There are two types of people in quarantine: The home chefs, who are genuinely relishing in the opportunity to whip out all their best cookware and try out all those new recipes they’ve been saving up, and the culinary challenged, who are less than thrilled (to put it mildly) to be making their own meals in lieu of restaurant fare. Whether you need a break from all that cooking or are simply in need of an upgrade to your kitchen space, picking up a great microwave will go a long way toward helping you prepare your food.
Types of Microwaves
Microwaves are not one size fits all — far from. To help you figure out which appliance will work best with your kitchen setup, we’ve outlined a few of the most common types below.
- Countertop Microwave: A countertop microwave is exactly what it sounds like: a portable, standalone machine that’s designed to fit on your countertop or kitchen island. Generally the most inexpensive of the lot, these microwaves are also typically compact (between .5 to 2+ cubic feet), allowing you to save on precious counter space.
- Over-the-Range Microwaves: These machines differ from their countertop counterparts not only in their placement (they install above your range stove or cooktop), but in their functionality. In addition to heating your food, they also serve to rid your home of steam, smoke, and odors with their built-in ventilation.
- Convention Microwave: Another type of microwave with dual functionality is the convection oven. With an extra heating element and a circulating fan to evenly distribute heat, these machines have the added ability of baking or roasting your food to perfection.
- Smart Microwave: These modern devices connect to your home network via WiFi to allow for voice control, routine tracking, food alerts, and more.
The Best Microwaves
In our hunt for the best microwaves, we found a slew of stellar options in each of the above categories, plus a few others with additional specs. Need a larger-than-average model ($854.10)? We’ve got you covered. Looking for something with a unique aesthetic ($77.29)? We found that, too. Keep reading for FIRST for Women’s picks for the best microwaves on the market.
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Best Over the Range Microwave
KitchenAid Over-the-Range Microwave
Where to buy: $629.10 (Originally $699), Home Depot
They say the devil's in the details, and there’s certainly true of this over-the-range-microwave: Thoughtful, smartly-designed features set it apart from the pack. Case in point? The clever keep warm function that will keep your dishes from going cold and the steam vs. simmer feature that will automatically adjust based on your food’s cooking progress. Add in a three-speed venting system for clearing the air once you’ve microwaved something stinky, like, say, bacon, and you've got all the makings of a five-star machine — just ask the collective crowd of nearly 2,000 that have reviewed it.
Best Cheap Microwave
Costway Retro Countertop Microwave
Where to buy: $104.99 , Walmart
Though you’d never know it by looking at it, this darling little retro device from Costway is one of the most cost-effective machines on our list. Ringing in at just over $100, it’s super compact for smaller spaces, but still manages to thoroughly nuke your food thanks to its five power levels (100 to 200%). There are also eight pre-set cooking functions for popular foods (think pizza, popcorn, meat, fish, and more).
Best Smart Microwave
Breville Quick-Touch Intuitive Microwave
Where to buy: $249.95, QVC
This sleek machine does it all. It can reheat. It can defrost (smartly, might we add: no overheating or drying out here!). It melts. It softens. And it does it all with an intuitive read that can sense when your food has been warmed to exactly the right temp. There’s a favorite button to store your most-loved foods and plenty of easy, one-touch shortcuts to boot. This microwave comes with a one year warranty.
Best Rated Microwave
Toshiba Microwave Oven With Smart Sensor
Where to buy: $119.99, Amazon
The people have spoken, and this smart sensor microwave from Toshiba is one to beat: Nearly 1,000 reviewers have given it their five-star seal of approval. Many enthused over its whisper-quiet operation, particularly when using the “mute sound” function, which nixes any would-be annoying beeps. Others, meanwhile, praised it for its 1100 wattage and 10 power settings.
Summed up one Amazon shopper: “Space-saving, quiet operation, easy to use, heats perfectly, very fair pricing, highly recommended.”
Best Mini Microwave
Where to buy: $87.03, Amazon
If you’re short on space, check out this .7 cubic foot microwave from AmazonBasics. Small though it may be, it comes with an Echo Dot to equip you with all of the bells and whistles you could ever want from a countertop cooker — including Alexa compatibility. That means you can do everything from make your meal on command (it will recognize your voice) to ordering more popcorn when you’re low — all without ever lifting a finger to push a button.
Best Countertop Microwave
Magic Chef Retro Countertop Microwave
Where to buy: $77.29, Home Depot
Since countertop microwaves are more or less on display at all times, it only makes sense that you’d want to opt for one that’s not an eyesore. We adore the old-school look of this mini model from Magic Chef, which comes in three colors and features classic vintage dial controls. It’s not all about the look, however: Seven power levels and 700 watts of power also make it fully functional.
Best Stainless Steel Microwave
Samsung Countertop Microwave
Where to buy: $229.99, Best Buy
Industrialists will adore this state-of-the-art appliance from Samsung, which has a mirror-like stainless steel finish, 950 watts of power, and a 1.4 cubic-feet capacity. According to its more than 1,000 reviewers, not only will it elevate the look of your kitchen with its fancy exterior, it comes with a handy grilling feature (a rack and a crisping dish are included) to experiment with. A sound-off feature for beeps sweetens the deal.
Best Large Microwave
Café Smart Over the Range Microwave With Sensor Cooking
Where to buy: $854.10 (Originally $949), Home Deport
If it’s a large device you’re after, look no further than this Café Smart system from Home Depot. With its impressive 2.1 cubic-feet capacity, you’ll have all the room you need for bigger-than-average plates. But that's just the tip of the iceberg! It's also equipped scan-to-cook technology, so you can tell this microwave everything it needs to know about how long to cook your food simply by scanning a barcode on your meal’s packaging. This microwave can remember the time and temperate for your favorite foods, and you can wirelessly sync it to your phone to heat up on demand. Welcome to the future!
Best Convection Microwave
Galanz Countertop Speed Wave Microwave
Where to buy: $349.99, Kohl’s
SAVE NOW: Use coupon codes SPRINGTIME and HOME10 to take $78 off through April 11. Customers who pay with a Kohl’s charge card will get an even greater discount.
You won’t believe the meals you can make with this top-rated machine. For starters, not only does in have traditional microwaving and convection oven capabilities, you can also use it as an air fryer! That’s right — using little to no oil, you can use the included air fryer attachments to gently crisp your fare. This popular Galanz model also has a 1.6 cubic-foot capacity, 10 power levels, and comes with a year-long warranty.
One shopper loved this pick so much, she said it’s replaced more traditional methods of cooking in her home: “I am so pleased with [this microwave] that I've all but STOPPED USING MY ACTUAL STOVE!” she wrote. “The modes of cooking are very simple to master and have beautiful yummy results. A big two thumbs up for this oven!” Sold!