Top 10 Countertop Microwave Ovens
Unless you’re a snobby host of one of those over-produced prime-time cooking competitions, you know that built-in microwave ovens save you time making edible meals. I could waste thousands of words on why you might need a small microwave, but it’s probably pretty obvious to everyone, even careless teenagers who use them for science experiments (hey kids: try putting Dove soap in your microwave (sorry, parents.)).
I make most of my dinners from scratch, but I always have leftovers that need to be microwaved the next day(s). Consequently, I have a close relationship with my built-in microwave, though I have slept around a bit to bring you the top ten best countertop microwave ovens reviews. But first, let’s talk about what you should look for in the best microwave relationships:
Where Do You Plan on Putting Your Microwave?
What available space do you have in your kitchen? Of course, you want your best microwave to fit in that space. If you are in a dorm, you will probably put it on top of a mini-fridge. If you’re not about keeping up appearances, you might try putting your microwave in unique spots, like your bathroom or next to your bed. No matter how extreme you are with your best microwave placement, it’s gotta fit or you must quit. Measure the space where your appliance will go and don’t buy a model that is bigger than that. Duh.
What’re you Lookin’ to Spend?
None of the best countertop microwave ovens cost more than $190. If you have that much to spend, then go for the best. If you are looking to heat up your Hot Pockets on the cheap, you can get a decent unit for 50 or 60 bucks.
It’s All About the Features
You typically get a lot more features if you are willing to dish out a bit more cabbage. Some popular features you should consider are:
Convection Grilling, Browning, and Cooking – While the manufacturers want you to believe that your built-in microwave can work like a traditional oven. I’ve found that it’s mostly hype. Take off that monocle and stop putting on airs, convection microwaves!
Racks – Convection microwaves sometimes have racks, which work well when you want to cook several things at once but suck when you want to put tall stuff in the microwave as you are constantly having to remove the rack.
Turntables – This is where it’s at. Why just cook your food when you can also take it on a little journey? Oh, and I guess it also helps to heat your dish more evenly.
Child Lock – Nothing is worse than your kid thinking that he can cook his filet mignon in the microwave. If your microwave has a child lock, you don’t have to worry about him ruining such fancy cuts of beef.
Shortcut Keys – Ever tried to make popcorn in the microwave? It’s impossible, isn’t it? Fortunately, shortcut keys are here to save the day!
Quick Keys – These are much like shortcut keys only with numbers instead of pictures of food. For instance, let’s say you are microwaving lasagna, and it is clear that you need to heat it for much longer than you initially thought. With these keys, you don’t have to wait around for the time to run out. Instead, you can instantly add extra time.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, I strongly recommend choosing from these ten best countertop microwave ovens reviews:
- 1250 watts of heating power
- Has three levels of popcorn cooking presets
- The 2.2 cubic-foot size makes it ideal for cooking your Turkey Day turkey
Panasonic is the clear king in the countertop microwave oven reviews. It is top dog because of its patented “inverter technology.” Most microwaves zap your food with magical cooking waves that turn on and off over the course of the cooking. Inverter technology provides a constant stream of magic, which cooks your food quicker and more evenly. Another cool thing about the NN-SN936B is that it has sensor settings that will monitor your food’s progress as it cooks.
- The most affordable option on my list
- Just a little feller at .6 cubic feet
- Easy to grab handle so you don’t have to worry about breaking your wrist as you rush to your pizza rolls
The Westinghouse WCM660W is a basic function microwave that gets the job done. It is designed for dorm rooms, offices, and small kitchens. It is also ideal for older adults who may have a hard time pressing buttons on a touch pad since most of the operations are controlled by a couple mechanical control knobs. Yes, it is a small microwave, but you can still stick a dinner plate, big bowl, or small dog in there. Please do not put living animals in built-in microwaves.
- The most expensive alternative on our list
- Round interior to make it easier to fit watermelons and for easier clean up afterward
- Sixteen-inch turntable is perfect for your favorite records
The LG LCRT2010ST uses TrueCookPlus technology. Fancy eggheads in lab coats have figured out how to automate pre-packaged food using a code-based system. So, instead of going to all the trouble of learning how to read, reading the instructions, figuring out how long you are supposed to microwave your food, and tiring out your finger punching in the time, you can just punch in the code that appears on most packages these days. It’s a wondrous time we’re living in.
- Removable glass turntable that can serve as a Frisbee in a bind
- Child safety lock to keep tiny children from crawling in
- Digital clock and timer
Some of the cool things about the Oster OGB81101 is that it has a handle, so you can actually grab the door to open the appliance. Many of the others today have a button you must push to release it. I push enough buttons at work. I shouldn’t have to do it to make my chips and cheese (nachos). It has a lot of shortcut and quick keys. The biggest downer about it is how loud the beep is. It pretty much announces to everyone in your house: “FATTY IS SNEAKING A MIDNIGHT SNACK!!! COME SHAME HIM!!!”
- 1200 watts on high power
- 2 cubic feet of space makes it ideal for after-parties
- Cooking instructions displayed in Spanish, French, or English
You can fit 1.2 cubic feet of stuff inside of this microwave. The overall size is 2.2 cubic feet. If you do the math, you get a number that might tell you something.
- See above
The Panasonic NN-SN686S is pretty much the same as the above Panasonic Countertop Microwave, even down to the dimensions. The key differences: price, weight, and this baby is stainless steel (instead of black).
- 950 watts of magic
- .8 cubic feet interior makes it perfect for single people
- Has fun “Keep Warm” feature for when you have to run to the liquor store while nuking something
The NN-SD372S uses Panasonic’s patented Inverter Technology, but it’s basically a smaller, less-powerful version of the above two options. This bad boy differentiates itself by having a knob for setting the time and a lot of other programming features.
- 700 watts and 10 power levels
- .7 cubic feet size helps you avoid accidentally sticking small people inside
- One turntable (and no microphones)
RCA doesn’t just make phonographs for dogs. They also make small microwaves for tiny kitchens. This one will fit your larger dinner plates, and it will nag you if you forget about your food by passive aggressively beeping at you intermittently.
- 1 cubic feet for when you want to melt a block of ice with very specific dimensions
- No more getting your fingers tired: cook beverages, popcorn, TV dinners, pizza, and potatoes with one button
- 10 power levels because you do not always need ultimate power
Westinghouse knows its place in the world of the best microwaves: they are the low-cost alternative. The WCM11100W is their top-of-the-line option, and it’s quite affordable for how much power and space you get.
- Weird rounded-back shape that helps it fit in corners
- Has the smallest interior of any of the options on this list
- 750 watts of power and 10 power levels
The Whirlpool WMC20005YB looks like no other small microwave you’ve ever encountered. That said, unless you need something that absolutely must fit in a 13.8” by 15.4” by 14.1” space or you just want a cool-looking microwave, your money would be better spent on a less expensive alternative.
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