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 9 best Countertop Microwaves in 2022

Microwaves are popular because of their convenience, adaptability, and low cost. It’s a familiar device in many American homes, and more than two-thirds prefer countertop microwaves: today’s countertop microwaves can do so much more than just warm leftovers and make popcorn. Countertop microwaves, unlike built-in or over-the-range microwaves, do not require any specific installation, are portable, and are often less expensive. There are many of wonderful tiny microwave alternatives even if you have a small kitchen with limited counter space.

The Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab at thekitchenbuy has examined and analysed hundreds of reheating and cooking appliances, such as toaster ovens, air fryers, and microwaves, throughout the years to discover top-performing models from trusted companies. To see how successfully countertop microwaves melt cheese, “bake” potatoes, reheat a mac and cheese casserole and a dinner plate of meatloaf with sides, thaw a pound of frozen ground beef, and pop popcorn, we put them to the test.

When it comes to the control panel, placing the turntable, opening and shutting the door, and cleaning your microwave, we also consider convenience of use. Finally, we consider cost: most of the countertop microwaves we’ve tested over the last decade cost less than $300, and many of our best microwaves in 2021 will cost less than $100. Here are our top selections for the best countertop microwaves you can purchase in 2021, based on a combination of alternatives we evaluated, tried out at home, and suggest based on very distinctive features and high reviews:

Check out our complete guide to shopping for your next microwave.

BEST VALUE COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE

Digital Microwave Oven
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 21.2 x 16.1 x 11.8 inches
  • Wattage: 1,000 watts
  • Size: 1.1 cubic feet
REASONS TO BUY
  • Option to mount it on the wall
  • Powerful output
  • Kitchen timer can work simultaneously with the cook cycle
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Motor can be loud when heating food

The inexpensive price of this Hamilton Beach microwave does not imply bad performance. It features a 1,000-watt power output, which is often seen in higher-priced versions. It has all of the essential functions, including a child safety lock, six cooking presets for potato, popcorn, pizza, beverage (one push for every four ounces – great for reheating coffee! ), frozen supper and reheat, and one-touch express buttons for one to six minutes. The kitchen timer that may function in tandem with the cook cycle is one of our favourites. It may also be wall-mounted, albeit unlike other over-the-range microwaves, it lacks a venting system.It generates a loud whooshing noise, according to some reviews, but it has no effect on how well food warms.

BEST COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE

Microwave Oven
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 17.1 x 12.8 inches
  • Wattage: 1,100 watts
  • Size: 1.2 cubic feet
REASONS TO BUY
  • Ideal combination of price, size, useful features and power
  • Adjustable power level
  • Ability to mute beeping and alerts when food is done
REASONS TO AVOID
  • No alerts that heated food was left in the microwave

This Toshiba’s 1.2 cubic foot model is the ideal blend of price, size, and power. It has all of the essential functions, as well as presets for popcorn, pizza, and vegetables, a child safety lock, one-touch express buttons for one to six minutes, and a 30-second button. You may also vary the power level from one to ten watts up to 1,100 watts, which is the optimum power output for a wide range of applications. In addition, the shorter the cooking time, the greater the wattage. To minimise burning or overheating, the soften/melt preset for chocolate, butter, and cheese uses a lower power level.

We prefer the handlebar to a push button for opening the door since it is more ergonomic. It has a mute button that turns off sounds and warnings when the cooking time is up (hold the 8 button down for five seconds). A clever sensor function takes the guesswork out of reheating food by automatically adjusting the duration and power level based on the humidity level in the food. Some reviewers miss the buzzer that indicates when food has been left in the microwave. It comes in two finishes: elegant stainless steel and black stainless steel.

BEST VOICE-ACTIVATED COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE

Microwave
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 14.1 x 17.3 x 10.1 inches
  • Wattage: 700 watts
  • Size: 0.7 cubic feet
REASONS TO BUY
  • Functions can be voice-activated
  • Compact
  • Less expensive than some others
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Plates larger than 10 inches won’t fit
  • Features are limited

For years, microwave technology has been stagnant – that is, until Amazon released its own AmazonBasics microwave, which allows you to use simple voice commands to direct it to heat your meals. The microwave is a low-cost alternative at $75, but it must be linked to an Alexa-enabled device, such as an Echo or Echo Dot, which range in price from $35 to $100, in order to access the voice-activated features. The microwave has a kid lock that stops it from being operated manually or by voice. It’s great that it stays locked even when disconnected and replugged.

