Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy (like espresso machines), 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, air fryers, blenders, 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 with voice commands
“This was perhaps the best set-up experience to date. I plugged the microwave in and 30 seconds later it was ready for commands through any Echo in the house. No manual set-up at all — it connected to my Wi-Fi automatically and was preconfigured for my account. I have come to expect this from an Echo device, but it was a bit shocking coming from a microwave. I received a notification on my phone for additional set-up, including which Echo the “ask Alexa” button initiated and which popcorn to use for the auto-replenish (not mandatory). I love the compact size — my previous microwave stuck out over my very narrow Ikea shelf. As a brand-new product, there are some command issues that I expect to get ironed out quickly. For example, I pressed the ask Alexa button and said “minute 30”, which was interpreted simply as 1 minute and 0 seconds instead of the desired 1 minute and 30 seconds. I expect slang and common parlance to function as expected over time. Over all, I have already found the addition of Alexa promising in making a very basic microwave a premium experience.”
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 and have a few features we need, like plus 30 second 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 and 30-second buttons. LOVE the higher wattage and 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 counter space. 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 countertop microwave oven with convection function
“I never had an Emerson before, but I’m impressed how this one handles. In many ways, this one does a better job than the last one I had which is sold by Sears and is their top brand. Yet the Emerson’s microwave really handles well in all the tasks I’ve given it. I like how the faceplate is laid out, simple and easy to understand. It cooks fast. Even for an 1,100 watt oven, it seems to do even better than the 1,200 watt one I had before. I think perhaps because this one is much smaller than the other one, you give it a job and it’s done. The only thing I haven’t tried yet is the grill which is up above. I’ve seen that you can use the grill either by itself or even with the microwave at the same time. That is impressive. I have yet to try that, sounds very cool. But what I’ve seen so far, I like. This is a nice unit for sure.”
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 the 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 preprogrammed 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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