best stainless steel microwave

Stainless steel microwaves look sleek and modern, but that’s not the whole story. There’s more to a stainless steel microwave than meets the eye when it comes to selecting this indispensable kitchen appliance. Though most countertop microwaves have a stainless front, there are also some that have a stainless steel interior.

Our shopping guide focuses on stainless steel countertop microwaves, but much of the information pertains to over-the-range and built-in stainless steel microwave models, too. If you’re ready to buy a new microwave, check out our top picks for the best stainless steel microwave, best stainless steel microwave over the range and best stainless steel microwave trim kit to buy.

Lower-cost microwaves tend to have powder-coated metal exterior and interior surfaces. Pricier microwave ovens have stainless steel exterior and interior surfaces. Some higher-end stainless microwaves have a ceramic-coated steel interior, which is also durable and scratch resistant, but it may develop cracks over time. As with virtually all kitchen appliances, your choice will be based not just on looks but also on preferred features and the size that fits your countertop.

best stainless steel microwave trim kit

Best stainless steel microwave

#1 Pick  Breville Quick Touch BMO734XL – Editor’s Pick/Best Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave

Breville Quick Touch
Breville’s smart features and many menu settings make this model stand out.

Price: $235 | Watts: 1100 | Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet | One-Touch Options: 30 Seconds, Extra Time, 33 Smart Menus| Power Levels: 10

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Smart features galore, and includes both power and space.

“Quick touch” is certainly right. This Breville model amazed us with its large size and vast number of customization options. In addition to the 10 power levels, you also get several welcome smart features, like a reheat option that automatically adjusts the cooking time based on sensors that monitors factors like stream output, and the “Bit More” button that adds a little extra cooking time if it looks like you need it.

These kitchen-friendly features show a microwave that isn’t just going through the motions, but rather one that provides new, innovative features that people actually need. Combine that with the powerful 1100 watt rating and the incredible number of smart menus to choose from, and you get one of the best microwaves we’ve ever seen. The stainless steel design is, to be honest, just a fortunate add-on.

However, as with many of our top models, the caveat is the price: $250 may be a little expensive for some consumers, especially if you are replacing an older model and just want something that works instead of investing in all the bells and whistles. Just as you want the best chef knife to be sharp and fairly priced, the same is true of microwaves. Quality and a good price.

View on Amazon

#2 Pick Danby Designer Countertop – Best Microwave for Price

Danby Designer
Danby’s model comes in many sizes and can fit in any kitchen.

Price: $60.00 | Watts: 700 | Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet | One-Touch Options: 30 Seconds, 6 Smart Menus| Power Levels: 10

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: A ton of size options and easy cooking buttons make this Danby a winner.

The sleek black/stainless steel design of this Danby model impressed us, but what impressed us even more was the surprising amount of versatility in this little microwave – especially when you consider that it only costs $~60. If you want the most microwave possible for the least price, you’ve found your model.

The wattage may be a little low at 700 watts, but you have 10 power levels to play with, and 6 one-touch cooking buttons for cooking popular foods like potatoes, popcorn, pizza, beverages and so on. There are also options to cook by weight, or speed defrost, or defrost by weight – more advanced options that we’re used to see in larger, pricier microwaves, but were surprised to find on this little powerhouse.

It’s important to note that we picked the version with 0.7 cubic feet capacity. This is definitely a small stainless steel microwave, but 1) outside of super-huge plates you rarely notice this issue and 2)the small size makes it a perfect microwave for an apartment or small living space where you badly need a quick cooking/heating option. However, this microwave is unique among our top picks in that it comes in many different sizes, from 0.7 cubic feet to 1.4 cubic feet. Do you prefer those extra large plates (or, more rarely, extra-tall canisters)?

Switch to a larger version! It may not be an all-knowing iChef oven model, but it is a handy bit of customization: keep in mind that extra low price will nearly double as you move on to larger versions. You have to pay for space!

View on Amazon

#3 Pick  GE JVM7195SFSS – Best Over the Range Stainless Steel Microwave

GE jvm7195sfss
This over the range option comes in two great stainless steel varities.

Price: $314.98  | Watts: 1100 | Capacity: 1.9 cubic feet| One-Touch Options: 30 Seconds, 3 Food Buttons, Family Snacks, Steam, Soften, Defrost | Power Levels: 10

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Multiple stainless steel options in a powerful over the range model.