The manual microwave operations, like any other microwave, will operate without Alexa, but the control panel options are limited. It includes three presets for popcorn, timed defrost, and weight defrost, as well as a timer, power level button, and add 30 seconds button. More smart capabilities are available through voice commands, such as “defrost eight ounces of ground beef” or “reheat one cup of coffee,” and Amazon continues to add additional settings. Keep in mind that this is a little microwave with a low power output of 700 watts, which means food will take longer to heat. There’s enough room for a 10-inch dinner plate, but nothing bigger.

BEST CONVECTION COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE

Toastwave
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 21.3 x 22.3 x 12.6 inches
  • Wattage: 1,000 watts
  • Size: 1.2 cubic feet 
REASONS TO BUY
  • Microwave, toaster oven, convection oven and air fryer in one
  • Ensures even cooking and heating
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Expensive

The Toastwave is a microwave that also functions as a toaster oven, convection oven, and air fryer in one streamlined unit. Simple chores like toasting your daily bagel to more sophisticated ones like baking fish in the convection oven or air frying chicken wings are all possible with this 4-in-1 device.

This, unlike other typical microwaves, will not leave your food with cold or hot spots: many inexpensive microwaves pulse on and off, resulting in uneven heating; however, this is fitted with an inverter that provides continuous heat, ensuring that your food is uniformly heated throughout. It also features a sensor cooking mechanism to keep your food from being undercooked or overdone.

QUIETEST COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE

Compact Wave Soft Close Microwave
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 19.1 x 16.4 x 11.5 inches
  • Wattage: 900 watts
  • Size: 0.9 cubic feet
REASONS TO BUY
  • Heats food consistently and evenly
  • Control panel is easy to use
  • Soft-close door feature prevents slamming
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Expensive

Breville products (like this microwave that doubles as an air fryer and a convection oven) are known for their smart design, and this quiet and stylish microwave is no exception. The soft-close door promises to be 80 percent quieter than other microwaves on the market, and a mute button turns off all noises. We no longer tell our kids to carefully close the microwave door since it automatically catches and closes silently even when banged. The control panel is spacious, and the slightly elevated buttons are simple to operate. You get an ergonomic dial instead of a numeric keypad that seems like it clicks as it swiftly toggles through minutes and seconds.

It has pre-programmed buttons for defrost, reheat, popcorn, beverage, and a food menu with presets for “cooked” potatoes, reheating pizza, and defrosting frozen veggies. The presets are coded, so remembering which code corresponds to which operation may take a few tries. Food warms evenly and consistently, according to reviewers.

BEST SMALL COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE

Digital Microwave Oven
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 19.1 x 14.8 x 11.5 inches
  • Wattage: 900 watts
  • Size: 0.9 cubic feet
REASONS TO BUY
  • Sleek and stylish
  • Small footprint
  • Programmable
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Control panel may be difficult to read

This compact Black + Decker microwave is a perfect choice if you have limited counter space or merely need a microwave for reheating or cooking small amounts of food. A small dinner plate or low-profile cup will fit on the 10-inch turntable, but nothing larger. The internal measurements are about 12 x 13 x 8 inches as a guide.

It not only has presets for popcorn, potato, frozen veggies, and other foods, but it also lets you customise up to three of your favourite functions. The control panel has black wording on a grey backdrop for several of the important features, which might be difficult to read in low light.

BEST LARGE CAPACITY COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE

Panasonic Full-Size Microwave Oven
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 12 x 19.1 x 21.8 inches
  • Wattage: 1,250 watts
  • Size: 1.6 cubic feet
REASONS TO BUY
  • Can hold a casserole dish large enough to feed a group
  • Heats food consistently and evenly
  • Smart sensors can adjust the cook time
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Takes up a lot of counter space

Since we first tested it over a decade ago, this Panasonic microwave has been one of our favourites. This microwave has a big interior and a smooth, easy-to-clean control panel, making it an excellent model for families or anybody who wants to microwave a full casserole dish.

