PROS / This 900-watt countertop microwave quickly cooks most foods to safely hot temperatures.
CONS / It only has six preset food cooking buttons.
VERDICT / The Magic Chef MCM990B is a useful and basic compact microwave for cooking simple meals and snacks, but it lacks preset buttons for such things as fresh vegetables, soups and bread.
The Magic Chef microwave is a good, basic compact microwave with few frills. It is equipped with 900 watts of power and a healthy .9 cubic feet of interior space. It has 11 power levels, a timer and preset cooking buttons for popular items, including popcorn, pizza and baked potatoes, which quickly bring food to safe temperatures.
There also are preset buttons for beverages, frozen vegetables and dinner plates. Still, it is missing other food-specific cooking options you can find on the best compact microwave ovens, many of which offer preset buttons to heat dinner rolls, soup and fresh vegetables. It is also missing sensor cooking, which automatically senses whether or not food is done based on temperature and humidity.
The microwave comes with a child lock that keeps little ones from experimenting with the microwave. This also keeps adults from accidentally bumping the appliance and starting some unplanned cooking.
This compact microwave has two auto-defrost functions, one based on the weight of the items you want to defrost and the other on the time you want the defrosting process to last. In addition, a 30-second button lets you zap food briefly if you believe it needs just a little more cooking time. The kitchen timer can run for nearly 100 minutes.
This small microwave comes in black or white, so it can be an attractive countertop microwave oven in nearly any environment. The microwave has a relatively small turntable that measures 10.5 inches in diameter. While it can handle a 10.5-inch dinner plate and an 11.5 x 6.5-inch mixing bowl, the interior is too short to move a 7-inch glass in and out easily.
Our testing with this small microwave produced generally good results and no potentially unsafe cold spots in the foods we cooked, except for a frozen kids’ meal. We cooked a frozen macaroni and cheese meal according to the package instructions and the food tested at a healthy 186 F. The potato button on this countertop microwave runs for 6 minutes, and it cooked the potato to 203 F.
The Magic Chef MCM990B has three options for cooking a slice of pizza: 4, 8 or 14 ounces. For our testing, we choose the 4-ounce option. The button cooks the pizza for 1 minute, and the result was a cold-from-the-refrigerator slice that heated up to 182 F.
There are also three options for heating popcorn: 1.75, 3 or 3.5 ounces. We picked the 3-ounce option that cooked for 1 minute and 50 seconds. This produced great popcorn and only 12 unpopped kernels.
Cooking the frozen kids’ meal made up of a small corn dogs, French fries and corn was more problematic. We followed the package instructions and one corndog tested at 178 F, another at 191 F and another at 166 F. The last corndog only reached 125 F, which is far below the 165 F that is considered safe for cooked foods.
After cooking the meal for another 30 seconds, the troublesome corndog reached an acceptable 165 F.
The Magic Chef MCM990B comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor, which is standard in the microwave industry. However, it also has an exceptional eight-year warranty for the magnetron, which is the key component in a microwave that produces the radiation that cooks food.
The Magic Chef MCM990B produces good electrical wattage for fast cooking, has some accurate preset food cooking buttons and comes with a great warranty on its magnetron. However, the lack of other preset cooking options on this countertop microwave keeps it from ranking higher in our review.