Best microwaves 2024: speedy, convenient, and energy-efficient

Toshiba EM925A5A-BS being tested in writer's home
(Image credit: Future)
Best microwaves 2024: Jump Menu

The list in brief ↴
1.
Best overall: Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1
2. Best budget: Farberware FMO07ABTBKA
3. Best value: Panasonic NN-SD372SR
4. Best for popcorn: GE JES1145SHSS
5. Best large: LG LMC2075ST
6. Best even cooking: Toshiba EM925A5A-BS
7. Best mini: GE JES1072SHSS
Buying advice
FAQs
How we test

We've compiled a list of the best microwaves we have tested in person so we can recommend them to assist you in your purchase. These microwaves are a great economical option that could help you slash your energy bills and be a really convenient way to cook, reheat, and defrost food while maintaining its vitamin and nutrient content. 

“There are some myths out there that microwaves remove nutrients from cooking, but that's not the case according to many doctors, including at Harvard University,” says Wes Wright, founder and CEO of CookOut News. “Plus, it’s a healthy way to cook because, unlike other methods, you aren't usually cooking with oils in the microwave,” says Wright. So, if you're looking for a quick, convenient, and healthy way to cook, read on. 

Wright has some further insight if you’re wondering what to look for in a microwave. “Placement of the microwave in your kitchen is the first thing you should consider: Will it be on a counter or mounted somewhere? That will narrow down your selection,” he says. If you are unsure, why not check out our guide to the best over-the-range microwaves? Or, if you need something much smaller, we've also picked out the best compact microwaves to compare.

The list below has microwaves in different colors, styles, and capacities, with a range of different features, too - so there's bound to be something here that will catch your eye. 

The quick list

The best microwaves we recommend in 2024

Why you can trust Top Ten Reviews Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The best microwave overall

The best microwave convection oven

Specifications

Wattage: 1400 watts
Capacity: 1.1 cubic feet
Turntable size: 12.4 inches
Presets: 11
Smart?: No
Dimensions: H12.4 x W20.4 x D22.2 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Sturdily-made
+
Tactile knobs and buttons for easy control
+
Auto-off function for peace of mind

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite large
-
Only one cooking surface
Buy it if

✅ You want a multi-purpose appliance: Handily doing the work of a microwave, air fryer, and convection oven, the Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 is a sleek but hefty workhorse.
✅ You're cooking for family/guests: With a 32L capacity, it can handle larger portions and dishes. 
✅ You want to buy from a trusted brand: Breville makes high-quality goods. Sleek, sturdy, and well-made, the Combi Wave satisfied all our wants regarding durability and appearance.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You have limited space: Even though it combines three appliances in 1, it is still quite large and heavy, so it is not as good for smaller kitchens or weak countertops.  
❌ You're on a budget:
The Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 has a list price of $499.95, putting it on the higher end of the price spectrum than other combination ovens.
❌ You want to cook two things simultaneously: The Combi Wave is not big enough to cook two things at once, meaning you won’t be able to throw a chicken on the top rack while you heat a tray of fries down below. This oven only has one cooking surface, meaning you’ll have to pick and choose how and what you want to cook.

The bottom line

🔎 The Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1: While this microwave oven is certainly a splurge, its range of use and sturdy durability make it a smart buy. It passed every test we put it through with flying colors, and we left our reviewing process with only minor quibbles ★★★★½

With microwave, air fryer, and convection oven capabilities, the Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 aims to reduce the small appliance clutter that plagues many kitchens. This oven can do everything from reheating soup to roasting a chicken, melting chocolate to crisping up a three-day-old slice of pizza.

Design: Sleek, sturdy, and well-made, the Combi Wave satisfied all our wants regarding durability and appearance. It comes in brushed and black stainless steel and has a hefty door handle that feels substantial. That doesn’t mean it’s loud, though: The door has soft-close technology, so you won’t always wince when you slam it shut.

Considering the machine's size, the digital readout is fairly large and easy to read. We also liked the machine’s two knobs, one for time and one to adjust temperature or microwave power - which allow you to make easy selections no matter what you’re cooking.

In terms of aesthetics, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Combi Wave’s pleasing cycle-end music, which is far superior to the obnoxiously loud beeps other comparable appliances can make.

