Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, 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 products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)
And while we’ve written about lots of kitchen appliances — including juicers, vacuum sealers, mini-fridges, deep fryers, and slow cookers — here, we’ve rounded up the best countertop microwaves, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers at Amazon.
Best-rated (and least expensive) microwave oven
This microwave’s voice-control integration with the Amazon Echo is a big selling point among reviewers. Hundreds of people mention Alexa in their reviews, and commenters use it in some unique ways: “It’s great and has some unexpected uses besides the coolness factor. For example, sometimes I’ll reheat a cup of coffee while working at home and forget about it. The Echo alarm in my room lets me know the microwave is done. If I forget about it, I can just say, ‘Alexa, reheat for one minute,’ and it goes. Verbal confirmation from the Echo is a great feature.” Another reviewer shares, “Surprisingly, the voice command is more fluid to use even than using the buttons we all are so used to.”
Its high-tech capabilities don’t seem to cause complications, and reviewers find it easy to set up. A visually impaired reviewer writes: “I’m always hesitant when I buy something that needs to be paired with something else in order to get the full benefit of it. Sometimes, something on the screen needs to be entered which we can’t see. There might be on-screen prompts or whatnot. This microwave had none of that. It was a cinch to set up and works beautifully.” Others love its small size. “We have a VERY small kitchen with barely any counter space so I was very pleased with how compact it is,” writes one commenter.
Best compact microwave oven
Customers enjoy the small footprint this Panasonic microwave. In fact, it’s one customer’s favorite feature. He calls is a “good microwave,” because it’s “nice and compact on a counter” and doesn’t take up too much space. A second reviewer also “really likes the small size” because while, yes, it is compact, it’s still “large enough for any of our needs” and doesn’t hog counter space. Aside from the size, customers also point out how well it works. “This cooks your frozen dinners to perfection, is quiet, and sits easily on a counter. Great microwave,” adds one. And one more agrees, it “heats evenly and extremely fast.” He even appreciates that “the glass tray has yet to fall off the tracks, even after cleaning.”
Best large microwave oven
Nearly 100 five-star reviews praise the Panasonic’s “huge” size. “This is a must for our family,” writes one commenter. “It’s VERY spacious inside — bigger than my built-in — big platters fit inside,” shares another. The wide appliance is even large enough for reheating casseroles, and several reviewers note that it’s big enough to fit a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. One reviewer finds it “cooks much faster and more thoroughly than other microwaves.” “Makes a huge difference in the quality of cooking!” raves another. This comes as no surprise to those already loyal to brand’s line of microwaves, like this reviewer, who raved, “This replaced our previous Panasonic that was almost 15 years old before it died. In our experience, Panasonic makes reliable microwave ovens.”
Best microwave oven with smart sensor
“Why, hello, Jetsons! I hadn’t realized how far microwaves had come until we had to replace the one we’ve owned since we got married 20+ years ago,” writes one customer. He says this microwave has “got all of the bells and whistles,” including the smart sensor, which he calls “crazy” for how impressive it is. The smart sensor has preprogrammed options for heating up popular foods. “Things we’ve made: popcorn, rice, oatmeal, reheated pizza, pastas, and other leftovers, hot cocoa, and a few other things. We have yet to burn anything, including popcorn,” he writes. He fully expects a “food replicator” by the time he’s ready to replace this model. And dozens more five-star reviewers are enamored with the smart sensor. One customer didn’t think he needed “a fancy machine with all the bells and whistles” because he “just needed something that would reheat leftovers,” but now that he has it, he can’t live without it. Another reviewer also is new to the smart technology and was skeptical at first, but after testing it out, he says “this oven is truly smart. It’s the best microwave I’ve ever owned.” He explains, “I placed a frozen one pound ribeye in this microwave and pressed one pound defrost and it was perfect.”
Best microwave oven with adjustable sound
Customers appreciate they can shut off the beeping on this microwave, because many find the sound annoying. “Very handy if you have a roommate, or simply dislike the noise,” says one reviewer who calls it a “great little microwave for small kitchens. Another agrees (almost word for word) that it’s a “great little microwave” for her tiny kitchen, adding that it’s “easy to use and I love that it has a way to suppress the sound.” As she explains, “I get up much earlier than the rest of the house and appreciate the silence.” Another common feature customers discuss is the compact size. “I would recommend this microwave to anyone who wants to save counter space,” one reviewer notes, though he does warn that it’s only “700 watts, so it takes a little longer to cook things or heat things up.” But that “does not bother” him one bit.
Best stainless-steel microwave oven
Many reviewers of this Panasonic microwave oven rave about its power, efficiency, and spacious interior. “We have been totally delighted with this microwave,” writes one. “We have had to scale back cooking times because of the incredible cooking power. The spacious interior and ease of use are just the best.” Another says, “Constant microwave power emission cooks to total satisfaction with no cold spots. Baked potatoes are the best I’ve ever had in my life, and I’m old, smooth, creamy, uniform texture throughout. No overdone skins. Sensor cooking works too. At this price, it’s a steal.” Part of what sets this microwave apart is the stylish stainless-steel front, with several reviewers noting that it “blends in well with a kitchen with stainless-steel appliances and black, as well.”
The stainless steel on this Black+Decker microwave wowed customers, including one who says it “looks very attractive and easy to clean.” He goes on to note that because the microwave has 1,000-watt capacity the microwave “reheats food much faster than the previous one [he] owned with only 800-watt capability.” Another reviewer also notes that it “heats as well as a larger unit,” but the real selling point was the “attractive black and stainless look.” She even thinks it’ll be easier to clean now that it’s stainless. A third customer “didn’t want to go the expensive route because [she doesn’t] microwave a lot so this was perfect.” She loves “the stainless door and panel as opposed to all black” that many microwaves typically come in. She even appreciates the handle because it “opens so effortlessly.”