Top microwave brands

For good or for bad, a microwave is rarely top of a most-wanted kitchen gadget list. Without further ado, here are the top microwave brands, best microwave 2020 and best high end microwave brands you can buy on the market right now, starting with our favourite. 

Microwave ovens have rapidly become more of a need rather than a treat these days. Gone are the times when microwave ovens were simply used to warm up and cook meals. Microwaving today has become the typical approach of preparing meals. But, there are several vital aspects worthy of taking notes before you pick microwave oven of your choice.

Best microwave 2020

They don’t quite carry the same rustic allure as a hefty chef’s knife, an enamel casserole or a cast iron frying pan. However, what they lack in glamour, they more than make up for in convenience – nothing can get your dinner ready as quickly as a microwave. 

Microwave ovens (their proper title, as opposed to simply the form of electromagnetic radiation used; from hence forth we’ll use the more colloquial term) aren’t designed for cooking up theatrical feasts for dinner guests; they’re for reheating said grub the following day. They have something of a mixed reputation, partly because of (somewhat unfounded) safety concerns, and partly because much of what goes into them is pretty unhealthy.

But that doesn’t make them inherently bad. Microwaves are incredibly useful pieces of kit, so much so that, as of 2017, 93pc of British households have one. 

If you’re looking for a new one after your old workhorse has finally collapsed, or are a first-time buyer unsure which one to opt for, Telegraph Recommended is here to help. We’ve spoken to experts, including microwave repairers and salesmen, and posed as buyers in shops in order to establish the best choices available today. 

One of the most consistent pieces of advice was this: Don’t buy a dirt-cheap model (often found in the discount aisles of supermarkets). It won’t last long and won’t perform consistently. “They get progressively worse the more they’re used, so we try to steer people away from budget ones,” says Trevor Cobb, director of the Microwave Service Company. £70-£80 is a good starting point, though the best models will set you back around £100-£200. 

Best compact microwave

Microwaves have moved on since the old days; they now do more more than simply heat and defrost. In fact, you can get your hands on combination microwaves, which add grilling and/or convection oven heating to the mix. This means you can brown meat, for example, while still cooking it quickly. Probably not for everyone, but Cobb informs me they’re particularly popular among those lacking the space for a proper oven. 

You’ll also want to choose between a turntable and a flatbed option. Turntables have been popular for a long time, because the rotating disc helps ensure all the food (or drink) heats equally. Flatbeds, however, are increasingly de rigueur, because you can fit more inside, and modern technology ensures they still cook evenly. Flatbeds are easier to clean, as there’s no plate getting in the way, though they’re more common among commercial microwaves. 

Size-wise, around 900W is more than enough for reheating food for two; 1000W is plenty. “Anything more powerful is almost wasted on ready meals and heating,” says Cobb. 

Further advancements include: 

  • Pre-programming functions: Settings that automatically adjust to a particular food group. For example a baked potato setting. 
  • Sensor cooking: Sensors can tell when the food is ready, and automatically switch off. Cobb says Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung and Bosch all make good use of this. 
  • Touchscreen: While some consumers don’t like touchscreen, they are easier to clean, and offer a bit more control (not just intervals of 30 seconds, for example). 

Top microwave brands

1. Panasonic NN-E28JMMBPQ Freestanding Microwave

Panasonic NN-E28JMMBPQ Freestanding Microwave

If you’re looking for something compact to slot into your kitchen, or a great little accent to take with you on your travels, this freestanding model from Panasonic is a top contender.

The microwave has five power levels and a choice of nine automatic programmes to choose from. The interior is made using easy-to-clean enamel liners, so there’s no need to scrub after accidental explosions – a simple wipe will do.

An Auto Weight programme cooks your food perfectly no matter what it is and a child lock prevents programmes from being tampered with whilst in use.

Price: £79.96, John Lewis – buy here now

2. Morphy Richards Microwave Accents Colour Collection

Morphy Richards Microwave Accents Colour Collection

This microwave is on the smaller side and comes in as one of our cheapest on the list.

The Accents colour range from Morphy Richards allows you to brighten up your kitchen with a selection of futuristic metallic shades.

It features eight automatic programs to easily cook meals, re-heat and defrost meals.

It’s 20 litre capacity fits most standard dinner plates. This one does all the basic jobs you’ll need it to and will fit nicely in your kitchen.

Price: £89, Amazon – buy here now

3. Russell Hobbs RHFM2363S Flatbed Digital Solo Microwave

Russell Hobbs RHFM2363S Flatbed Digital Solo Microwave

This microwave definitely looks more expensive than it is, with its sleek finish and mirrored door.

The pull handle makes for easy access, while the flatbed interior allows you to fit more food and a larger, square plates inside to cook.

This microwave has a ‘diamond cavity’ ie bumpy walls, which will help encourage even cooking as the microwaves are reflected in different directions.

