The 8 best microwave ovens

From reheating leftovers to baking a potato; we’ve rounded up our top picks for microwave ovens for speedy dinners and meal-making shortcuts

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If you are designing a kitchen, a microwave might not seem like the most glamorous of appliances to add to your wishlist. However, we’ve all returned home from work, starving hungry and can’t think of anything worse than slaving over a hot stove. The answer? A trusty microwave. 

Whether it’s beans on toast or a ready meal, this little kitchen gadget is our saviour on many occasion but increasingly, we are considering the look of our microwaves on top of their function.

You can get many a budget microwave option from your local supermarket, but there are a whole host of microwave ovens on the market that boast some fantastic features. 

What to look out for in a microwave oven

The higher the wattage, the quicker the cook, and if you are looking for a microwave to save space, then opt for one that has an integrated oven and grill for the ultimate speedy cooking experience. 

For basic microwaving needs, 20 litres is small but enough. However, for cooking larger dishes, we’ve found that a capacity of around 35-40 litres acts as a great substitute to a real oven. Many of the larger microwaves don’t have the traditional turntable either, to allow for bigger dishes to fit inside without compromising on even heat distribution. 

If you’re looking for a good multi-function oven, then some of the most technologically advanced microwave ovens will set you back around £200+, but if you just want a high quality microwave to heat up your soup, there are plenty of options under £100 that look great and won’t break the bank. 

1. Panasonic Freestanding 4-in-1 Microwave

Steam and grill with this microwave for fast and easy dinners

Specifications
Best for: Steaming
Wattage: 1000
Grill: Yes
Oven: Yes
Capacity: 27L
Reasons to buy
+ Steamer and grill + Auto-cook function 
Reasons to avoid
- Expensive 

This 4-in-1 microwave is a great gadget to have if you don’t have a lot of space in your kitchen. It works as a steamer, a grill, an oven and is also perfect for defrosting foods, too. So if you’re looking to make healthier dinners fast, but don’t have the space to add a steamer to your kitchen counter, this microwave is the best combination gadget for you. It comes with 15 cooking programmes so you can cook anything at the touch of a button. All things considered, it's good looking, easy to clean and has a no-fuss exterior. Power? Check. Multi-function? Check. Looks good? Check. What's not to love?

2. Russell Hobbs Flatbed Digital Microwave

No frills, but looks the part and doesn’t cost the world

Specifications
Best for: Basics
Wattage: 800
Grill: No
Oven: Yes
Capacity: 23L
Reasons to buy
+ Affordable + Easy to use 
Reasons to avoid
-Sometimes an uneven cook -Smallish capacity 

The Russell Hobbs Flatbed Digital Microwave is a great budget buy for those who want a sleek looking addition to their kitchen that simply microwaves the basics. Although it doesn’t feature the classic turntable inside which allows for larger rectangular dishes to be placed within, we just love how easy it is to use. A smaller capacity and wattage than most, but the sleek black design with mirror door and clean lines puts this microwave high in the style stakes but for a snip of the price of many similar options on the market. Without a doubt the best microwave for modern kitchens, and it's friendly on the purse strings, too.

3. Sage by Heston Blumenthal Quick Touch Crisp

A smart microwave oven with handy pre-settings for a quick and even cook

Specifications
Best for: Multiple cooking functions
Wattage: 900
Grill: Yes
Oven: Yes
Capacity: 34L
Reasons to buy
+ ‘Crisping’ function + Custom cooking settings 
Reasons to avoid
- A bit too high-tech 

It's safe to say that anything created by Heston Blumenthal is going to be a bit ‘out there’, and the Quick Touch Crisp Microwave is no exception. This microwave oven has a million and one features (not literally) that people seem to either love or loathe. We think it’s great for preparing our favourite quick dishes with the utmost precision by using pre-set functions such as ‘baked potato’, ‘grilled cheese’, ‘melted chocolate’ and ‘baked beans’. You can also use the ‘crisp’ function to get the perfectly crispy baked potato or cheesy pasta bake, or set your own custom functions for your favourite dish. The perfect microwave for gadget lovers, and the best option for anyone who has other Sage by Heston appliances in their kitchen as it follows the same design cues as the rest of the range.

