Whatever kind of cook you may be, there’s one appliance that can predictably found in your kitchen – slow cooker or the microwave oven. Even the greatest cooks will tell you that the convenience of using this heating device has saved them hours in the kitchen. And because this appliance has become a kitchen essential, different types of microwave ovens have emerged to suit the various needs of the consumer. Most people tend to just buy the most common and basic type – the countertop microwave. And even there, the choices are too numerous to count. If you’re in the market for a new countertop microwave oven, we’ve got a list you need to check out. Based on our stringent research, below are all the best countertop microwaves in the market today.
Top 10 Countertop Microwaves of 2018 Reviewed
1. Westinghouse WCM660BBest Affordable Countertop Microwave Ovens
If you’re pressed for space, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a microwave oven in your kitchen. This Westinghouse WCM660B microwave is just 17.75 x 12.5 x 10.25 inches with 0.6 cubic foot interior that can accommodate dishes that are 9.5 inches big. It’s the perfect choice for dorm rooms and small apartments. The controls are mechanical which are sometimes much easier to operate than buttons. This microwave also comes with variable power controls – 6 settings, to be exact.
The timer goes up to 30 minutes. Because it has no LCD screen or backlit buttons, the microwave won’t be consuming power unless you use it. It also won’t be keeping you awake at night if you live in a studio or dorm room. However, the cord is a bit short – only slightly above 3 feet. The microwave is lightweight, maybe a little too lightweight? Opening the door causes the unit to slide forward. It would be better if it came with non-skid feet. Also, because this uses dials, you’re going to need to do guesstimates regarding cooking time.
- Variable power settings
- Perfect for small spaces
- Mechanical controls
- Short cord
- Can easily slide forward when opening
- Dial does not list “second” so you need to guesstimate
2. Panasonic NN-SD372SBest Quality Countertop Microwave Oven
The Panasonic NN-SD372S is a 950-Watt microwave oven that features an 11 1/4-inch turntable, a delay start and timer, preset cook settings, auto reheat settings, a quick minute setting, a keep warm feature, a pop-out dial, and a child safety lock. What do all those things do? Well, what most of these settings mean is that it takes the guesswork out of cooking certain food types such as veggies, pasta, popcorn, and frozen entrees. The keep warm feature lets the oven maintain a steady temperature that won’t cook the food, just keep it warm while you wait for the meal to start.
The pop-out dial ensures that you won’t be pressing a keypad to input time or weight, just turn the knob. Other highlights include 10 power levels, three cooking stages, and a free cookbook to help you make the most out of your microwave. One thing to take note about this unit is that it’s a fingerprint magnet which means that if you’re bothered by that, you’ll need to keep wiping down the unit everytime you touch it.
Also, while we do appreciate the quick button, it’s in 1-minute increments instead of 30 seconds which, in our opinion, is better if you want more accurate cooking times. We also noticed that the display is a bit difficult to read at certain angles. Not a dealbreaker but something to keep in mind.
- Lots of convenient features such as keep warm setting and auto cook
- Child safety lock
- 10 power levels
- Fingerprint magnet
- The quick button should in be 30-second increments
- Difficult to read the display at certain angles
3. Farberware ClassicBest Countertop Microwave Oven Under 100
If it’s power you want, then the Farberware Classic is for you. It offers 1000 watts of cooking power with 10 power levels to choose from. The microwave also has multi-stage cooking, express cooking, 30-second control, and 6 one-touch cooking functions. This unit even boasts of a memory function which means that you can store your preferred cooking settings and use them whenever you need to.
There’s also a child auto-lock feature to ensure that your kiddo never uses the microwave oven without you in the room. And the roomy interior, a whole 1.1 cubic feet, ensures that even your oversized dishes are going to fit. However, some users have noted that it’s a bit louder than other units they’ve tried. Also, you need to press the “time cook” button in order to set the timer in seconds instead of minutes. It’s an extra step that is unnecessary. We also noted that the control panel was not backlit which means midnight snacks need to be done with the lights on.
- Memory function
- 6 one-touch functions
- Child auto lock feature
- Very loud
- Need to press “time cook” to program time
- The control panel is not backlit
4. Panasonic NN-SN936W
The Panasonic NN-SN936W is one of the most powerful countertop microwaves we’ve found with 1250 watts of power. It’s also one of the biggest at 2.2 cubic feet. This isn’t one that’s going to fit well if you’re living in a dorm or small studio. But if you’ve got the space to spare, this is a good option. It features Inverter Technology, allowing you to spend less time defrosting food.
It also has an automatic sensor that will detect the humidity levels of the food and then automatically adjust the cooking power and time for the best results. You’ll also find 14 auto cook options plus a keep warm and reheat setting with single-minute intervals. This unit also has the delay start and child safety lock features. What it doesn’t have is a quick start button. Also, it has been reported to interrupt WiFi signals. And closing the door can require some force because the latch is stiff.