Performance: We put the Combi Wave through a few standard tests to measure the oven’s performance. First, we microwaved a dinner-sized bowl of tomato soup for about two minutes at the highest setting. The soup—and the bowl—came out piping hot.

Next, we tested the oven’s convection function on both a dish of chicken legs. We let the machine’s “chicken” preset do all the guesswork and simply entered the meat’s weight to let the oven gauge the cooking time. The legs came out perfectly done, with crispy skin on the outside, and the entire process was incredibly easy. Best of all, the oven even turned itself off when cooking. Things went comparably well with a couple of salmon filets, which took just nine minutes to cook and came out perfectly done.

We also used a couple of the oven’s other presets, like the popcorn feature, the chocolate and butter melting, and the “pizza” setting, which reheated a couple of delivery slices to a perfect crispness. We baked a few pans of brownies that came out well and found that the oven left the edges perfectly crispy.

Price and availability: The Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 has a list price of $499.95, putting it on the higher end of the price spectrum compared to other combination ovens. (Toshiba, for instance, makes a slightly smaller oven that costs just $229, while Panasonic’s 4-in-1 oven costs $529). 

While $500 might seem steep for a small appliance, we found it to be fairly worthwhile, both because of the Breville Combi Wave’s general quality and its capacity to replace other appliances. The Combi Wave is available for purchase from Breville directly and from retailers like Amazon and Best Buy.  

Read more: Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 Convection Microwave review

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Test results
AttributeNotesRating
Price: A little expensive, but the price is justified.★★★★
Design:Premium Breville design and great functionality.★★★★★
Performance:Cooks well in multiple ways, although interior space is limited.★★★★

The best budget microwave

The best budget microwave

Specifications

Wattage: 700 watts
Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet
Presets: 6
Smart?: No
Dimensions: H10.1 x W17.75 x D12.9 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Great for heating individual portions
+
Good amount of cooking pre-sets 

Reasons to avoid

-
Popcorn cooking pre-set not as good
-
Only one year's warranty
Buy it if

✅ You like pre-sets: You get pre-sets for popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetables, beverages, and dinner plates.
✅ You want to save $: The Farberware is a very affordable option, as low as $70 at certain retailers. 
✅ You're tight on space: The Farberware FMO07ABTBKA ties for the smallest size and lowest wattage of all the microwaves we compared, so it'd be great in an RV. 

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want bigger: The smaller size might not be the best if you use your microwave for family meal preparation.
❌ You'd like SensorCook: This is not one of the microwaves that will sense the moisture levels and adjust cooking times automatically, but it does have a memory button for saving often-used settings.
❌ You're a popcorn lover: This one struggled quite a bit with popcorn. In the end, it had almost the most unpopped kernels. It did a lot better in the second round, though.

The bottom line

🔎 The Farberware FMO07ABTBKA is our choice for the best microwave overall because it strikes the best balance between size and functionality. Despite being so small, it gets the job done and doesn't cost the earth ★★★★½

The Farberware FMO07ABTBKA wasn't necessarily perfect in our tests. However, it ranks as the best microwave overall, striking the best balance between its small size, decent cooking performance, and reasonable price. So it would be perfect for someone who needs a small microwave that gets the job done, whether in a dorm room, a small apartment, or an RV. 

Design: At only 0.7 cubic feet, this is tied for being the smallest microwave we tested. Things did seem a little tight on some tests, but if you just use your microwave to heat individual portions, it will work fine. The smaller size might not be the best if you use your microwave for family meal preparation.

The FMO07ABTBKA offers a decent selection of cooking options. It has presets for popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetables, beverages, and dinner plates. You can also use the six express options and cook for between one and six minutes with the touch of one button.

In addition to the cooking options, this microwave can defrost by time or by weight. A keypad lock will prevent the kids from accessing any of the features.

Performance: The Farberware FMO07ABTBKA turned in a solid performance on our tests: It cooks a baked potato well, can do popcorn evenly, although it might need a second try, and cooks evenly and consistently overall, considering how small it is. 

This is not one of the microwaves that senses moisture levels and adjusts cooking times automatically, but it does have a memory button for saving often-used settings. For instance, if you often cook something at 80% power for 2 minutes and 10 seconds, you can avoid inputting those time and power level settings every time.

Price and availability: We found it for less than $70 on some sites like Amazon, while other sellers like The Home Depot have it for $79.99 - so it is easily available online. The low price means you can afford to replace your old microwave sooner. 

