The 7 Best Countertop Microwaves of 2020

Add this versatile appliance to your kitchen

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN651B at Amazon

"It will hold your largest dinner plates as well as casseroles and serving dishes."

Best for Small Spaces: Daewoo KOR-7LREM Countertop Microwave Oven at Amazon

"Auto-cook presets numbered 1-5 for beverages, soup, fresh or frozen vegetables."

Best for Families: Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN966S at Amazon

"The keep-warm feature will hold your food at serving temperature, while not overcooking it."

Best Convection Cooking: Toshiba EC042A5C-BS Microwave Oven with Convection Function at Amazon

"You can microwave or convection-cook the food separately."

Best Commercial Quality: Panasonic Countertop Commercial Microwave Oven NE-1054F at Amazon

"This doesn’t have a turntable, so your cooking space isn’t limited by that disk area.”"

Best Design: Nostalgia RMO400RED Retro Microwave Oven at Amazon

"In a modern kitchen, it would add a note of whimsy.”"

Best with Grill Function: Farberware Black FMO12AHTBSG Microwave Oven with Grill Function at Amazon

"The grilling function can be used alone, or in combination with microwave cooking."

  • 01 of 07

    Best Overall: Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN651B

    Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN651B

    Courtesy of Amazon

    What We Like
    • Provides continuous stream of lower power

    • Has a turbo defrost feature

    • Auto-adjusts power and cooking time for different foods

    What We Don't Like
    • Door panel may be hard to read

    A mid-sized oven with 1.2 cubic food capacity and 1200 watts of cooking power, made by a company with some of the best ratings on microwaves and with a price that won’t break the budget, this microwave will do everything you need, and then a little more. The turntable is 13 1/2 inches in diameter, so it will hold your largest dinner plates as well as casseroles and serving dishes, while the interior footprint is slightly less than 14x14 1/2 inches, so your plates can hang over that turntable just a little bit and still turn smoothly. Several customers say that this microwave provides as much power as some larger ones they owned, and are happy that this one doesn't take up as much space.

    When you cook at lower power, most microwaves power on and off to provide that lower power, but this one provides a continuous stream of lower power throughout the cooking time, for more even cooking without hot or cold spots. This also has a turbo defrost feature for those days when you forget to pull food out of the freezer in advance.

    The proprietary cooking sensor automatically adjusts the power and cooking time for different foods. There are 12 cooking presets, a quick-minute timer, a delayed start function, and a keep-warm setting, so dinner will always be on time and hot.

  • 02 of 07

    Best for Small Spaces: Daewoo KOR-7LREM Countertop Microwave Oven

    What We Like
    • Stylish design

    • Energy-efficient

    • Solid basic functions

    What We Don't Like
    • Some encountered button issues over time

    Not only is this microwave small enough to fit a small kitchen, or dorm room, it adds a decorative element and fun color to a space that might have any room for pieces that are purely decorative.

    This has the all-important popcorn button as well as a defrost button, and you can select auto-cook presets numbered from 1-5 for beverages, soup, baked potato, fresh vegetables, or frozen vegetables. The 10-inch turntable is large enough for your dinner or a casserole dish. Most customers find this microwave more than satisfactory for everyday uses; some did note, however, that they encountered issues with button functionality over time.

    This has 700 watts of cooking power, .7 cubic feet of cooking space, and 5 power levels to choose from.

  • 03 of 07

    Best for Families: Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN966S

    Excellent
    What We Like
    • Automatic sensors adjust cooking times and power

    • Can defrost anything without cooking it

    • Can be used on a countertop or as a built-in

    What We Don't Like
    • Too big for compact kitchens

    With 2.2 cubic feet of cooking space and 1250 watts of cooking power, this microwave has space to heat food for the family, and the power to get the job done quickly. The turntable is a whopping 16 1/2 inches in diameter, so it will hold several plates, large serving dishes, or a large casserole.

    Proprietary technology heats food evenly while it also speeds up defrosting time, so you’ll have less waiting time, no matter what’s for dinner. The “genius sensor” adjusts the power and cooking time for different foods. The keep-warm feature will hold your food at serving temperature, while not overcooking it, and the delay start lets you prep food, put it in the oven, and start cooking at just the right time so it’s ready for dinner. Furthermore, our tester, who's owned a number of other microwaves, says that after zapping a range of foods—from Indian curry to grains to leftovers—she couldn't find any cool spots (areas that don't heat food as evenly as the rest).

    There are 14 presets including essentials like popcorn, pizza, soup, oatmeal, pasta, and frozen foods, so everyone in the family can prepare foods without having to guess how long to cook. Ten power levels, along with options for sensor reheating and cooking, round out the functions that make this oven ideal for families of any size.

