Once a luxury item at a premium cost, kitchen microwaves have come down significantly cost and are now a modern kitchen staple. From ready-made meals to popcorn, leftovers, and more, a microwave is perfect for any occasion that needs quick heating. There are hundreds of microwaves available, but only the best will offer a balance of features, wattage, and a lightweight design all in a footprint that won’t monopolize your counter space.
This article takes a closer look at the top ten best microwaves in the market today. These options cover traditional countertop options as well as over-the-range and over-the-counter designs that can save on space and pay off in power. We’ll break down features and options in hopes that we can help you find the right best microwave for your kitchen.
Top 10 Best Microwaves
- Has one of the smallest footprints available
- Can work with one of the 10 power settings
- Sound can be turned off for silent operation
- Large buttons and simple operation
- Includes a 1-year warranty
- Highest wattage out of any of the microwaves on our list
- Very spacious with lots of room for large food items
- Dial control is very efficient and makes it easy to pick a cook setting
- Can easily be converted into a built-in unit
- Comes with a 1-year warranty on parts and a 5-year warranty on the magnetron tube
- Most affordable microwave on our list
- Easy access to special cooking settings like popcorn or dinner plate
- Uses 10 power settings for more accurate cooking
- Comes with a lifetime limited warranty
- Advanced sensors can detect and adjust for moisture and temperature
- High-quality enamel interior lasts for quite some time
- Conserves energy better than most microwaves in Eco Mode
- Tons of cooking presets to help you get started
- Comes with a 1-year warranty for parts and a 10-year warranty on the magnetron tube
- Helpful auto-cook functionality
- Compact design saves room on countertops
- Easy one-touch operation for most cooking situations
- Includes a 1-year warranty
- Very spacious interior has room for even the largest meals
- Automatic cooking adjusts to food temperature and moisture accurately
- Rounded interior makes it easy to load circular meals
- High wattage and premium build design makes this microwave ready for almost anything
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Can cook using circulated air, microwaves, or both
- Unique centralized button design looks great in modern kitchens
- Easy clean design makes it a cinch to wipe up splatter and stains
- Includes a 1-year warranty
- Largest capacity out of any microwave on our list
- Powerful fan effortlessly clears out kitchen smoke
- All of the built-in features are just a button press away
- Comes with a 1-year warranty on parts and a 10-year warranty on the magnetron tube
- Balances great aesthetics with easy operation
- Charcoal filter deodorizes as it ventilates
- Four-speed fan makes ventilation more precise
- Includes a 1-year warranty on parts and 5-year warranty on the magnetron tube
This Toshiba EM925A5A-BS is a powerful microwave with lots of necessary features packed in a small package. This microwave is the only one on our list that comes in under 30 pounds, so combined with the small footprint, mobility is about as good as it gets.
We really like how the microwave tone can be turned off as well, and with the included settings for pizzas, popcorn, and more, it’s a cinch to use in just about any situation. At 900 watts, you’ll get some solid cooking power out of this unit but will not surpass the performance of over-the-range models. It also might feel a bit cheap, but the cost is certainly reflective of this. All in all, Toshiba’s microwave is great for all-purpose use in the home, office, or just about anywhere else.
- Quiet operation
- Simple, unassuming design
- Easy access to useful settings
- 10 power settings
- Light, small, and portable
- Wattage could be a little higher
- 0.9 cubic feet is a bit small for some
If a larger capacity and power is more important to you, then the Panasonic NN-SD745S premium microwave might be worth the cost. This microwave is considerably larger and more powerful than others on our list and comes with quite a few fantastic features.
The built-in Advanced Turbo Defrost setting, for example, is great for warming up meats without cooking them. There’s also a keep warm feature, so you can keep your leftovers warm and ready for you whenever you can get around to it. Once you’re used to the dial controls, you’ll be off and cooking in no time. The price tag does leave a lot to be desired, but provided you’re willing to front the cash, there’s not a lot else to complain about.