Read more: Farberware FMO07ABTBKA Review

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Test results
AttributeNotesRating
Price: Very affordable, costing only $70 at some major retailers. ★★★★★
Design:A genuine compact, perhaps too small for some though.★★★★
Performance:A decent performance when considering price and size.★★★★

The best value microwave

The best value microwave

Specifications

Wattage: 950 watts
Capacity: 0.8 cubic feet
Turntable size: 11.2 inches
Presets: 9
Smart?: No
Dimensions: H11 x W19.2 x D14.2 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Nice stainless steel finish
+
Keep Warm function for up to 30 mins
+
Attractive design

Reasons to avoid

-
Controls can be tricky to use
Buy it if

✅ You like modern design: This microwave has a modern look and a nice streamlined design on the controls, with slim buttons and a dial.  
✅ You need to keep food warm:
This is one of only a few models in this price range to offer a Keep Warm function, which uses low-pulsing microwave power to keep foods warm for as long as 30 minutes without continuing to cook them.
✅ You want a wider microwave: Although this model is smaller and compact, it can easily hold a 10.5-inch dinner plate and a mixing bowl that measures 11.5 x 6.5 inches.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You don't like stainless steel: This model is only available in stainless steel, so it'll need cleaning to prevent sticky finger marks on the outside. 
❌ You want an easy-to-use machine:
This machine isn't too hard to use, but it does require you to use the user manual, and the control panel is quite a learning curve at first. 
❌ You like to use pre-set buttons: This microwave does not have a pre-set button for potatoes or anything else except popcorn, though it offers suggested cooking times inside its door frame.

The bottom line

🔎 The Panasonic NN-SD372SR looks quite special on a countertop because of its unique design, and it generally performs very well, but it does take some getting used to the controls and how they work ★★★★

The Panasonic NN-SD372 microwave has a unique look and performed well in our tests. Its old-school controls and stainless steel finish make it look cool, even if it is a little hard to use.

Design: The Panasonic NN-SD372 is an attractive appliance that scored very well in our cooking tests. However, this unique look clashes with the control panel, which is trickier to master than other microwave ovens. Instead of the pre-set buttons typically found on 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 deal-breaker, but there is a learning curve involved, and for some foods, you need to do some guesswork to figure out which setting is best. For a microwave that is easier to use, consider the Farberware FMO07ABTBKA.

Performance: We tested the Panasonic NN-SD372SR with mixed results. It produced excellent cooking results for some foods but left cold spots or overheated others. However, it was the best unit in our potato test, cooking the potato all the way through without leaving any uneven spots.

It was not perfect on popcorn, but it did a good job of fully popping most if not all, kernels; it left the fewest unpopped kernels out of all the microwaves we tested. However, there were still some burned areas in the final product.

The NN-SD372SR fared well on the consistency tests, with just 8 degrees of temperature difference from one side of the plate of pizza rolls to the other. It also had a fairly even heating pattern when we made a heat map with marshmallows.

Price and availability: It can be found for as low as $183 online at places like newegg.com and $192 on Amazon, while it's fully priced at $219.95 direct via Panasonic. This is a decent price, and this model is one of the few with a Keep Warm function, which is rare at this price point. 

Read more: Panasonic NN-SD372SR review

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Test results
AttributeNotesRating
Price: It's one of the few models in this price range to have a keep warm function.★★★★
Design:Attractive, modern design in stainless steel.★★★★
Performance:Generally cooks well although it can be hard to use.★★★★

The best microwave for popcorn

The best microwave for popcorn

Specifications

Wattage: 950 watts
Capacity: 1.1 cubic feet
Turntable size: 12.8 inches
Presets: 10
Smart?: No
Dimensions: H12 x W20.3 x D15.6 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Great at cooking popcorn
+
Powerful and compact
+
Clear control panel/buttons

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive, especially for the size
-
No sensor reheating
Buy it if

✅ You regularly make popcorn: In testing, this microwave popped almost every kernel and didn't burn any.
✅ You want it to be easy: This GE compact microwave includes popcorn, pizza, and potato buttons, as well as buttons for a beverage, a dinner plate, and a frozen vegetable. 
✅ You want reliable cooking results: We felt the GE performed well in every test. It cooks food completely and quickly. It does great on popcorn, preparing every kernel to perfection.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: This model is a little expensive considering its size; similar models are available for much cheaper. 
❌ You want SensorCook functions:
This microwave is missing a sensor reheat button, so you must guess the time your leftovers need and monitor your food to ensure it doesn't overcook.
❌ You'd like a longer warranty: This GE compact microwave only has a standard warranty of one year to protect your purchase; other units offer more coverage.