    "I was able to heat up two plates of leftovers at once so my kids didn’t have to fight over the first plate of piping hot pizza pockets."Linnea Covington, Product Tester

  • 04 of 07

    Best Convection Cooking: Toshiba EC042A5C-BS Microwave Oven with Convection Function

    What We Like
    • Can microwave and convection-cook either separately or at the same time

    • High-quality build

    • Quiet

    What We Don't Like
    • Not as many food presets

    • Large footprint

    Microwave ovens are great for steaming and reheating, but they’re not good at browning foods. This combination microwave and convection oven takes care of that problem. You can microwave or convection-cook the food separately, or you can use them in combination for super-fast cooking and perfect browning at the same time. Many reviewers highlighted this oven's convection performance, with one praising how well it crisped a range of foods, from potatoes to frozen pizzas.

    This doesn’t have as many specific food presets, with just popcorn named, but it has buttons for auto bake, auto roast, sensor cook, sensor reheat, auto defrost, timed defrost, and for keeping food warm. You can also set up to three favorite combinations of time and power so your hot chocolate is always perfect and your butter melts just right.

    Convection cooking can be set from 175 to 525 degrees and there are 10 microwave power levels using 1000 watts of power.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Best Commercial Quality: Panasonic Countertop Commercial Microwave Oven NE-1054F

    What We Like
    • Easy to use and clean

    • Quick and even heating

    • Sturdy build

    What We Don't Like
    • Stark design

    If your microwave is constantly working, particularly for reheating single dishes of foods for family members who operate on different schedules, a commercial microwave might be a great choice. This isn’t a huge machine at just .8 cubic feet of space, but it is built for quick cooking and long life despite heavy use.

    This has 1000 watts of power that it uses efficiently, feeding the energy from the bottom so it travels less than typical microwaves that produce the energy at the top of the cooking chamber. This doesn’t have a turntable, so your cooking space isn’t limited by that disk area, so you can fit larger casseroles or arrange more plates and bowls without them tipping or wobbling. Many customers were pleasantly surprised with how quickly and evenly this microwave heated their food despite the lack of turntable.

    The keypad includes braille, with 10 buttons that are shortcuts for a variety of cooking times. You can also program multiple-stage cooking, with different times and power levels at each stage.

    Since this is designed for commercial use, the design is more stark than friendly, but the stainless steel exterior would blend well with a modern kitchen’s décor.

  • 06 of 07

    Best Design: Nostalgia RMO400RED Retro Microwave Oven

    What We Like
    • Bright retro design

    • Has 12 presets

    • Easy to operate

    What We Don't Like
    • Louder than some other microwaves

    The retro design of this microwave is just funky enough to look modern at the same time. The vibrant red will add a pop of color while the oval window, digital clock, and round controls evoke an era when space travel was a fantasy. In a modern kitchen, it would add a note of whimsy. Indeed, several reviewers lauded how much the microwave spruced up their space.

    It isn’t all about design, though. This offers .9 cubic feet of cooking space and 800 watts of cooking power, a dozen programmed cooking settings for favorites like popcorn, potatoes, pizza, vegetables, and more.

    The chosen cooking settings appear on the clock, so the controls are simple, while the LEDs made it easy to read, even if it’s a late-night popcorn snack. This has a rotating glass turntable and should hold plates up to about 11 inches in diameter.

  • 07 of 07

    Best with Grill Function: Farberware Black FMO12AHTBSG Microwave Oven with Grill Function

    What We Like
    • Microwave and grilling functions can be used separately or together

    • Sleek design

    • Affordable

    What We Don't Like
    • Some say it gets loud when heating

    The grilling function on this microwave sets it apart from the rest of the pack, while its standard microwave functions are everything you’d expect from a quality microwave. It has 1.2 cubic feet of cooking space, 1100 watts of cooking power, a 12.4 inch turntable, and 10 levels of microwave power.

    Cooking presets include popcorn, potato, frozen pizza, frozen vegetable, beverage, meat, and dinner plate. You can defrost by time or weight, set your own cooking time and temperature, and set multi-stage cooking to change the cooking power during the cooking time.

    The grilling function can be used alone, or in combination with microwave cooking so you can cook quickly while also browning and crisping the food. Several customers raved about how well the grill function worked on a variety of foods, from toast to steaks. A grilling rack is included.

Final Verdict

Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN651B is our top choice because it packs as much power—1200 watts—as larger microwaves. Plus, it has an auto-adjusting sensor (view at Amazon). If you do have the room—and a family to feed—we recommend the Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN966S. Its turntable can hold several plates, and our tester couldn't find any cool spots.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie is a cookbook author and product tester for The Spruce Eats. In addition to reviewing more than 90 products for us, Donna has compiled roundups on other small kitchen appliances such as the best toaster ovens, rice cookers, and air fryers of 2020.