Microwaves are time-saving must-haves for kitchens. There’s no quicker way to reheat leftovers, whip up a frozen dinner or make popcorn, and you can use these appliances to do everything from defrosting meats quickly to softening butter for baking to cooking entrees and sides.
While all microwaves promise faster cooking times, their features can vary greatly, and with hundreds on the market, trying to decide which one is best for nuking your food can be mind-boggling.
When you’re comparing microwaves, there are a number of features to consider. First, there’s the basic size. Larger countertop microwaves allow you to cook large casseroles and defrost whole turkeys, while smaller ones conserve space in crowded kitchens. Which size is right for you will depend on how you intend to use your microwave and what the layout of your kitchen is.
Another thing to consider is cooking power. Microwave power is measured in watts. Ones with higher wattage ratings deliver faster cooking results. You also want to consider how many power levels a microwave has, as more levels give you more flexibility.
Some other things to think about include the number of one touch settings, which let you prepare favorite foods with fewer taps. Higher-end microwaves often include sensors that monitor conditions inside and automatically adjust cooking times to get food perfectly done. How easy a microwave is to clean is also an important consideration, as you don’t want to have to spend hours wiping away those unavoidable splatters and spills.
So which are the best microwave ovens? Based on testing and customer microwave oven reviews, here are the top 10 models on the market today
The 10 Best Microwave Oven Reviews
1. Danby Designer Countertop Microwave Review
The Danby Designer 0.7 cu. ft. Counter Top Microwave is the number one best-selling counter top microwave on Amazon. That’s largely due to the fact that it is very economical. It’s one of the lowest priced options on this list, and as you might expect, the model is rather basic as a result. It features 10 power levels like all of the other appliances on this list and has six one touch settings: Popcorn, Potato, Pizza, Beverage, Dinner Plate and Frozen Vegetable.
You also get basic defrost options at the bargain price. Overall, the unit is well built for the money; however, you need to close the door gently. In microwave oven reviews, there are many reports of the glass front cracking and shattering due to banging. Other downsides include a very small size and low wattage rating.
2. Oster OGB81101 Microwave Oven Review
The Oster OGB81101 is an affordable counter top microwave with a stylish white interior and a removable glass turntable that is easy to clean. With nine preset modes, it offers more automatic settings than many other microwaves that are similarly priced, and it has a digital programmable child lock that prevents it from being opened by kids who shouldn’t be playing with the appliance.
Its controls could be better designed, as there is no way to type in minutes; you have to manually add zeroes every time. While there are microwaves on this list that do more, this model offers value for the money and is a nice mid-sized option for those shopping on a budget.
3. Westinghouse WCM770B CounterTop Microwave Oven Review
The Westinghouse WCM770B is an ultra compact countertop microwave with a solid set of features. It gives you six of the most popular preset cooking modes plus three types of defrost, which is rare for an appliance priced as cheaply as this one. With multi-stage cooking, the microwave can automatically increase power at certain points during cooking time, which comes in handy when you’re preparing recipes that require a first step at one power level and subsequent steps at others.
The model is also well constructed and has a five-year warranty on its magnetron (the part that produces the microwaves for cooking). The drawbacks to this model are similar to those of the Danby–small size and low cooking power.
4. Kenmore 70923 Countertop Microwave Review
The Kenmore 0.9 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave sells for under $150 and gives you some advanced features that you won’t find elsewhere. While it’s small in size, it’s not the tiniest on the list, giving those with cramped kitchens a little more cooking room in the interior. The microwave also boasts a 900-watt rating, which is high for a value-priced small model.
There are six pre-programmed modes for common cooking tasks, and the appliance features multi-stage cooking technology like the Westinghouse. It loses some points for being reportedly challenging to clean. Plus, the push button door releases has been said to stick on occasion, making the appliance harder to open than some others.
5. Panasonic NN-SD372S Stainless CounterTop Microwave Review
The Panasonic NN-SD372S is a good option for anyone who wants to be able to do more than just the basics. While it retails for $100, it has nine one-touch settings and five different types of defrost settings. The model also boasts Panasonic’s exclusive inverter technology. An inverter allows a microwave to provide steady cooking power even on low power settings, eliminating the pulsing on and off of power that is normal when you’re cooking at 10% or 20%.
Microwave oven reviews testify to the fact that the inverter provides better texture and more robust flavor for low-temperature cooking. The downsides include a smaller size and awkward controls that can make setting a little complicated. It also lacks a sensor and some of the flashier features of high-end models.
6. Sharp ZR651ZS CounterTop Microwave Oven Review
The Sharp 2.2 Cu. Ft. ZR651ZS Counter Top Microwave Oven is the largest microwave oven on the list and still competitively priced despite its hefty footprint. It features a Precise Cook Sensor for optimal cooking results; however, the microwave has fewer settings than most other sensor models sold for its price. You only have six presets to pick from and just three defrost modes.