The bottom line

🔎 The GE JES1145SHSS is a powerful compact countertop microwave that scored well on all our microwave tests. It's a little expensive considering that it's on the smaller side, but it cooks well and is simple to use ★★★★

The GE JES1145SHSS is an impressive compact microwave that scored well during testing. 

Design: This GE compact microwave, like most microwaves today, includes popcorn, pizza, and potato buttons. However, it is missing a sensor reheat button, so you must guess when your leftovers need and monitor your food to ensure it doesn't overcook.

In addition to these standard pre-sets the GE includes buttons for a beverage, a dinner plate, and a frozen vegetable. This gives you a good variety, though some other microwaves include even more food settings, such as ones for fresh vegetables and frozen entrees.

Although it's a compact microwave, it can easily fit a big mixing bowl, a tall glass, or a standard dinner plate.

Performance: Although it's missing the convenience of sensor reheating and some pre-sets, it includes enough buttons to help you cook efficiently and other features to place it among the best compact microwaves. It cooks food completely and quickly. The GE aced the first test with its ability to cook a frozen macaroni and cheese meal quickly and thoroughly. We followed the directions on the back of the box and cooked it for 3:30 minutes. When it finished cooking, the meal was 171 Fahrenheit, which is above the recommended minimum temperature of 165 Fahrenheit. 

We also cooked potato in this microwave for six minutes, the average time it takes to cook a standard-sized russet potato in a microwave. It had a few raw spots, but it was still good overall. So, overall, this compact microwave performed better than most of the others we tested.

Price and availability: It is slightly expensive, but it can be cheaper online if you shop around a bit; I've seen prices ranging from $119 to $155. However, similar models, like the Farberware microwave listed above for $70, are much cheaper and pretty much the same in size and performance. However, we think you're paying for slightly more power and an easy user experience with this model, especially compared to others on this list. 

Read more: GE JES1145SHSS review

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Test results
AttributeNotesRating
Price: Slightly expensive when compared to other similar models.★★★★
Design:Clear and easy to use buttons; no sensor cook features.★★★★
Performance:Cooks well and evenly with little to no burning or undercooking.★★★★½

The best large capacity microwave

The best large capacity microwave

Specifications

Wattage: 1200 watts
Capacity: 2 cubic feet
Turntable size: 16 inches
Presets: 7
Smart?: No
Dimensions: H13.6 x W23.9 x D18.4 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Large size means you can reheat big plates
+
Hexagonal turntable base is easy to use
+
EasyClean interior

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit too large for small kitchens
-
Sensor settings are limited
Buy it if

✅ You're cooking for a big group: At two cubic feet, it’s big enough to reheat a casserole in one go and other large dishes/portions. 
✅ You don't like cleaning: The EasyClean interior means it’s easy to clean, so it'll get the job done without mess and save you time scrubbing burnt-on grime. 
✅ You like bold, modern design: The microwave comes in multiple color options, so buyers can choose from black, white, stainless steel, or black stainless steel, meaning you can customize your choice. 

Don't buy it if:

❌ You have a small kitchen: It's too big for limited counter space.
You like compact appliances: At two cubic feet, it’s a seemingly enormous microwave and one that, when purchased in all black, can suck the light out of any airy counter space. With a flat black face and sides, it comes across as a sort of appliance monolith.
❌ You want premium functionality: This model offers limited sensor cook and reheat settings. The buttons can also be fidgety and pre-sets aren’t always intuitive.

The bottom line

🔎 If your old microwave broke and you’re in the market for something big and sturdy for all your basic microwave needs, the LG LMC2075ST NeoChef is a solid choice ★★★

Design: The microwave’s button panel is flat to the touch and seems fairly straightforward. There are several buttons for setting the clock and cook duration, as well as “sensor reheat,” “sensor cook,” “popcorn,” and “defrost” buttons. 