- 1250 watts
- Inverter Technology
- Automatic sensor
- No quick start button
- Can interrupt WiFi signals
- Stiff door latch
5. HomeLabs CountertopBest Medium Sized Countertop Microwave Oven
The HomeLabs Microwave is the perfect sized unit because it’s not too big or too small at 1.3 cubic feet. It has 1050 watts of power with 10 power levels, 11 cooking functions, and 7 pre-programmed settings. You can start it with a quick touch button. You can defrost food using weight or time.
And it even comes with a BPA free rotary glass cooking plate. With the child safety lock feature, you can rest easy that your little one will be using it without you. The LCD screen is quite easy to read. And the black and stainless steel design are very modern, easily fitting in most types of kitchens. This solidly built unit would have been perfect except for a few tiny details. The start button is very small and it can be hard to press the right spot. The film over the control panel starts peeling pretty quickly. Also, it can be pretty loud compared to other microwave ovens we’ve used.
- Not too big or small
- 10 power buttons
- Child safety lock
- Very tiny start button
- Film/plastic on top of control panel starts bubbling after a short time
6. Nostalgia RMO770RED
If you like the look of the good old days, then this retro microwave from Nostalgia should be right up your alley. This 700-watt oven comes in red and aqua blue and features 12 pre-programmed settings for you to choose from. There’s also a simple turn-and-push program dial that helps you navigate through the selection easily. The LED display is quite easy to read. And for its size, the interior offers 0.7 cubic feet of cooking space.
Enough to help you get a regular dinner plate on top of the rotating glass carousel. However, the controls aren’t intuitive. You’ll need to take time to read the manual just to learn what all the food icons mean. The clock is also hard to set up and is on the 24-hour format.
- Retro look
- 12 pre-programmed settings
- Easy-to-read LCD
- Low wattage
- The clock is on a 24-hour format
- Controls are not intuitive
7. Daewoo KOR-7LREM
The Daewoo KOR-7LREM is another retro option for those who wish for a different style than what Nostalgia offers. It also has only 700 watts of power but it offers a two-way defrost as well as a zero standby “ECO” function. While it only comes with 5 auto cook settings, it does have a popcorn setting as well as 5 power levels for you to choose from.
There’s also a child safety lock (always a plus) and a quick start button with 30-second increments. Unlike the Nostalgia model, this one is more intuitive. However, it only comes in one color – mint green. It doesn’t have a clock or a timer. For reheating stuff, this thing is the bomb. However, it takes a while to defrost something because of its low wattage.
- Retro style
- 5 power levels
- Eco function
- Only comes in one color
- Takes long to defrost
- No timer and clock
8. Breville Quick Touch BMO734XL
Yes, the Breville Quick Touch is quite expensive, around more than double the cost of our other picks. But it has a heck of a lot of features that you won’t be seeing in those other models. One of the best features it has is the ability to change both the power and time during a cooking cycle. It also has smart settings for cooking, reheating, and defrosting if you’d rather not make a guess on the power and time. The Sensor IQ automatically adjusts the time based on the humidity level of the foo.
You can store a favorite setting. And it even has a unit weight conversion. Other great features include a quick start button (30-second increments), pre-programmed settings, a kitchen timer, and a clock. However, the label on the start button wears off quickly. Not something you’d expect from a unit that costs more than $200. And the timer can only be set if you open the door. And turning the dial to set the time needs to be done very, very slowly or else you’ll get too far when you only wanted to set it at 2 or 3 minutes.
- Can change power level and time during the cooking cycle
- Sensor IQ
- Unit weight conversion
- Need to slowly turn the dial to set time
- Need to open the door to set the timer
- Label wears off quickly on the start button
9. GE PEM31SFSS
The GE PEM31SFSS is an 800-watt microwave oven that comes with a variety of cooking programs including auto cook, express cook, time defrost, weight defrosts, and sensor cooking controls. It also has other control features like setting the power level, adding 30 seconds, and turning the turntable on/off. And if you suddenly need space on your counter, GE sells an undercabinet hanging kit and a built-in kit so you can have it installed and free up the valuable real estate.
And we love that the controls are definitely on the simple side. It’s much like the microwaves of old which makes this unit very intuitive. Who needs a manual, right? However, as much as it does well with heating up all sorts of foods, it doesn’t do so well with popcorn. Also, for the price, we expected more than just 800 watts. This is a very expensive model that definitely checks a lot of our wants and needs. But possibly not enough to justify that price.
- Add 30 seconds
- Can be installed in a cabinet or hanging with optional kit
- Intuitive controls
- Not ideal for popcorn
- Only 800 watts
- Very expensive
10. Kenmore 0.9 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave Oven
Kenmore is a brand that we’ve all grown up with. So, it isn’t really surprising that we’d have one of its models on our list. This unit features a 0.9 cubic feet capacity, multiple cooking pre-programmed settings, and one-touch start buttons. With 900 watts of power, it isn’t the most powerful countertop microwave on the planet.
