Easy to use microwave

What are the best easy to use microwave, easy to use microwave for elderly and easy to use microwave for seniors options?  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.

easy to use microwave for seniors

Easy to use microwave

1. Panasonic NN-SD27HSBPQ

Why we like it: Stylish, efficient and simple 

£144, John Lewis

Panasonic microwave 

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

Samsung combination microwave

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 

£74.99, Amazon

Microwave morphy richards 

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 

£149.99, Argos

Sharp combination 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

sage microwave 

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. 

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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