Regardless of size,most American kitchens have a few core, small appliances, such as a toaster, a blender, and a microwave. For many people, the microwave is the go-to for reheating leftovers, defrosting frozen meals, and even cooking raw veggies in a flash. These handy appliances come in a range of sizes, from built-in designs with a minimal footprint to countertop models that can sit anywhere.
As with any new kitchen appliance, it’s important to ensure you’re buying a well-made device that can withstand regular use and last for years, and microwaves are no different. It’s also essential to find the right model for your kitchen space and specific needs. That’s why we’ve done the research to find the best microwave for every kind of cook and kitchen.
- BEST OVERALL: Toshiba EM131A5C-BS 1.2 cu. ft. Microwave Oven
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Farberware Classic 0.7 cu. ft. Microwave
- BEST SMART: GE JES1097SMSS 0.9 cu. ft. Smart Countertop Microwave
- BEST SMALL: Black+Decker EM720CB7 0.7 cu. ft. Microwave Oven
- BEST LARGE: Panasonic SN966S 2.2 cu. ft. Microwave With Inverter
- BEST VERSATILITY: Toshiba ML2-EC09SAIT 0.9 cu. ft. Multi-Microwave
- BEST DRAWER-STYLE: Sharp SMD2470AS 1.2 cu. ft. Microwave Drawer Oven
- BEST OVER-THE-RANGE: Samsung 1.9 cu. ft. Over-the-Range Microwave
How We Chose the Best Microwaves
To find the best microwaves, we surveyed dozens of brands and models. We narrowed things down to the best-performing products from trusted brands. From there, we looked at customer reviews and ratings to identify the best features and uses for each top pick. We were sure to include a range of prices, sizes, and styles to accommodate every kind of kitchen and buyer.
On this list, you’ll find top-performing built-in microwaves as well as countertop models. We considered features such as power and added capabilities such as air-frying. We also made sure to choose microwaves with easy-to-use interfaces that didn’t require a difficult installation process and were readily available to purchase.
Our Top Picks
We analyzed 20 of the best-selling microwaves and reviewed their features to whittle our list to these top eight products. Based on our extensive research, these products are our top choices for the best microwave ovens.
This microwave is a well-rounded choice that’s ideal for many kitchens. It has a compact footprint but offers plenty of internal space. In fact, it’s possible to fit a full 12-inch frozen pizza inside. The countertop microwave has a 12-inch rotating turntable that ensures even cooking. It also includes a range of 10 power settings, so you can do anything from slowly defrosting frozen food to quickly melting butter.
The microwave comes in two finishes: black stainless steel and silver. You can toggle the button sounds on and off, so loud beeping doesn’t wake up late risers or rile up pets. Plus, the digital interface is seamless to use. The oven also has several built-in cooking programs for one-touch ease, including frozen pizza, rice, and vegetables.
- Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet
- Power capacity: 1,100 watts
- Product dimensions: 12.8 inches tall by 20.5 inches wide by 17.2 inches deep
- High power wattage cooks foods faster
- Spacious interior fits larger foods and dishes, such as a 12-inch pizza
- 10 power settings so users can adjust temperature to suit a greater variety of foods
- Some users have reported trouble with the display light malfunctioning
Get the Toshiba 1.2-cubic-foot microwave at Amazon or Walmart.
Not only is it highly affordable, but this practical, small microwave is also highly rated by users. While it doesn’t have the sleek look of a stainless steel finish, it is available in a white or black finish to suit a variety of kitchen decors. Plus, what it lacks in flashiness it makes up for in features. The microwave comes with six preset one-touch programs, including popcorn, potatoes, pizza, frozen vegetables, and dinner plates. In addition, it’s customizable, so you can set your own power level and time for a one-touch program that heats your favorite dish perfectly every time. This cheap microwave has a compact footprint, so it won’t dominate your counter space, and it has 10 power levels for precise and even heating.
- Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet
- Power capacity: 700 watts
- Product dimensions: 10.1 inches tall by 17.75 inches wide by 12.91 inches deep
- Small footprint that won’t dominate a countertop
- 6 one-touch programs for cooking without the guesswork
- Programmable so users can set cooking times and power levels for favorite items
- Lower power wattage, so it may take longer for food to heat
Get the Farberware microwave at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Wayfair.
Upgrade your standard countertop or built-in microwave for a smart one with this GE find. The oven is Wi-Fi compatible and connects to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so users can control the cooking time and power with voice commands. Bluetooth also means that users can turn the microwave on, off, and adjust settings from any room in the house.
This smart microwave also boasts a scan-to-cook option, which is great for those who love the convenience of frozen foods. With the GE app, users can scan the barcode of a product and this microwave defaults to the right cooking time and temp, heating frozen favorites to just the right temperature. This smart microwave really takes the guesswork out of heating up dinner.
- Capacity: 0.9 cubic feet
- Power capacity: 900 watts
- Product dimensions: 11.5 inches tall by 19 inches wide by 14.5 inches deep
- 7 preset programs for one-touch cooking without the guesswork
- Wi-Fi connection allows users to control the device with their smartphones
- Features scan-to-cook option for frozen foods to set ideal cooking time and temperature
- Smaller turntable only holds smaller food containers
Get the GE microwave at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Best Buy.
This compact microwave is a great pick for smaller kitchens. It packs 700 watts of power, which is a good amount for the 0.7-cubic-foot capacity. The digital interface also offers a quick 30-second express-cook button as well as seven one-touch programs for common items like popcorn, potatoes, pizza, frozen vegetables, and even dinner plates. Inside, the microwave has a 10-inch glass turntable that’s removable for easy cleaning. You can also use the defrost setting by time or the weight of the item for more accurate cooking.
- Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet
- Power capacity: 700 watts
- Product dimensions: 10.5 inches tallby 17.3 inches wide by 13 inches deep
- Removable legs allow users to select the height of the microwave to fit space
- Available in 2 sizes, 0.7 cubic feet or 1.1 cubic feet, for various kitchen sizes
- Safety lock prevents kids from accidentally operating the microwave
- Lower power, so it may take longer to cook food
- Light weight means that the microwave may move when buttons are pushed
Get the Black+Decker microwave at Amazon.
Those who have a spacious kitchen or a big household to feed will find this 2.2-cubic-foot microwave is a great option for big-batch cooking and reheating. In addition to having plenty of space and a large 16.5-inch glass turntable, this appliance is also built with inverter technology. This feature helps ensure that food cooks evenly and doesn’t overcook by providing constant, consistent power. It also shortens the defrost time.
The microwave also has a “keep warm” feature that’s especially handy if you’re preparing a meal with multiple components, so you can get a few things done in advance without having to completely reheat everything before eating. For those who prefer the built-in look of wall installation, Panasonic also offers trim kits for this model.
- Capacity: 2.2 cubic feet
- Power capacity: 1,250 watts
- Product dimensions: 16.75 inches tall by 26.5 inches wide by 21.25 inches deep
- High power wattage for faster cooking
- Features 16.5-inch turntable to hold large containers for feeding large groups
- 14 sensor-cooking settings for one-touch decisions
- Larger size requires more counter space
Get the Panasonic microwave at Amazon.
This fully outfitted appliance oven does the job of a standard microwave and an air fryer, thanks to combi-mode cooking. The air-fryer mode results in crispier food using less fat, so users can even return leftover french fries and chicken fingers to their fresh-from-the-fryer state.
This appliance has a setting for convection cooking, which reaches 425 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a grilling setting that uses direct heat from below. Combi-mode cooks the food first with the microwave setting, then finishes with convection or grilling to get it nice and crispy. The oven also comes with a handy recipe booklet to help users make the most of this multifunctionalmicrowave.