There are eight auto cook menus, a child safety lock and countdown timer.

Price: £119.96, Amazon – buy here now

4. Sage the Quick Touch Crisp Microwave

Sage the Quick Touch Crisp Microwave

On the higher end of the price scale, this techy microwave boasts some impressive features that are well worth the money.

The large detailed display makes it easy to navigate the varied smart menu, while there are ten additional shortcut buttons hidden inside the door for quick access.

There’s a button for every need you could think of – including melting caramel, chocolate or softening butter – great if you’re an avid baker and you usually find yourself burning ingredients when melting them on the hob.

It’s a microwave grill combi (not an oven) with a 31cm turntable, which will fit most large plates. The inverter function ensures food is coked throughout consistently too.

The additional crisper plate stands on three folding legs and this can be used for grilling (high) and crisping (low).

And for when you need your food is that little bit hotter but don’t want to completely re-program it, select the “A Bit More” function.

Price: £229.99, John Lewis – buy here now

5. Bosch Serie 2 Freestanding Microwave

Bosch Serie 2 Freestanding Microwave

If you’re looking for microwave that isn’t overloaded with features, but still does a great job for the functions it has included, this is a great pick.

Featuring a 24.5cm turntable, this is on the smaller side, so if space is limited in your kitchen it’s a good optoin. You can also choose to mount it on the underside of a cabinet to save even more space.

There are 11 buttons and a dial on the front with basic power and program controls, there’s also a memory function to remember your favourite preference to save time.

The LED display, electronic clock timer and 99 minute timer make this a great basic kitchen microwave at a great value price.

Price: £139, Bosch – buy here now

6. SAMSUNG EasyView MC28M6075CK/EU Combination Microwave

SAMSUNG EasyView MC28M6075CK/EU Combination Microwave

A great combination microwave that doesn’t break the bank.

Arriving with a whole host of features like HotBlast to reduce cooking time, meat crisping, slim fry.. and even fermentation for yoghurt.

Great for if your kitchen lacks and oven or grill, the 40 auto programs and 31.8cm turntable makes this the perfect kitchen addition for the more adventurous.

The EasyView window lets you see your food cooking and it’s larger 28 litre capacity lets you cook more food at once.

Price: £219, Currys – buy here now

7. Panasonic NN-SD27HSBPQ Microwave

Panasonic NN-SD27HSBPQ Microwave

If you’re looking for something a little bit bigger as an alternative to our number one spot, this newer model from Panasonic is ideal and only a small bump up in price.

Featuring innovative inverter technology, you’ll get perfectly evenly cooked foods (no more hot or cold spots) and preserve your foods natural nutrients and ingredients.

There are ten One Touch programmes and plenty more automatic settings.

Another stand out feature is the Aqua Clean function, which can clear odours and clean the interior in no time – just place a cup of water with lemon juice inside and you’re all set for an effective steam clean.

Price: £144, John Lewis – buy here now

8. Wilko Copper Effect Microwave

Wilko Copper Effect Microwave

A metallic sleek design that’s easy on the eye and fulfills your basic microwave needs.

This stainless steel copper coloured device houses eight auto functions and five power levels including defrost.

It’s 20 litre capacity should fit all your favourite foods and is great for singles and smaller families who don’t want anything too complicated.

Price: £70, Wilko – buy here now

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9. Sharp Combination Flatbed R86 Microwave

Sharp Combination Flatbed Microwave R86

Sharp has been making microwaves since the 1960s, and with all that experience you can be sure to get great results with any of their microwaves.

We chose this 900W machine because of its ease of use, easy to clean flatbed and 15 programmes to choose from.

As a combination microwave it features a grill function and convection oven mode. The 25 litre capacity Flat Tray design means you can place larger dishes inside without having to worry about if they’ll get in the way, like a traditional spinning turntable would.

The drop down door gives great access and makes it feel less of a microwave and more of an oven.

A versatile and convenient device, this is well worth the investment.

Price: £149.99, Argos – buy here now

10. Russell Hobbs Luna

Russell Hobbs Luna

Another microwave praised for its ease of use and sleek contemporary design.

The mirror door finish reflects light, keeping your kitchen bright an breezy while the pull handle makes for easier opening and closing when you’re juggling different items.

This microwave oven by Russell Hobbs boasts a 23 litre interior capacity which comfortably fits most dinner plates.

Price: £109.99, Argos – buy here now

11. Hotpoint Curve MWH1311B Microwave

Hotpoint Curve MWH1311B Microwave

Ideal for smaller spaces, make use of that unused corner area of the kitchen counter with this curved back microwave.138208672551

With most of the electronics sitting underneath – as opposed to on the side of – the main body, it takes up relatively little space and has all the functions you’d expect from a basic microwave.

There’s a child safety lock, very self-explanatory controls, and a 28cm turntable to it most standard plates.

Price: £99, Currys – buy here now

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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