Outside, the microwave is scratch resistant, and the appliance is solidly designed. As a result, this could be a good choice for large families and workplaces where microwaves tend to get heavy use from users who may not be gentle with appliances. Still, unless you need that rugged durability or the extra room, there are microwaves that will give you more for your money than the Sharp.
7. LG LCS1112ST CounterTop Microwave Oven Review
The LG LCS1112ST earns a spot on the list of the best microwave ovens due to its EasyClean interior which makes cleanup effortless and is great for busy people and for offices. This model features nine one-touch settings and five defrost modes, providing flexible cooking options. For green-minded people, the appliance has an Eco-On mode that turns the display off when the microwave is not active for more than 5 minutes.
The microwave does lack a sensor, but that’s common for models of its price range. Overall, the biggest downside of the LCS1112ST is its volume. Compared to other models, the appliance runs louder, which can present a problem if you’re trying to reheat a late night snack or want to carry on a conversation while you’re cooking.
8. LG LCRT2010ST CounterTop Microwave Oven Review
The LG LCRT2010ST is the second largest model on this list of the best microwave ovens list, and it has a lot to offer. With TrueCookPlus technology, the appliance calculates cooking times for you and uses a sensor to control cooking with its 13 presets and five defrost modes. Another unique feature is its round cavity, which eliminates corners where grimes and spills can pose hassles when it comes time to clean.
Despite all of its features, the model does pose some concerns about longevity. In microwave oven reviews, there are reports of the microwave breaking within 6 months to 1 year of use. While there is a 1-year warranty, these types of problems aren’t something you’d expect for a microwave with the LCRT2010ST’s price tag.
9. Samsung MG11H2020CT CounterTop Microwave Review
The Samsung MG11H2020CT is compact in size but packed with features. It offers 17 preset one-touch options and three levels of defrost. Enameled ceramic materials inside allow for easy cleaning, and the microwave comes with a grilling element that helps pizza crust and other foods come out nice and crispy.
In microwave oven reviews, some people complain that it’s hard to open the door with just one hand, which can make it hard to get your food inside. Another problem is that the mirrored finish on the microwave, while easy to wipe off, does have a tendency to show fingerprints. It’s also important to note that the model lacks a sensor.
10. Panasonic NN-SD772SAZ Stainless Microwave Oven Review
The Panasonic NN-SD772SAZ made it to the top of the list of best microwave ovens for its impressive array of features. Ideal for anyone who wants to be able to prepare meals in their microwaves, this appliance features 18 one touch cooking settings and five defrost options. Its sensor monitors performance to ensure that you get the best cooking results on any of the preset modes.
Like the NN-SD372S, this model has an inverter to improve flavor and texture. Other impressive features include a Keep Warm setting for maintaining food at the right temperature without continuing to cook it and easy to use controls. The only real downside to the microwave is its price. It’s the most expensive model on this list, but when you consider all that it has to offer, it’s well worth the money.
What are the differences between microwave ovens and conventional ovens?
The difference is quite simple. Microwave ovens use radio waves to thoroughly heat and cook. Microwave ovens work well with specific foods, and not so well with others.
On the flip side, how a conventional oven works is by simple using heat from a coil. It results in baking of food (potato, bread, pasta, pizza etc).
Who invented the microwave oven and when was the first year one was available?
The first year a microwave was ever in use, was 1946. Invented by a man named Percy Spencer, it was all discovered by accident. After seeing a candy bar melt in his pocket by radio waves… it was an AHA! moment, and the first microwave was developed.
To be clear, the first one to ever be produced was roughly the size of a refrigerator.
What are top picks under specific price ranges?
Best Under 500 Dollars
For this price category, we’re looking at one under 500 but above 400. After doing some research, LG LCSP1110ST Countertop Microwave and Baking Oven. At this price point, you get 1.1 cubic feet of oven capacity. 1,000+ watts, a lot of different settings, and a baking oven right beneath it.
Best Under 400 Dollars
For this price category, the microwave oven is right under 400 dollars and more than 300. Coming in at 2.2 cubic feet of space, a stainless steel finish, a beautiful control layout, and 1,250 watts of power, we have the Panasonic NN-SN952S.
Best Under 300 Dollars
One of the most popular microwaves under 300 dollars to buy, having an impressive 1,200 watts of power, 1.2 cubic feet of space, and a simple control layout, we picked the Panasonic NN-SN661S.
Best Under 200 Dollars
For this price range, you’re still getting a high quality microwave. Though not the powerhouse you find in more expensive units, still a respectable 900 watts of power and 10 power levels. There’s almost 1 cubic foot of cooking space, and it can be a great addition to an office break room or your kitchen. It’s the Kenmore 73092.
Best Under 100 Dollars
For under 100 dollars, you can consider this as an entry level microwave. This one has a respectable 1,000 watts of power, 10 power levels, and 1.1 cubic feet of capacity. It’s the Danby Designer DMW111KPSSDD.
Best Under 50 Dollars
You won’t find much under 50 dollars worth getting, but if you absolutely need to… take a look at the compact microwave oven made by Hamilton Beach. This one is model # P70B20AP-G5W. You get the basics and reasonable power to work with.