Pros / The microwave has a Keep Warm function that runs for 30 minutes.
Cons / Programming this microwave is tricky.
Verdict / The Panasonic NN-SD372 was in the top 4 in our performance tests and its old-school controls and stainless steel finish make it look cool, even if it is a little hard to use.
The stainless steel Panasonic NN-SD372 microwave oven is an attractive appliance that offers a unique look on your countertop. It is one of only a few 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. It was the very best at evenly cooking our test potato, but it was sort of hard to get that process started. There is not a preset button for potatoes or anything else on this microwave, except popcorn. It does offer suggested cooking times on the inside of its door frame.
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. This was the very best potato cooker. The potato was cooked all the way through and had no uneven spots.
It was not perfect on popcorn, but it did a good job of fully popping. There were very few unpopped kernels – the fewest, in fact. But there were still some burned areas in the final product.
This one 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 the heat map with marshmallows.
The NN-SD372's control panel is tricky to master in general. 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. For a microwave that is easier to use, consider the Magic Chef MCM990B.
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. 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.
In our food tests the Panasonic NN-SD372 tied for fourth place overall and it looked quite special on our countertop because of its unique design. However, you need to carefully read the instruction manual since the control panel is more complicated than most other compact microwaves.