3 Things to Look for in Your New Microwave

These kitchen appliances have seriously evolved—the new ones are sleeker, more powerful and high tech than ever before. Here’s what you need to know before you buy one.

We swear popcorn tastes better when it's popped in a cute microwave.Getty Images

Microwaves can do so much more than warm up your coffee, defrost chicken or melt some cheese on chips. Today’s models can air fry, talk to Alexa (yes, that Alexa) and more while looking great doing it. Read on, whether you want to upgrade or just need a replacement ASAP.

COMFEE' AM720C2RA-R Retro Style Countertop Microwave Oven

Retro Pick

This compact cutie has energy saving eco mode and a mute button.Amazon

Microwaves no longer have to be clunky black boxes. These days they come in colors like fire-engine red and baby blue with decidedly cool design aesthetics. And still have all the necessary cooking functions, shortcut buttons and power levels. This compact pick works great for a small space such as studio apartment, dorm room or office.

Amazon Smart Oven

Works With Your Alexa

The inside of this microwave oven is large and spacious with enough room to cook a 5 pound chicken.Amazon

Smart ovens like this one may be “microwaves” at heart but are packed with advanced technology. Amazon’s, for example, is a microwave, convection oven, food warmer and air fryer plus has voice control through Echo devices. (“Alexa, cook for one more minute.”) Other “smart” features include a temperature probe to know when food is cooked to your liking and, our favorite: A “scan-to-cook” option. Just scan a packaged food and the microwave will cook it according to product instructions.

stainless steel microwave

Inverter Oven

Power plus pretty: Pick from black, white, black stainless steel or silver stainless.Panasonic

Some models now include inverter technology—in which the power supply comes from an “inverter” rather than a traditional magnetic coil or a transformer. This speeds up cooking time and uses less energy. We like this particular model for a few reasons, including its “warmer” feature—if your food is done before you’re ready to serve it up, it’ll keep things warm.