The 5 Best Countertop Microwave Ovens to Buy in 2020
Who wants to have a kitchen that doesn’t include one of the best microwave ovens?
Microwaves are perhaps some of the most useful yet overlooked kitchen appliances. Unlike a waffle maker or popcorn poppers that are looked at as extras, microwaves are considered essential for homes, apartments, and dorm rooms.
Microwaves come in all shapes and sizes and with a growing number of features. You can now cook, steam, and even grill your food through a microwave.
On top of the amazing new features, there are plenty of different types of microwaves to fit all kitchen sizes, lifestyles, and budgets. Get to know these options so that you can pick the best choice for your needs.
Here are our top picks for the best countertop microwaves and everything you need to know about choosing one.
#3 Toshiba EM131A5C-SS Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor
The Toshiba compact microwave is a great option for smaller counter spaces like a dorm or a small apartment. Features include:
- Affordable price
- Small and compact size
- Touch screen control panel
- One touch popcorn button and two defrost settings
- Bright digital display
#4 Samsung MGH14H3020CM Countertop Microwave
The Samsung Countertop Microwave is a large-sized, high-powered microwave that has everything you need to cook your meals. Features include:
- 1-year warranty with a 10-year warranty on parts
- Grilling element
- Stainless steel design
Editor's Choice: Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SD945S
Our top pick will do almost anything you want except open its doors and put the food inside it.
This powerhouse countertop microwave is a top seller from Panasonic for its many features and stellar reviews.
Technically, it’s a countertop microwave, but this oven is available in as a built-in installation too.
This microwave has tons of features that make it one of our favorites. This model also has a genius sensor so that it knows when to stop cooking your food once it gets too hot.
This Panasonic Microwave is everything you need in a microwave.
Panasonic Microwave Oven Pros
- Additional Features: Inverter technology and turbo defrost features helps your food cook the right way.
- Child lock feature: If you have kids you don’t want using the microwave, you can turn on this convenient option.
- Spacious interior: The inside can fit a large dinner plate and trays.
Panasonic Microwave Oven Cons
- Counter space: This large microwave may take up a lot of counter space. This factor can be particularly bad if you have a lot of other appliances like blenders, coffee makers, and coffee grinders.
If you’re in the market for a new microwave but don’t want to dish out so much cash, there is a microwave for you. This Toshiba microwave is a top-seller and conveniently priced around $100.
The microwave is the standard small-to-medium size and can do all of the basic tasks you’ll need. It also comes with a pizza, popcorn, potato, and dinner presets so that you don’t have to fidget with the settings.
The black stainless steel and compact size will fit neatly on your countertop and add some style to your kitchen.
Toshiba EM131A5C-SS Pros
- Compact size: This appliance will fit on most countertops.
- Control panel: The touch screen digital control panel makes it easy to use the appliance.
- Stainless steel exterior: The sleek design is attractive and easy to clean.
Toshiba EM131A5C-SS Cons
- Noisy door: Some users claim the door is noisy.
Best Small Size: LG NeoChef Compact Microwave Oven
Don’t have much counter space to give up to your new microwave?
That’s not a problem.
The LG NeoChef compact microwave is the perfect small countertop option to fit your kitchen. It’s a mere .9 cubic feet, so it will fit in small kitchen spaces but should still heat food on a large dinner plate.
Its design is a sleek black stainless steel look that would blend in well with the rest of your kitchen appliances.
The LG Neochef doesn’t skimp on the features either. You still get inverter technology, 1040 W, and an easy-to-clean surface.
LG NeoChef Compact Microwave Oven Pros
- Compact size: This appliance won’t take up too much counter space. It’s perfect for smaller kitchens.
- Powerful wattage: This microwave may be small, but it still has enough power for everything you need it to do.
LG NeoChef Compact Microwave Oven Cons
- Small size: This appliance won’t fit larger dishes. It’s also not the best pick for larger families.
Best Large Size: Sharp Countertop Microwave Oven ZR651Z5
If you’re in the market for a large microwave that is suitable for making large dishes for families, try out the Sharp Countertop Microwave.
It can hold large dishes and trays that can feed an entire family. You also get several preset programs and fast heating and cooking with 1100 watts of power.
This model is large and powerful, and according to the user reviews, lasts a long time.
Sharp Countertop Microwave Pros
- Fast reheating: The powerful appliance can get your food warm quickly.
- Large, family size: This appliance can fit many things inside.
- Fast reheating
- Sensor technology: This technology helps you know when to stop heating your food.
Sharp Countertop Microwave Cons
- Large size: You might be able to feed a lot of people, but this appliance does take up a lot of space on your kitchen countertops.