- Large capacity
- Excellent build quality
- Great wattage for powerful cooking
- Wide selection of features
- Keep warm functionality
- Can be expensive
- Dial operation takes practice to master
The 10-stage cooking functionality also comes with multi-stage cooking, so you can turn down the power without cutting the unit off entirely. There’s little in terms of bonus features, and the lower wattage does mean cooking for longer than normal. If you need something that’s built to last, though, it’s hard not to argue against the lifetime warranty. This is a great starter microwave for first homes, apartments, and dorms. You’ll get lots of mileage out of this microwave considering the warranty and quality that can be expected from a reputable brand like Faberware.
- Easy to operate
- Very affordable
- Convenient multi-stage cooking mode
- Excellent warranty
- Low wattage
- Not very large
- Can feel flimsy to some
The Samsung MS14K6000AS is a powerful, 1000-watt microwave with a good amount of room built into a stylish frame. However, it’s the features and not the aesthetic that are most impressive as you can expect some of the best functionality yet from this model. Samsung’s primary selling point with this unit are the sensors, which can detect various aspects of cooked food to make sure that the cook time is properly set. If not, the microwave will adjust the time for you so that your food comes out perfectly.
This unit is a bit heavy, especially when considering the countertop design, and it consumes a substantial amount of counter space. Still, this unit is great for those with a specific style in mind for their kitchens and those that need to ensure that their food is cooked perfectly.
- Great design
- Excellent sensors
- Energy-saving Eco Mode
- A bit clunky
- Can be loud
The Frigidaire FFCM1134LB microwave, much like the Faberware Classic, aims more for a compact size and affordable cost. However, don’t count this product out when it comes to power. This 1100-watt microwave can compete on a larger level while still keeping light enough to put away when all of the cooking is completed.
The unit is also focused on working efficiently rather than inundating the user with features, so there are no advanced sensors to be found. Moreover, we would have preferred a little bit more room to cook inside the unit along with this unit’s basic design. We can’t blame Frigidaire though, for focusing exclusively on power alongside a great price. This microwave is perfect for smaller spaces and budget seekers that aren’t willing to sacrifice on wattage.
- High wattage for the price
- Quick controls
- Auto-cook functionality
- Not many features
- Can appear cheap
The LG LCRT2010ST manages to pull out all the stops and offer the largest microwave both in features as well as in cubic feet. It comes with a ridiculous 2 cubic feet of interior space and, when you factor in the curved interior edges to allow for rounded dishes, you won’t easily find a larger microwave in just about any other category.
Much like with the Samsung countertop model, this unit comes equipped with high-quality sensors that nail the cook time nearly every time. The sheer weight of this unit, however, does mean that you may want to consider finding a permanent place for it as opposed to taking it out each time you need to microwave. While this microwave won’t be winning any competitions in affordability, it’s clear that LG is aiming to make the microwave that sticks with you for years to come.
- Large interior space
- Effective auto-cooking functionality
- Durable stainless steel design
- EasyClean system effectively cleans without chemicals
- High wattage
- A little expensive
- Heavy and bulky
When it comes to features, all your favorites are here, including defrosting, custom timers, popcorn settings, and more. The real selling point for this microwave is the convection oven setting. Using this mode, the Frigidaire microwave cooks using circulated hot air, microwaves, or both. As a result, we recommend this Frigidaire Over-the-Range model for those who want more options for accurate and thorough cooking and don’t mind a higher price tag.
- Built-in convection oven
- Unique aesthetic design
- Durable build quality
- Easy access to advanced features
- Lower wattage than expected
Like it’s countertop cousin, the LG LMHM2237ST is focused on easy access to features and a large amount of cooking space. Boasting an interior for a total of 2.2 cubic feet, this microwave takes the crown as the most spacious on our list. Aside from space considerations, you should be able to get a good amount of mileage out of the 1000 watts of cooking power. The fan used for ventilation is also one of the primary selling points, and reviewers are often impressed with how quickly this microwave can clear a room.
- Lots of cooking space
- Easy access to functionality
- EasyClean makes quick work of stains
- Powerful fan and effective ventilation
- Questionable design choices
- Lower wattage than expected
The GE PVM9005SJSS represents GE’s entry into the over-the-range market, and out of all of the microwaves on our list, this one is perhaps the best-looking. This model is easily compatible with LG’s version, but with a few tricks up its sleeve. For instance, a charcoal filter and a high number of fan speeds make ventilation more effective rather than fast. Likewise, with over 10 cooking speeds across 1050 watts of power, you’ll be able to effectively microwave across different speeds.
