The 9 Best Microwaves to Buy in 2018

Outfit your kitchen with our favorite picks

A young woman using a microwave

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Panasonic Genius Sensor Microwave at Amazon

“Several features make this model stand out.”

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung Countertop Microwave on Amazon

“Offers plenty of power along with an easy-to-clean inside.”

Best Convection: Toshiba Microwave with Convection at Amazon

“Is a champ at conventional microwave functions, along with roasting and baking.”

Best Countertop: Toshiba 1.2 Cu. Ft. Microwave at Amazon

“Handles all your basic tasks while balancing counter space with a roomy capacity.”

Best for College: Daewoo Retro Microwave at Amazon

“Compact form, nifty appearance, and efficient functionality.”

Best Mountable: Whirlpool Over the Range Microwave at Home Depot

“People are impressed by its performance and ease of use.”

Best for Small Spaces: Whirlpool Countertop Microwave at Home Depot

“This ultra-compact microwave also packs plenty of power.”

Best Budget: Hamilton Beach Microwave at Amazon

“Despite its small price tag and smaller capacity, this microwave has been described as a best buy.”

Runner-Up Best Budget: Farberware 1000-Watt Microwave at Amazon

“Consider if you’re looking for an affordable microwave that heats quickly.”

  • 01 of 09

    Best Overall: Panasonic NN-SN966S 2.2 Cu.Ft. 1250W Genius Sensor Microwave

    Excellent

    Make microwaving anything easier with the roomy Panasonic NN-T945SF. A top pick for best overall microwave, this model offers 2.2 cubic feet of interior space and 1,250 watts of power.

    There are several features that make this model stand out, including its sleek stainless steel appearance and 16 sensor cook settings. If you frequently turn to a microwave to cook, steam, or defrost everything from meat to veggies, you’ll appreciate the fact that this microwave is built with an inverter to deliver consistent heating power that won’t leave food rubbery or unevenly heated.

    Thanks to the 1,250 watts of power, people find that this microwave can heat foods and drinks in less time than many other microwaves. It also earns a lot of praise for its powerful defrosting ability, making it easier to get dinner done in a hurry even if you’re starting from frozen. People find the display and controls to be easy enough to use despite the many available options. Additionally, the button to open the door makes for easy one-handed door operation, though a few people mentioned experiencing button failure after several years of use. One other occasional complaint is a fuse failure, but one person has pointed out that this is a simple fix.

    Overall, people love the power and capacity of the Panasonic NN-T945SF. If you have the room for a large-capacity microwave and want to heat things up in a hurry without sacrificing texture or flavor, then this microwave makes a great overall pick. You can also use it as an over the range microwave with the purchase of an additional trim kit. At about $150, this microwave is priced in the middle of the range but offers power and capacity that outpaces the competition.

  • 02 of 09

    Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung MS11K3000AS Countertop Microwave Oven

    Samsung MS11K3000AS 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Sensor and Ceramic Enamel Interior, Silver Sand
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    If you can settle for less space but want a microwave that still offers plenty of power along with an easy-to-clean inside, then the Samsung 1.1 Cu. Ft. Microwave with Ceramic Enamel Interior is our runner-up for best overall microwave.

    At first glance, this Samsung microwave has a slick appearance with a smoked black door and brushed stainless steel handle alongside a control panel that combines digital controls with a metal dial. While the dark door makes it hard to see what’s cooking inside, some people find it to be a classy touch. Inside, the ceramic enamel interior is designed to wipe clean easily and resists grease, oil, and scratches. People find it to be easier to clean and say it’s a major plus if you have messy family members or roommates that don’t cover food in the microwave.

    After selecting your cook setting, use the dial to adjust cooking time. The upside to a rotary dial like you’ll find on this Samsung microwave is that you can add more time without interrupting the cooking action. An LED display makes it easy to keep track of remaining cook time or the clock time, but an Eco mode allows you turn the digital display off to conserve energy instead of needing to unplug the whole unit. This is a unique feature that most microwaves lack. With 1,000 watts of power and an average-sized capacity of 1.1 cubic feet, this Samsung microwave makes a good choice for a microwave that is easy to clean and conserves energy when not in use.

  • 03 of 09

    Best Convection: Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Microwave Oven with Convection

    For multiple ways to cook in one appliance, look for a microwave with convection ability – like the Toshiba EC042A5C. This convection microwave is a champ at conventional microwave functions, along with roasting and baking.