- Capacity: 0.9 cubic feet
- Power capacity: 900 watts
- Product dimensions: 11.5 inches tall by 19.5 inches wide by 17.6 inches deep
- Inverter technology distributes heat more evenly and cooks more efficiently
- Includes baking tray and racks for air-frying and microwaving
- Convection and grill settings to crisp food quickly
- 2 color options, black stainless steel or stainless steel, to match kitchen aesthetic
- Must be cleaned between uses to avoid “baking” on oil from air-frying
Get the Toshiba 0.9-cubic-foot microwave at Amazon.
This sleek microwave blends right into almost any kitchen design. It fits under the counter and slides open like a drawer. The digital control panel pops out at a 45-degree angle so it’s easy to read from above, and there’s no need to bend over to put food inside or set the cooking time.
This spacious, 24-inch-wide microwave can hold a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and there’s enough internal height to hold a 20-ounce cup. (For even more room, a 30-inch model is also available.) This drawer-style microwave fits under countertops or beneath a wall oven for easy access, all while leaving more space on countertops.
- Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet
- Power capacity: 950 watts
- Product dimensions: 15.88 inches tall by 23.88 inches wide by 23.02 inches deep
- Concealed control panel for a sleek look
- Under-the-counter design conserves valuable countertop space
- Available in 2 sizes, 24 inches and 30 inches, to serve a variety of kitchen needs
- Lower power for its size means it may take longer to heat food
Get the Sharp microwave at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
With its 1.9-cubic-foot capacity, this Samsung microwave is a great over-the-range option. It does double duty as a microwave and an exhaust fan when a range is fired up. Designed with Sensor Cook technology, the Samsung monitors food as it cooks and automatically adjusts the cooking time for optimal results.
It also has ample microwave energy for cooking, thanks to its 1,000 watts of power, and 12 preset cooking options take the guesswork out of heating food. Other features include a ceramic enamel interior for easy cleaning and four color options, including stainless steel, black stainless steel, Tuscan stainless steel, and white glass. All of the stainless steel color options feature a fingerprint-resistant finish to help keep the need for wipe-downs to a minimum.
- Capacity: 1.9 cubic feet
- Power capacity: 1,000 watts
- Product dimensions: 17.06 inches tall by 9.88 inches wide by 16.5 inches deep
- Sensor Cook technology reduces overcooking by automatically monitoring and adjusting cook times
- 12 cooking presets help take the guesswork out of cooking commonly microwaved foods
- Fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish and ceramic enamel interior make it easier to clean
- Some customers complain that the control panel is difficult to read
Get the Samsung microwave at Lowe’s, Best Buy, The Home Depot, or Samsung.
What to Consider When Choosing a Microwave
Before you add any new appliance to your kitchen or home, it’s important to check out a few features and specs to ensure it’s the right product for you. When shopping for a microwave in particular, it’s important to know that the new appliance will fit into your space, that it has the appropriate amount of power for your needs, and that it has the functions that you’ll use most often. In addition, there are also some nice-to-have features that you may decide are worth paying for.
First, consider where you’ll store your microwave. Most models are built to simply sit on the counter, in which case all you’ll need is enough countertop space and a nearby outlet. If you’d like to keep your counter clear, however, you may want a built-in microwave.
This could be an over-the-range microwave, which, as it sounds, fits into your kitchen above a stovetop. Another option is a drawer microwave, which sits below the counter and opens like a drawer at waist height. The right type of microwave for your kitchen depends on the design and space available.
Size and Capacity
The size of your microwave also depends on how much room you have for it, and the size of your household. If you regularly reheat large bowls of leftovers to feed a crowd, for example, you’ll probably want a larger microwave that can fit a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, for example. But if space is at a premium in your kitchen, or you want a microwave that’s portable or fits into an RV, opt for something smaller and lighter.