This microwave is also the first (and only) on our list to offer Bluetooth capability. With GE’s Chef Connect, you can sync up your microwave with other GE products to save time setting up clocks, timers, and other kitchen needs. This unit does have some drawbacks in design, such as the letters being a bit too small for some to read, but overall, there’s little to complain about.
- Great aesthetic design
- Handy Chef Connect features
- 10 power settings
- Easy access to advanced features
- Buttons can be hard to read
- Would prefer a physical handle
The Sharp R1214T model’s over-the-counter design manages to put a new spin on the traditional design of older microwaves. This model will help you save on precious counter space, but you won’t be able to ventilate your stove using this product.
- 11 power settings
- Easy-to-use LED display
- Warm Plus feature keeps food ready to eat
- Retro design
- No advanced features
- Can look outdated in certain homes
Microwaves Buyer’s Guide
We’ve gone over quite a few microwaves, and those relatively new to the terminology might be confused when trying to understand exactly what makes one product better than the other. As you navigate all of these options, be sure to keep the following in mind before committing to a purchase:
Perhaps more so than size, weight, or features, a microwave’s wattage is going to be the most telling sign of the functionality of your new unit. Think of wattage as the internal temperature of the microwave: the higher the wattage, the more powerful the unit will be.
Countertop, Over-the-Range, or Over-the-Counter?
We’ve covered microwaves across three categories, and it’s important to remember the pros and cons of each to ensure your purchase is going work correctly in your home. The most popular is the countertop microwave, which simply needs to be plugged into an outlet to operate. There are no installation considerations, and most people prefer countertop microwaves because they can be removed and stowed away when not in use.
Over-the-range microwaves are able to perform all of the functions of a standard microwave as well as ventilate any smoke and steam coming from a stovetop. These are more expensive overall but usually offer more interior space as well as more wattage. Finally, there are over-the-counter microwaves, which operate as built-in models. Over-the-counter microwaves can be a lifesaver in small spaces that already have a dedicated stove top ventilation system in place. Each is unique in their installation, so you may want to consult a few guides and maybe hire a professional to get this product looking its best.
Regardless of style, you’ll need to make sure that the microwave you purchase is able to fit inside your kitchen and in the location that you’re picturing for it. That’s why we’ve made note of each microwave’s dimensions so that you can make sure everything will fit as planned.
Weight, Size & Features
For countertop microwaves, the weight is very much an important factor to consider. If you plan to move your countertop microwave in and out of storage each time you use it, the difference between 20 pounds and 40 pounds can be huge. Likewise, a larger microwave is going to take up more storage space, which may be particularly precious in smaller living quarters.
The features of a microwave can be less important, but still worth nothing. Most modern microwaves come equipped with basic popcorn and defrosting settings, however smart functionality, variable power levels, and advanced sensors need to be considered as well. Microwaves that come with automatic time adjustment, in particular, can be a lifesaver when trying to cool a full meal. Simply pop in the food item and let the microwave watch your food so you can focus on other matters.
How much wattage do I really need?
That depends—how powerful do you need your microwave to be? Most reputable sources list the average microwave’s power to be somewhere near 1,000 or 1,000 watts. For typical use, though, aim for 600 watts to 1,200 watts. Much more or less than this range may mean adjusting cook times to compensate for a lack of (or too much) power. More watts, however, often means a larger footprint and a heavier microwave overall. That’s why over-the-range and over-the-counter microwaves tend to be more powerful since there’s little to consider when it comes to weight.
Why do microwaves often come with turntables? Do I need a turntable?
Microwaves use, as the name implies, microwaves that cook the food in bands. The turntable is to compensate for the waves and allow food to cook more easily. So, while you wouldn’t need a turntable if you’re heating up thin liquids like water, any solid food should be rotated to avoid spotty cooking and a poor quality meal.
Can I plug my microwave into a standard outlet?
The standard voltage for an American power outlet is 120 volts, so you can feasibly plug your microwave into any grounded wall outlet. It is often recommended, however, that you make sure the outlet in question is on its own dedicated circuit. This will keep your lights from dimming every time the microwave is in use or to prevent overloading the home’s power.