Microwave ovens are a staple in modern kitchens today. It’s unusual for any home to be without one. They come in a variety of sizes, finishes, and functionalities. Some are made of sleek stainless steel while others have a retro look. There is a microwave available to suit any type of décor.
Some microwaves are large and powerful, while others are compact and heat food up more slowly. Some have the ability to save on electricity costs. There is even a microwave that works with voice controlled technology.
Let’s find out about some of the most popular brands available on the market today:
Best overall: AmazonBasics Microwave (works with Alexa)
The AmazonBasics Microwave works with Alexa/Amazon Echo. The Amazon Echo is a type of hands-free speaker that can be controlled with your voice. It uses a voice-controlled “personal assistant” called Alexa. You can ask Alexa to perform various tasks for you, including, in this case, controlling your microwave. If you don’t want to use the voice control, it can function like a regular microwave.
This model comes with 10 power levels, and Alexa can keep track of your favorite presets; simply pop your food or drink into the device and tell her what you are heating up, and Alexa will take it from there.
People love the ‘coolness factor’ of this voice-control integration. For example, if you ask Alexa to heat up a cup of coffee, it will confirm your request verbally and alert you with its Echo Alarm that the heating is done. Many users find these voice commands easier and more fluid to use than traditional buttons. Also, if you get distracted and forget about your coffee, you can simply tell Alexa to reheat it for another minute.
This microwave is also handy for visually impaired users since they don’t have to content with any onscreen prompts or a complicated keypad. It is entirely voice activated. It is easy to setup and users feel it works very well despite being paired with the Alexa technology.
People like the small size of this microwave. At 0.7 cubic feet of capacity, and only 10 inches high, it can easily fit on your kitchen counter with room to spare. It is attractive and comes in a variety of accent colors. It runs on 700W of power.
Other features include a kitchen timer, a turntable, and a child lock.
The manufacturers of this product seem quite keen on popcorn. You can sign up to order popcorn automatically (the machine knows when you’re running low) and choose from a variety of brands available through Alexa. A variety of presets can be used to heat the popcorn, depending on the type of popcorn you are making.
One drawback is you need to purchase the Echo/Alexa device separately. Also, some users have found this microwave heats food unevenly.
- Voice control functionality when set up with Alexa/Echo
- 10 power levels and numerous presets
- Easy set up
- Compact and fits easily on kitchen counter
- Popcorn preordering system
- Need to purchase Alexa/Echo separately
- Some users find it heats food unevenly
Best compact microwave: COMFEE EM720CPL-PM Countertop Microwave Oven
The COMFEE EM720CPL-PM Countertop Microwave Oven is compact, at only 0.7 cubic feet and 10 inches in height. It is great for a little kitchen, and can be easily stored on your counter. Despite its small size, this microwave is heavy enough that it will not slide around if you open the door or tug on the device.
It has another handy feature: the ability to shut off the beeping. If you have a roommate, a baby you don’t want to wake, or if you simply don’t like to hear the beeping, you can silence it.
It comes in a choice of black/stainless steel finish or pearl white.
This microwave has 11 power settings, a bright digital display with a control panel that is easy to read, and a removable 12.4 inch turntable, which is large enough to fit a dinner plate. It also has an interior light, clock, timer, and safety lock.
It has a number of presets for a variety of foods including popcorn, frozen veggies, potatoes, pizza, drinks, and reheating items. It also has two defrost settings, which you can choose according to weight or time.
Another handy feature is it has an energy saving eco mode. Simply turn on the eco mode, and the microwave will switch to 50% standby power.
One drawback is that, at 700 watts, this microwave is limited in power, and so it takes a bit longer to warm up food or drinks.
- Small and compact
- Ability to mute beeping
- Choice of black/stainless steel or white finish
- 11 power settings and numerous presets
- Easy to read control panel/digital display
- Energy saving eco mode
- Takes longer than other microwaves to heat up food and drinks
Best large microwave: Farberware FMO11AHTBKB Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave Oven
The affordable Farberware FMO11AHTBKB Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave Oven is a nice size, and has a capacity of 1.1 cubic feet. With 1000 watts of power, it will heat your food quickly. This microwave is powerful, stylish, and convenient.
It has a sleek design and comes in a choice of stainless steel, copper, metallic red, or white/platinum finishes.
This model has 10 power levels and six automatic cooking programs (for various types of food such as frozen veggies, pizza, popcorn, or potatoes). In addition, it allows you to store your preferred cooking settings. You can also defrost your items according to weight or time.
It has easy to read LED lighting and a digital clock.
One nice feature is its pull handle. For some users, this is a welcome change from the typical push button that most microwaves have to open their doors. The handle reduces fingerprints on the exterior.
Another feature is the dark interior, which hides temporary messes. This microwave is also easy to clean; its 12.5 inch turntable is removable for easy clean up. Even if you get grease on the interior, its coating prevents food from sticking to the sides.
One drawback users have mentioned is the microwave is quite loud.