The on-off buttons are clearly labeled, and the microwave’s door opens when you push the button below the keypad. That button, however, can be a bit iffy. To get the door quickly, you really have to hit the button in the right spot—on the left side, ideally—lest the button just slightly compress and then bounce back, which can be annoying.

The “sensor cook” button has six pre-sets—bacon, fresh vegetables, frozen entrée, frozen vegetable, oatmeal, potato, and rice—while the “sensor reheat” mode offers five: beverage, casserole, dinner plate, pie, and pizza.

Performance: We generally found the NeoChef a powerful microwave compared to other units with similar wattage. The unit’s defrost setting is similarly powerful, meaning you should probably keep an eye on whatever you’re un-freezing, lest you begin to cook it instead.

We tested the microwave’s sensor reheat setting a few times and always found it perfectly serviceable, if a bit strong. When we put a container of leftover lasagna in and hit the “dinner plate” option, it sizzled and bubbled within about 60 seconds.

If you like reheating large platters, the LG LMC2075ST NeoChef is huge. We could put at least four full coffee pots inside on the turntable, though we didn’t test whether reheating them would be as impressive.

Price and availability: The NeoChef LMC2075ST retails for $279 on the LG site, about the average price for ovens measuring two cubic feet or more. Most brands comparable to LG price their ovens around $250, and many features seem fairly similar. 

Read more: LG LMC2075ST review

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Test results
AttributeNotesRating
Price: Well priced, average for this size. ★★★★
Design:Not enough functions and too many design quirks.★★½
Performance:Does a basic job, maybe even too powerful. ★★★

The best microwave for even cooking

The best microwave for even cooking

Specifications

Wattage: 900 watts
Capacity: 0.9 cubic feet
Turntable size: 10.6 inches
Presets: 6
Smart?: No
Dimensions: H11.5 x W19.2 x D16.1 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Cooks food evenly
+
Good assortment of pre-sets
+
Decent capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
Lackluster warranty
Buy it if

✅ You want nice, even heating: It did just fine on our testing tasks and even impressively had the highest score for heat consistency out of all our units. This meant it heated food evenly from one side of the plate to the other.
✅ You love baked potatoes: The potatoes we microwaved also came out almost perfect when we used the potato button. Overall, cooking different types of food scored well.
✅ You like pre-set buttons: The EM925A5A-BS offers a nice assortment of pre-sets and power levels, including popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetable, beverage, and dinner plate buttons.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You need something bigger: If you want to be able to cook large family dinners, though, this might not be the best bet. Consider the RCA RMW1414 if you're looking for a larger unit.
❌ You'd like a longer warranty: This compact microwave only has a standard warranty of one year to protect your purchase; other units offer more coverage.

The bottom line

🔎 The Toshiba EM925A5A-BS isn't top of the range, although it still performed practically perfectly on some of our tests, and it struck a good balance between the features on offer and its reasonable price ★★★

The Toshiba EM925A5A-BS compact microwave isn't the best, but it balances performance and price well. There are more capacity and cooking power units, but the Toshiba EM925A5A-BS did just fine on most of our tests.

Design: The Toshiba EM925A5A-BS was one of the smaller microwaves we tested, but it was not the smallest. When we loaded it up with a relatively large dinner plate and glass, there was plenty of room left.

It also fits a mixing bowl and a large popcorn bag just fine. However, if you want to cook large family dinners, this might not be the best bet. Consider the RCA RMW1414 if you're looking for a larger unit.

Performance: The Toshiba EM925A5A-BS microwave is not the most powerful we tested; it only has 900 watts of power, but it should still be enough for most tasks. It did just fine on our testing tasks and even impressively had the highest score for heat consistency out of all our units. 

This meant it heated food evenly from one side of the plate to the other, a nice change from some microwaves that leave cold spots in frozen dinners and other dishes.

Overall, cooking different types of food scored well. The Toshiba EM925A5A-BS did a nice job on our tests. It was especially good at maintaining the same heat levels across its cooking surface, and at its price point, we think it could be a worthwhile addition to your kitchen.

Price and availability: The Toshiba compact microwave is very reasonably priced for a model that performs well and fits the bill as a compact that doesn't take up too much space. You can easily find it online for $99.98 at Amazon and up to $114.99 at Lowe's, so don't get caught out when shopping. It's an affordable, budget-friendly model. 

