A microwave is a time-saving essential for any kitchen, particularly when that parent is used by parents crunched for time and starved for culinary ideas. They get a bad rap, but the bottom line is that a microwave can save tons of time better spent doing things with your kids or relaxing with your spouse.
Purchasing a microwave isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of situation, and there are a variety of factors to consider. For one, size. Figure out how much counter space you have available as well as how many cubic feet of interior cooking space you are looking for. You want to make sure that there’s a nice spot for your new appliance in your kitchen and that it’s big enough to fit whatever you’d like to cook so you can get everything ready to eat at once.
In terms of wattage, the higher the number, the faster and more evenly your food will cook. It also typically means a bigger and more expensive unit. Most microwaves fall between 600 and 1200 watts.
Like other cooking appliances, microwaves can be barebones, with simple controls to adjust cooking power and time, but they can also be loaded with features like preset cooking times and the latest technological cooking features, including voice-activated commands. The right microwave for you depends on your needs. Here are the best ones based on our research coupled with a deep dive into customer reviews.
Forget all those over-the-top bells and whistles. This small but mighty 100-watt dynamo gives you evenly-cooked food and will last forever.
Pros: This commercial-quality microwave might not be fancy, but users rave it is the most dependable on the market.
Cons: You get just the basics with this one, and its low wattage means longer cooking times.
This super-sleek beauty is one of the most technologically advanced microwaves on the market. It uses Panasonic’s Cyclonic Wave technology to circulate heat in waves to ensure food is efficiently heated. Other nifty features include a built-in automatic sensor that adjusts power and time for different foods, 20 preset menu items, a quick-minute timer, delay start, and even a food-warming feature.
Pros: Large, luxurious, and chock-full of features, Panasonic’s progressive microwave is the perfect option for the most tech-savvy of cooks.
Cons: If you aren’t all about technology, many of this microwave’s features will probably be confusing and go unused.
Both large and powerful, this microwave-slash-convection oven can do anything from defrosting food and cooking popcorn to roasting a chicken and baking cupcakes. People really love this gadget, with over half of its Amazon reviewers giving it a perfect five-star rating.
Pros: A microwave and convection oven combination, you can bake, roast and reheat all of your favorite foods in this multi-use fabulosity.
Cons: A complaint that came up more than once in the reviews is that there is no option to turn the beeper off. That might make it hard to use after the kids have gone to bed.
If you have ever wished your microwave could also brown or toast your food as it cooks, then look no further. While it isn’t quite a full convection oven, people love that this solid and easy-to-use unit can grill their grub while simultaneously heating it with microwaves. Translation: No more soggy leftovers.
Pros: This microwave is available in several different sizes and also features a broiler unit on top. Talk about versatility!
Cons: Because of its grilling features, it can get hot on the exterior, so be careful what you sit on top of or next to it.
Integrating Alexa into a microwave seems frivolous, and it kind of is, but this smart appliance can turn off your lights, play whatever song you want to hear and even cook your popcorn at a reasonable price. This super-compact appliance is your own personal chef: Tell it to defrost a chicken, and it knows what to do.
Pros: This compact and affordable microwave is perfect for your smart home.
Cons: It looks like it belongs in a particularly sad office.
If you are looking for a simple microwave to fill a small space with an added style, this one is for you. People love this easy-to-use, smaller-sized model with just four auto-cook programming options, claiming it heats things up faster than bigger models. It also features two-way defrost and provides up to 700 watts of power. We also love that is available in a range of fun colors, including mint green and cherry red.
Pros: If you love bright hues in your kitchen, you have found your dream microwave.
Cons: You also have to manually turn the microwave on every time you use it, but reviewers say it is not a huge issue.
Despite its small footprint, this advanced microwave oven pulls double duty as a countertop broiler powered by an infrared grilling element.
Pros: The aesthetics are great — sleek and stylish — more than you can usually ask for from a kitchen workhorse. The included broiler means you can heat up food quickly without making it soggy, a great option for foods like pizza and french fries that can turn mushy in a standard microwave.
Cons: The user manual for this one says it needs its own circuit, which is a lot to ask for when so many less demanding options are available.
Breville brings the smart cooking technology it's known for to microwaves with this model.
Pros: The best part of this microwave might be its interface. There’s the smart menu setup, which makes selecting the right settings for your task simple, and the shortcut buttons — cleverly only seen when the door is open — for those times when you want to start cooking quickly.
Cons: This is a lot of money to spend for a microwave that isn’t massive and doesn’t incorporate other heating elements.
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