With thousands of microwave ovens vying for you attention, it’s little wonder you struggle to choose the option that best suits your needs. That’s where we can help. We’ve reviewed dozens of top-rated models and condensed the best of them into our best microwave oven list.
Our top overall pick for the best microwave oven to buy in 2020 is the Panasonic NN-SN651WAZ because of its large capacity, compact design and long functional life. We’ve also conducted an in-depth review of the convection microwave oven that bakes better than any other conventional microwave.
In case you don’t have the budget for these premium models, we also have recommendations for the more affordable ovens, such as the Toshiba EM925A5A-BS. It’s ranked as the best value for your money. Though it’s cheap, it comes with plenty of notable features, including a user-friendly control panel, bright digital display, and useful pre-set menus.
Following you’ll find our list of the six best microwave ovens on the market, as well as a couple of tips to make shopping easier.
How to Buy the Best Microwave Oven
A microwave oven that’s worth your investment should offer the ultimate combination of value, quality, ease of use and cooking performance.
Our general standard for cooking performance is based on the most common use for a microwave: reheating leftovers. However, we also take into consideration how well a microwave oven handles other cooking tasks, such as baking, grilling and defrosting. We also differentiate the impact of unit’s size, type and feature set to ensure that your desired oven will fit both your space and intended use.
1. Type of Microwaves
There are three types of microwave ovens to choose from, namely solo, grill, and convection.
Solo microwaves are good for simple tasks like reheating, cooking, and defrosting. They can’t grill or bake. They have the fewest features and are the cheapest of the three types, but they still fulfil all the basic home cooking needs.
Solo microwaves range in price from $50 to $200, depending on their size, capacity, and feature set.
Simply speaking, grill microwaves are standard microwaves that include a grill function. They come in handy for grilling meat and barbecuing veggies. For those who are addicted to a barbecue-grill-smoky flavor but live in an apartment where a gas or charcoal grill is not allowed, grill microwaves make good options. They’re also the perfect middle ground for those wanting to do more than mere reheating, but find the extra features (baking or roasting) redundant.
Grill microwaves’ prices range between $85 and $600, depending on their size, capacity, and feature set.
Convection microwaves add together all the functions of a microwave and a convection oven combination. They can cook almost everything in a variety of ways, from baking to grilling and roasting. While food baked in a conventional oven would not usually have browned or crisped surface, a convection microwave can achieve otherwise.
Convection microwaves have a fan with a heating element around it. The fan circulates the air inside the oven so that the heat is more evenly distributed around the food. This brings about a significant reduction in cooking time and helps the food to be cooked more thoroughly.
Convection microwaves are the most expensive models of all, with prices starting at around $300. But, with the many benefits offered, they’re definitely worth your consideration.
2. Size and Capacity
All countertop microwaves come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. The size and capacity of your product usually goes alongside with how much you spend.
Small models are less than 18 inches wide, 12 inches deep, and 10 inches tall on the exterior. Their capacity is between 0.5 and 1.0 cubic feet. That’s big enough for families of 2-3 members.
Mid-size models are around 24 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and 10 inches tall on the exterior. This is the most popular size because it offers the best balance of capacity, portability, and performance. With a capacity of less than 2.0 cubic feet, these ovens are great for families of 4 to 5 members.
Your large countertop microwave will have a width of at least 24 inches, a depth of between 20 and 22 inches, and a height of between 16 and 18 inches. Its capacity will range between 2.0 and 2.2 cubic feet of space. While this unit typically can’t defrost a whole frozen turkey, it can comfortably accommodate a 13-inch pizza or a full-size chicken. Large-size models are generally suitable for large families (more than 5 members) and gatherings.
Note: Some microwaves’ capacity is measured in liters (L), varying from 15L to 40L. The volume of 15 liters is approximately 0.5 cubic feet.
3. Features and Functions
Even with the most basic microwave oven you will have a timed cook function, which enables you to set the cooking time manually. You will also have a set of pre-programmed cooking modes for various common dishes, like pizza, popcorn, cake, toast, etc. With these presets, there is no need to constantly guess the cooking time for the perfect results.
