Best Microwaves of 2018
A good microwave is a kitchen essential that provides fast cooking times, convenience, and variety. Read on to discover the best choices for microwaves.
Shopping Guide for the Best Microwaves
From warming a cup of tea to putting dinner on the table, a good microwave is a kitchen essential. Many would argue that it's just as important as an oven, if not more so.
There are thousands of microwaves on the market and lots of factors to consider when shopping. BestReviews is here to help you sort through your options. We never accept free products from makers, and we buy and test products ourselves to write our bias-free reviews.
Through data gathering, expert interviews, and owner feedback, we created the shopping guide below to help you select your next microwave. Take a look at the list above to see which three are our favorites.
Benefits of Microwaves
Most Americans can't imagine life without a microwave. Here are a few of the reasons why.
Faster Cooking Times
A dish that would take an hour in the oven, such as a baked potato, requires just minutes in the microwave. You can defrost and cook frozen meals in very little time—perfect for hungry people on the go. And if you're melting butter or chocolate for a recipe, a microwave has you covered in a matter of seconds.
Cooking in a microwave is a lifesaver if you live without a full kitchen or if it's too hot to turn on the oven in the summer. Microwave cooking isn't limited to boxed and canned foods, either. There are plenty of delicious homemade chicken, pasta, vegetable, and dessert recipes that can be fully cooked in the microwave.
The range of foods you can cook in your microwave is endless. Scrambled eggs, steamed vegetables, baked "mug cake" … is your mouth watering yet? And don't forget that you can easily defrost meat in your microwave, too.
Also called "shortcut buttons" or "preset options," these buttons offer preprogrammed cook times for popular items, including popcorn and vegetables. Once selected, the microwave automatically cooks the dish at the appropriate power level and duration.
Variable Power Controls
These controls allow you to switch between different power settings. Notably, the way this usually works is that if you select a lower power, the microwave will alternate between full power and no power (instead of using full power the entire time). Microwaves equipped with inverter technology can operate at about 50 percent power for the whole cook time for more consistent low-power cooking. This is particularly helpful when defrosting food.
Certain foods require multiple cooking stages in the microwave. For example, a dish might require two minutes on defrost and then varying minutes at half power and full power. A microwave with a multi-stage cooking function allows you to preprogram each stage. The oven will then cycle through each cooking phase automatically.
TV dinners are nice sometimes, but nothing tastes sadder than a frozen meal you accidentally burnt to a crisp in the center thanks to uneven microwave power. Sensor cooking prevents this problem; the technology reads the humidity level inside the microwave and adjusts cook time and power level accordingly. With sensor cooking, you enjoy evenly cooked food every time.
The higher the wattage, the more powerful the microwave, and the faster your food will be ready to eat. You probably don't need a high-powered microwave if your main goal is to heat tea and TV dinners, but wattage is something to consider if you'll be defrosting meat. Home microwaves usually have between 600 and 1,200 watts.
Q. Are some microwaves safer for small children than others?
A. Some microwaves have child locks in place to prevent small children from getting into trouble. All microwaves must abide by federal government restrictions on radiation levels, as well.
Q. How do I pick out a microwave that's easy to clean?
A. If you have children or plan to put your microwave in a crowded office, you know it will get messy fast. For the easiest cleanup, look for a modern microwave made from nonporous materials that won't soak up messes. Stainless steel is another nice facet to look for, as it won't trap odors.
Q. What is a fair price for a middle-of-the-road microwave?
A. You can get a decent microwave for semi-regular use for about $100. For more complex settings and even cooking results, consider a higher-end model that costs a minimum of $150 or $200.