Read more: Toshiba EM925A5A-BS review

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Test results
AttributeNotesRating
Price: Decently priced, but other models in this list are cheaper.★★★
Design:Okay design, pretty standard, not too attractive.★★★
Performance:Cooks most food well, lackluster warranty if anything goes wrong.★★★★

The best mini microwave

The best mini microwave

Specifications

Wattage: 700 watts
Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet
Turntable size: 10.8 inches
Presets: 10
Smart?: No
Dimensions: H10.2 x W17.3 x D12.8 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek, stainless steel design
+
Low price
+
Nice and compact

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic
-
Doesn't cook as evenly as other models
Buy it if

✅ You're on a budget: This model retails for $119.00, down to $66.99 across other retailers, so it's worth investigating if you want a cheap microwave. 
✅ You need something small: With just a 0.7 cubic feet capacity, this microwave is pretty compact, so it's ideal if you're not doing big family portions all the time.
✅ You want to keep it simple: This model is pretty basic, so it isn't too hard to use. 

Don't buy it if:

❌ You need a bigger microwave: As this unit was tied for the smallest one we tested at the time, you might want to check our other recommendations to look for a larger countertop microwave.
❌ You want great results every time: The GE JES1072SHSS was only good, not great, in our testing, and didn't quite prepare food as well as some of the others we tested.
You want more for your money: This model is basic and has fewer food-specific buttons than others. 

The bottom line

🔎 The GE JES1072SHSS is exactly what most people would imagine when thinking of a typical countertop microwave. It was only good, not great, in our testing, and we didn't quite prepare food as well as some of the others we tested ★★★

The GE JES1072SHSS is attractive and truly compact. It might not be the best at cooking evenly, but that probably won't be noticeable on most tasks. It could be the perfect addition to a stylish kitchen update.

Design: The GE JES1072SHSS may have been tied for being one of the smallest we tested, but it didn’t have a problem fitting dishes and glasses inside. We put a fairly large dinner plate and glass inside to see if they could reheat, and they did. If you use your microwave to prepare large meals, this might seem too tight.

The outside design is sleek and stylish and will fit nicely into most kitchens should you wish to update your appliance. This model has fewer food-specific buttons than others, but there is a specific popcorn, potato, and beverage button. You also get express keys for 1—through 6-minute cooking times at the press of one button.

Performance: All the microwaves we tested were able to prepare food, but the JES1072SHSS just didn't do it as well as some of the others. 

The GE JES1072SHSS did an ok job cooking potatoes, but there were some hard spots here and there. Other microwaves performed better at this task. The same story was true for the consistency tests. There was quite a big difference in temperature from one side of the tray to the other. 

The unit's small size also may have been part of the problem regarding our popcorn test. The JES1072SHSS left more unpopped kernels than any of the others; the rest of the bag looked fine, and we were surprised it could even handle one of the full-sized bags, but other microwaves did a better job of finishing the popcorn.

Price and availability: This model retails for $119.00 at GE Appliances, which isn't too expensive for a countertop microwave. However, you can definitely find others for cheaper and offer slightly more capacity. This model is available at Amazon, Best Buy, and Home Depot. 

Read more: GE JES1072SHSS review

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Test results
AttributeNotesRating
Price: Decent for this size, however others are cheaper and bigger. ★★★
Design:Okay, but nothing extraordinary. ★★★
Performance:Doesn't cook food evenly on the first try.★★★

How we test the best microwaves

We fired up each microwave and tested them on commonly prepared items like popcorn, pizza rolls, and potatoes. Microwaves that cooked food evenly got higher scores than those that left cold spots or burned spots. 

We also looked for units with food-specific settings and a wide selection of power levels, as well as units that looked good and were easy to set up and use. 

Find out more about how we test

How to choose the best microwave for you

Before buying a new microwave, consider size, wattage, power levels, safety, smart features, and budget.

Size: Wright says, “A standard-sized microwave is usually 1.5 to 2 cubic feet. To pick the capacity you'll need, measure the size of any bakeware you plan to use in it and make sure it fits.”

Wattage: “You'll want a microwave that's around 700 - 1,000 watts because most microwaves use that as a basis for cooking time. If you go over or under, your food will more often be undercooked or overcooked, respectively.”

