Ah, microwaves, where would we be without them? Picturing a microwave-less life feels like ages ago. Now, we can prepare dinner in under ten minutes, make freshly popped popcorn in thirty seconds and reheat pizza from last night—all without suffering for 20 minutes as we eagerly await the ding of an oven. They’re basically the closest thing to magic that you’ll find in the kitchen (other than our Secura Electric Wine Opener, of course). That said, our microwaves are a multifunctional tool that should meet every quick-cooking, reheating and defrosting need with ease. Below, find five of the best microwaves you can buy, based on size, durability and added features.
The 5 Best Countertop Microwaves, From $63 to $163
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Best Countertop Microwaves: Winners, at a Glance
- Best Overall: Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave
- Most Innovative: Toshiba ML-EM34P Smart Microwave
- Best Design: FarberWare Microwave Oven
- Best Heavy-Duty: Panasonic Microwave Oven
- Best On A Budget: Commercial Chef Microwave Oven
How to Choose the Right Countertop Microwave
- Size: As the name suggests, you’ll want a microwave that can easily fit on your countertop without taking up all your meal prep space. We recommend measuring your counter beforehand and selecting something that takes up no more than 30 percent of your overall space. Trust us; there’s nothing more frustrating than a bulky microwave getting in your way as you’re slicing and dicing.
- Wattage: More watts equals more power, and most standard microwaves have anywhere from 600 to 1,200 watts. Our advice? After you’ve determined the size of your microwave, select the highest wattage you can find. After all, cooking in an Easy-Bake Oven is only fun when you’re a kid (and don’t have multiple hungry mouths to feed).
- Quick keys: This one really boils down to your cooking preferences. For example, if you’re an obsessive popcorn eater, you’ll want a quick key that’ll ensure it comes out fluffy (and not burnt) every time. However, if you’re more interested in whipping up quick dinners, you might want to go with something that has keys for warming potatoes, rice, vegetables or frozen pizza. Some people use quick keys every day, while others never even notice they’re there. It’s all about how you plan on using your microwave.
1. Toshiba Microwave Oven
If you’re looking for the holy grail of single-button cooking, this microwave brings an entirely new meaning to hassle-free meal prep. Not only does Toshiba’s model feature a pre-programmed menu for popular food items, like pizza, rice, vegetables, and frozen entrées, but it’s also packed with features, like an automatic sensor, defrost setting choices and child-lock. Plus, it comes in a compact 20- by 17-inch size, AND it boasts 1,100 watts (so you don’t need to worry about sacrificing counter space for function).
- Large capacity
- Mute option
- Some presets may need further adjustment
2. TOSHIBA Smart Countertop Microwave
Remember the movie Smart House? This microwave quite literally brings our childhood fantasies to life with a microwave that is fully Alexa compatible. Its 1,100-watts coupled with a 20- by 16-inch size makes it perfect for larger households, and we love how it comes with preset menus (including popular foods like popcorn, potato, pizza, and vegetables) and a humidity sensor that automatically adjusts cooking power to reach the perfect temperature. Just shout, “Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee,” in the morning, and you’ll have a fresh cup of joe waiting for you before you take the kids to school.
- Alexa Compatible
- Humidity/Temperature Sensors
- Energy Saving
- High Wattage
- May be too large for some countertops
3. Farberware Microwave Oven
Looking for something as chic as it is functional? We get it; nothing ruins a cohesive kitchen aesthetic like an outdated microwave oven. This one’s modern design and superior performance effortlessly combines form with function. It’s by far the sleekest one on this list, with a stainless steel exterior (that also comes in metallic red). Plus, the microwave features 1,000 watts of power and has six cooking programs, including quick keys for popcorn, potato, pizza and frozen vegetables for easy cooking.
- Modern design
- High wattage
- Accurate heat settings
- Larger than other models
- The beeping is a bit loud
4. Panasonic Microwave Oven
If overall power and durability is what you’re after, look no further. This premium-quality microwave uses patented inverter technology, which basically means it can quickly heat up and defrost foods with no danger of overcooking. Plus, it includes all of the bells and whistles, with 14 preset options, as well as “delay start” and “keep warm” features.
- High wattage
- Versatile cooking options
- Beeps are quite short and easy to miss
5. Commercial Chef Microwave Oven
Best On A Budget
If all of the quick keys and extra settings seem unnecessary to you, why pay for them? This microwave handles all of your essential heating and defrosting needs—and it won’t take up too much of your counter space. At 18 by 12 inches, it’s great for cramped kitchen spaces, like in RVs or small apartments, and its rotary controls are particularly convenient for people who prefer dials to buttons. Sometimes less is more, and old school is where it’s at.
- Low maintenance
- Easy to use
- Lacks LED display and express cook controls