Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy (like knife sharpeners), but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ’em) products and single out the most convincing. While we’ve written about slow cookers, toasters and toaster ovens, kitchen knife sets, frying pans and skillets, cookware sets, and even electric griddles and indoor grills, here we’re rounding up the best microwave ovens you can find on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
Best countertop microwave
“This is absolutely one of the best microwaves I’ve seen in a very long time … We’ve tried everything in it so far — I enjoy testing things out — defrosting venison, popcorn in the bag, reheating stews and steaks, even did some instant oatmeal and Cup O’ Noodles in it. All of it without incident at all. The one thing that may throw you at first is that, with the inverter technology, the microwave cycles up and down, so the sound changes. I’m not sure if there’s some sort of internal temperature sensor or something to make it do this. However, I’ve yet to burn anything it in (and I’ve tried!), and it’s yet to produce anything short of a perfectly heated food. I would HIGHLY recommend this microwave to anyone looking to upgrade.”
Best small microwave oven
We’re a household of designers, and are super picky about how something as visible as a microwave looks (every day! it’s right there!) – but we also want it to work well & have a few features we need, like +30 sec and express cook buttons. AND A HANDLE. We will never again own a microwave with a button-controlled door, because the dang button died on our last one even though the microwave was still otherwise functional. What a waste!
Anyway, yes (as other reviewers have said) it’s lightweight, but in no time we’ve developed a two-handed technique that keeps it from any slipping or sliding on the counter. LOVE the handle. LOVE the express cook & 30-sec buttons. LOVE the higher wattage & slightly larger interior than our last one.
Best large countertop microwave
“Our microwave died out of the blue, and we spent a good week researching microwaves to replace it. This one from Panasonic was highly rated by consumer advocacy groups and customers alike, and in the last two months, it has worked perfectly for us. It did take some adjustment, as this one cooks at a higher wattage than our old one, so if you are upping the wattage by buying this, make sure you alter the cooking times! … The interior of this microwave is large, and that’s wonderful. Two six-inch plates can fit side by side on the glass platter with no worries of bumping the sides of the microwave. The big size also means that if a plate or item is covered by a napkin or paper towel, the napkin or paper towel won’t bump the side of the microwave and get knocked off the top of the plate and allow food to splatter. The timer end beep is plenty loud to hear if you leave the kitchen.”
Best quiet countertop microwave
“Toshiba had me in mind when they designed this microwave. I love saving energy; press and hold the stop button, and it goes into energy-saving mode. I need a quiet microwave so I don’t wake the neighbors in the morning. Press and hold the “8” button, and your beeper is deactivated. Size is just large enough to hold a dinner plate, and no larger, saving counterspace. Cooking is even and powerful. Chassis is attractive. My last microwave had no interior light; this one has an LED that lights while cooking. Great little machine!”
Best countertop microwave with sensor cooking
“I’ve had this a few weeks now, and I love the sensor heating. I put food in, press ‘sensor’ button, then ‘start’ button, and go back to Netflix while this cooks it for me. Whatever I cook with the sensor is always cooked to safe temperatures, so no more burritos or Hot Pockets still frozen in the center.”
Best stainless-steel countertop microwave oven
“This is the nicest microwave we have owned (and we have a nice built-in one above the stove that was top-of-the-line years ago). It was very well-packaged and had my daughters excited to use it just from reading the box. They were interested in melting chocolate, among other things. I was impressed by how solid the unit was when I lifted it from the box. Very well built. The only thing that needed assembly was the turntable … There are two main dials and five buttons on the outside of the unit on the right side. The two dials adjust cook time and power level. Both of these can be adjusted while the microwave is running!
There are also a lot of smart-cook features. With them, you pick the food you are cooking and the weight, and the microwave tells you the power and time to cook them at. Some programs even cook at two different power levels for optimal cooking. We love this microwave and have no complaints whatsoever.”
Best stainless-steel microwave for defrosting
“The Panasonic inverter microwave is the best I have ever owned. As someone who does actual cooking with this microwave, I love it. The control and results are excellent. I can steam vegetables so much more quickly in the microwave. I can do crispy roasted veggies and roast potatoes in less than half the time by partially cooking (steaming) them in the microwave and finishing them under the broiler or in the oven. Fish is a breeze to delicately poach in this microwave using a lower power setting. It even does a frozen dinner better because it doesn’t create hot-spots when reheating.
… [Plus,] Panasonic’s inverter can vary the microwave power. So at 50 percent power level the power is on for the whole cook time, but actually at 50 percent power, not just on for half the time and off for half the time. The results are so much better: more even cooking of the food, without the hot and cold spots. This also makes it much better for even defrosting.”
Best stainless-steel built-in microwave
“This is the largest, most powerful microwave I’ve ever worked with. The turntable is 16.5 inches across, so even my largest rectangular cooking pan won’t hit the sides when it turns. It has 1,250 watts of cooking power, though it pulls a bit more at the circuit … It is a sparkly silver color that should go with anything without showing every fingerprint the way a shiny stainless steel finish would. Smart technology allows it to deliver variable cooking power, to defrost quickly without burning, and to sense automatically how the cooking progresses. I’ve never actually cooked a turkey in a microwave, but with this machine, I might actually try it sometime. Meanwhile, an oatmeal setting! I’ll use that just about every day. Eighteen pre-programmed settings in all.”
Best high-powered stainless-steel microwave oven
“Superior microwave. Very powerful. Takes half the time to do the same job of my old unit. Also, it is very sensitive and true to the settings. Finally I can soften a stick of butter right from the refrigerator without it dissolving into liquid. You can do many chores without having to settle for half the job. Huge interior, easy to maintain cleanliness and handle the largest containers. Wish I would have purchased it earlier. Makes life so much easier in the kitchen.”
Best vintage-style microwave
“Took a chance on this because I just redid my kitchen in a vintage theme with red accents, so I knew I had to have this microwave. Have really put it through the paces in the few days we’ve had it and have had none of the issued others have mentioned. I thawed chicken (16+ minutes) and it was perfect; in fact, it thawed much more evenly than my old microwave! It is NOT hard to figure out how to use (I didn’t even look at the manual) … We’ve done the usual heating of beverages, boiling water, cooking vegetables, and heating a dinner plate with no problems at all … It is so, so pretty and already, anyone who sees it squeals about how crazy cute it is. The finish is beautiful: high gloss, pearlized red like a fancy car paint job.”
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