Power level: Also, consider power levels – m"st freestanding (also known as solo) microwaves let you adjust this to suit different foods, as you don’t want to cook everything at full power. Higher don't work best for liquids, including soups, drinks, or veggies. Medium power is ideal for ready-made meals, while low power is better for delicate jobs like melting chocolate or butter. Many of the best microwaves offer reheating and defrosting modes, too. 

Smart and safety features: Newer models have microwave inverter technology, which uses a continuous stream of heat at reduced power to cook foods more evenly than traditional pulsing microwaves. Other smart features include voice-activated controls and barcode scanning (via an app) to activate an auto-cook time. Investing in a microwave with a clear view door will mean you don’t need to keep opening it to check on the food. Some have a child lock function that disables the control panel, preventing children from accidentally starting the kitchen appliance unsupervised. 

Budget: Wright recommends spending between $200 - $350 for a microwave. Expect to pay more for smart features and microwaves, including additional cooking methods like grilling and baking.

Microwaves FAQs

How much does a microwave cost?

A microwave can cost anywhere between $100 to $600 on average, depending on the brand, type, features, and size. Typically, countertops and compact/portable microwaves are cheaper than over-the-range types, as these tend to come with installation costs.

We'll update our helpful hub of cheap microwave deals throughout the year, reflecting any current or upcoming significant shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any other major holiday that may bring deals and discounts. So, ep check back with us or bookmark this page for your reference. 

How long do microwaves last? 

Generally, if used by an average family and looked after with good maintenance, a microwave can often last for 7 to 8 years. If the microwave is used less frequently by just one person or a couple and is well-maintained, the lifespan can increase to 10 years. 

The keyword here is maintenance; knowing how to clean a microwave is essential to increasing its lifespan and general hygiene. If you're looking for some extra tips on microwave maintenance 101, we've put together a cheat sheet of useful cleaning hacks for microwaves to help you keep your microwave in tip-top condition. 

Typically, after the decade mark, it is recommended to replace your microwave, or at least take it to an electronics specialist to get it checked over/serviced to ensure it is working correctly and safely (my parents were gifted a microwave in the '80s as a wedding present that lasted them over 30 years - don't hang onto one that long.) Of course, any smoke, sparking, or burning smells is an immediate sign of a severe problem, and you should replace your microwave immediately. 

Are microwaves safe?

Yes – microwaves are very safe if you follow the manufacturer's instructions. People have expressed concerns over the years regarding radiation, but microwaves use low-frequency electromagnetic radiation. This is the same kind of radiation used in radio and lightbulbs. These waves are contained within the microwave, too. It is a different kind of radiation from X-rays, which uses ionizing radiation to detach electrons from atoms.

It also depends on the type of plastic you use to heat your food; avoid using anything that changes shape or melts, and don’t put anything metallic or foil in the microwave. Always ensure that the food is thoroughly heated through and piping hot in the middle to avoid food poisoning. 

Do microwaves kill nutrients?

There has been much research into the health and nutritional value of microwave cooking, with some tests finding that vegetables lose a small amount of nutrients after being microwaved. However, scientists have also found that boiling vegetables causes many nutrients to leach into the water. Shorter cooking times do not impact the nutrients in broccoli, and it also depends on how much water is added before microwaving.

Another test found that microwaving preserved more flavonoids (compounds linked to reducing heart disease) in vegetables than steaming. It also varies greatly depending on the vegetable, with some more prone to losing nutrients than others.  

What microwave wattage is best?

The ideal wattage is a minimum of 1,000 to ensure maximum efficiency. Most microwaves start from 800 watts, usually up to 1,200, and having at least 1,000 gives you the ideal power. As a general rule of thumb, the more watts a microwave has, the faster and more consistently it will cook your food. Higher power is always a wise choice if time is of the essence. Higher wattage can mean a higher price, so check what fits within your budget range.  

Angie Parkinson
TTR Contributor, Small Appliances

As a former writer for Top Ten Reviews (TTR), Angie has spent over eight years testing small appliances, microwaves, and vacuum cleaners and reviewing other home goods. In her spare time, she focuses on planning improvements for her quirky 103-year-old home or exploring the stunning Utah mountains. Prior to this, she was a newspaper journalist and holds a bachelor's degree in Technical Writing.

With contributions from