4. Bosch Built-in Combination Microwave Oven

A combination microwave ideal for big families

Specifications
Best for: Families
Wattage: 900
Grill: Yes
Oven: Yes
Capacity: 44L
Reasons to buy
+Distributes heat evenly+15 pre-set programmes+Large capacity
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Has to be fitted

For those who don't have much counter space, but have a big family, this built-in combination microwave is the perfect solution. Featuring a 44 litre capacity and 15 pre-set programmes, you can expect this microwave oven to make cooking for the whole family a whole lot easier. With a grill and 900 watts of power, you can rustle up anything from a quick afternoon snack to a full on slap up meal in this bad boy.

5. Whirlpool Absolute Built-in Microwave

Save counter space with this built-in microwave

Specifications
Best for: Space saving
Wattage: 900
Grill: No
Oven: No
Capacity: 22L
Reasons to buy
+ Anti-fingerprint finish + Saves counter space 
Reasons to avoid
- Pricey for standard microwave - Small capacity

If you are renovating your kitchen and are thinking of ways to save space, then consider investing in Whirlpool's built-in microwave. A basic integrated microwave without any combination settings, the model heats food fast and has a Jet Start function which is perfect for reheating foods at the optimum temperature. It also has a sleek design with an anti-fingerprint surface so that your kitchen will always look gleaming. There are a lot of integrated microwaves on the market with more functions that the average person needs; this Whirlpool option is simple, looks great and does the job. 

6. Sharp 40L Combination Microwave

Cook in high quantities with this high capacity microwave

Specifications
Best for: High capacity
Wattage: 900
Grill: Yes
Oven: Yes
Capacity: 40L
Reasons to buy
+ Two shelves  + Cook multiple things at once 
Reasons to avoid
- Sometimes an uneven cook 

If you want to cook more than one thing at one time, then the Sharp 40L Combination Microwave will allow you do so comfortably. It has two shelves and works as a convection oven and grill. It has a defrost function and the grill is also perfect for cooking pizzas from frozen. With a large interior which is also easy to wipe clean, it's the the closest you'll get to an oven, without it actually being just an oven. The perfect microwave oven for studio flats or anyone wanting to get food cooked fast, without waiting for the oven to heat up!

7. Swan Retro Digital Solo Microwave

A basic but stylish microwave for a retro kitchen

Specifications
Best for: Style
Wattage: 800
Grill: No
Oven: No
Capacity: 20L
Reasons to buy
+ Stylish + Affordable 
Reasons to avoid
- A bit small - No grill or oven

For those who are looking for both aesthetics and functionality, this Swan Retro Digital Microwave is ideal for a gadget that will look good on your kitchen countertop. Although it only has a small capacity, it's basic and gets the job done nicely for all of your favourite quick and easy meals. Available in a range of different vibrant colours, you’re bound to find one to match your décor perfectly. It may not blow your mind with any cool functionality like the Sage option in our list but, if you have a colour themed kitchen, this microwave comes in blue, green, orange, cream and many more colours; perfect for style-conscious home owners.

8. Hotpoint Curve Solo Microwave

A small microwave that won’t take over your kitchen counter

Specifications
Best for: Compact design
Wattage: 700
Grill: No
Oven: No
Capacity: 13L
Reasons to buy
+ Compact  + Affordable 
Reasons to avoid
- Basic - Small capacity in comparison

If you have a small kitchen but can’t afford the Whirlpool Built-in Microwave, then this is a great alternative. The Hotpoint Curve Solo Microwave is the best microwave for small kitchens on our list. Although small on the outside, its 13 litre capacity can fit a standard sized dinner plate comfortably and gives a powerful and even heat. Although not as fancy as some other models, it is reliable and will stand the test of time, plus, its curved exterior makes it ideal for putting in corners - so whilst it is not a corner microwave, it will tuck neatly into the nooks of any kitchen spaces.

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