In the modern world, who doesn’t have a microwave? They are a staple of fast cooking. Their convenience is unparalleled when it comes to getting meals in, out, and onto your plate in seconds. From reheating pizza to that cup of coffee that you’ve forgotten about again, the best microwaves are a staple of every kitchen, from stressed-out students to professional chefs.

So what do you need to look for in a microwave? You might not think it, but even your current machine has plenty of features you don’t even know about. Space and power are key, but so are power levels too, so you can make sure you don’t overheat your pizza rolls and burn your mouth. A top-quality microwave delivers these features, and with 21st-century technology, including Smart Sensors and Smart Home tech, the potential for your next microwave is just waiting for you to discover exactly what you can do.

They may have the sensationally flavorful reputation of your favorite family cast iron, nor do they inspire the feverish abandon of the best refrigerators, but the best microwave will always have a welcome and essential place in any kitchen around the world.

The Best Microwave

1. Toshiba Smart Sensor 1100W Microwave

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The Toshiba Smart Sensor 1100W Microwave is the best choice for the best microwaves around. It has a 1.2 cubic foot capacity and a 12.4″ turntable, giving you a suitable sizable option that won’t take up too much space on the countertop. No matter what you want to cook, it can do so thanks to the preprogrammed sensor menu and 10 power settings that ensure thoroughly cooked food.

It’s easy to clean and has an easy-read display for at-a-glance information, while the Soften/Melt function will save you from exploding knobs of butter that you forget about every time.

2. BLACK+DECKER Digital Microwave Oven

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Available in 4 sizes, the Black+Decker Digital Microwave Oven offers plenty of options for kitchens and countertops of all sizes. It boasts pre-programmed buttons and settings for convenience and easy-of-use, while the 700 watt and 10 heat settings will ensure you can enjoy safe and steaming deliciousness whatever the meal.

Besides this, the Express cooking time is perfect for those in a hurry, and the Child Lock and push button door release means that you can cook things without the worry of your kids taking things out while they are still too hot. There’s also a one year limited warranty for peace of mind.

3. Panasonic Countertop Sensor Microwave Oven

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If you’re looking for the best microwave to ensure the best value, the Panasonic Countertop Microwave Oven is just what you need, and it may earn plenty of praise from everyone in your household should you choose it.

The 1200 watt power is one of the best around, and it also uses inverter technology that ensures evenly prepared food every single time. This means you’ll never bite into the dreaded ‘cold zone’ ever again, nor will you burn your mouth on the inside of your favorite snacks.

4. Kenmore Compact Countertop Microwave

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The Kenmore Small Compact Countertop Microwave comes with 2 sizes to choose from giving you some variety, and it’s ideal for compact spaces, such as RVs or apartments, or even for people who don’t use a microwave too often, but still recognize why they are useful. It’s most striking feature is One Touch Express Cooking, which is perfect for such situations, while the 6 heating presets add further simplicity.

The Lock Out design keeps little fingers from getting burned, and the removable turntable makes the interior easy to clean to reduce, and eliminate, the risk of mold or bacteria growing.

5. Panasonic 1250W Inverter Microwave Oven

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The Panasonic Inverter Microwave Oven is one of those microwaves that should be in every home. it boasts the highest power rating around, with a whopping 1250 watts that will ensure consistent and even cooking no matter what’s inside. The 2.2 cubic foot capacity offers plenty of interior space, while it’s Smart Cooking and Genius Sensor also provide a user friendly experience.

There’s also a Keep Warm feature to ensure that everything gets served piping hot and delicious, and its turbo Defrost functions will guarantee safety with every meal. Along with this, you can use one of the ten temperature and power settings to guarantee total control over quick meals or simple reheating endeavors.

6. Toshiba Countertop Convection Microwave

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The Toshiba Countertop Microwave Oven is an excellent choice that puts you, the customer, firmly in mind. THe After Sales Service and 1-year warranty provide peace of mind, while the preprogrammed sensors and 1000 watt power, with 10 settings to select, make it one of those best convection microwave ovens money can buy.

With 1.5 cubic feet capacity, you can cook small to medium meals with ease, and you may get away with big dishes, also. the 13.6″ glass turntable ensures even cooking throughout, and with one touch operation, you can easily reheat pizza and prepare popcorn for your weekly family movie night.

7. Faberware Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave

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With an impressive 5 colors to choose from, the Farberware Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave Oven will look at-home in any kitchen style across the country. It’s more than just a sleek and stylish option, though. The 12.1 cubic foot capacity is ideal for singles or couples, with the 1000 watt power rating will ensure a satisfying and delicious meal every single time.

The easy-to-read control panel makes it convenient when checking from a distance, and you can use this to assess the time and power required for your favorite microwave meal. Furthermore, there are 6 cooking programs plus one-touch cooking, while you can also defrost frozen food by weight or time to make things easier.

8. Nostalgia Retro Digital Countertop Microwave

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Certainly the best microwave for those with a love of the simpler times of rock’n’roll and dinner dates with milkshakes at the diner, the aptly named Nostalgia Retro Large Countertop Microwave Oven would be a fantastic choice to bring into your home.

