Microwaves are undeniably one of the most important appliances you can find in most homes. It is true that many of them are only used for heating and defrosting food, not for cooking. And still, the microwave has become essential in a few decades. Different models featuring various functions are now available on the market.
You can get your hands on a microwave for very little, but its performance will likely be very basic. This may just be what you’re looking for. We’ve designed the following shopping guide to give you all the information you need regarding microwaves. We’re confident this will help you be informed and make the right purchase.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best microwaves on the U.S. market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about microwaves
- 3.1 What is a microwave and how does it work?
- 3.2 What types of microwaves are there?
- 3.3 Should I opt for a microwave without a grill?
- 3.4 What do microwaves with grills offer?
- 3.5 Is it worth investing in a combi microwave?
- 3.6 What microwave do I need?
- 3.7 Are microwaves safe?
- 3.8 What functions do microwaves offer?
- 3.9 What are the advantages and disadvantages of microwaves?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Microwaves are an essential part of modern kitchens. They allow you to defrost, heat and cook different types of food.
- Its use tends to be straightforward and intuitive, although there are certain models with advanced functions that can be somewhat more complex to handle. This is never a problem, as your appliance should come with a fairly complete instruction book.
- It is important that you know exactly how you’ll use your microwave before purchasing a specific model. If you only want it to heat and defrost food, you are advised to go for a simple model. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying for features that you don’t need.
Ranking: The best microwaves on the U.S. market
You will find below our selection of the very best microwaves currently available on the market. We’ve also described their main features, making sure that each model offers great value for money. That way, you will be able to make an informed decision, and we have no doubt that you’ll be satisfied with your new microwave.
No. 1: Toshiba Microwave Oven
Japanese multinational Toshiba specializes in the manufacturing of electronic devices and electrodomestic appliances, and they have almost 150 years of experience in the industry. This is why it’s not surprising to see their EM131A5C-BS be Amazon’s Choice in the microwave category. This elegant model is comprehensive and has received excellent reviews by past customers.
This microwave oven has a maximum power of 1100 watts and 10 different settings. It has a capacity of 33 liters and an eco mode to help you save energy and care for the planet. The predefined programs allow you to prepare various foods with the touch of a button. Buyers have praised its spaciousness and power. Available in standard stainless steel and black stainless steel.
No. 2: COMFEE’ Microwave Oven
European brand COMFEE’ is also a household appliance creator with a reputation. Their products combine quality and affordability, and this is why their EM720CPL-PMB countertop microwave has gone on to be Amazon’s Choice in the under $100 category. Available in black or pearl white, this no-frills model is easy to use and comes with a one-year warranty.
This compact microwave oven features six preset programs to help you prepare your favorite foods in no time. These include pizza, popcorn and beverages among others. The weight defrost function is ideal when you’re not quite sure how long your frozen dish needs to be ready. The EM720CPL-PMB also counts with an eco mode and a child safety lock to prevent unwanted accidents.
No. 3: Nostalgia Retro Microwave Oven
Nostalgia Electronics isn’t just any home design brand; it strives to bring back old designs into modern and useful devices. This is exactly what they’ve done with another Amazon’s Choice, the retro RMO4RR microwave. Sold in two classic colours — retro red and aqua, you’ll love its style and features if you have a thing for all 1950s appliances.
While its design is perfectly retro, this microwave also needed to be efficient. Nostalgia nailed it, and the appliance will allow you to choose from 12 different pre-programmed cooking settings for the most commonly eaten foods. The digital display lets you see how long is left in a heartbeat. This microwave has a maximum power of 800 W and a capacity of 25 liters.
No. 4: Panasonic Microwave Oven
Panasonic is another Japanese multinational that we’re sure you’ve heard of before. Founded in 1918, this 100-year-old company is a force to be reckoned with on the market. This top-of-the-line microwave may be the most expensive product of our selection, but it also offers features that make it truly stand out, like its massive 62-liter capacity.
Reaching a maximum of 1200 watts, this model allows you to choose among 10 different power settings to best suit the food you want to prepare. The timer can go up to 90 minutes, an outstanding value for a microwave oven. Past customers have particularly appreciated the huge cooking space this model offers, as well as its elegant design. Can be built-in or countertop.