    The microwave features 1.5 cubic feet of space, which is large enough to microwave full-size dinner plates or accommodate an entire chicken or pizza. A grill rack also makes it easy to get a crispy exterior but be sure that you only use it in convection mode to avoid sparks. The 1,000 watts of power give the unit plenty of power for reheating foods in microwave mode or cooking using the convection function between temperatures of 175 and 425 degrees.

    People love this convection microwave for its versatility, though some people mention that it’s bigger than they expected. It also may tack a few minutes onto recipe cook times when using convection mode. However, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a microwave that can also pinch hit in place of your oven for smaller dishes or a single pizza. 

  • 04 of 09

    Best Countertop: Toshiba EM131A5C-BS 1.2 Cu. Ft. Microwave Oven

    For a countertop microwave that handles all your basic tasks while balancing counter space with a roomy capacity, the Toshiba EM131A5C-BS is a good choice.

    Available in either black or silver stainless steel, this countertop microwave has an interior capacity of 1.2 cubic feet while measuring just over 20 inches wide and 17 inches long. The Toshiba EM131A5C-BS has 1,100 watts of power that can be adjusted with 10 power settings to suit various cooking needs. The unit also is equipped with sensor cooking and two defrost settings, though some people found that not all of the pre-set cook modes worked as expected and the defrosting was too aggressive for some meats.

    Even still, this Toshiba countertop microwave has a solid reputation for being easy to use and reliable. In fact, reviewers often indicate that it’s the best countertop microwave they’ve ever owned. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Best for College: Daewoo Retro 0.7 Cu. Ft. Microwave Oven

    Give your college student a functional yet stylish way to heat dorm room staples like leftover pizza and ramen with the Daewoo Retro Microwave. This microwave is our top pick for college, thanks to its compact form, nifty appearance, and efficient functionality

    The Daewoo Retro Microwave is eye-catching in 3 different colors – including turquoise, red, and white. A digital control pad lets you choose your function and set power levels, while a retro-inspired turn knob is used to set cook time. Inside the microwave is a 10-inch turntable that is large enough for most single servings but may not fit super-sized bowls or containers. It’s plenty of room for your college student to heat up a late night snack or to reheat coffee during a long study session!

    Another convenient feature that makes this microwave for college an easy choice is the fact that it is powered down in between uses. On a practical level, this means that you won’t have to combat the glow from the digital display while you’re trying to sleep and you’ll also save energy at the same time. When it’s time to use the appliance, just push the power button for a quick wake-up.

    While most people have nothing but good things to say about this compact microwave, a few people have had issues with button functionality. Overall, though, most people find it to be suitable for everyday needs and love this unique looking microwave. 

  • 06 of 09

    Best Mountable: Whirlpool 1.9 cu. ft. Over the Range Microwave

    Whirlpool 1.9 cu. ft. Over the Range Microwave

    Courtesy of Home Depot

    A mountable microwave will give you the convenience of quick reheating, without giving up counter space in your kitchen. Our top pick for an over the range microwave is the Whirlpool WMH32519HZ.

    Over the range microwaves come in a variety of sizes, with most offering at least a cubic foot of interior space – but this model from Whirlpool has 1.9 cubic feet for microwaving dishes of all shapes and sizes. It also is available in multiple colors or finishes, including stainless steel, black and biscuit, which makes it easy to coordinate your microwave with the color palette of your appliances or décor. This model is also equipped with a 300 CFM ventilation system to keep odors and smoke from your cooktop under control. While some mountable microwaves only have 2-speed fans, we like that this version includes high, medium, and low fan operation.

    This model from Whirlpool has 1,000 watts of power and is also capable of sensor cooking to make sure that food is reheated just right. People are impressed by its performance and ease of use – so much so, that 95 percent of users would recommend it to a friend. Plus, people that have installed this mountable microwave themselves said that the process was easy and set-up was simple, though you may need a helper to get the job done safely. The Whirlpool WMH32519HZ is a solid match for your kitchen if you’re searching for a mountable microwave.

  • 07 of 09

    Best for Small Spaces: Whirlpool 0.5 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave in Black

    Whirlpool 0.5 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave in Black

    Courtesy of Home Depot

    There are a many different compact microwaves on the market, but the Whirlpool 0.5 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave is one of the smallest and mightiest we’ve found. It’s a great choice for tiny kitchens, offices, apartments, or even RVs and semi-trucks.

