Best Microwave Ovens of 2018
A microwave oven helps you get dinner on the table quickly on those evenings when you are short on time. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best microwave oven for your busy lifestyle.
Food Fast: Your Guide to the Best Microwaves
Most of us would love to cook an elaborate meal from scratch every night, but the fact is there's not always time. A quick-cooking microwave is perfect for when you simply want to make life a little easier.
But how do you find the microwave that's right for you? With so many makes and models on the market, it can be tough to find the microwave that ticks all your boxes. Is a standard or convection microwave best for your kitchen? How many watts should you look for if you need a powerful microwave?
At BestReviews, we're dedicated to answering your shopping questions. We cut through the jargon to help find the best products for you. To compile the fair, thorough, and unbiased reviews we're known for, we test items in our labs and out in the field, consult experts, and gather feedback from existing customers. And we never accept free samples from manufacturers, so we can't be swayed.
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Know Your Microwaves
You'll find three main types of microwaves on the market: standard, grill, and convection. Let's take a look at the features, pros and cons, and price of each microwave type.
Standard microwaves use radiation to excite the molecules in food. Standard microwaves can be used for heating, reheating, steaming, and defrosting.
- Pros: Basic standard microwaves are affordable. Standard microwaves are the most common type of microwave, so you'll find plenty of options.
- Cons: Standard microwaves cannot brown foods or make them crispy.
- Price: Standard microwaves range in price from $30 to $300.
Grill microwaves have a heating element, so they can be used for broiling foods as well as standard microwaving.
- Pros: Grill microwaves can brown foods and cook crispy food. Grill microwaves are more versatile than standard microwaves.
- Cons: More expensive than standard microwaves; there are also fewer models of grill microwaves available.
- Price: Grill microwaves range in price from $80 to $250.
Convection microwaves do everything grill microwaves do, plus they utilize convection heating technology, so they can bake foods like a conventional oven.
- Pros: Convection microwaves are the most versatile type of microwave. Convection microwaves are useful for places without full ovens, such as a dorm room or camper.
- Cons: Convection microwaves are expensive, and you don't need one if you use your microwave only for basic tasks like reheating.
- Price: Convection microwaves range in price from $200 to $600.
Wattage and More: What to Look for When Buying a Microwave
The higher the wattage of a microwave, the more powerful it is and the faster it cooks food. You can find microwaves with 600 to 1,500 watts. Anything over 1,000 watts is considered a high-powered microwave.
Microwaves vary in size, with some designed for large families and others geared toward the solo cook. Consider both the interior and exterior size of a microwave. Make sure the interior of the microwave is large enough to cook in and that the exterior will fit where you want to put the microwave in your kitchen.
Functions and Other Extra Features
- Multiple Sequence Cooking: Some microwaves can be set to cook in a sequence of different settings. With multiple sequence cooking, you can set a microwave to cook for three minutes on defrost, followed by two minutes at half-power, and then one minute at full power, for example.
- Auto-Reheat/Auto-Defrost: This microwave function automatically calculates how long food needs to reheat or defrost based on its weight.
- Chaos Defrost: Microwaves with chaos defrost emit random bursts of radiation to speed up the defrosting time.
- Sensor Cooking: The sensor cooking function automatically detects temperature and moisture levels inside the microwave and adjusts the cooking time accordingly.
- Variable Power Controls: Variable power controls allow you to adjust the microwave's power. Microwaves with inverter technology do this most effectively, which is ideal if you regularly cook at less than full power.
- Turbo Reheat: This microwave function is an extra boost of power to reheat foods more quickly.
- Defrosting Rack: A defrosting rack raises food off the microwave's turntable, so it can be defrosted more evenly from all angles.
Tips for Cooking in a Microwave
- When cooking prepackaged food in a microwave or following a microwave recipe, check both the time and the number of watts recommended, and adjust the power settings if necessary.
- If you cover food while cooking it in a microwave, it must be vented to allow steam to escape. Otherwise, the pressure from the built-up steam could cause the food to explode.
- For best results, stir food halfway through cooking in a microwave to avoid hot and cold spots.
- Be sure to use microwave-safe dishes. Never use metal containers or plates with metal detailing in a microwave, as the metal can spark and catch fire.
- A microwave with digital controls is easier to keep clean. Food residue can get stuck around the edge of an analog dial and be tough to remove.
Q. What can I make using a microwave?
A. Microwaves are extremely versatile appliances that can cook a wide range of foods, including vegetables, prepackaged meals, eggs, popcorn, ramen, and even basic cakes. Microwaves can also be used for preparing ingredients in recipes. For instance, microwaves can melt chocolate, toast bread crumbs, and warm tortillas.
Q. Are microwaves safe to use?
A. Microwaves cook using microwave radiation, which is only produced when the unit is in use and is contained within the body of the oven, so it doesn't harm people in the surrounding area. Microwave radiation doesn't linger once the appliance is switched off, so there's nothing harmful in the food produced by microwaves. That said, microwave radiation could leak from a damaged appliance, so keep your microwave in good condition.
Q. What accessories can I buy for a microwave?
A. You can buy a variety of accessories for a range of cooking tasks. Common accessories for microwaves include steamers, egg poachers, racks to increase space, and various microwave-safe trays and dishes.