Testing microwaves is a complicated business. There are some fairly substantial price differences between products and often that difference doesn’t seem to lead to much, if anything, in the way of improved cooking performance.
Really, all anyone wants from a countertop microwave is that it makes food (and drink) hot and that it ensures that the heat is evenly spread throughout the finished product.
They also want their food to defrost properly, there’s nothing worse than defrosting something to find frozen lumps throughout the food.
Nobody wants to have to do a degree in electrical engineering in order to use their microwave, either, they just want it to work when it comes out of the box –manuals are things other people read.
Finally, they want a relatively quiet machine that will last for a few years before it needs replacing. Consumers don’t expect microwaves to last forever, but they don’t want to be buying a new one every year at Christmas.
So, that’s the thinking that led us to our top picks for the best countertop microwaves. A desire for a quality and simple experience with a machine that won’t break down the day after you buy it.
Check them out, we think you’ll be impressed.
Sharp 0.7-cu ft 700-Watt Countertop Model
This is definitely not the most powerful microwave in our round up but it’s the ideal cheap microwave for a student on a strict budget all the same.
It takes longer than most of us would like to heat food and ensure that the heat is spread around evenly but it is surprisingly effective at defrosting things and better still, it’s super quiet, so if you need a snack late at night –you won’t wake up your housemates.
You can find the Sharp 0.7-cu ft 700-Watt Countertop Microwave online.
Panasonic NN-GN68K Countertop Oven Microwave + Broiler Grill
You do get what you pay for to some extent and this countertop oven was one of the best for distributing heat evenly throughout whatever we put in it.
The fact that it doubles as a broiler grill is also very handy, if you can get appliances to do more than one job –we strongly recommend that you do, it saves space and gives you more potential in the kitchen.
You can find the Panasonic NN-GN68K Countertop Oven Microwave + Broiler Grill online.
Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor
One of the best all-round microwave options that we’ve ever come across.
A sensible price tag still delivers 1.2 cubic feet of cooking space and enough power to blast whatever you need, whenever you need it.
We love the soften butter function which always leaves butter soft rather than as a molten pool of oil on the floor of the microwave.
You can’t go wrong with this model.
You can find the Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor online.
BLACK+DECKER Digital Microwave Oven with Turntable
This is a small and compact microwave and you can’t get a whole pizza inside (well, you can get a 9” pizza inside but that’s not really “a whole pizza” is it?).
However, it has a wide range of present functionality and the option to set your own presets (something we love –so much better than assuming that the manufacturer understands all our needs).
We’re not so impressed with the control panel though which is quite hard to read at times.
You can find the BLACK+DECKER Digital Microwave Oven with Turntable online.
Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN966S Stainless Steel Countertop
This is a super clever device which is too big for a small kitchen but is, perhaps, the smartest microwave we’ve ever used.
It has built in sensors which scan the food as it cooks and individually raise/lower the heat as necessary to give you an even food temperature.
That’s something that most microwaves can’t evencome close to doing and if you want the highest level of food safety –this Panasonic model is worth its weight in gold.
You can find the Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN966S Stainless Steel Countertop online.
Panasonic Countertop Commercial Microwave Oven
As you’d expect from a microwave that’s been built as much for commercial as domestic use –this is the easiest model to clean.
It also heats food very well and the temperature is even throughout.
The downside is that it’s a bit ugly to our eyes, but then that might just be a better of our design tastes.
You can find the Panasonic Countertop Commercial Microwave Oven online.
Nostalgia RMO4RR Retro Large 0.9 cu ft, 800-Watt Countertop Microwave Oven
This microwave, on the other hand, is all about the design.
It’s so cool and stylish that you’d expect to see it in a remake of Happy Days.
It’s very easy to operate too. The downside is that it’s a bit noisy when in use.
You can find the Nostalgia RMO4RR Retro Large 0.9 cu ft, 800-Watt Countertop Microwave Oven online.
Farberware 1.2 Cu. Ft. 1100-Watt Microwave Oven with Grill
A built-in grill is very useful and it’s that functionality that brings this Farberware model to our tests.
It’s a good quality microwave and yes, you can combine the grill function with the microwave (brilliant for baked potatoes) or use either by themselves.
The presets are excellent on this model too.
You can find the Farberware 1.2 Cu. Ft. 1100-Watt Microwave Oven with Grill online.