But it does offer a lot of heat to get your food to where it should be. It’s quiet, easy to use, and nice to look at. And the one-touch buttons make using this microwave so convenient. However, the door isn’t easy to open. There aren’t a lot of really special features such as child safety lock and sensors. And at this price, we expected something. But if you love Kenmore products, then this is a basic, no-frills microwave that will get the job done.
- One-touch start buttons
- Easy to use
- Too expensive for something basic
- The door isn’t easy to open
Countertop Microwave Oven Buying Guide
Did you know that 97% of US households have a microwave oven? This kitchen staple has been making waves and heating up food in American homes since 1967. While it started out as a luxury, it’s now an indispensable appliance that makes life in the kitchen a whole lot easier. Because of this, choosing a microwave for your kitchen has become a daunting endeavor. The market is inundated with choices. How does one figure out which countertop microwave oven is for you? Well, this shopping guide should tell you how.
Do you need a microwave?
Good question. Before you actually attempt to buy one, it’s good to figure out if this is something that you’ll be using in your kitchen. Naturally, we can’t answer for you. But to help you find the right answer, we’ve come up with a handy list of just what this appliance can do for you.
- shorten cooking time for certain foods like baked potatoes (just five minutes!)
- melts chocolate and butter much faster for baking
- toast nuts and breadcrumbs
- cooks frozen pizza and TV dinners
- steams veggies
- bakes mug cakes
- cooks popcorn
What are the factors that you need to consider?
Location, Location, Location. Your kitchen has precious real estate, particularly your counter. Unless you’ve got a really large one with not much on it, you’re going to need to make sure you already have a space in mind for your microwave before you even start shopping around. Is there an outlet nearby? What will be sitting beside the microwave oven? Are you planning on using it frequently? Is the location going to be convenient for you to access the microwave?
What about color and style? Microwave ovens come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. What model will easily fit in with your kitchen’s theme? Do you want something that matches the color or go with something all stainless? If you’re replacing an old microwave, then you’ll want to make sure that the new one will fit in the old one’s space quite easily.
Speaking of fitting, you’ll also need to make sure that you’ve got the right amount of cooking space. This means that the items you want to cook in the microwave oven should be able to fit inside. Do you plan to cook pizza or casseroles? How big are the pans and dishes that you’ll be using? Will you be cooking for one to two people or a big group? Whatever your answers are, keep one thing in mind: size matters.
You don’t need to know much about wattage except for one thing: the higher it is, the faster the cooking time. Most will fall within the range of 600 to 1200 watts. Typically, the lower the wattage, the lower the price of the unit.
Microwave ovens offer convenience in more ways than one. Not only does it heat up or cook food faster, it often features preset buttons for certain food items such as popcorn, frozen pizza, and baked potato. These quick keys are incredibly convenient and ensure that you don’t waste time guessing the correct power level and time to get the best result. Decide what shortcut keys you need and what you don’t when choosing a unit for your kitchen. The Breville Quick Touch BMO734XL is one of our picks that has the most number of quick keys.
Variable power controls
You’ll want to be able to choose the amount of power that the microwave oven puts out in cooking your food. This helps ensure the best results. An “all-or-nothing” unit isn’t going to give you reliable results. The Panasonic NN-SD372S, for example, comes with 10 power levels to choose from.
The best technology you’ll ever find in any microwave. We all know how results from a microwave oven aren’t always up to par with stovetop or conventional oven cooking. With sensor cooking technology, the microwave can detect the levels of humidity inside and automatically adjust the power setting and cooking time to get the best results. The Panasonic NN-SN936W is an excellent option if you want to have this feature.
Some foods will require you to use multiple settings in order to cook it properly. For example, you might need to defrost the food for a couple of minutes then slowly cook it at a low power setting before turning up the heat for the last few minutes. You may want to consider a microwave that has this feature such as the Farberware Classic, allowing you to program multiple cooking settings in one go. It’ll be a better option than hovering around the kitchen just to input the next set once the previous one is done.
Turntable on/off button
Some dishes are too large to rotate inside your microwave. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use them. With an on/off button for the turntable, you can use those dishes and not worry about the sides getting caught when it turns. The GE PEM31SFSS is one of the few models we’ve found that has this feature.
Some models will have a convection fan built in the back of the microwave to circulate the heat, much like how it would work with a regular convection oven. This helps to cook the food faster and more evenly. However, models with this feature are typically expensive.
Any other innovations I should consider?
Some models will have a child lockout feature which will prevent small children from operating the appliance without an adult present. Another safety feature you may be interested in is the interlock which guarantees that the microwave will not run unless the door is closed properly. Other models may include a built-in toaster or coffee maker.
While microwave ovens come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and styles, most (if not all) of them can last a good 7-12 years in your kitchen. Should your microwave break down well before that “deadline,” you’ll need to send it off to a repair center? What this means is that before you even consider buying a model, you’ll need to check the manufacturer’s warranty, return, and repair policies. Make sure that getting your microwave checked out, repaired, or return isn’t going to be a headache for you.