Also, we consider how easy it is to use the microwave’s controls, position the turntable and open and close the doors. We also consider price: Most countertop microwaves that we have evaluated in the past 10 years were less than $300, and most of our top-rated microwaves for 2021 were below $100. We compared a variety of options and ranked them based on top reviews and unique features. Here are our top picks to buy the best countertop microwaves in 2021.
- Toshiba Microwave Oven is the Best Overall Countertop Microwave
- Best Value Countertop Microwave: Hamilton Beach Digital Microwave Oven
- Best Convection Countertop Microwave: Galanz Toastwave
- AmazonBasics Microwave is the Best Voice-Activated Countertop Microwave
- Black + Decker Digital Microwave Oven is the Best Small Countertop Microwave Oven
- The Compact Wave Soft Close Microwave is the Quietest Countertop Microwave
- Panasonic Microwave Oven: Fastest Countertop Microwave
- Panasonic Full-Size Microwave Oven: Largest Countertop Microwave Oven
- Best Smart Microwave: The Whirlpool Smart-over-the-Range Microwave
Digital Microwave Oven
This compact Black + Decker microwave is great for those with limited counter space, or who only need a microwave to reheat or cook small quantities of food. The 10-inch turntable is small enough to hold a small dinner plate or mug. The interior dimensions of the turntable are approximately 12 x 13x 8 inches.
You can program up to three functions that you use most. The control panel’s key functions include black letters over a gray background. This can make it difficult for dim lighting to read.
Compact Wave Soft Close Microwave
Breville appliances are built with care. We love that they include a microwave, an oven and convection oven. The soft-close door is claimed to be up to 80 percent quieter that most microwaves on the market. No longer do we have to remind our children to close the microwave door gently. Even if the door is slammed it will catch and close quietly. The controls panel is large with the buttons slightly raised. An ergonomic dial replaces the numeric keypad and toggles between minutes and seconds very quickly.
The machine has pre-programmed buttons to defrost and reheat, popcorn and beverage. It also contains a food menu with presets for “baked”, “baked”, and “reheated pizza” — these codes are coded so it might take some time to remember which code corresponds to which function. The food heats evenly and consistently, according to reviewers.
This Panasonic microwave is fast due to two factors: It has 1,250 watts (the highest of all the tested) and an inverter, which helps heat food faster and more evenly. Microwaves are known to mimic low heat, turning the power off and on repeatedly. This can lead to uneven cooking. It can also take longer. Inverters allow for continuous power delivery without the need to stop and go. Our tests showed that microwaves equipped with inverters were able to heat food evenly and bake potatoes well, but they couldn’t freeze ground beef like regular microwaves. Smart sensors detect the steam in the food and adjust power and cooking time accordingly to ensure the best results.
You’ll find a quick 30, a more or a less button to adjust cook time in 10-second increments, and a quick-minute clock. There is also a delay feature, child safety lock, and a delay start function. The keep warm function, which can run for up to 30 mins after a cook cycle has ended, is a great feature. It can also be added at any time during the cook cycle. There are 14 presets available for the sensor cook button, including fish fillets and oatmeal. But keep your owner’s manual handy as there are many codes to remember.
Panasonic Full-Size Microwave Oven
Since its introduction more than a decade ago, the Panasonic microwave has been a favorite of ours. This microwave has a capacity of 1.6 cubes and is great for families or anyone who needs to heat up a whole casserole dish.
It cooked food evenly and did not leave any cold spots. We also tested it by steaming broccoli perfectly using its sensors. Smart sensors measure the steam that is released from the food and adjust the cooking time. The inverter on this model heats food faster and more evenly.
Smart Over-the-Range Microwave
With this smart microwave, you won’t have to wait for the microwave to erupt. With the Whirlpool App on your tablet or smartphone and a WiFi connection, you can use the app to start the microwave and monitor the progress. You can also send multiple commands to it at once. This feature is not useful for quick reheating coffee but it can be very helpful when you use the convection oven to cook longer meals. You can use voice commands to control the microwave using Google Assistant, or an Alexa-enabled device.
This microwave is also equipped with scan to cook technology. You can scan the barcodes of frozen items to have instructions sent to your microwave. Most microwaves come with a popcorn preset, but they can leave popcorn with burned pieces or unpopped kernels. AccuPop Cycle uses sound sensors to monitor the time between pops and prevent popcorn from burning.