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Published Feb. 2, 2022

Having a microwave in the kitchen offers a ton of convenience. From heating up leftovers to making a bowl of popcorn, a microwave is an indispensable tool. When shopping for the best microwave for your kitchen, you’ll have to keep some considerations in mind. First, how much space do you have to house your microwave? Do you want a built-in or a countertop appliance, or would an under-the-counter microwave make more sense? Then there are features, wattage, and materials to take into consideration as well to help you narrow things down. 

If you’re in the market for a new microwave that will look great in your kitchen, perform well, and last for years, these are the best microwaves to consider for all kinds of kitchens and cooks. 

How We Chose the Best Microwaves

Methodology

As a trained chef and avid home cook, I rely on “Chef Mic” nearly every day. From defrosting bread in the morning to warming a homemade cookie for dessert, a microwave is a central part of many home kitchens. To find the all-around best microwave options for home cooks, I’ve applied my personal experience, considered customer reviews, and performed in-depth product research on dozens of brands and models. 

The products on this list offer helpful features such as high wattage, built-in cooking and defrosting presets, and rotating turntables that are easy to clean. In addition, each microwave is built to last with regular use. And of course, I looked for models with reasonable price tags to maximize value.

The Best Microwaves: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall Microwave: Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven

Best Overall Microwave

This option is beloved for its functionality and stylish design and is simple to use.
Toshiba

Why It Made The Cut: This compact Toshiba countertop microwave is one of the easiest models to use, thanks to one-touch presets to heat common items like pizza and vegetables. The stainless steel design is also long-lasting and looks great in any kitchen. 

Specs:

  • Product Dimensions: 17.14 inches W x 20.51 inches D x 12.83 inches H
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet

Pros: 

  • 10 power level settings
  • Easy-to-read control panel
  • Glass turntable is easy to clean
  • 1100 watts

Cons: 

  • Clock does not automatically adjust for Daylight Saving Time

If you’re looking for an all-around high-performing microwave that’s the right size and design to fit into most kitchens, you can’t go wrong with this microwave from Toshiba. The 1.2-cubic-foot internal capacity is a nice size for heating leftovers for four or an individual frozen pizza. 

Despite the high wattage of 1100, which cooks food quickly and efficiently, the microwave is surprisingly quiet. And if you’re worried about noise, you can always disable the end-of-cook alarm. 

The touchpad control panel is easy to read, thanks to large, clear numbers that are friendly to kids and adults. (If you have small children, there’s also a handy child lock feature for added safety.) We love that most of the time, you only need to press one button to get the job done, whether that’s the +30-seconds button or one of the six built-in presets for reheating dishes, frozen pizza, frozen entrees, potatoes, rice, or veggies. Each of these presets is determined by the microwave’s internal sensors, which adjust heat and time to achieve the results you’re looking for. 

Best Smart Microwave: Sharp ZSMC1449FS Smart Countertop Microwave

Best Smart Microwave

Use voice commands to heat up your favorite meals. SHARP

Why It Made The Cut: With the Amazon Alexa app or an Echo device, you can use this device hands-free. Plus, it knows over 70 commands.

Specs:

  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 inches W x 12 inches D x 14.9 inches H
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 1.4 cubic feet

Pros:

  • Six sensor cook and three auto-defrost options
  • Compatible with Alexa for voice commands
  • Melt/soften feature for butter and ice cream

Cons:

  • Only available in one color

This convenient microwave is made even easier to use by its Alexa compatibility. You can connect to it either via the Amazon Alexa app or an Echo device to voice control the appliance. The Sharp Smart Countertop Microwave Oven responds to 70 commands, from adding cook time to reheating chowder. Its 1.4-cubic-foot capacity is a great size for families while not overwhelming your space. 

The microwave has six sensor cook options (potato, frozen entree, frozen vegetables, sensor reheat, popcorn, and beverage), and three auto-defrost features (meat, poultry, and seafood). Plus, the melt/soften feature is ideal for ice cream and butter. While the microwave is only available in a stainless steel finish, it’s adaptable enough to fit into any kitchen decor.

