usually can’t make large batches of baked goods for small gatherings with even the full-sized microwave oven, since the rotation of the glass tray inside the chamber will limit the size of the baking tray. If you’re serious about baking or often bake a lot of muffies at once, wall ovens are your considerations.

2. Size and Capacity

All countertop microwaves come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. The size and capacity of your product usually goes alongside with how much you spend.

Small models are less than 18 inches wide, 12 inches deep, and 10 inches tall on the exterior. Their capacity is between 0.5 and 1.0 cubic feet. That’s big enough for families of 2-3 members. 

Mid-size models are around 24 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and 10 inches tall on the exterior. This is the most popular size because it offers the best balance of capacity, portability, and performance. With a capacity of less than 2.0 cubic feet, these ovens are great for families of 4 to 5 members. 

Your large countertop microwave will have a width of at least 24 inches, a depth of between 20 and 22 inches, and a height of between 16 and 18 inches. Its capacity will range between 2.0 and 2.2 cubic feet of space. While this unit typically can’t defrost a whole frozen turkey, it can comfortably accommodate a 13-inch pizza or a full-size chicken. Large-size models are generally suitable for large families (more than 5 members) and gatherings. 

Note: Some microwaves’ capacity is measured in liters (L), varying from 15L to 40L. The volume of 15 liters is approximately 0.5 cubic feet. 

3. Features and Functions

Even with the most basic microwave oven you will have a timed cook function, which enables you to set the cooking time manually. You will also have a set of pre-programmed cooking modes for various common dishes, like pizza, popcorn, cake, toast, etc. With these presets, there is no need to constantly guess the cooking time for the perfect results.

If you have young children, you should consider buying an oven with child lock function for your child’s safety. This feature is now available in many affordable models. 

High-end models often come with more innovative features and functions, such as an auto defrost function and a steam cooking function. They also come with racks that allow users to cook two or more different dishes at the same time. 

If you have a tendency to overcook everything, then you may want to choose a model with automatic sensors. With this technology, your oven will automatically turn off as soon as the food is ready, saving you from the hassle of over-cooked food. 

4. Safety 

Though microwave ovens must go through a rigorous safety test prior to it being released for general use, microwave radiation leakage can somehow occur. Although health hazards caused by microwave radiation are very rare, according to The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it doesn’t mean the product is risk-free. Therefore, it’s essential for users to ensure that escaping radiation levels are within acceptable limits. 

As stated by the FDA, the limited amount of microwaves that could leak from an oven throughout its lifetime is 5 milliwatts (mW) of microwave radiation per square centimeter at approximately 2 inches from any point on the outer surface of the oven. Exposure to higher than the permitted levels of microwave radiation will increase the risk of cataracts and burns. 

In general, the escaping radiation will occur through the oven’s door. Thus, users should check that the door is designed to close firmly when the oven is working. It’s also recommended that you should avoid an oven that appears to have damaged door’s seals, hinges, or latches.

Reviews of the Best Microwave Ovens 2020

With the provided in-depth information below, hopefully, every buyer will quickly learn everything they need to know about the right way to make better buying decisions.

Here are our picks of the Best Microwave Ovens.

1. Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN651WAZ – Best to Buy in 2020

Whether you want to cook large portions of food or just get your leftovers reheated, the Panasonic NN-SN651WAZ will fully satisfy your expectations. Its large capacity, advanced features and strong wattage make it a perfect household appliance for on-the-go families or busy professionals.Pros

  • Very powerful and efficient
  • Easy to use and setup
  • Large capacity
  • Diverse functionality
  • Express cooking

Cons

  • A bit noisy
  • Paint is prone to peeling
  • Light weight door

What We Like

This is one of the quietest microwaves that boils water fast, cooks food evenly and saves energy efficiently. It also looks sleek and professional with a menu option providing detailed cooking instructions in three different languages (English, Spanish and French).

It sports inverter technology that ensures faster, more accurate results. This technological advance gives you true microwave power that will reach every part of your food, resolving the common issue of uneven outcomes.

There are also other beneficial features that differentiate this unit from most others . These include a popcorn key, a warming mode, a flat keypad panel and a stainless steel housing. These characteristics make it not only easy to use and control but also very convenient to clean.

The Panasonic also has a cooking sensor that recognizes the different types of food placed in it. It uses this information to adjust the time and power to suit. This means, based on the sensor readings, the machine knows to an acceptable level of accuracy what you’re cooking so as to monitor your food throughout the cooking process. Consequently, you should never have overcooked or burnt food

Potential Issues

Sounds convenient but is it? This machine has no handle. Instead, you must use the push button underneath the control panel to open the oven. The problem is that the button is a bit hard to press, especially for those with delicate fingers.

Compared to other models, the Panasonic is quite bigger and heavier, which may be a disadvantage if you have little kitchen space. Plus, the end alarm is a series of short beeps that could easily be missed and it doesn’t even beep again to replay the announcement.

Conclusion

Despite all its drawbacks, this stainless steel microwave is still worth the investment considering the number of useful features it provides, especially, our favorite, the sensor reheat feature.Check Latest Price On Amazon

2. Westinghouse WCMH900B Rotary – Best Rated by Customer

If you are on the hunt for a countertop oven with a simple and basic operation, this is it.Pros

  • Ideal for limited kitchen space
  • Affordable price
  • Easy to use and move around
  • Best buy for seniors

Cons

  • Poorly constructed door

What We Like

Featuring a sense of quality and simplicity, this unit is the perfect tool where counter space is restricted. Some may even see this as an ideal appliance for a camper or other RV. In spite of its tiny size, this oven still provides enough customization and power options for your favorite dishes.

Beyond the compact design, it’s built in such a way that requires minimal maintenance. It has a removable glass turntable which comes out really easily for cleaning.