- High wattage, heats food quickly
- 10 power levels, 6 automatic cooking programs, 2 defrost settings
- Stores your own preferred cooking settings
- Pull handle minimizes fingerprints
- Easy to keep clean
Best quiet microwave: Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven
The Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven is large and powerful at 1.2 cubic feet capacity and 1100 watts, and it has one added feature that endears it to users all over North America: you can hardly hear it. Simply press a button on the keypad and it will turn off all sounds for you.
It is affordable and comes in sleek black and stainless steel. Another feature users enjoy is the easy grip pull handle, so you do not have to press a button to open the door. It has a large digital display with easy to read options on the control panel. The glass turntable is 12.4 inches in diameter and thus can accommodate many large dishes.
This microwave heats food quickly and evenly, and comes with 10 preprogrammed settings. Pizza, veggies, potatoes, and other items can be heated to perfection with the press of a preprogrammed button. You can also program your own favorite power and time combinations. It has one touch start for popcorn, and two settings for defrosting.
There is also a nifty sensor function: the microwave can sense the humidity level in the food you are cooking, and will automatically determine the required temperature and time. It also has a clock and kitchen timer.
One additional feature is its energy saving eco mode. Turn on eco mode and the microwave will go on standby, minimizing the power to 50%. This is great for saving on costs as well as to help keep our planet protected.
This microwave is easy to clean. It has a coating on the interior that makes it resistant to scratches and stains. It wipes out easily with a damp cloth.
One drawback is it almost has too many options. Less technologically inclined users might find it too complicated with too many functions.
- Very quiet
- Large and powerful
- Heats food quickly and evenly
- Easy grip pull handle minimizes fingerprints
- Easy to read digital display
- Many preprogrammed settings and option to program your own settings
- Interior coating is very easy to clean
- Some people feel it has too many options and can be complicated to use
Best retro microwave: Nostalgia RMO4AQ Retro Large Countertop Microwave Oven
The Nostalgia RMO4AQ Retro Large Countertop Microwave Oven has a gorgeous vintage look, and comes in fun colors like aqua, seafoam green, and metallic red, as well the more traditional black and ivory white. The exterior is made of metal, with a sleek chrome door handle and accents to add to the retro appeal.
It has a 0.9 cubic foot capacity and uses 800 watts of power. It has enough cooking power to heat food quickly, and the rotating carousel allows for even cooking.
Instead of a digital display, it has a dial knob with 12 presets for various items including popcorn, rice, bread, vegetables, potatoes, meat (fish, beef, or chicken), pizza, frozen entrees, and drinks. Simply turn it clockwise or counter clockwise to adjust the settings.
The control panel is made of retro chrome. Additional options on the panel include delaying the start, express cooking, and reducing the power from 100% to 20%.
This microwave has a lit up digital clock and a timer. It also includes a child safety lock.
For added fun, you can team this microwave up with the matching toaster and coffee pot.
- Vintage look with metallic finish and chrome accents
- Dial knob with 12 presets
- Cooks food quickly and evenly
- Features include delaying the start, and reducing the power
- Child safety lock
- Matching toaster and coffee pot are available
- Not as powerful as larger models
What to look for in a microwave oven
Now that you have seen some of the most popular brands, let’s learn more about what to look for when purchasing a microwave.
Some microwaves are built in, some are inserted over your range, and others simply sit on the countertop. The latter is the most popular type of microwave that people purchase because they are more affordable and they do not need to be professionally installed. Countertop microwaves are also easily transported. On the other hand, built in models free up counter space, and those installed over your range are often constructed with the ability to draw away smoke and odors.
Wattage is very important. This is how powerful your microwave is. The higher the wattage, the faster your food and drinks will heat up or cook in your microwave. Usually the wattage is higher in larger, more expensive microwaves.
The size of microwave you need depends on how much kitchen space you have available. Measure the space you are thinking of putting the microwave, and make sure it is near an electrical outlet. If you are limited in space, you might want to purchase a smaller microwave. Of course, this also means lower capacity (i.e., you might not be able to fit a huge serving plate or casserole dish) and sometimes longer cooking time. If space is not a limiting factor and you have a big family or tend to host parties, you might want to invest in a large microwave instead.
Many microwaves include a revolving turntable. Make sure you can remove the turntable for easy cleaning. Some users like to choose a model that allows them to stop the turntable when desired.
The microwave door is very important. Many users prefer a door handle rather than a button to open the door because it reduces fingerprints.
On the control panel, look for easy to read buttons and icons that light up in the dark. Some people prefer smooth control panels because they are easier to clean than buttons or knobs.
Today’s microwaves come with a variety of features to choose from. You might want one with many features such as preprogrammed heating and defrost settings and the ability to customize your own settings. If you have children, a safety lock might be handy. Other features might include sensor functions, keep warm options, and a timer. And some microwaves have the ability to turn off sounds, a feature that many users particularly appreciate.
Now that you’ve learned the most important things to look for when choosing a microwave, the fun part begins – shopping! Enjoy searching for your perfect microwave. It will become a treasured small appliance in your home.