Best Compact Microwave: Commercial Chef Countertop Microwave Oven

Best Compact Microwave

A powerful pick that takes up minimal space. Commercial CHEF

Why It Made The Cut: Small but mighty, this countertop microwave includes several advanced features, including 10 power settings, built-in presets and a rotating turntable, all at a reasonable price.

Specs:

  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 inches W x 14.2 inches D x 9.7 inches H
  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet

Pros:  

  • Comes in several sizes 
  • Child lock option
  • Glass turntable 

Cons 

  • Smaller capacity than more expensive options

Home chefs that are short on space should consider this compact microwave from Commercial Chef. The best option for kitchenettes, offices, or dorm rooms, this microwave measures less than 10 inches high, meaning it fits easily under standard kitchen counters. Despite its small footprint, this microwave makes efficient use of space, offering a 0.7 cubic foot internal capacity, which is plenty of room for a standard dinner plate or large bag of popcorn. 

The control panel has helpful one-touch buttons to cook and heat common items like potatoes, popcorn, pizza, drinks, and frozen meals. You can also use the Weight Defrost button to take some of the guesswork out of defrosting leftovers and other items. The microwave has 10 power levels that are easy to adjust from the control panel. 

Unlike some larger models, this appliance weighs just 20 pounds, which makes it easy to transport — making it especially handy for travel in an RV. Cleaning is also simple thanks to the removable internal turntable and nonstick interior, which wipes clean with a damp sponge. 

Best Budget-Friendly Microwave: COMFEE’ EM720CPL-PMB Countertop Microwave

Best Budget-Friendly Microwave

This reasonably priced option offers comparable features to many of the higher-end models. COMFEE’

Why It Made The Cut: Although this well-designed microwave is easy on the wallet, it doesn’t skimp on the features, which include multiple power levels and an easy-to-use touch screen control panel. 

Specs:

  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 inches W x 13 inches D x 10.2 inches H
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet

Pros:  

  • Child lock option
  • 11 power levels

Cons:  

  • 700 watts is lower than other options

This appliance provides value without sacrificing functionality or design. Though it’s made of plastic, rather than sleeker stainless steel, this microwave oven from COMFEE’ is still easy to clean and blends nicely into most kitchen aesthetics, thanks to its five color options. It also doesn’t dominate the space, with a modest footprint and 0.7 cubic feet of internal capacity. 

Each of the one- to six-minute buttons on the control panel are one-touch options that cover many microwaving jobs. When in doubt, hit the built-in presets for popcorn, potatoes, pizza, vegetables, drinks, or dinners. The +30-second button also makes it easy to add time without waiting for the cook time to end. 

Speaking of ending, if you’re concerned about the microwave alarm waking up kids or your neighbors, it’s easy to silence the sounds. You can also use the child lock feature for extra precaution. And if you’re not using your microwave for a while, such as overnight or during a vacation, hit the Eco mode button to reduce energy consumption by half. 

Best Large Microwave: Panasonic Microwave Oven

Best Large Microwave

This pick can warm many servings at a time, making it great for groups. Panasonic

Why It Made The Cut: An impressive wattage of 1250, a sleek stainless steel exterior, and helpful built-in presets set this sizable microwave apart from other appliances. 

Specs:

  • Product Dimensions: 19.44 inches W x 23.88 inches D x 14 inches H
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 2.2 cubic feet

Pros:  

  • Extra-large capacity
  • 1250 watts 
  • 14 built-in presets

Cons: 

  • Expensive

If you have plenty of counter space or a large household to feed, you’ll want something spacious and built to last, like this microwave from Panasonic. The extra-large oven comes in several styles to choose from, including a touchpad and a dial design. This microwave has the highest wattage of any product on our list, which means it zaps food faster and more efficiently. Its built-in sensor will also automatically adjust the power level and cook time based on what’s inside. All you need to do is hit the Sensor Cook button, enter your food type, and let the appliance do the rest. 

