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In the market for a new microwave? The available options can be overwhelming. Once you start shopping, there are a few factors to consider. Yes, you want a microwave that heats your food quickly and pops your popcorn evenly, but it’s also important to pay attention to the wattage of the unit you buy, along with the extra features, and, of course, how much space it will take up on your countertop or over your stove. The good news is that there is a perfect microwave out there for you.
01 of 07
Best Overall: Panasonic NN-SN966S 2.2 Cu.Ft. 1250W Genius Sensor Microwave
If you're tired of waiting in front of the microwave for your food to be ready this top-pick appliance gets the job done quickly with 1250W construction. Instead of cycling on and off like most microwaves this one uses Inverter Technology which heats your food with a continuous stream of power which ensures a quicker and more thorough temperature. So, you'll no longer be left with a half scalding, half cold piece of chicken for dinner.
All of this is delivered in a more compact form so you don't have to take up precious counter space if you are using this on your counter, plus this can also work as a built-in model. Other neat features include a keep warm setting which can keep dinner warm when family members are coming home late. Plus, a turbo defrost setting thaws out anything frozen foods more evenly and quicker.
02 of 07
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung MS11K3000AS Countertop Microwave Oven
A top seller in its category, here’s another microwave you might want to consider. What makes this one from Samsung great and noteworthy is all the features. Thanks to vapor-sensing technology, it can automatically adjust the cooking time based on how quickly the food is heating up in there. It’s also got an easy-to-clean ceramic enamel interior, so if you do happen to make a mess in there, you can effortlessly remove the grease or oil with a cloth. Three microwave distribution points help food cook more evenly and thoroughly.
It’s a little bit bigger than our top pick in terms of dimensions and weight, but if you have room for it, perhaps it’s worth the money you’ll save since this one is less expensive. Customers love the modern look of it and say that it works great. It’s very user-friendly although one recommended keeping the instructions around when you first start using it to look up cooking settings for each dish. Overall, the majority of customers say they’d recommend it to others.
03 of 07
Best Budget: Westinghouse WCM660B 600 Watt Counter Top Microwave Oven
Not only does the low price point make this model attractive, but the compact size makes it perfect for a college dorm room or first apartment. The dial controls are a bit of a throwback in place of the more modern buttons, but this 600-watt model has six different power levels—high, medium-high, medium, medium-low, defrost, and low. Simply choose the power level and cooking time—up to 30 minutes—and you're ready to go.
Keep in mind that because the wattage on this microwave is half that of our top choice, it will take food a bit longer to warm your food, but if you’re heating up a bowl of soup or popping popcorn, the time shouldn’t be a huge difference. Once you get into defrosting meals it will take a little longer. That’s what makes this machine ideal for simple reheating or cooking for one.
Finally, one last point in this model’s favor is how easy it is to clean. The turntable is fully removable and dishwasher safe, or easy to clean with soap and water, if you're using it in a dorm room.
04 of 07
Runner Up, Best Budget: Farberware Classic Microwave Oven
This 1.1 cubic foot microwave is a bargain with 1,000 watts of adjustable cooking power, multi-stage cooking options, express cooking for up to six minutes, and an easy way to add 30 seconds of cooking time. There are also one-touch buttons for popcorn, pizza, potatoes, frozen vegetables, beverages, or a dinner plate full of food. You can also defrost by time or food weight. It has digital controls, an LED display, a clock, and a timer.
For safety, there’s a keypad lock, so youngsters won’t accidentally start it. The finish is stainless steel for a classic look.
This is only 12 inches tall, so it fits easily under counters with space in front, but it can still accommodate large dinner plates or most standard baking dishes.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best Convection Model: Cuisinart Convection Microwave
A convection microwave is the perfect combination of speed and versatility. And this model lets you combine the microwave and convection features in different ways to cook any number of dishes. It has presets for simple microwave and convection cooking along with grilling, roasting, and baking. It also has settings for common foods like popping popcorn or defrosting frozen vegetables.
The microwave also comes with a grill rack and an easy to clean rotating tray. Plus the 1.2 cubic foot capacity means you can cook a lot in a small amount of time.
One word of caution with this model, the exterior gets quite warm when you use the convection mode. So be careful touching the sides when removing your food. And it’s best to put it in a location that gets plenty of air flow to help it cool down more quickly.
06 of 07
Best High-End Microwave: Samsung Countertop Microwave Oven with Grill
One of the biggest complaints about microwaves is that food never gets brown and crisp. This oven solves that problem with its grill feature that combines microwaving with a grilling element and a ceramic plate so food can crisp and brown while taking advantage of super-fast cooking.
This has 10 power levels, a 1.4 cubic foot interior, and an LED display that’s easy to read, even from a distance. For an elegant look, this has a shiny mirror finish and an asymmetric shape.
The interior has a ceramic enamel interior for easy cleaning, while also being scratch resistant. Auto-cook options make it easy to cook common foods without guesswork.
This has a slightly lower wattage at 950 watts, but the additional cooking functions speed the cooking time, so it can be as fast, or faster than, microwaves that don’t have the additional features.
While the mirror finish looks good, it means you can’t watch the food as it cooks. A slightly smaller version of this model with a windowed door is also available.
07 of 07
Best Mountable: GE Over The Range Microwave Oven
If you don’t want to use counter space for a large appliance, this 1,000-watt microwave oven is designed to mount above your range. It has a large, 1.6 cubic foot capacity so it can handle more food and larger containers. The vent system can be set to recirculate the air or vent to the outside.
It has both auto and timed defrost options as well as buttons for popcorn, beverages, potatoes, and reheat so it’s easy to use for the most common foods.
While this is made in the USA, the user manual can be confusing with regards to installation, as though it might have been translated. Professional help might be wise if you’re not familiar with similar installs.