PROS / The microwave has a Keep Warm function that runs for 30 minutes.
CONS / Programming this microwave is tricky.
VERDICT / Although you will likely need the user manual's help, you can cook a wide variety of foods in this microwave, including oatmeal, breakfast sausage and frozen pizza.
The stainless steel Panasonic NN-SD372 microwave oven is an attractive appliance that fits in with your kitchen or den decor. It has a variety of useful features that defrost, cook and reheat food, and it has an unusual Keep Warm function that uses low-pulsing microwave power to keep foods warm for as long as 30 minutes without continuing to cook them.
This small microwave’s interior is .8 cubic feet, which is a reasonably good size, and it has a healthy 950-watt power level. It can easily hold a 10.5-inch dinner plate and a mixing bowl that measures 11.5 x 6.5 inches. However, this countertop microwave is a tad short inside, and you cannot easily maneuver a 7-inch glass in and out.
The compact microwave comes with a child lock, which is a great safety feature. It keeps mischievous kids and unknowing adults from activating the microwave.
However, its control panel is tricky to master. Instead of the preset buttons typically found on compact microwave ovens, there are long, horizontal, rather oddly shaped buttons and a pop-out dial you use to set times or weights. The control panel is not a dealbreaker, but there is a learning curve involved, and for some foods, you need to do a bit of guesswork. We recommend thoroughly reading the user manual before using this appliance.
Within the well-written manual are full instructions for programming the microwave oven, and there are instructions for such foods as oatmeal, beverages, breakfast sausage, frozen entrees, frozen pizza, potatoes, and fresh and frozen vegetables.
This control panel does not come with the standard preset buttons for popular foods, although there is a pretimed popcorn button. This microwave also has Auto Reheat, Auto Cook, Power Level, Inverter Turbo Defrost and Keep Warm buttons. Other buttons include a Quick Minute button you can press to add up to 10 extra minutes, a More/Less button for popcorn, and buttons for the Timer/Clock Stop/Reset and Start functions.
While testing this countertop microwave oven, we got mixed results. It produced excellent cooking results for some foods but left cold spots in or over heated others.
Cooked foods typically should reach an internal temperature of 165 F to be considered safe. We used a digital thermometer with a probe to check all foods. When we cooked a frozen macaroni and cheese meal according to its package instructions, it came out at an acceptable 169 F. We cooked a regular-size baked potato for 6 minutes, and its temperature reached a healthy 205 F.
There isn’t a button specifically designated for pizza. We cooked a slice that was cold from the refrigerator and estimated it would take approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds to cook; this turned out to be far too long. The slice measured 195 F.
Popcorn fared better in our testing, although we had to guess a bit on the timing. This microwave has three popcorn choices, 1.75, 3 or 3.5 ounces, but the appliance does not tell you how much time each choice runs for. We tried 2 minutes and 10 seconds but took the bag out with 26 seconds to go since the popping had stopped. The result was tasty popcorn with a mere seven unpopped kernels.
A child's frozen meal of French fries, tiny corndogs and kernel corn produced mixed results, with cold spots in one of the corndogs. We followed the food manufacturer's instructions and four of the five corndogs varied in temperature from 166 to 192 F, which is safe to eat. However, a fifth corndog measured 133 F. We cooked it for 33 more seconds, but it still reached only 138 F. After we cooked the meal for another minute, the fifth corndog reached a quite safe temperature of 186 F.
You can defrost, cook, reheat and keep food warm in the Panasonic NN-SD372. However, you need to carefully read the instruction manual since the control panel is more complicated than most other compact microwaves.