In our tests, it used its sensors to cook food uniformly without cold patches and offer flawlessly steamed broccoli. After measuring the quantity of steam emitted by the meal, these smart sensors can alter the cook time. This model also has an inverter, which aids in the faster and more equal heating of meals.

FASTEST COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE

Microwave Oven
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 21.8 x 19.1 x 12 inches
  • Wattage: 1,250 watts
  • Size: 1.6 cubic feet
 
REASONS TO BUY
  • Reheats food evenly
  • Can add or reduce cook times by ten second increments
  • Keep warm feature
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Not the best at defrosting

This Panasonic microwave is rapid due to two factors: it has 1,250 watts of heating power, which is among the highest we tested, and it features a built-in inverter, which helps heat food more quickly and evenly. Microwaves often imitate low heat by frequently turning the power on and off, which might result in inconsistent cooking. It also requires more time. Inverters allow power to be delivered constantly rather than in bursts. Microwaves with inverters performed a decent job of uniformly reheating food and baking potatoes in our testing, but they couldn’t thaw ground beef as effectively as normal microwaves. It also contains a clever sensor that monitors how much steam is emitted by the food and adjusts the power level and cooking time to achieve the optimum results.

It has a rapid 30-second timer, a more and less button to alter cook durations in 10-second increments, a quick-minute timer, a delay start option, and a child safety lock, among other features. We adore the keep warm option, which keeps food warm for up to 30 minutes after a cook cycle has finished – and it can be turned on at the start of the cook cycle! The sensor cook button features a whopping 14 settings, ranging from oatmeal to fish fillets, but keep your owner’s handbook handy since that’s a lot of codes to memorise.

BEST SMART MICROWAVE

Smart Over-the-Range Microwave
SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Dimensions: 17.2 x 29.9 x 16 inches
  • Wattage: 1,550 watts
  • Size: 1.9 cubic feet 
REASONS TO BUY
  • Can be controlled via smartphone or tablet
  • Google Assistant or Alexa-enabled voice commands
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Expensive

With this smart microwave, you’ll never have to wait for your microwave to beep again. You can start the microwave, check the cooking progress, and even send multiple commands to the microwave using the Whirlpool app on your smartphone or tablet with a WiFi connection. While this option may not be effective for rapidly reheating a cup of coffee, it is beneficial when utilising the convection oven for longer-cooking foods. If your hands are occupied preparing other items, you may use Google Assistant or an Alexa-enabled device to manage the microwave with voice instructions.

This microwave is also equipped with scan to cook technology, which allows you to scan the barcode of frozen foods and have cooking instructions delivered right to the microwave. While most microwaves include popcorn settings, they frequently result in charred portions or an excessive number of unpopped kernels. The AccuPop Cycle employs sound sensors to measure the duration between pops, ensuring that the popcorn does not burn.

How to find the best countertop microwave for you

There are several countertop microwaves to choose from that will match your space and aesthetic, but these are the key things to look for:

  • Food is rotated on turntables to ensure that it warms evenly. You’d have to interrupt the cooking cycle to turn your plate around if you didn’t have one. Some versions have a side-to-side movement. It’s easy to clean removable ones.
  • Smart sensors automatically change the time and power level for you according on the heat in your meal. It eliminates the guesswork in determining how long to heat your meal.
  • The wattage of a microwave indicates how strong it is. A 700 to 900-watt microwave may be sufficient for reheating individual portions of meals, defrosting small quantities of vegetables, and creating popcorn. You’ll need at least 1,000 watts of electricity else. The majority of microwave cooking recommendations for frozen meals are based on a 1,100-watt microwave. Lowering the temperature would merely take longer to heat up.
  • It’s vital to remember that size is expressed in cubic feet. Consider that an 11-inch dinner plate won’t fit in our preferred compact countertop microwave, but if your kitchen is cramped, our top selection for large families might not be the best option. Choose the size that best suits your requirements and space.
  • The Add 30 Seconds button may appear insignificant, but it makes a significant impact since it allows you to start or add time fast without having to hit a sequence of buttons.
  • Preset settings are already commonplace, notably for defrosting (by weight or quantity), reheating, and popping popcorn. More isn’t necessarily better, and they’re usually more expensive, so seek for ones that offer exactly what you’re looking for.