Take note of both the interior capacity and the total footprint of a microwave before buying, as some models are more efficiently designed than others, meaning there isn’t a major difference between the interior capacity and overall size.
Power and Presets
A microwave’s power is indicated by wattage. Most home microwave ovens have 700 to 1,200 watts of power. Smaller models need fewer watts to heat food, while larger models tend to be more powerful.
You’ll also find that most microwaves have a range of power settings. These levels let you choose how fast your food is heated. You may want a lower power setting to defrost something, for example, so it thaws slowly and more evenly and you avoid cooking the outside of the product while the interior is still frozen solid. For quick jobs like melting butter, on the other hand, you may want a higher power and a shorter cooking time. For more flexibility in how you use the appliance, look for a microwave with a range of power settings.
In addition to power settings, most microwaves come with presets, which are one-touch buttons for commonly microwaved items such as popcorn and frozen vegetables. These can be handy if you tend to cook the same items regularly.
The standard cooking function on all of these appliances is microwave cooking, which heats up food by causing water molecules inside the food to vibrate and produce heat. Some models have additional cooking functions, such as air-frying or grilling. These use convection heat, which is dry heat propelled by a fan. This dryer style of heating can help get food crispy, much like an oven. Microwaving alone, on the other hand, will not produce crispiness because of the moisture it requires.
Additional Features and Accessories
You may see some countertop and built-in microwave models with additional features and accessories, such as heating racks and dishes. It’s fairly standard for microwaves to include a round glass turntable where food is placed while it heats. The table rotates for even cooking and is easy to remove and clean. Accessories such as wire racks are helpful in ovens with an air- fryer function, because the wire pattern helps air circulate all around the food for more even crisping.
Investing in a new microwave requires research into its capabilities and how it adapts to your lifestyle. It’s also important to keep a microwave clean for it to function most efficiently,” or something along those lines. The answers to the following questions can help shoppers choose a microwave and maintain it for years to come.
Q. How do you clean a microwave?
The best way to clean a microwave is by using steam, which can remove stains, cooked-on food, and odors. Lowe’s store manager and appliance expert Brian Shaunfield offers a simple step-by-step process to deep-clean your microwave.
- Add a cup of water and several slices of citrus fruit or 1 cup of distilled white
vinegar to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the mixture on high until it boils and
creates steam that fills the inside of the microwave. When the microwave is full of
steam, turn it off and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
- Then, carefully remove the cleaning mixture and the rotating glass plate (if your
microwave has one). Clean the rotating plate in your sink with a sponge and dish
- Wipe the microwave with a cloth, sponge, or paper towel to remove any food residue
that was softened up during the steaming process.
- If there’s stubborn food still stuck inside your microwave, there are a few options
you can use to help clean it off. Try warm water and dish soap on a regular sponge,
a damp melamine sponge, or a thick paste made of baking soda and water to help
remove the residue.
- Using a mixture of water and white vinegar, spray the inside of the microwave and the door to disinfect.
- Wipe the outside of the microwave with disinfecting wipes or with paper towels and an all-purpose spray.
- If there are food odors still lingering, put some baking soda in a bowl and place it
inside the microwave. Without starting the microwave, allow the baking soda to sit and
absorb the odors until the next time you need to use the microwave.
Q. What is a standard-size microwave?
Most over-the-range microwaves are about 17 inches high, 30 inches wide, and 15 to 18 inches deep, says Shaunfield. “Built-in microwave sizes usually match standard cabinet dimensions.”
Q. What does more wattage in a microwave mean?
Higher wattage means the microwave has more power and will cook food faster.
Q. When should you replace your microwave?
“Microwaves should be replaced every 7 to 8 years. Microwaves that are well maintained can generally last longer,” says Shaunfield. To keep your microwave in tip-top condition, clean it well and only use it for microwave-safe items. There are certain things that should never be microwaved. Additionally, there are ways to safely dispose of a microwave that should be taken into account.
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