Best Over-the-Range Microwaves of 2018

Angela Parkinson ·
Home & Appliance Editor
Updated
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We've been evaluating over-the-range microwaves for seven years and have invested hundreds of hours in finding the best ones. We singled out the Kenmore 80333 for its wide range of capabilities and high power. The sensor cooking feature removes the guesswork from using this microwave, adjusting cook times and temperatures to suit different dishes. And, this microwave's interior comes with a special coating that is designed to make it easy to wipe clean.   

Best Overall
Kenmore 80333
The Kenmore 80333 offers advanced features at a very reasonable price, including sensor cooking, lots of presets and plenty of choice for things like light and fan settings.
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Best Value
Insignia NS-OTR16SS8
The Insignia NS-OTR16SS8 includes some great features like memory keys and a wide selection of preset food buttons, all for a low price.
View on Insignia
Best Warranty
LG LMV1762ST
The LG LMV1762ST has a long warranty plus a few other standout features, including a shelf that doubles your cooking space and sensor cooking that takes the guesswork out of reheating leftovers.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Power & Cooking
Price & Warranty
Vent & Hood
Design
Power (watts)
Power Levels
Capacity (cubic feet)
Preset Cook Buttons
Sensor Cook
Warm Hold
Quick Cook
Price
Warranty (magnetron)
Warranty (parts)
Warranty (labor)
Airflow (cubic feet per minute)
Fan Speeds
Cooktop Light Settings
Night Light
Auto-Start Vent
Color Options
Shelves & Racks
Sound On & Off
Turntable On & Off
$279.99 Sears
5 2.9 5 5
1000
10
1.7
5
269
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
300
2
2
3
1
$149.99 Best Buy
3.5 4.8 3.9 1.7
1000
10
1.6
8
149
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
Proprietary
2
2
1
0
$139 Mazer Appliance
3.2 4.5 4.2 1.7
1000
10
1.7
4
249
10 Years
1 Year
1 Year
300
2
1
1
1
$179.1 ABT
3.9 2.9 5 2.8
1000
10
1.6
3
269
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
300
2
2
5
0
$19 Wal-Mart
2.2 5 5 0.3
1000
10
1.6
4
219
10 Years
1 Year
1 Year
300
2
2
1
0
$159 Lowe's
1.9 4.5 3.8 3.7
1000
10
1.6
1
159
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
220
2
1
3
0
$249 Lowe's
2.9 3 3.8 0.3
1000
9
1.6
3
259
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
220
2
1
1
0
$154.5 Happys Appliance
2.2 2.4 4.2 1.2
1000
10
1.7
3
299
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
300
2
1
4
0
Best Overall
The Kenmore 80333 really stands out for having more features than expected, especially when comparing it to other units in the same price range. For instance, it has sensor cooking so the microwave can essentially evaluate moisture levels for you, adjusting cooking times so food gets heated, but not overcooked.
There are even some specific settings for leftovers. You can choose from foods like bacon, rice, casseroles or frozen dinners. You get a cooking rack that essentially doubles your cooking space. That will come in very handy for bigger families or when you entertain. This microwave has a keep warm feature that maintains food at a good temperature for a while after the "ding." You just have to use the Warm & Hold button. There is no delay-start function, and that is less than ideal for busy families. With delay-start, you could have someone throw in a casserole dish in the afternoon and then come home to a fully cooked meal later. This also lacks a strong warranty on the magnetron – it just has the standard one year. The range hood is competitive. It moves 300 cubic feet of hot and smoky air per minute, which ties it for the best.
Pros
  • The cooking rack adds more space.
  • It comes in three colors, and one is sure to fit into your décor.
  • Sensor cooking takes the guesswork out of reheating leftovers.
Cons
  • The lack of convection means you will not be able to bake with it.
  • It does not offer delayed start.
  • Other units have better warranties on the magnetron.
-
Read the full review
Best Value
The Insignia NS-OTR16SS8 has a little less space than our top pick in this category, but also has some great features and a nice price. We found it for as little as $150 and it is designed to reheat and pop popcorn with the best of them.
Speaking of popcorn, that is one of its many food presets, which also include beverage, pizza, vegetables, potato, rice and frozen dinners. It actually has more preset buttons than any other over-range microwave in our comparison. That will speed up the cooking process even more than usual for favorite foods. There is also a memory function, so you can save settings that you use often. It's nice not adjusting power levels and entering a time, every time you cook something. This microwave offers more control than others when it comes to features. You can adjust fan speeds, cooktop light settings and the turntable. This is one of only a few we compared that lets you switch the turntable off. With its low price it's not really surprising that it lacks some of the more sophisticated features, including sensor cook. Some units have sensors for humidity that help judge when food is fully cooked, adjusting the time and temperatures accordingly. This is not one of them. It lacks a warm hold function as well, which keeps food warm after it cooks. The warranty is also not the best – just one year of coverage on everything. Some microwaves cover the magnetron for much longer. It still has as much power as others in our comparison.
