Microwaves are a kitchen staple, but you don’t have to buy them very often. A good microwave should last you for years to come. If you are in the market for a new microwave, you might be feeling overwhelmed by all the choices. We can help! Before you buy, you should have an idea what type (countertop versus above range), size, and power works best for your particular needs. From there, it’s a question of features and reviews.
There probably isn’t a “perfect” microwave out there. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone gush about or tell me how much they love their microwave, have you? Regardless, you can still find the best one for your needs and there are definitely models that have better specs and functions than others.
With all that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best microwaves, including countertop and over the range. We’ll also cover some of the things you’ll want to look for before you shop.
This Panasonic model is our top pick for a number of reasons. Not only is it highly reviewed, it also has useful features and design. At 1250 watts of power, it is powerful enough for all your needs. The Inverter Technology helps ensure even cooking, and it reduces defrost times. 18 present menu items make it easy to cook your most common items quickly and efficiently.
In terms of design, this particular model is made of stainless steel and is 2.2 cubic feet. It is up to eight pounds lighter than other microwaves, making it a great size for most kitchens. One of our favorite features is the “Keep Warm” option, which holds the temp of food until serving time. While it’s a little pricey at over $200, it’s a great investment on an excellent microwave.
Great Design: Bella BMO11ABTBKD 1000W Microwave
Bella’s appliances are well made and look amazing. This microwave comes in red, platinum, black, and white, and has an attractive look to it. It is 1.1 cubic feet, so it’s a great size for any counter. In addition to just looking great on your counter, it’s also a really good microwave. 1000 watts is plenty for most, and it features six automatic programmed settings for things like pizza, beverages, popcorn, and more. Plus, the interface is simple to use.
Retro Look: Daewoo Retro Microwave Oven in Mint Green
If you’re looking for something to add a bit of flair to your kitchen, a Daewoo retro microwave might be the way to go. We love this mint green microwave with a vintage feel. It’s not the most functional microwave you can get – it’s just 700 watts and a bit small – it works great for small kitchens and for those who only use the microwave on occasion. It’s also under $100, which is a bargain for kitschy kitchen appliances. This is also a good bet for a solid compact microwave oven.
Best Compact: Hamilton Beach 700 Watt
If you have limited countertop space for a microwave, you need a compact size. Hamilton Beach makes quality microwaves, so this one is our pick for the best compact because of its reputation and size. With a 0.7 cu. ft. capacity and a good small size, it should fit well in tight spaces. Typically, compact microwaves have smaller wattage, and this is no exception. It is 700 watts, so it’s not a lot, but is enough for most heating needs.
Over the Range Microwaves
If you are searching for an above range microwave, there are a few things you should know. First, reviews are always mixed, and my theory is it’s because there is just so much that can go wrong with sizing, installation, mechanics and so forth. I researched one microwave that received top marks on a well-known reviewing website only to find that 100% of the reviewers on Amazon gave it 1 star. Anyway, my point here is that you should definitely do your homework before selecting an over the range. Make sure your dimensions are correct and double check that the microwave you’re interested in will fit how you want it to (by height, etc.).
With all that in mind, we found one that has consistently positive reviews as well as specs that make sense for the average kitchen.
Best Overall: GE Over the Range Microwave
This comes in a slate color and fits in 30” spaces. It’s 1.7 cu. ft. and 1000 watts. It features a turntable you can toggle on and off, and includes a two speed venting system. The interface is intuitive and the pre-programmed settings are optimal. There is very little to complain about in this model, plus it’s actually affordable for an above range – you can pick it up for under $200 on sale.
How to Choose a Microwave
There are many different things to take into consideration when you are shopping for a new microwave. Of course, you’ll probably know right away whether you are looking for an over the range or a countertop microwave, so from there you have the question of dimensions and other features. Here are some of the ways you can narrow down your search.
Size + Capacity
While measurements are crucial for above the range microwaves, they can be important for countertop models as well. Microwaves come in an array of sizes, so it’s good to know how much counter real estate you’ll be devoting to it. Microwaves should have dimensions easily available, but the other number you’ll see is capacity. This tells you how big it is inside. Over 1 cubic foot is the preferred size for most families. Compact microwaves are typically around 0.7 and larger sizes go as big as 2.2 cubic feet.
Power in microwaves is measured in wattage. As a rule of thumb, going for at least 1000 watts is good; higher is even better for most. Smaller sized microwaves will have lower watts, however, so it’s standard for compact sizes to be 700 watts. Additionally, your microwave should also have easy to figure out power variations, so you can cook at 50% power or other levels without problems.
One Touch + Interface
Having one touch options is very important to some, and there are tons of different options and layouts on the interface. If this might be important to you, it’s a good idea to see if the model you’re interested in has one touch settings, such as popcorn or beverages, or plus 30 or 60 seconds. This is also a good time to look for defrost options and make sure the options work for you. Finally, the interface should make sense and not be too complicated to work.
Having a turntable is important, but it’s just as important to check the status of it. Is it removable for easy cleaning? Can it be turned off? Don’t overlook this component of the microwave, especially if you have strong opinions about turntables.
There are some cool other features on some of today’s microwaves. If any of these matter to you, be sure your selected model has it!
- Child locks
- Automatic sensors (to sense when food is done and avoid overcooking)
- Convection (convection microwaves are rare, but there are a few out there)