    Easily mistaken for a small television, this Whirlpool microwave is perfect for small spaces, thanks to it’s curved back. At just 13.75 inches deep and 15.38 inches wide, it can easily be tucked in a corner or a small cabinet. Surprisingly, inside you’ll find a turntable that is large enough for full-size dinner plates.

    This ultra-compact microwave also packs plenty of power, with 750 watts. Many compact microwaves top out at 700 watts, so this model matches substantial power with a small footprint. Of course 750 watts isn’t going to match the performance of larger microwaves with 1,000 watts or more – especially when cooking items like popcorn – but it heats things up well considering its small size. If you want to maximize microwave power while minimizing the space taken up by this appliance, then the Whirlpool 0.5 Cu. Ft. Microwave is hard to beat.

  • 08 of 09

    Best Budget: Hamilton Beach 0.7 cu ft Microwave Oven

    Don’t zap your bank account – buy a budget-friendly microwave instead. This Hamilton Beach model with 0.7 cubic feet costs around $50 but performs well enough to earn plenty of rave reviews.

    Capable of fitting a standard 10.5 inch dinner plate, you’ll find that there is plenty of room for heating up leftovers and the 700 watts of power is enough to cook frozen dinners or heat beverages to nearly boiling – though it may take a little extra time compared to microwaves with more power. Even still, people have lots of praise for this affordable microwave.

    The microwave features 6 pre-set settings to quickly cook popcorn, pizza, frozen veggies, and more or pressing digits 1-6 will start the microwave for the number of minutes corresponding to the button pushed. People find that these settings are a convenient way to quickly heat foods and beverages. Despite its small price tag and smaller capacity, this microwave has been described as a best buy by many reviewers. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Runner-Up Best Budget: Farberware 1.1 Cu. Ft. 1000-Watt Microwave Oven

    If you have a little more cash to spend but still want a budget-friendly option, the larger and more powerful Farberware 1.1 Cu. Ft. Microwave is our runner-up for best budget microwave.

    A brushed stainless steel handle and frame surround either a black or white door and control panel – either one looks classy and conceals the fact that this microwave barely costs more than $100. The microwave has your typical pre-set cooking functions for foods like pizza and beverages and has quick start minute options.

    The 1,000 watts of power is something to consider if you’re looking for an affordable microwave that heats quickly and the 1.1 cubic feet of interior room offers more space for your reheating needs than some other budget microwaves. You won’t find sensor cooking on this model, and there are conflicting opinions from real-life users on whether its noticeably noisy or not. But overall, it performs to most people’s expectations and is a contender for a larger budget microwave.

Products Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 10 hours testing one of the most popular microwaves on the market. To get the most complete results, our testers brought them home and used them to heat up all different types of foods and liquids. We asked them to consider the most important features when using this microwave — like its size and different controls — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.


What to Look for in a Microwave

Size If your typical microwave use consists of warming up a small plate of leftovers, heating water for tea, and melting the occasional stick of butter, a smaller one will serve you well. But if need the ability to heat larger portions of food, a bigger model is the way to go.

Wattage More wattage means faster heating, but it also means that the microwave consumes more power. If quick heating is a priority, look for higher-wattage ovens. If your electric circuits can’t handle a large draw of power and you don’t mind an extra minute or two of cooking, look for lower wattage ovens.

Controls No matter which oven you choose, there will be a little learning curve as you figure out which buttons to press and how to control time, power, and other options. If you’re a minimalist, look for simple controls for time and power. If you prefer shortcuts, look for ovens with special buttons for the foods you routinely cook.

Test Results: Panasonic NN-SN966S 2.2 Cu.Ft. 1250W Genius Sensor Microwave (Best Overall)

Excellent

What We Like

  • Easy setup

  • Sleek design

  • Powerful

What We Don't Like

  • A little too big

Panasonic NN-SN966S 2.2 Cu.Ft. 1250W Genius Sensor Microwave
Panasonic Genius Sensor Microwave
Panasonic NN-SN966S Genius Sensor Microwave
Panasonic 1250W Genius Sensor Microwave

This microwave would be a great addition to any modern kitchen, our testers thought. They especially loved its sleek stainless-steel design, ease of use, and power. “It offers power levels from 1-10 with 10 being the highest,” explained one reviewer, “and I found that even using level 5, the microwave is able to heat the food very quickly and evenly.” However, our testers did find its size a bit excessive for their needs. “I can't imagine ever in my life needing a microwave this big,” one said. “It's great if you have space, but I'd assume smaller microwaves can do the job as well.”