If you have young children, you should consider buying an oven with child lock function for your child’s safety. This feature is now available in many affordable models.
High-end models often come with more innovative features and functions, such as an auto defrost function and a steam cooking function. They also come with racks that allow users to cook two or more different dishes at the same time.
If you have a tendency to overcook everything, then you may want to choose a model with automatic sensors. With this technology, your oven will automatically turn off as soon as the food is ready, saving you from the hassle of over-cooked food.
Though microwave ovens must go through a rigorous safety test prior to it being released for general use, microwave radiation leakage can somehow occur. Although health hazards caused by microwave radiation are very rare, according to The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it doesn’t mean the product is risk-free. Therefore, it’s essential for users to ensure that escaping radiation levels are within acceptable limits.
As stated by the FDA, the limited amount of microwaves that could leak from an oven throughout its lifetime is 5 milliwatts (mW) of microwave radiation per square centimeter at approximately 2 inches from any point on the outer surface of the oven. Exposure to higher than the permitted levels of microwave radiation will increase the risk of cataracts and burns.
In general, the escaping radiation will occur through the oven’s door. Thus, users should check that the door is designed to close firmly when the oven is working. It’s also recommended that you should avoid an oven that appears to have damaged door’s seals, hinges, or latches.
Reviews of the Best Microwave Ovens 2020
With the provided in-depth information below, hopefully, every buyer will quickly learn everything they need to know about the right way to make better buying decisions.
- Panasonic NN-SN651WAZ Countertop – Best to Buy in 2020
- Westinghouse WCMH900B – Best Rated by Customer
- Toshiba EM925A5A-BS – Best Microwave Oven Under $100
- Cuisinart CMW-200 – Best Convection Microwave Oven
- hOmeLabs Countertop Microwave Oven – Best Microwave Popcorn
- Commercial Chef CHM770SS Microwave Oven – Best Compact
Top-Rated Countertop Microwave Ovens Comparison Chart
|1200||1.2 Cu. Ft.||1 year|
|Westinghouse WCMH900B||600||0.9 Cu. Ft.||1 year|
|Toshiba EM925A5A-BS||900||0.9 Cu. Ft.||1 year|
|Cuisinart CMW-200||100||1.2 Cu. Ft.||3 years|
|hOmeLabs 1050||1050||1.3 Cu. Ft.||2 years|
|Commercial Chef CHM770SS||700||0.7 Cu. Ft.||2 years|
Here’s our picks of the Best Microwave Ovens.
1. Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN651WAZ White Countertop – Best to Buy in 2020
Whether you want to cook large portions of food or just get your leftovers reheated, the Panasonic NN-SN651WAZ will fully satisfy your expectations. Its large capacity, advanced features and strong wattage make it a perfect household appliance for on-the-go families or busy professionals.
What We Like
This is one of the quietest microwaves that boils water fast, cooks food evenly and saves energy efficiently. It also looks sleek and professional with a menu option providing detailed cooking instructions in three different languages (English, Spanish and French).
It sports inverter technology that ensures faster, more accurate results. This technological advance gives you true microwave power that will reach every part of your food, resolving the common issue of uneven outcomes.
There are also other beneficial features that differentiate this unit from most others . These include a popcorn key, a warming mode, a flat keypad panel and a stainless steel housing. These characteristics make it not only easy to use and control but also very convenient to clean.
The Panasonic also has a cooking sensor that recognizes the different types of food placed in it. It uses this information to adjust the time and power to suit. This means, based on the sensor readings, the machine knows to an acceptable level of accuracy what you’re cooking so as to monitor your food throughout the cooking process. Consequently, you should never have overcooked or burnt food
Sounds convenient but is it? This machine has no handle. Instead, you must use the push button underneath the control panel to open the oven. The problem is that the button is a bit hard to press, especially for those with delicate fingers.
Compared to other models, the Panasonic is quite bigger and heavier, which may be a disadvantage if you have little kitchen space. Plus, the end alarm is a series of short beeps that could easily be missed and it doesn’t even beep again to replay the announcement.
Despite all its drawbacks, this stainless steel microwave is still worth the investment considering the number of useful features it provides, especially, our favorite, the sensor reheat feature.
