The Best Countertop Microwaves

Microwaves are a common feature in almost every kitchen. These machines were revolutionary for fast and easy cooking, and now they tend to be a kitchen staple for meal prep. Reheating cold food and cooking things like popcorn takes just minutes; plus, a microwave doesn’t waste any energy preheating. The newest models of these handy appliances can include smart technologies and easy controls to make them more accessible than ever. If you’re looking to buy a new model, this guide is here to help you find the best microwave for your home. We’ll also help you determine what features, sizes, and prices you can expect to find while shopping.

Our Top Picks: Summary

The Best Microwaves: Our Top Picks

Best Overall Microwave: LG NeoChef
LG NeoChef 1.5 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave

The LG NeoChef microwave will give you fast heating with even distribution.

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Why We Picked It

This LG microwave uses several smart technologies to give you the best performance. There is an internal humidity sensor that determines when your food is cooked and automatically turns off the microwave to prevent overcooking. The NeoChef also uses a smart inverter to heat your food evenly. The precise variable power makes this microwave better for defrosting than other models, and it has an impressive 1200 watts.

The NeoChef’s 1.5 cubic foot interior is the second largest on our list, and it features LG’s EasyClean anti-bacterial coating that resists stains and buildup. The exterior’s SmoothTouch glass controls easily wipe clean – a big plus for anyone who’s tried to keep a microwave smudge-free. The inner turntable is supportable by a hexagonal-shaped stabilizer ring with six wheels for extra support. LG also backs its product with a 10-year warranty.

Keep in Mind

The NeoChef is a fairly wide microwave, so it might not be the best for people with limited counter space.

In a Nutshell

  • Smart inverter for even cooking
  • Generous 1.5 cubic foot interior
  • Humidity-sensing auto-off technology
Best Budget Microwave: AmazonBasics
AmazonBasics .7 cu. ft. Microwave with Alexa

This affordable microwave features Alexa integration.

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Why We Picked It

The AmazonBasics Microwave is a space-saving model that is perfect for budget shoppers. With just .7 cubic feet of space, this appliance will fit in any kitchen and still be able to cook your favorite food. It also features 10 power levels, a timer, child lock, and glass turntable. This 700-watt AmazonBasics model has a stylish black finish and simple controls with a dedicated “Ask Alexa” button.

The inclusion of Alexa is a highlight and a big selling point for this model. While you need an Amazon Echo device to control it, the optional voice commands give this microwave technology boost that other budget models lack. Alexa can automatically turn on the microwave, has a growing list of presets for you to choose from, and can even order popcorn whenever you’re running low with Amazon’s Dash Replenishment technology.

Keep in Mind

To help save you money, this microwave doesn’t include a lot of advanced cooking features like auto-off sensors.

In a Nutshell

  • Alexa enabled
  • Dash Replenishment technology
  • Space-saving design
Best Small Microwave: Toshiba EM925A5A
Toshiba .9 Cu.ft Microwave Oven

A compact microwave that doesn’t compromise on features.

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Why We Picked It

The Toshiba Microwave Oven is specially designed to maximize interior space while retaining its compact overall size. That helps make this the best model for apartments, offices, or even dorm rooms. You can get the 900-watt Toshiba in your choice of stainless steel or black stainless steel to match most modern kitchens. The interior is equipped with a durable and efficient LED light so you can effortlessly check on your food as it cooks. There’s also a mute option for the end-cooking alert so you won’t disturb anyone else at home.

The controls for this microwave are clearly labeled and easy to use. There are quick-access buttons for one to six-minute intervals and an add-30-seconds button. Six presets allow you to cook popcorn, frozen goods, and coffee with just one touch. The Toshiba microwave has 10 power levels to give you more control over how your food is cooked. There is also an ECO mode that reduces its power consumption by 50%.

Keep in Mind

Some users have found that the Toshiba is louder than other microwaves when it is heating food. However, the mute button silences the end beep, so it might be a tradeoff worth making.

In a Nutshell

  • Compact design
  • Mute end-cooking alert option
  • Energy-saving ECO mode
Best Microwave for Large Families: GE Profile
GE Profile 2.2 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave

If you’re looking for a large-capacity microwave, then the GE Profile is your best choice.

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Why We Picked It

For anybody that needs to cook huge amounts of food at one time, this microwave is the best option. Although it won’t save counter space, the whopping 2.2 cubic feet of interior space is more than double most models. Since it’ll be so prominent in your kitchen, GE gives the Profile a stylish stainless steel and tinted glass finish. The interior has a huge 16-inch turntable and offers 1,200 watts of power.

This microwave features sensors for automatic cooking; it can sense humidity and adjust cooking times accordingly. The inverter gives you consistent power with even cooking. There are several low-power settings, including Warm, Melt, and Soften (for heavy foods like butter or cream cheese). The Profile also includes child lock options, auto defrost, and a proofing mode.

Keep in Mind

The GE Profile is the most expensive microwave on our list.

