PROS / This compact microwave has a large interior of 1.1 cubic feet.
CONS / We encountered some uneven cooking with this microwave in our tests, and it fared badly in the popcorn test, leaving a lot of unpopped kernels.
VERDICT / This is a serviceable microwave that gives you plenty of power and an assortment of pre-timed cooking options. However, these features do not guarantee even cooking or good results with every dish.
The Sharp R-309YK is spacious and offers a healthy level of electrical power. However, our overall cooking experience with this compact microwave oven was not impressive.
This countertop microwave features a large interior of 1.1 cubic feet and 1,000 watts of electrical power, which means speedy cooking. It also gives you preset cooking options for popcorn, beverages, potatoes, frozen and fresh vegetables, and, unlike other microwaves we reviewed, frozen pizza. This unusual pizza button is a nice extra for some cases, but it's not helpful for pizza that's just been in the fridge overnight.
You can defrost frozen foods either by entering the weight of the food item or programming the time you want the defrost capability to operate. The microwave also comes with a reheat button, which is handy when you need to warm something from the refrigerator or a food item that reaches room temperature. You also get a scratch-resistant door and a child lock that prevents youngsters as well as adults from potential injuries. The inside of the microwave is big enough to accommodate a 7-inch glass, a 10.5-inch dinner plate and a mixing bowl that measures 11.5 x 6.5 inches.
The control panel includes an auto-defrost setting for meat, poultry or fish. You also get an auto-cook button that you can push several times to cook a variety of different foods, such as breads or soups. However, this microwave brings to mind the old adage "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." Despite the conveniences on the control panel, our cooking tests yielded uneven results for a variety of foods.
For the safest results, cooked foods should reach 165 F internally, so as we ran our tests, we took the temperature of each food item with a digital thermometer that uses a probe. A frozen macaroni and cheese meal that we heated according to its package instructions missed the mark at 161 F. When we added 30 seconds, though, it reached 177 F.
The potato setting runs for nine minutes, which is far too long for an average-sized potato. We tried baking one for six minutes, which is a standard cooking time for potatoes. The resulting temperature was 203 F, so the microwave's potato preset would probably give you a potato that is much harder and drier than you would like. For our pizza test, since we were reheating a pizza slice cold from the refrigerator, we could not use the frozen pizza button on this microwave's panel. We tried cooking it for one minute, and it reached 168 F.
The popcorn test turned out badly for the Sharp. Its popcorn button offers two choices of 3 or 3.5 ounces, and we chose 3 ounces, which cooks for 1:35 minutes. Only half the popcorn in the package even popped. The popped kernels tasted fine, but there were few to eat, since 221 unpopped kernels were left in the bag.
We tried cooking a frozen kids' meal of fries, mini corn dogs and corn, and we again got mixed results. We cooked this meal according to its package instructions, and three corn dogs were hot enough to be safe at 178, 184 and 168 F. However, one was too cool at 158 F. We cooked the meal for one more minute, and the cool corn dog reached 187 F. Overall, the cooking results from this microwave were mediocre.
The Sharp R-309YK gives you a variety of cooking options, a big cooking space, and family-friendly features such as a child lock and scratch-resistant door. With its varied features and high power, it would have ranked higher in our lineup if only the cooked food results had been more consistent.