2. Westinghouse WCMH900B Rotary – Best Rated by Customer
If you are on the hunt for a countertop oven with a simple and basic operation, this is it.
What We Like
Featuring a sense of quality and simplicity, this unit is the perfect tool where counter space is restricted. Some may even see this as an ideal appliance for a camper or other RV. In spite of its tiny size, this oven still provides enough customization and power options for your favorite dishes.
Beyond the compact design, it’s built in such a way that requires minimal maintenance. It has a removable glass turntable which comes out really easily for cleaning.
Packed with mechanical dial controls,, it allows users to choose from 6 microwave power levels, providing more options to explore the versatility of your cooking.
More interestingly, it makes use of knobs instead of pads, which is pretty convenient for people who have difficulty reading the tiny print on the keypad. All you need to do is turn the knob and let it run.
The only problem with this unit is the force that it takes to open the oven door. Since the oven itself is not very heavy, you may have to hold the microwave with one hand and then open the door with the other so as to prevent the whole unit from sliding forward when you open the door.
But here’s a tip: place a thin anti slip rubber pad under the unit to solve this matter completely.
So far, this Westinghouse microwave meets users expectations. It does what it’s supposed to do pretty well. It’s moderately priced and is designed to work efficiently.
However, this item is just a basic microwave oven that cannot perform too many heavy duties.
3. Toshiba EM925A5A-BS – Best Microwave Oven Under $100
The EM925A5A-BS is an excellent choice for the accomplishment of large tasks within a reasonable amount of time.
What We Like
If you are a fan of Toshiba products, then this one won’t disappoint you.
This classy device provides all the practical features that will appeal to any customer in desperate need of a microwave oven. Powered by a 900-watt motor and 6 pre-programed functions, it’s clear that this oven is properly designed for those who are looking forward to advancing their cooking skills to a professional stage.
Aside from being extremely well-built, it also offers many useful traits that come in handy, such as a power saving mode, and a child safety lock which effectively protects your kids from any unexpected accidents.
Moreover, the machine also has a sound on/off option, exempting your housemates from the annoying beeps when you cook at night or in the early morning.
There are 2 main problems with this product: (1) the oven’s unilluminated buttons contain small print that is very hard to read. (2) the mute mode can soften but does not completely eliminate the buzzing noise while the generator is performing.
Toshiba is a well-known company producing many great products from smart TVs to countertop microwave ovens. The product in this deal is no exception. With this EM925A5A-BS model – the best over the range microwave oven, you can personally create culinary magic in your “foodie world”.
Want to find a much more professional Toshiba product? Here it is.
4. Cuisinart CMW-200 1.2-Cubic-Foot – Best Convection Microwave
We highly recommend this little workhorse for kitchen enthusiasts lusting after an appliance that combines the function of a convection microwave and that of a standard one. Although this oven may take a little more time to finish the browning tasks, it still works well enough to efficiently accomplish your daily tasks and leave you with time to spare.
What We Like
Built from the highest-quality materials, this convection oven lets you prepare food evenly and conveniently. It takes cookery to a whole new level with its impressive performance.
The multi-stage setting option automatically switches from one function to another for ease of use. You don’t even need to stop and reset the control panel when you use two different functions for one dish, easily creating delicious results.
Ideal for small households, this modern and elegant appliance safely defrosts any type of food without damaging the texture by using a combination of radiation and traditional heating.
Controlling it is also very easy. Simply select the mode, set an appropriate temperature, choose the time and press start.
This machine comes at a pretty high price. So, you could find many competitive microwaves out there. However, given its unique set of features, the Cuisinart totally knocks out most of its rivals, leading the way when it comes to quality kitchen appliances.
My only hesitation in rating the Cuisinart 5 stars is that, the oven’s exterior,especially the left hand side, gets very hot when you’re using the convection mode. The high temperature means that it’s risky to touch or place objects close to the machine. In contrast, the right side and the front of the door somehow stays cool.
Overall, this microwave/convection combo is very nicely made and it’ll match pretty well with any kitchen décor. It takes up no more room than a regular oven and should have no problem finding its home in your modest kitchen.