Packed with mechanical dial controls,, it allows users to choose from 6 microwave power levels, providing more options to explore the versatility of your cooking.

More interestingly, it makes use of knobs instead of pads, which is pretty convenient for people who have difficulty reading the tiny print on the keypad. All you need to do is turn the knob and let it run.

Potential Issues

The only problem with this unit is the force that it takes to open the oven door. Since the oven itself is not very heavy, you may have to hold the microwave with one hand and then open the door with the other so as to prevent the whole unit from sliding forward when you open the door.

But here’s a tip: place a thin anti slip rubber pad under the unit to solve this matter completely.

Conclusion

So far, this Westinghouse microwave meets users expectations. It does what it’s supposed to do pretty well. It’s moderately priced and is designed to work efficiently.

However, this item is just a basic microwave oven that cannot perform too many heavy duties.Check Latest Price On Amazon

3. Toshiba EM925A5A-BS – Best Microwave Oven Under $100

The EM925A5A-BS is an excellent choice for the accomplishment of large tasks within a reasonable amount of time.Pros

  • Sturdy stainless steel exterior
  • Additional sound on/off option
  • Affordable price
  • Large capacity
  • A wide range of pre-programed functions

Cons

  • Defrost function lags over time
  • Inconvenient control buttons

What We Like

If you are a fan of Toshiba products, then this one won’t disappoint you.

This classy device provides all the practical features that will appeal to any customer in desperate need of a microwave oven. Powered by a 900-watt motor and 6 pre-programed functions, it’s clear that this oven is properly designed for those who are looking forward to advancing their cooking skills to a professional stage.

Aside from being extremely well-built, it also offers many useful traits that come in handy, such as a power saving mode, and a child safety lock which effectively protects your kids from any unexpected accidents.

Moreover, the machine also has a sound on/off option, exempting your housemates from the annoying beeps when you cook at night or in the early morning.

Potential Issues

There are 2 main problems with this product: (1) the oven’s unilluminated buttons contain small print that is very hard to read. (2) the mute mode can soften but does not completely eliminate the buzzing noise while the generator is performing.

Conclusion

Toshiba is a well-known company producing many great products from smart TVs to countertop microwave ovens. The product in this deal is no exception. With this EM925A5A-BS model – the best over the range microwave oven, you can personally create culinary magic in your “foodie world”.

4. Cuisinart CMW-200 1.2-Cubic-Foot – Best Convection Microwave

We highly recommend this little workhorse for kitchen enthusiasts lusting after an appliance that combines the function of a convection microwave and that of a standard one. Although this oven may take a little more time to finish the browning tasks, it still works well enough to efficiently accomplish your daily tasks and leave you with time to spare.Pros

  • High-quality materials
  • More extra features
  • Light and compact for a combo unit
  • Easy-to-understand user menu

Cons

  • Shows fingerprints
  • Easy to get hot
  • Takes longer to cook foods.

What We Like

Built from the highest-quality materials, this convection oven lets you prepare food evenly and conveniently. It takes cookery to a whole new level with its impressive performance. 

The multi-stage setting option automatically switches from one function to another for ease of use. You don’t even need to stop and reset the control panel when you use two different functions for one dish, easily creating delicious results.

Ideal for small households, this modern and elegant appliance safely defrosts any type of food without damaging the texture by using a combination of radiation and traditional heating.

Controlling it is also very easy. Simply select the mode, set an appropriate temperature, choose the time and press start.

This machine comes at a pretty high price. So, you could find many competitive microwaves out there. However, given its unique set of features, the Cuisinart totally knocks out most of its rivals, leading the way when it comes to quality kitchen appliances.

Potential Issues

My only hesitation in rating the Cuisinart 5 stars is that, the oven’s exterior,especially the left hand side, gets very hot when you’re using the convection mode. The high temperature means that it’s risky to touch or place objects close to the machine. In contrast, the right side and the front of the door somehow stays cool.

Conclusion

Overall, this microwave/convection combo is very nicely made and it’ll match pretty well with any kitchen décor. It takes up no more room than a regular oven and should have no problem finding its home in your modest kitchen.

Nevertheless, those with kitchen space constraints might find it difficult to place the oven, especially since it needs clearance to circulate heat properly.Check Latest Price On Amazon

5. hOmeLabs Countertop Microwave Oven – Best Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn might not be the most important snack to some but it’s very popular amongst others, especially on movie nights., HOmeLabs Countertop Microwave Oven is here to ensure that you don’t suffer the awful smell of burnt popcorn for the rest of the day.Pros

  • High power
  • Compact capacity
  • Efficient cooking functions
  • Child safe functions

Cons

  • Fairly heavy
  • Quite noisy
  • Hard to press buttons

What We Like

We absolutely love the way popcorn explodes, jumps and makes that popping sound when prepared in this hOmeLabs oven.

This product has a rigid black stainless steel body with a large sturdy handle, a stylish design that will fit well with the decor in almost any kitchen. The appearance is attractive, but any oven must be functional if it is to serve your cooking needs appropriately.  This one works fine with no drawbacks.

It defrosts food by weight or time and quickly reheats leftovers. It has 10 power levels, 11 cooking functions and 7 pre-set cooking programs, maximizing your cooking options. It has a spacious interior and is easy to control, and the price tag is acceptable for the provided features.

More than that, all these features are specially equipped with a child lock function to prevent curious children from accessing the microwave.

Except for the popcorn button, there are another 11 auto button choices. For instance, the potato, frozen pizza, frozen entree button and several more that could prove  super handy when you’re too lazy to cook a five-course meal.

Potential Issues

The buttons do take a little getting-used-to, but once you know where to push, they are just fine. The only complaint is that you have to push them R.E.A.L.L.Y H.A.R.D to get anything registered.

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:

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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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