Available in 5 colors, it’s packed with personality, and it doesn’t just perform well, but it may earn plenty of compliments, as it’s certainly a conversation piece. The 0.9 cubic foot capacity isn’t the largest around, but it’s still an impressive model regardless, blending the retro style with modern instruments to give you the best of both.

9. Frigidare Gallery Series Microwave

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The premium pick for top microwaves that you need right now is the comprehensive and endlessly rewarding Frigidaire Gallery Series Built-In Microwave Oven. It boasts 2 cubic feet capacity, as well as a power 1200 cooking watts for consistent satisfaction.

The 3 auto-cook options are easy to use and convenient, while the Sensor cook style will guarantee the best results regardless of your meal. If you know you cook the same thing regularly, take advantage of one of the 7 user preferences to make it a one-touch job each time and save you precious seconds with every meal.

10. Magic Chef 1100W Stainless Steel Microwave

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This Magic Chef 1100W Stainless Steel Microwave Oven comes with a suitably convenient 1.6 cubic feet, perfect for your standard microwave meals, while the 1100 power is one of the highest around. There are Auto Cook menus to add further convenience and simplicity, and the 6 preprogrammed settings eliminate the guesswork from your late night snacking.

You can guarantee that you enjoy the best and most delicious meals possible with the Express Cook function while the 11 power levels mean that you’re always able to find the optimal temperature, regardless of what’s inside. From beverages to egg fried rice, it may not be a convection microwave, but it still does the job perfectly.

11. AmazonBasics Alexa Small Microwave

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Smart Home lovers looking for one of the best microwaves to make their lives as easy as possible should look no further than the AmazonBasics Microwave. It offers the perfect combination of simplicity in its design while also matching the brilliance of what modern technology can do, and with Alexa compatibility and a range of power levels, it’s an excellent choice for anyone who wants to connect everything in their home.

There is a built-in kitchen timer and child lock features, while the compact style helps you find a place in your home (or spaceship) no matter the size or available counter space.

12. Sharp Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave Oven

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While the focus has been mainly on a microwave convection oven that’s suitable for the home, the Sharp Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave Oven is ideal for restaurants, cafes, and anywhere that demands fast turnaround mixed with excellent quality.

The 1000 watt power provides consistent performance, while the 1 cubic foot capacity means it still leaves plenty of counter space for food prep and other demands. It comes complete with a heating time guide, which isn’t something you always get from microwave ovens, while the LED display is easy to read, even from a distance.

13. Sharp Countertop Microwave

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Arguably the best affordable microwave out of all of our best microwave ovens or countertop microwaves, the Sharp Countertop Microwave Oven comes in 2 colors and boasts fantastic features to ensure total satisfaction.

The best of these features is the Popcorn, Beverage, and Reheat settings that take the guessing out of even the simplest of tasks, while its Express Cook feature provides further convenience. There are 11 power settings, and you can also use the handy +30 seconds key to if something isn’t quite ready just yet.

Features To Consider With Microwaves

Size

You need to ensure your new microwave is big enough without seeming like it takes up too much counter space in your kitchen. This will ensure that it is easy to install in your kitchen without demanding a significant rearranging of everything. If you have a dedicated space for your microwave, you'll need to make sure it is small enough to fit inside snugly and comfortably. The size will also impact the weight, and even though you might not expect microwaves to weigh much, they can surprise you.

Capacity

While you may not think so, Capacity and Size are different things. While size relates to the exterior, Capacity is more concerned with the interior. Measures in cubic feet, your microwave capacity will determine how easy it is to cook or reheat certain things. For soups or a simple chicken breast, or even your McDonald’s fries, you don’t need a large capacity. However, bigger meals for one, two, or even three will require a much bigger space. Typically, you should pick a capacity size based on the size of your household, while also considering how often you use a microwave and the type of food you cook or reheat in it.

Cleaning

Keeping your microwave clean will ensure that it lasts as long as it should, and you should endeavor to clean it at least every three months. This will avoid food or liquids building up and also prevent mold from growing if anything gets left behind. Even with this recommendation, you should always clean it as often as you can, especially after using it to heat up baked beans or melt butter, which can pop or explode if not properly covered. To clean your microwave, take a damp cloth or kitchen towel and wipe away any food or drink residue, then leave the door open to allow it to air dry. Larger microwaves are naturally easier to clean, as they allow you more room to move when trying to reach into the inner nooks and crannies.

Distribution Of Heat

Heat distribution is an essential component of finding the best microwave for you. With even heat distribution, you can ensure that it cooks your food at a consistent temperature, which makes sit safe to eat. As some foods are uneven, poor heat distribution could cause parts of the food to be too hot or too cold, which could burn your mouth or even make you sick if it does not reach the right temperature, such as poultry.