Best Warranty: Samsung MGH14H3020CM Countertop Microwave
Another excellent option for a countertop microwave is the Samsung Countertop Microwave.
This sleek microwave has everything you need, including some smart features. The spacious interior will fit most normal-sized plates and a grilling feature so that your food comes out evenly cooked.
You can also put the microwave on eco mode if you want to conserve energy, which is great for apartments with a power limit.
Samsung Countertop Microwave Pros
- 12 preset programs: These programs make it easy to make your favorite microwave dishes and snacks.
- Excellent warranty: If the microwave or specific part malfunctions, Samsung will replace it under its one-year warranty. Some parts even have up to 10-year warranties so you can be covered.
- Grilling feature: You can cook food with this appliance.
Samsung Countertop Microwave Cons
- No sensor cook: Unlike some other modern microwaves, this appliance doesn’t have a sensor to let you know when your food has finished cooking.
Types of Microwave Ovens
We live in a time where finding a microwave that fits your particular needs is extremely easy. It’s not hard to find an option that will look attractive next to your knife sets and bread maker.
Because of the innovation in the kitchen appliance industry, there are several types of microwave ovens available. Before you begin your hunt for the best option, get acquainted with the three types of microwaves out there.
As the name suggests, a countertop microwave is one that requires little-to-no installation besides plugging it in.
The important part to note about countertop microwaves is the size. They usually come in several sizes ranging from small to large and with a variety of power and settings. A typical size for a medium is between 0.5 to 1.5 cubic feet.
Countertop microwaves are usually affordable, depending on the brand you get. Several countertop microwaves cost as low as $100 or less.
If you’re going to go for a countertop microwave, the most important thing is to know the measurements of your counter space so that you can choose one that will fit nicely.
- Easiest installation process
- Most affordable microwave option
- Portable enough to take with you when you move
- Not suitable for kitchens with limited counter space
Over the Range
An over-the-range or OTR microwave is the type of microwaves that you usually see sitting above a stove or counter space.
These microwaves help because they take up no counter space. However, in exchange for that, over-the-range microwaves require a more in-depth installation process. In most cases, you’ll need an electrician to install it for you properly because of the ventilation.
OTR microwaves are some of the most popular because of how they free up space in the kitchen.
Typically, you will find these microwaves already installed in remodeled kitchens.
Most of these models take up more space than the countertop ones.
- Don’t need outside ventilation
- Larger microwaves can fit bigger dishes inside
- No counter space is taken up
- You may need to remove a cabinet to install it
- Requires professional installation
The built-in drawer microwaves are some of the newer models to hit the market.
Built-in drawers are helpful because they don’t take up counter space and instead fit into your cabinet or drawer space in your kitchen. These models are sleek and integrated into your kitchen storage space.
They are extremely popular among new homeowners, remodelers, or people who are keen on the interior design of a kitchen. Because the new microwaves are in your cabinet space, they tend to be the more expensive models out there.
A favorite place to install these is below the counters.
- Convenient design
- No counter space is taken up
- Sleek designs that integrate into your kitchen cabinets and drawers
- More high-end models that tend to cost more
- Require remodeling and professional installation
Microwave Ovens Buyer’s Guide
Shopping for a microwave oven may seem like a straightforward thing, but you’d be surprised how much goes into finding the right one for you.
There are several things to take into account when shopping for a countertop microwave oven.
Use this buying guide to help you make the right choice.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Microwaves get dirty quickly by food that spills and gets dried and stuck to the sides.
When it comes time to clean it, you don’t want to have to struggle to get it cleaned. Your new microwave should have parts that are easily removable so that you can clean it thoroughly on the inside and outside.
The inside of the microwave should be easy to wipe it down after regular use. Look for microwaves made of non-porous materials like porcelain enamel or stainless steel.
Number of Presets
The number of presets refers to the buttons on the microwave that have a preset time and power to make something specific.
The most common preset button is probably the popcorn setting, which allows you to make popcorn without setting the power or time manually. Put in the bag, push the popcorn button, and let it cook.
The same goes for other presets like:
- Baked Potatoes
- Dinner Plates
- Frozen Pizzas
- Frozen Vegetables
In addition to presets, your microwave should have shortcut buttons for minutes like 30 seconds, 1 minute, and upwards. These buttons make it easy to place things in the microwave quickly.
An important preset to look out for is the defrost button, which is a useful function for microwaves. Instead of playing around with the different settings, your microwave has a preset that will make your food thaw out without you needing to do any math.