Nevertheless, those with kitchen space constraints might find it difficult to place the oven, especially since it needs clearance to circulate heat properly.
5. hOmeLabs Countertop Microwave Oven – Best Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn might not be the most important snack to some but it’s very popular amongst others, especially on movie nights., HOmeLabs Countertop Microwave Oven is here to ensure that you don’t suffer the awful smell of burnt popcorn for the rest of the day.
What We Like
We absolutely love the way popcorn explodes, jumps and makes that popping sound when prepared in this hOmeLabs oven.
This product has a rigid black stainless steel body with a large sturdy handle, a stylish design that will fit well with the decor in almost any kitchen. The appearance is attractive, but any oven must be functional if it is to serve your cooking needs appropriately. This one works fine with no drawbacks.
It defrosts food by weight or time and quickly reheats leftovers. It has 10 power levels, 11 cooking functions and 7 pre-set cooking programs, maximizing your cooking options. It has a spacious interior and is easy to control, and the price tag is acceptable for the provided features.
More than that, all these features are specially equipped with a child lock function to prevent curious children from accessing the microwave.
Except for the popcorn button, there are another 11 auto button choices. For instance, the potato, frozen pizza, frozen entree button and several more that could prove super handy when you’re too lazy to cook a five-course meal.
The buttons do take a little getting-used-to, but once you know where to push, they are just fine. The only complaint is that you have to push them R.E.A.L.L.Y H.A.R.D to get anything registered.
In all respects, this is an excellent combination of size, style, and performance. If you are a fan of cooking ahead and do not want to wait too long for the heating up process, then you can’t go wrong with this great model.
6. Commercial Chef CHM770SS 0.7 Cubic Foot – Best Compact Microwave
Though this mini microwave oven is not as powerful as larger models, it could be a great solution for effectively managing your space constraints.
What We Like
We’re really keen on the ideal size of this small microwave, which allows for hassle-free clean up and easier storage – undoubtedly a bonus for a tight space like a dorm room or single apartment. Appearance and easy cleaning are also my priorities, and this one worked for me.
Functionally, it’s fine. Together with 700-watt power, it has a useful keypad offering many options for greater flexibility, including 10 power levels and 6 convenient quick cook settings.
Its turntable with detachable glass tray helps to evenly heat up a range of meals, getting food onto the table real fast.
More conveniently, the LED display furnished with both clock and timer options lets you easily keep track of the progress. There’ll be no more guessing or wondering, as when your food is ready to serve, the Commercial Chef will keep you in the know.
This unit isn’t so user-friendly. It has a lot of small buttons that are difficult to read. The only way to overcome this design flaw is to familiarize yourself with the position of each of the buttons.
Many customers dislike the oven’s round plate which has a tendency to slip off. It sounds like not that big a deal, but it could get annoying.
Because of its low price, it’s hard to complain too much. You should just take the downsides into account when making your final decision.
This best small microwave in our list is inexpensive heats foods quite well, and is suitable for any small space. However, be aware that a small size oven also delivers less power. So, if you are planning on hosting a large family gathering, it would probably be better to get an oven with higher wattage.
How a Microwave Oven Works
Microwave ovens work by using high-powered radio waves at a specifically set frequency to make water molecules inside the food vibrate. As a result, food is cooked much faster and more evenly than in a traditional oven.
With a microwave, you can start your cooking tasks immediately without waiting for the oven to get hot first— one reason why it can grill a cut of meat about six times faster than other regular ovens.
Despite the fact that it requires a huge amount of energy to operate, a microwave oven is definitely an effective way to save on your utility costs. Cooking or reheating single portions of food with a microwave may consume from 30% to 80% less energy than a regular stove, costing about $3 per year for 10 mins use a day.
Of course microwaves are not without flaws. After years of use, some users report that, even when clean, their microwave oven had started to smell, imparting an unpleasant flavor to the food.
Microwaves are also believed to damage living cells and tissues, and can, thus, harm our health. When regulations are strictly followed, however, they are generally safe. You should just make sure they are certified and labeled for safety, and don’t neglect even the smallest signs of malfunction.