In a Nutshell

  • Large 2.2 cubic foot capacity
  • Sensor cooking controls
  • Warming oven functions

How We Chose the Best Microwaves

In order to find the best microwaves available today, we compared each appliance based on a variety of crucial factors. We wanted to find you durable products with high performance that also had useful features and a fair price. To give you some insight into how we picked the top products, some of the factors are explained below.

Size

When it comes to the size of a microwave, we focused on two aspects: interior capacity and exterior dimensions. Having the most interior space while using up the least amount of counter space is key, so we wanted to find the right balance between the two. You’ll typically find microwaves with around one cubic foot of cooking space, but there are larger options. Our top pick for large families, for example, has more than double the average food capacity to accommodate higher volumes of food. We also know that some people won’t need all that space, so other microwaves on our list do a better job of maximizing counter space.

Wattage

The power of a microwave is dependent on its wattage, so we made sure every model is powerful enough to handle any food you need to cook. Microwaves typically have between 500 and 1,000 watts, with two of our top picks giving you 1,200. The lowest wattage microwave on our list is 700, which will usually get the job done and saves you money. The more power a microwave has, the more expensive it tends to be. But, you also get more even cooking and better features like presets and humidity sensors.

Settings

Advanced cooking settings can make a microwave easier to use and give you better results. We compared one-touch controls that can provide you preset times for certain foods or a specific amount of time of full-powered cooking. Smart technology like voice controls and automatic heating are newer technologies found in premium models, and we wanted to find a balance between advanced features and overall cost.

Price

A new microwave can cost anyway between $50 and $1,000, so we wanted to find the best microwaves that can fit any budget. Less expensive models tend to be smaller in size and offer only basic controls. With these options, it was vital for us to find durable and easy-to-use models. Higher prices appliances come with more features, so we compared the cost with how useful the technology was and how well the microwave performed.

Customer Reviews

Reviews from previous customers are an asset to narrowing down the best microwaves. People’s experiences with each model helps us determine if there are any consistent issues or annoying features. We also compare user experiences with a company’s customer service to learn how easy they are to work with in the case of a return or defect.

What to Consider When Choosing a Microwave

Highlighted features on a microwave model might be a big selling point to some shoppers and not others. That’s why when it comes to picking out the best microwave for you, it’s important to consider your specific needs. To help, we’ve explained some of the most important factors to think about while you’re shopping.

Size

Your microwave will most likely reside on your counter, which means the space it takes up won’t be accessible for anything else. If you have a smaller kitchen or limited counter space, you should pay attention to the overall dimensions of a microwave to ensure that you have space for it. The exterior dimensions will have an impact on food capacity, but the two might not be directly related. Some microwaves have more compact shells and controls to help maximize interior space. If you don’t cook anything too big in the microwave, a smaller capacity might be best for you. If having more internal space is crucial for your needs, then you need to find a high capacity product that fits in your kitchen.

Settings

Every microwave will be able to heat food, but some come with helpful presets and technologies to make your job easier. Presets often have a predetermined time and power for specific foods (like popcorn, potatoes, or leftovers) that allow you to cook with one button press. Some models have advanced technologies like interior humidity sensors that can automatically stop cooking when your food is ready. It’s also helpful to have multiple power functions so you can accurately adjust your microwave for whatever you’re cooking.

Style

Unless you put your microwave in the cabinet when not in use, there’s a good chance this appliance will be on display in your kitchen at all times. This means you’ll want to find a model that meets your personal style preferences and matches the other appliances in your home. The most common finishes for a new microwave are stainless steel and all black. The window size and button set up will also have an impact on the way your microwave look. Some models, like the LG NeoChef, offer a minimalist design by discreetly hiding the controls underneath the door.

Price

Microwaves have been around for decades, so they’re not as expensive as they used to be. However, the more advanced features and smart technologies you want, the higher the price will be. Identifying your budget and which features you’ll get the most use out of is essential. Microwaves can be found for under $75, though these models tend to be fairly basic as far as controls and looks go. They also will be smaller than higher-priced products. You could be paying upwards of $200 to $300 for a larger microwave with advanced features.

How Does a Microwave Work?

Microwaves differ from traditional or convection ovens by using radio waves to heat food. This appliance uses a magnetron powered by electricity to create micro-frequency waves. Microwaves use metal interior walls to contain the radio waves and reflect them toward your food. The waves cause simple molecules (like water) to vibrate and cause friction, which creates heat. While it’s fast-acting, the radio waves can’t penetrate too far into your food. That’s why the tray inside rotates, and if you take something out too soon, the edges will be hotter than the middle.

The overall power of your microwave is measured in watts. You’ll typically see most models have between 500 and 1,000 watts. The higher the wattage, the faster and more evenly food will cook. Most microwaves will allow you to adjust the power output manually, as well as automatically adjust power for presets. Full power is the best option for boiling water, cooking meats, and quickly reheating food. Medium power (70 percent) is the best for reheating leftovers, baking casseroles, and roasting poultry. Lower power options can soften butter, slow cook, and braise food.

Related Resources

For more reviews of the best kitchen appliances and helpful shopping tips, make sure to check out the links below.

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Bryan Long