If you have an over the range microwave, you may be looking at these countertop models with a sour face. Don’t worry! We have a model for you, too. This powerful model has an extra-large 1.9 cubic feet of space, and is compatible with a 3-speed, 400 CFM exhaust fan, which can move a whole lot of air very quickly, making this model ideal for large kitchens. It also has a few unique features, including a “Familly Snacks” button and a turntable control button that give you extra customization options. However, if you’re worried most about the stainless steel design, you’ll also love the choice between the 2016 an 2017 stainless steel models – both of which look great.

View on Amazon

Honorable MentionPanasonic NN-SD372S – Best Option for Undecided Buyers

Panasonic nn-sd372s
Not sure what to buy? This Panasonic model does a little of everything.

Price: $116.00 | Watts: 950 | Capacity: 0.8 cubic feet| One-Touch Options: Auto Cook, 60 Seconds, Keep Warm | Power Levels: N/A

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Solid features at an affordable make this an easy choice for quick buyers.

Feel like playing it safe? That’s a good choice! We suggest this Panasonic model, a simpler stainless steel microwave that impressed us with its many solid features, affordability, and all-around middle-of-the-road quality. The 950-watt power rating is enough for even a busy home microwave, and while this shiny stainless steel model doesn’t have a ton of space it’s still suitable for most kitchen needs – and that sleek, square stainless steel look will match most kitchens.

While this model doesn’t offer power levels like many of our other top picks, it does its own customization features for fast decision making. These include a 60 second button (instead of the usual 30 seconds), a delay start option along with a time, keep warm options, and an inverter defrost for extra-fast defrosts. In other words, don’t worry about lack of options!

View on Amazon

Stainless Steel Microwave Features to Look Out For

Smart Features

  •  Smart features are indeed coming to microwaves, and it’s always worthwhile to see what new features models offer. The reason the Breville model beat out some classy Emerson stainless steel microwave options was in part its advanced sensors and automatic heating/warming functions.

Capacity

  • You probably don’t need a giant tailgating microwave, but a little extra space can be a nice thing if you have a large family, or just a lot of large plates! Do you find that smaller microwaves can’t handle your portions or kitchen components? Then look for a model that around one cubic foot of space or more. They’ll use more power, but can handle larger foods.

One-Touch Buttons

  • The button that adds 30 seconds to a minute is handy, but look for other one touch options for cooking particular foods, or immediately going to a setting that you know will work.

Easy-Open Door

  • Let’s face it, some microwave doors are easier to open than others! We preferred doors with handles and gentle, smooth latches, which allow for more control and less chance of an accident overall.

Revolving Tray

  • Revolving trays are a handy microwave component that really can make some different when reheating. Trays that are easy to take out and clean are an added bonus!

Cooking Menus

  • These menu options go far beyond one touch buttons and allow you to program many different types of cooking, reheating, or defrosting for specific food types. If you use your microwave a lot while cooking and preparing food, look for these valuable buttons.

Mistakes to Avoid

Forgetting to Measure: Your kitchen space is important, especially if you have a particular corner or shelf where your microwave needs to go. Measure your space carefully, make a note, and always remember to check the stats on microwave dimensions before you buy.

Ignoring Your Current Specs: Specifically, you probably want to check your wattage and power levels, if possible. If you’re used to operating a microwave with a certain number of watts, set at a certain power, then you may want a similar replacement. Otherwise, you’ll have to mentally readjust all your cooking times.

Buying Based Only on Appearance: Stainless steel looks great, we know, but appearance isn’t everything. Buy based on functionality first, and then worry about how it looks later.

Not Cleaning Your Microwave: Stainless steel in particular can be a little tedious when it comes to fingerprints and stains. Clean your microwave regularly too keep it looking good!

What Else You Should Think About

Microwaves are very self-contained devices. While there are some interesting components out there – like an automatic stirrer for soups and liquids – for the most part, the features you buy are the features that you are stuck with. Don’t make a hasty purchase here! Also, remember that whether you want to fry foods at home safely or watch YouTube videos while waiting for your tea to warm up, there are plenty of specialized microwave options out there for you, too.

Additionally, if you want a more traditional oven in a smaller space, then we suggest you take a look at toaster ovens and how they differ from microwaves. A toaster oven can provide many traditional cooking effects that a microwave simply can’t handle, but in a space around the same size.

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
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

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

june-oven-product-photos-2.jpg
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.

Leave a Comment