No. 5: AmazonBasics Microwave
AmazonBasics is, well, Amazon’s very own brand of products. They are designed with customer satisfaction and value for money in mind. This microwave certainly has checked both boxes, with past users being extremely happy with their purchase. This compact, 20-liter model is ideal for those households where space in the kitchen is tight.
You’re looking for a really cool feature for your kitchen? Combined with an Echo device, this microwave works with Alexa, allowing you to use voice commands. Regarding safety, this model includes an additional child lock and a total of 10 power settings to choose from. It has a quick popcorn button so you can get your favorite movie-time snack ready in no time.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about microwaves
We’ve analyzed the different characteristics and features of microwaves in the section below. This will help you decide which model is the best option for your household. Keep in mind our number one advice: be sure to know how you’ll use this appliance at home. You don’t want to pay for functions you won’t use, or miss out on useful ones.
What is a microwave and how does it work?
This household appliance is designed to defrost, heat and cook various foods. It operates by producing electromagnetic waves. The generator — also called magnetron — found inside your microwave has the ability to transform energy into waves. The latter are required for the appliance to carry out its different tasks.
The waveguide transports those electromagnetic waves to the compartment where the food is placed. They then bounce against the walls, reaching every part of the food thanks to the fact that it is set on a rotating plate. This is how you obtain a homogeneous result.
What types of microwaves are there?
- Solo microwaves: These are the simplest models of them all. They cannot grill and tend to be very affordable. Their functions are basic and include heating and defrosting food. These microwaves can also cook certain foods that require low heat.
- Grill microwaves: These models are very popular among users. They feature an extra grill function, which makes them ideal for grilling, browning, and roasting food. They are more expensive than solo microwaves but remain quite affordable.
- Combi microwaves: These models are the most advances microwaves on the market. They combine the features of traditional ovens and microwaves in a single appliance, and are ideal for those looking for the greatest functionality possible. The most innovative functions you’ll find are defrosting, heating and air cooking.
Should I opt for a microwave without a grill?
Microwave ovens that do not have a grill are very useful to defrost food, and they’ll also get the job done when it comes to heating it. However, they’re not the recommended model if you also want to cook with your appliance. You can prepare simple dishes, but nothing more. More elaborate recipes will require more advanced microwaves.
These appliances are completely safe and very efficient for the work for which they were designed. Heating and defrosting are very useful, and enough if you’re not looking to get more out of your microwave. They offer great value for money, and are much more affordable than other models with more advanced features. The only issue you might eventually run into is if you end up wanting these additional functionalities.
What do microwaves with grills offer?
Grill microwaves allow you to do more than simply defrost and heat dishes. You’ll also be able to cook different foods. In addition, they tend to have more functionalities than the model we discussed in the previous paragraph. This type of appliance offers more and more advanced features, and you can prepare more elaborate recipes.
With your own grill microwave, you’ll be able to cook quicker and more easily. You can prepare fancier recipes if you choose the right model. As you can imagine, this means that this appliance is more expensive than solo microwaves. That being said, it’ll be a better investment if you truly make the most of it in the long run.
Is it worth investing in a combi microwave?
This is the most advanced type of microwave, and they offer many more functions. Some models can even fully replace your traditional oven, allowing you to gain space in the kitchen. It works just like a microwave and presents additional functionalities. You can heat and defrost, but also cook with hot air.
Experts don’t always recommend that you opt for this option, and they have various reasons for this. First of all, they are much more expensive. You may not always make the most of it, and most models cannot fully replace traditional ovens. Regarding this last point, you need to know that the size and power of combi microwaves generally mean that they cannot perform all the functions of standard ovens.
What microwave do I need?
In the following table, we’ll help you find which microwave you need depending on your use of it. You can see it as a quick summary of of everything we’ve seen so far in the article. If you also consider exactly what you’d like to do with your microwave, you’ll be able to pick the right model in no time. Pay attention:
|Functions||Type of microwave|
|Cooking||Grill or combi microwave|
|Browning||Grill or combi microwave|
|Roasting||Grill or combi microwave|
British author and journalist Jack Monroe is a specialist in cooking on a budget, and she’s known to frequently use her microwave for simple yet delicious recipes:
Are microwaves safe?