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Power/Wattage

The power and wattage helps you to understand that your microwave is powerful enough to provide sufficient heating regardless of what you put inside. Wattages we have selected range from around 700 up to 1200, although this can vary between brands, sizes, and styles. The larger the microwave, the higher the wattage, generally, although this is not a solid rule that you should always follow. You shouldn’t just look for the highest power and wattage, but rather the level that you use most often to heat food.

Power Levels

It's tricky to get an actual idea of what food requires which temperature, but power levels can help to take the guesswork out of this and enhance the ease of use to ensure that you can cook or reheat your food and drink sufficiently. Typically, these power levels go up in increments of 90 or 100 depending on the model. The more power levels a microwave offers, the more control you will have over your cooking.

Smart Features

Smart features are another aspect that can improve ease of use for microwaves and microwave ovens, although you will not find them on every product. With those that offer them, though, you can connect your microwave to Alexa or other Smart Home products to provide convenience, and even automatically order food, such as popcorn, if you are running low.

Smart Sensors

Smart Sensors are another excellent feature and it allows your microwave to cook your food to perfection, especially if you are unsure of what setting to choose. These sensors automatically detect how much moisture is present in your food or any moisture created by steam if you are cooking with a lidded container.

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Programs

Rather than try to work out the time and power for cooking your frozen pizza, Programs provide One-Touch operation to guarantee everything is prepared properly. Microwaves come with a range of unique programs, including Defrosting, Pizza, Rice, and even Beverages. This saves you guessing which time and temperature to choose, while still giving you the freedom to leave it in a little longer if you need to.

Door Handle/Button

While not a huge issue for many people, deciding between a Door Handle or Button to open your microwave can help you maintain your kitchen's style and decor. Minimalist homes may prefer the sleek design of the button, as these don't protrude, whereas handles, arguably the more 'classic' style are popular amongst traditional designs.

Style

Most modern microwaves are sleek and stylish, blending into any kitchen subtly. However, if you prefer some personality with your appliances, Retro options are also available. A modern microwave may use flat buttons and perhaps a dial to select the time or temperature. They also usually have buttons to open the door. Conversely, retro models will rely solely on dials, and the buttons to select different settings will protrude. Despite the differences in styles, you can expect every microwave to use an LED screen to show the time.

Turntable

The turntable or carousel is the part of the microwave that rotates the food to provide even heat distribution. They are made of heat-proof glass and are highly durable. The best turntables come in a range of sizes that will usually match with the overall size and capacity of your microwave. Larger turntables will provide better stability for big plates and large mixing bowls while also ensuring consistent rotation.

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Microwave FAQ

Q: How long should a microwave last?

A:

Microwaves, even an affordable microwave you bought for your college dorm, should last between 9 and 10 years. Some will last longer than this, and others shorter. Despite your microwave being a gadget that’s a little more complex than you might expect, there isn’t much that you can do to really make it last and extend its lifespan, however.

The best way to ensure you get as many years from your microwave as you need is by maintaining it correctly. This means regular cleaning, outside as well as inside, and make sure you don’t damage the door, as otherwise it will be essentially useless, and could even be dangerous to use.

Q: Are microwaves worth repairing?

A:

Both countertop microwaves and larger microwave ovens are some of the most reliable and durable appliances around. Because they are so durable, it is unlikely you’ll need to get them repaired too often, especially if you take care of them.

However, it’s arguably because of their durability that you should get your repaired if it acts up or breaks down, particularly if it is a newer model. While engineers don’t experience many jobs that demand microwave repair, they will still have the know-how to fix one should you need it. By getting your microwave repaired when it is showing bad signs, you may be able to further extend its life, and if it is out of the warranty period, it could prove to be more economical than purchasing a brand new model.

Q: Can microwaves be harmful?

A:

The term'microwaves' can put some people off purchasing one. Radiation, well, radiating around your body when the appliance is running isn't something you want to think about too often. However, microwaves will contain the radio waves and radiation with the appliance, which is why you see the diamond-style grid on the door. That's why many people stick with regular ovens or toaster ovens.

There have been very few recorded problems related to radiation from microwaves (and one of those is merely the fate of the fictional James O. Incandenza in Infinite Jest). The main issue you need to look out for is a heated dinner plate, bowls, containers, and food and drink after retrieving it from the microwave.

As microwaves are designed to heat or reheat food and drink, it’s possible to overheat them so that your food and beverages get to a piping hot, and therefore dangerous, level. After using a microwave to heat your dinner or drink, it's always best to allow it to cool for a few minutes before tackling it, no matter how hungry you might be. You don’t want to burn your tongue, after all.

Q: Do microwaves sterilize?

A:

Microwaves are one of the best and most effective measures you can take to sterilize and disinfect food and other things, such as certain types of clothing but not money or your smartphone. While the microwaves themselves do not sterilize, they generate heat within the water molecules that can reach temperatures to kill bacteria.

This is why you can safely reheat food inside a microwave, especially food that is prone to growing bacteria if left overnight, such as chicken or rice. While fast acting, microwaves are also effective, and they can generate the heat much quicker than a standard gas or electric oven. This helps you reheat your food to a safe-to-eat temperature in minutes, further adding to the overall convenience of countertop microwaves.