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The 3 Best Microwaves - Summer 2024 Reviews

Updated Jul 10, 2024 at 10:13 am
Best Microwaves

We've tested 26 microwaves, but you won't find our recommendations for the best microwaves below.

After months of investigation, we've found that microwaves from the cheapest budget model to a commercial model that costs over $1,000 don't significantly differ in heating food. Also, the latest microwave technology development, the inverter, doesn't really make a difference either.

You can read all about our journey into the heart of microwaves here. We also wanted to be sure that inverters, which allow a microwave to maintain a constant power output at any power level, really didn't change how your food gets warmed up. Read about everything we tried and our conclusions here.

It turns out that microwaves, in general, are just okay at evenly heating food. This comes down to physics rather than the design of any particular microwave. The evenness of heating depends on the placement of your food in the microwave and its thickness. What you're heating also matters: food with a higher water content heats differently than drier food, and something like soup will always heat more evenly than something more viscous like mashed potatoes. If you heat the same food in the same container in different microwaves, the results are indistinguishable from each other when you actually taste the food.

So, your next new microwave won't blow you away with its superior performance. The good news is that you can get pretty much any microwave you like. Once you know what kind of microwave you want (classic countertop or over the range) and what size you need, you can consider its power output (some microwaves are faster) and features. Features like multiple different power levels, a kitchen timer function, and popcorn, reheat, and defrost modes are standard for most microwaves. Some microwaves have a mute function for stealthy microwave use and have a built-in steam sensor for more automatic cooking.

Below, we won't recommend the best microwave oven, but we'll point out models that offer good value, organized by size and feature for your convenience. You may want to check out our list of the best over-the-range microwaves if that's what you're looking for. Your best-value microwave might be the one you find on sale!

  1. Best Value Countertop Microwave

    The Toshiba EM131A5C-BS is a good value option if you're looking for the best microwave. This medium-sized 1100-watt microwave can heat food faster than some comparable models. The light inside the cooking chamber makes it easy to see inside. Like pretty much every microwave, it has quick-start programs, a defrost mode, and a few programs for specific foods, including popcorn. This model also has a steam sensor, so some programs will have the microwave detect steam and automatically adjust the cooking time. You can also mute the controls, all for a budget-friendly price.

    If you prefer the look of a microwave with a button instead of a handle or if you find that design easier to wipe clean, the Panasonic NN-SN67HS is a good option with similar features. However, it's slightly more expensive.

    See our review

  2. Best Value Small Countertop Microwave

    If you want a very small microwave, the GE JES1072SHSS is a good value option. The smallest microwaves we've tested usually have less power than bigger ones, and as a 700-watt microwave, this one heats food slower than most. However, its very compact design will fit into RVs and dorm rooms, and its cooking chamber is a good size for reheating a cup of coffee or zapping a bowl of ramen or mac and cheese. It has no steam sensor, but you can mute the controls.

    If you want a faster small microwave, the Insignia NS-MW09SS8 is a good option. It's not quite as tiny as the GE but has much more power. Or, if you want an even faster and more high-end option, the LG LMC0975ST is a small microwave that heats food very quickly. It also has a sleeker look than most microwaves since the door hides most of its controls. This 1000-watt model heats food just as fast as any microwave we've tested. However, its higher price means you're paying a premium for inverter technology that doesn't make any difference in performance, so unless you like its look or want the very fastest microwave, it's probably not worth the extra money.

    See our review

  3. Best Value Over-The-Range Microwave

    If you're looking for the best microwave oven to install above your stove, the GE JVM6175SKSS is a good-value option. It's among the least expensive models we've tested, comes in many different colors to match your kitchen, and heats food just as fast as any higher-end model. It has a steam sensor that works with programs like 'Popcorn' and 'Beverage' to detect when your food is hot and automatically calculate the cooking time. Like all over-the-range microwaves, it has a fan and light for the cooktop below. The fan has four different speeds. There's also an indicator to remind you when to replace the grease filter. You can mute the controls.

    Naturally, you can pay more for extra features. The Whirlpool WMH32519HZ comes with a cooking rack that you can use for two-level cooking or with its 'Steam' and 'Simmer' modes, which ask you to place a bowl of water under the rack and your food on top. The LG MVEM1825F has a companion app that you can use to send cooking information to the microwave, adjust the fan and light, or mute the controls. However, both of these microwaves are more expensive.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Toshiba ML-EC42P(SS): The Toshiba ML-EC42P(SS) is a combo air fryer, oven, and microwave that can heat and crisp food. It has features similar to the much cheaper Toshiba EM131A5C-BS, including a steam sensor for more automatic cooking. However, we haven't tested how it performs as an air fryer or oven. See our review
  • Breville the Smooth Wave: The Breville the Smooth Wave is an expensive microwave with a bigger LED screen than most microwaves and uses dials instead of buttons. Its 'Soft-Close' door closes noticeably quietly. However, it's not as fast as the Toshiba EM131A5C-BS, which is much cheaper and has similar features like mute and sensor cooking. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above represent good-value microwaves for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.

If you'd like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of all microwave reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no microwave is perfect, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you look for them.