Users often ask themselves this question: are microwaves truly safe to use? The truth is that the models available on the market have successfully passed a series of tests and are completely safe. We’ve clarified some of these controversial points below:
|Waves go out.||Microwaves have a security system to prevent this from happening.|
|Radiations affect the composition of the food.||This is completely false.|
|Not all plastic containers are suitable.||This is true, and you need to check before putting any container in your microwave.|
|Food can jump all over the place when boiling.||While this can happen, it is not systematic. Be careful not to burn yourself.|
What functions do microwaves offer?
Not all models offer the same functions, and many are available depending on the microwave. We cannot emphasize enough on the fact that it is essential to know your personal use of the appliance. Here are the most common functions:
- Cooking sensors. They are ideal to cook your dishes just right.
- Safety devices. Virtually every microwave available on the U.S. market complies with all safety regulations. That being said, you might be interested in models offering additional features, such as double locking systems or child locks.
- Control panels. These components allow you to use the different functions offered by your appliance. They will be more or less easy to use depending on the type of microwave you opted for. The best models combine simple use and a variety of different functions.
- Energy savings. Power regulators are useful and allow you to save energy whenever possible.
- Memory. Certain models feature a memory function. That way, they can remember the time and power needed to prepare specific recipes, or to heat milk for your coffee.
- Cook by weight. Some microwaves offer a cook-by-weight mode, making it easier for you to get your food just right. You may also have a defrost-by-weight mode.
- Quick start. Quick start mode and the option to add 30 seconds more to the cooking time are both very practical features.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of microwaves?
We’ve listed the main benefits and drawbacks of these appliances for you:
There is a series of key factors that you should take into account when the time comes to buy your very own microwave. These aspects will help you opt for one model or another. If you consider these different criteria, you’ll be well on your way to making a successful shopping decision. In the following section, we’ll look at six key points:
The capacity of a microwave is always measured in liters. The smaller models generally offer a capacity of around 17 liters, while the larger ones can reach 40 liters. This aspect, as well as your intended use of the microwave, are two factors to take into account. The latter will also determine which capacity you need.
If you only plan on using your appliance to heat or defrost food, you shouldn’t need anything larger than 17 liters. On the other hand, you are advised to look at larger models if you want to cook larger or more elaborate dishes. The height is another point you should consider in case you want to place tall objects inside. These little details can make a real difference in the end.
Most microwaves have a power ranging between 700 W and 1,000 W. This is more than enough for most uses. Remember that models offering more power will also be more expensive. In that regard, you are recommended to opt for more powerful applances if you really plan on using your microwave for cooking.
Many people also value this aspect. You may very well want your appliance to match with your overall home décor. If your kitchen has a metal finish, for instance, you won’t want to opt for a basic white microwave. Some people even go a step further and want all their appliances to be from the same brand.
And it’s not just about style; you’ll also have to pick specific models if you want to inset it into your kitchen. Certain microwaves are designed especially for this purpose. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to mount the appliance. On the other hand, your life will be much easier and you won’t need to install anything if you simply want your microwave on your countertop.
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The vast majority of microwaves feature predefined programs that can perform various functions with the push of a button. These are very useful guides when you don’t know what time or temperature your dish requires. Some microwaves even allow you to customize your own programs.
Another very important aspect that you cannot overlook is how you can clean your microwave. Some designs present slots in which dirt and grease can get in, or other hard-to-reach places. We also encourage you to check the different products you can use to clean your appliance.
As we mentioned earlier, virtually all microwaves now comply with safety regulations. That being said, you are advised to check if your model of choice has a child lock or a double locking system. Safety is a key criterion that you should never neglect when making your purchase. It will prevent any future problems.
Microwaves have become truly essential appliances in modern kitchens. They can do basic tasks such as heating milk or defrosting bread and, in some cases, can also help you make elaborate recipes. The functions they offer depend on the model chosen. As you know, the most complete models are more expensive.
Don’t forget to consider the different aspects we discussed above when making your decision. These include the features, design, power and useful programs. Don’t neglect safety and ease of cleaning, too. If your kitchen is still microwave-free, now’s the time to change this.
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(Source of featured image: Rostislavsedlacek: 26717864/ 123rf.com)