The number of preset buttons depends on the model. Newer models have even more presets for options such as:
Some of the high-end microwaves have up to 100 preset features that can make all kinds of dishes from popcorn potatoes to delicious vegetables.
Like any appliance, the price range for a new microwave varies based on several factors.
The higher end the microwave, meaning the more features it has, the more money you’ll have to pay.
Countertop microwaves, however, are some of the more affordable options out there. You can find a decent microwave with basic features around the $100 range if you want.
Once you get into the bigger microwaves with higher wattage outage and more presets, the price will creep upwards of $500 to $1000.
Generally speaking, a countertop microwave should be under $500 and still have all of the features you want and last a long time.
Before purchasing a countertop microwave, measure the counter cooking space in your kitchen.
Measure the length and width of the general area that you’re willing to place the appliance. Take those measurements with you when you go shopping. The sizes are usually length x width x height inches.
The size of the outside matters for countertop space, but another critical measurement is the interior space. Interior space determines how much you can fit inside.
Companies measure the interior in cubic feet. You calculate cubic feet by multiplying the length by the width and height multiplied by 1,728. Get a microwave that is big enough to fit some of your biggest dishes.
Instead of doing all of the calculations, you can use this general guide for the interior cubic feet:
- Compact-small size: Under 1 cubic foot
- Medium size: 1 to 1.5 cubic foot
- Large size: 1.6 to 2 cubic foot
- Extra large: More than 2 cubic feet
You’d be surprised by all of the things you can do with your microwave.
Gone are the days of using microwaves only to reheat your leftovers or pop a bag of popcorn. A rotary microwave used to be the latest and greatest thing, but technology has progressed far beyond that feature.
Technology has brought us to a place where we can use microwaves for cooking almost anything or as an integral part of the cooking process.
If you are going to use your microwave for more than just the basics, check out these high-end or “smart” features that are available.
Many microwaves on the market have one or more built-in convection fans.
The convection fans blow heat around the microwave so that the food heats up evenly. This feature can be used when cooking pizzas and roasts and is said to make them crispier and browned on top.
Countertop convection microwaves are common, but some models with more than one tend to be more expensive.
Convention fans make microwaves similar to toaster ovens.
Grilling food sometimes creates a rubbery texture that is unsavory. Now some models have grilling options that evenly distributes the heat, so you can properly grill meat.
The grill sears the food on the outside, then radiates heat throughout your food without adding more oil.
When you want to cook something at a lower setting, such as 50% instead of 100%, most microwaves alternate the power between 100% and 0% throughout the cooking time instead of cooking it at 50%.
When a microwave has inverter technology, it can cook something at 50% the entire time. This technology creates more even cooking.
Inverter technology also makes it easy to do things like melt butter or chocolate for baking a dish instead of overheating it.
Some other things you can do are make an omelet or poach a fish using this setting.
This feature is a newer feature and more expensive.
Ever left your food on for too long and pulled out food that was overcooked or even burned?
Microwaves are powerful and usually cook at a high temperature. If you leave it for too long, it can destroy your food.
A lot of new “smart” microwaves on the market have sensor technology to tell when your food is too hot. If it detects too much steam coming from your food, it is either notify you or shut off completely.
Brands like Sharp and Samsung offer microwaves with a steam feature. This feature keeps your food moist while it cooks.
This feature is especially important when cooking fish, frozen vegetables, or even poaching eggs.
Another critical factor to keep in mind is how much power a microwave uses.
Companies measure the power of a microwave in watts. Generally, the higher the wattage, the faster the food can cook.
Get a microwave with a high enough wattage to heat your food evenly and promptly. The range for a microwave is 500 to 1,200 watts. Higher wattage microwaves are available, but those are typically for cooking entire meals for a family.
Power often has to do with the size of the microwave. Smaller microwaves tend to have lower watts of cooking power, meaning that it will take longer for your food to heat.
If you only plan to use your microwave for reheating food or popping popcorn, a lower wattage is suitable.
If you want to do more than that, like bake entire meals, check out a midsize or larger-sized oven. Some of these models go up to 1600 watts.
Choose one depending on your needs and the power limits of where you’ll be living, particularly if you have a wattage output limit.
Microwaves should last for many years. If something happens to the parts, the company should replace them under warranty.
Check the brand to see what their warranty policy is. If your microwave or parts malfunctions while you are under warranty, you should be able to send it in and get them replaced at no extra charge.
The typical amount of time for the warranty for a microwave is about six months to a year.
One of the best microwaves can help you make delicious, healthy food at home.
Use our buying guide and our top picks to help you make your decision.Read More