Best Microwave

Microwaves are one of the simplest ways to make dinnertime more efficient.

Microwave
(Image credit: Amazon)

Pop your food into a microwave, select a pre-programmed menu option and your family will be sitting at the table enjoying their meal in three, two, one, beep! Microwaves have many different features, but all are designed to warm or cook your favorite meals without losing out on flavor and nutrients. Check out our list of the best to discover the best one for you kitchen.

Best overall

Toshiba EM131A5C-SS countertop microwave

(Image credit: Toshiba)

Toshiba EM131A5C-SS (opens in new tab)

SENSOR COOKING

This countertop mcirowave has 1.2 cubic feet of internal space that hold small casseroler dishes for reheating. It uses smart sensors for cooking and reheating perfectly every time.

The pull handle makes it easy to open while the child safety lock keeps curious kids from playing with it. There are several presets for cooking rice, potatoes and frozen meals. There is also a softe/melt functions and a popcorn button. You can add 30 seconds to the cook time while it is in use and turn off the buzzer. There is a removeable turntable inside. While some find this a hassle, especially when it comes to cleaning, the turntable helps cook foods more evenly.

Pros:

  • Sensor cooking
  • Lots of room
  • Silence buzzer

Cons:

  • Turntable makes is harder to clean
Best value

Black + Decker EM720CB7 countertop microwave

(Image credit: Black + Decker)

Black + Decker EM720CB7 (opens in new tab)

PERFECT FOR REHEATING

This small countertop microwave holds small portions for quick reheating. It has potato and popcorn settings along with four other food-specific presets.

This microwave doesn't use as much power and has only 700 watts. This means it takes longer to cook or reheat food, but it is still efficient, especially for smaller households that need a microwave to reheat a dinner plate or smaller portions of food. This microwave is compact, so it won't take up too much counter space, and has a child safety lock. There is a turntable inside to help evenly heat foods. It can be removed and cleaned seperately from the unit.

Pros:

  • Multiple cooking levels
  • Child safety lock
  • Digital controls

Cons:

  • Small
  • Not too powerful
Best over-the-range

Frigidaire FFMV1846VS over-the-range microwave

(Image credit: Frigidaire)

Frigidaire FFMV1846VS (opens in new tab)

Even cooking

This microwave has a lot of room inside - 1.8 cubic feet. It easily holds large casserole dishes and has 1000 watts of power.

This space-saving microwave includes an automatic vent and an LED light to help while cooking on your stove. The handle makes it easy to open to get food in and out. There are six presets for specific foods, plus a 30-second add button. It has a glass turntable inside to help ensure your food is evenly heated, and it uses sensor heating to make sure even thick foods and large portions are cooked through. When food is done this microwave beeps and keeps beeping until you cancel it by either pressing the STOP button or opening the door.

Pros:

  • Sensor cooking
  • Cooks food evenly
  • Large capacity

Cons:

  • Beeps until canceled
Best counter-top

Farberware FMO11AHTBKB countertop microwave

(Image credit: Farberware)

Farberware FMO11AHTBKB (opens in new tab)

Decent cooking space

This counter-top microwave has 1.1 cubic feet of space, which holds a decent amount of food, and uses 1000 watts of power. 

This microwave doesn't have many presets, but it does have a 30-sec add feature and an all-important popcorn setting. Both the inside and outside are easy to clean with a removable turntable. The door features a child lock to ensure your little ones' safety. This microwave is noisier while cooking compared to other units, but you can still carry on a conversation as it heats.

Best large capacity

Panasonic NN-SN65KB countertop microwave

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Panasonic NN-SN65KB (opens in new tab)

Perfect for families

This Panasonic microwave features an impressive 1.2 cubic feet, which holds a lot of food, icnluding 9x13-inch casserole dishes. It also has sensor cooking.

This microwave will keep cooking your food until it senses when there is enough steam coming from the food to indicate it is hot and ready. It has 15 automatic cooking option sinclueing a 3-level popcorn preset to heatin gup a variety of bag sizes. There is also a keep warm option for when you're not quite ready to serve your food, but also don't want to chance it getting cold too quickly. The only real drawback is the internal light isn't really bright, so it's difficult to see inside when you're cooking.

Pros:

  • Powerful
  • Large capacity

Cons:

  • Internal light is dim

What to know before choosing a microwave

You want to choose a microwave that is going to cook well whether it's making popcorn, baking potatoes, or reheating leftovers. Models with a turntable inside cook foods more evenly. It also helps to have presets. This means the manufacturer has figured out the best amount of time it takes, at the proper heat setting, to heat a specific food in that microwave. But there are other important factors to consider before buying a microwave. Here are a few to keep in mind.

Convenience

A 30-second key is helpful because you can add a little more time while your food is cooking. Quick Cook functions are also helpful, though usually if it is tied to a specific food, such as popcorn, reheat, or beverage.

Sensor cooking is a newer feature. This function detects what you're cooking when you press the reheat button and will cook until it detects steam rising from the food ensuring it is hot and ready every time.

Dimensions and power

Microwave ovens are big appliances, which means they take up space. Microwaves are measured in cubic feet, but those specs refer to the inside capacity. Generally, microwaves between 0.7 cubic feet and 1.2 are the most common dimensions for compact microwaves designed to sit on your countertop without hanging over the edge or taking up too much space. The smallest microwave will only hold a 10-inch dinner plate, so it's not the best for reheating large casseroles. However, 1.4 to 2.0 cubic feet is considered family-size and will easily hold larger dishes.

Smaller microwave units don't have or use as much power. This means it may take longer to heat up more dense or larger portions than microwaves with higher wattage. The difference isn't too bad, so we recommend going with a unit that fits your counter space and needs and not worrying about the one or two-minute long wait.

Over-the-range microwaves

These microwaves are made to hang above your kitchen stove rather than sit on the counter. This space-saving design enables you to have all your cooking appliances relatively close by. These microwaves are usually larger in capacity and have handles rather than buttons to quickly open the door. To make them more practical. most include night lights and automatic venting, though there are some microwaves that skip these features. We've found that having them helps extend the life of the microwave and helps when cooking on your range, too.

Why trust us

At Real Homes, we recommend the best products to enhance your life. As experts, we handpick products based on quality and usefulness to positively impact your life. We take our responsibility seriously — testing products, reading reviews, and sourcing knowledgeable outlets to ensure our selections are worthy of your time and money. Our detailed product overviews balance objective information with subjective opinions, so making the best choice for your home and lifestyle is easy.

Nikki Johnston
Special Project Writer

Nikki writes for multiple Future Publishing brands covering topics from antivirus to kitchen appliances to SAS. She has over 15 years of research and writing experience, including eight years of testing and reviewing consumer products. Nikki earned bachelor’s degrees in both English and Political Science with a focus on empirical research. In her spare time, Nikki serves as a member of several school councils and volunteers for a local arts board.

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