Best easy-to-use microwaves Flummoxed by the range of weird symbols and buttons on your microwave? As well as testing how well each model heats your dinner, we also look at how easy it is to use. We check how easy the controls are to read, use and understand, how easy it is to press the buttons and open or close the door, whether you can see food while it’s cooking and if the microwave is easy to clean. Cheaper manual models with simple rotary dials for cooking time and power can be a good bet, but if you want the whole package, we’ve picked out a model that is exceptionally easy to use and cooks well too: 78% £39.00 REVIEWED SEP 2019 The simple dial controls on this microwave mean it couldn’t really be any easier to use. All you have to do is set your power level and cooking time and you’re good to go. You’ll also find it easier to clean than most, both inside and outside. It performed very well in our heating and defrosting tests too.
1. Panasonic NN-SD27HSBPQ
Why we like it: Stylish, efficient and simple
£144, John Lewis
Everyone I spoke to cited Panasonic as the best microwave manufacturer around. They’ve been making microwaves for yonks, and are known for reliability, longevity and performance. Crucially, they’re also very simple and easy to use. This measures up with much of Panasonic’s kitchen output; I’ve often found their products to be sturdy, well-built, high-performing and idiot-proof.
The catchily-named NN-SD27HSBPQ is a mid-range Panasonic microwave, with a turntable rather than flat bed. It’s made of solid, wipe-clean stainless steel. It doesn’t come with all the combination fuss; there’s no grilling here, for example. But it does what a microwave is supposed to do excellently, and should continue doing so for years co come.
One reason to opt for Panasonic is their Inverter technology – although Cobb tells me they sell it to other companies. “Because a microwave runs on a very high voltage, it used to have a transformer, a big lump of metal that takes up room and is heavy. The inverter does away with that, reducing everything to the size of a circuit board. It saves money, saves weight, and saves space.” They also use less energy. At 1000W, it’s more than enough for a small family.
Aesthetically I also found it to be one of the better options out there, which isn’t a moot point. Obviously, performance comes first. But as something that’ll constantly be on display, you don’t want it ruining your kitchen’s look. In fact, Cobb says many people replace their microwaves when upgrading their kitchen, in order to get something that fits the style. With it’s clean, simple, steel look, this microwave will struggle to look out of place.
It’s not the cheapest microwave out there – though it’s also far from the most expensive. If you’re looking for a good microwave that looks nice and should last for years, you won’t go far wrong here.
2. Samsung EasyView MC28M6075CK/EU
Why we like it: The best combination microwave that doesn’t break the bank
£279, Currys PC World
Combination microwaves can set you back close to £500, so if you’re set on getting one, this Samsung model, currently available for less than £200, is a seriously good bet. Samsung is equally as reliable and high performing as Panasonic, I’m informed. However, reports suggest they do tend to be a little trickier to get used to – which is why I’ve favoured the Panasonic at the top of this list.
The issue is that the Samsung EasyView comes with a whole host of extra functions: like HotBlast, which reduces cooking times by blowing hot air onto your food, helping to crisp up meat; and Slim Fry, which combines grilling with air circulation for eating fried food without needing litres of oil (a bit like an air fryer). The blurb also says you can make cake, pizza and even yoghurt (there’s a fermentation function), though we’re yet to establish how well that works.
Overall, this is a high-tech option (with a turntable) that cooks very well (900W), though is probably for the more adventurous – or those lacking an oven/grill.
3. Morphy Richards Accents solo microwave
Why we like it: Affordable, with a nice vintage design
British brand Morphy Richards produce some well-priced, dependable kitchen gadgets, and this microwave is no different. It doesn’t quite match the durability and performance of some of the more high-tech (and more expensive) microwaves, but it’s a solid machine nonetheless, and you’ll struggle to find much better for less than £100.
Looks-wise, it’s unbeatable – 1950s chic. I particularly liked the red, but there are five colours to choose from, so there should be one for every kitchen. There’s little to complain about its performance; food will heat up consistently, with well-dispersed heat. There are an impressive eight automatic programmes, like pizza, chicken, and meat, so you should get well-cooked food without having to repeat cook.
It is rather small, and the 800W strength is on the weaker side (Morphy Richards do have larger models available, at a higher cost). But if you’re struggling for space, or don’t need a big microwave, and aren’t bothered about combination functions, the Morphy Richards is a good shout.
4. Sharp 900W combination flatbed microwave
Sharp have never produced lookers, but they’ve been making microwaves since the 1960s, and they’re still mentioned today as one of the market leaders. Reliability over style is their modus operandi, I’m informed.
While some of their models really are ugly, this one isn’t too harsh on the eyes. It’s super easy to use, produces consistent results, and, thanks to the flatbed, is simple to clean. With 15 programmes, you’ll be able to accurately cook a whole range of foods. The main bugbears, however, are that it is quite cumbersome, and a little noisier than others.
5. Sage by Heston Blumenthal quick touch crisp
£249.99, John Lewis
With a very basic, unfussy look, this is a relatively unobtrusive microwave. While the aesthetics are simple, the specs are anything but. It’s a combi microwave with a powerful integrated grill and a crisper pan (no more soggy microwave jacket potatoes, finally).
The Sage uses Inverter technology to consistently cook food, and there are a host of functions and programmes (pizza; ‘A Bit More’, which adds a touch more cooking if your food isn’t ready; and a handy baked beans setting, so you won’t get splurts everywhere).
When I ask the experts about Sage, however, their response is a little muted. Not because it isn’t a good appliance; plainly, it is. But because there’s just so many functions, and there’s a likelyhood many of them will go unused.
For £300, make sure you want everything it offers. If not, opt for a cheaper microwave.