One feature that really sets this appliance apart from the pack is what Panasonic calls Inverter Technology. If you’ve ever pulled a hot mug of soup from the microwave to find the center still refrigerator-cold, you’ll appreciate this feature. The Inverter ensures that food heats evenly through the center, rather than just on the edges. This makes heating food faster and prevents food on the edges from burning or drying out.

Best Drawer Microwave: Sharp SMD2470AS Microwave Drawer Oven

Best Drawer Microwave

This microwave sits comfortably under the counter to blend seamlessly into your kitchen. SHARP

Why It Made The Cut: For kitchens in need of an under-the-counter microwave that performs well, has ample space and looks great, the Sharp drawer oven is the perfect option. 

Specs:

  • Product Dimensions: 26.19 inches W x 23.88 inches D x 15.41 inches H
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet

Pros:  

  • Keep warm setting
  • 950 watts
  • Large capacity

Cons 

  • Pricey

If your kitchen is designed to accommodate an under-counter microwave that slides out like a drawer, this is a great option to save countertop space. This Sharp microwave is a good size for most households, not too small and not too large. It has an attractive stainless steel housing, including a stainless steel panel to cover the touchpad controls that helps it blend seamlessly into most kitchen designs. 

Though this microwave has a higher price tag, it also includes some notably helpful features. In particular, you can sensor cook most items, so the machine will calculate the proper time and temperature to heat or defrost. There’s also a Melt option that’s great for home bakers, and a Keep Warm function for holding food at temperature. And at 950 watts, you can expect this appliance to perform quickly and efficiently every time. 

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Microwave

Microwave Size

Before you buy any new kitchen appliance, make sure the dimensions will fit into your space. Start by measuring your counter or cabinet inset to make sure the microwave will fit.

Materials

Most microwaves have a plastic or a stainless steel casing. Plastic appliances tend to be less expensive, though they may not hold up to years of use quite as well as hardy steel. In addition, some people prefer the sleeker look of stainless steel in their kitchens to match other appliances.

Features

The microwaves on this list all have built-in presets for common food items, which makes reheating food as easy and quick as possible. Those presets work even better when the appliance has an internal sensor to determine the correct heating time and temperature. Other features to look for include settings like Keep Warm and Defrost, as well as a removable turntable for easy cleaning.

Maintenance

Speaking of cleaning, you probably want to consider how easy your new microwave will be to keep clean and maintain in tip-top shape. Most microwaves have an interior coated in a nonstick material that can be wiped clean with a damp towel or sponge. A removable turntable makes it much easier to clean as well.

FAQs

Q: What size microwave should I buy?

The size of your appliance depends primarily on how much space you have. Before choosing a microwave, measure your countertop or under-the-counter space to make sure it will fit. If you have no size constraints in your kitchen, consider the size of your household and how many people you’ll need to feed. For four or fewer people, 1.2 cubic feet is a good baseline. For larger households, you’ll want something closer to 2 cubic feet of internal space.

Q: How powerful should my microwave be?

Microwave power is measured in watts. Appliances with higher wattage will cook food faster. However, smaller appliances don’t need as much power to get the job done. And because higher wattage appliances tend to cost more, it’s best to strike a balance between watts and size. A 900- to 1000-watt 1.2-cubic foot microwave is a good starting place for most.

Q: Which is better, a dial or a touchpad microwave?

The two most common ways to control a microwave are with a touchpad or a dial. Getting one over the other is more about personal preference and style than anything else. Both options work well, though the more modern microwaves turn to touchpads over dials for a flatter, more streamlined design.

Final Thoughts on the Best Microwaves

All of the microwaves on this list are excellent options for homes of all sizes and needs. We love the Toshiba model because it’s the goldilocks of size, power and functionality. It offers a nice amount of internal space without dominating your kitchen, and heats food efficiently and thoroughly with few button presses.

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