Pros
  • The budget-friendly price makes it easier to replace your old unit sooner.
  • You can switch the turntable off for large dishes.
  • This has more preset buttons for specific foods than any other we compared.
Cons
  • It lacks a warm hold function so food will get cold on you if you wait too long.
  • There were units with better magnetron warranties.
  • The lack of sensor cooking means you have to watch food more closely.
$149.99Insignia
Read the full review
Best Warranty
The LG LMV1762ST is one of only two over-the-range microwaves we considered that has 10 years of warranty coverage on its magnetron – the most expensive and most important part of a microwave.
The magnetron can be unpredictable, and if it goes that can mean buying a new microwave in some cases. A strong warranty means you don't have to worry about that for a long time. This microwave also makes your life easier by sensing the humidity coming off a dish you are reheating and adjusting cook times to accommodate. That means you don't have to guess on times or power levels because the microwave will figure all of that out for you. An included shelf means you can essentially double cooking space, which might come in handy in a big household. The LG LMV1762ST is missing a few features we value. You can't turn off the sound or stop the turntable from spinning, which can be a nice option for cooking extra-large dishes. It also lacks warm hold, so you will need to take things out of the oven right away. This one also has fewer quick keys than many we compared for foods like pizza, potatoes and popcorn.
Pros
  • A 10-year magnetron warranty can help you avoid expensive repairs.
  • Sensor cooking can make it easier to reheat dishes automatically.
  • A shelf will make it easier to prepare more food at the same time.
Cons
  • You cannot switch off the turntable or the sound.
  • There is no a warm hold feature, so you have to remove hot dishes soon after cooking.
  • Few quick keys means less options for one-button cooking.
-
Read the full review
Most Color Options
The GE JVM3160RFSS microwave has more color options than any other model we reviewed. It easily matches your décor for a cohesive look throughout your kitchen.
This microwave has fewer presets than others but features the most common: popcorn, beverage and potato. It does have quick keys or buttons that start the microwave with one press. By pressing any number 1-6 the microwave automatically starts and runs for that number of minutes. This microwave is missing sensor cooking which cooks food automatically based on the amount of steam coming from the food. This is found in more expensive microwaves and helps take the guess work out of cooking certain foods.
Pros
  • It comes in a handful of color options.
Cons
  • It lacks sensor cooking.
$269.00Amazon
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Best Samsung
The Samsung ME16K3000AS has an outstanding warranty on the magnetron – the most important part of the microwave.
It is covered for 10 years, which is ten times the warranty coverage compared to others we tested. There are four present buttons: popcorn potatoes, pizza and veggies. It doesn’t offer sensor cooking which judges how long to cook food based on the amount of steam the food releases. The microwave does have multiple settings for both fan speeds and cooktop lighting, which is nice. The fan also moves up to 300 cubic feet of air, which can helps keep smoke out of your kitchen while you’re cooking.
Pros
  • It has a 10-year warranty on the magnetron.
Cons
  • It lacks sensor cooking.
$210.22Amazon
Read the full review

Why Trust Us? 

Since 2010, we have spent hundreds of hours collecting information about what makes a good over-the-range microwave. We spent a fair amount of time studying product manuals and videos. We have also talked with product representatives and spent time in home improvement stores learning about what goes into a quality range hood and microwave combination. We have re-evaluated periodically to keep up with the latest trends in the design of this appliance and to make sure you are getting as much value as possible out of your investment. If you are in the market for one now you can expect to see a few innovations, depending on your price range.

"We're beginning to see many over-the-range units with the ability to bake using radiant heat, allowing them to serve as small ovens," according to Ed Reitano, Pacific Kitchen & Home Sales Manager at Best Buy, purveyors of Insignia brand microwaves.

Our research indicates that folks are not often buying the more expensive units with extras like baking capabilities, though. The bestsellers on Home Depot, Lowe's, Best Buy and Amazon averaged $214. The over-range microwaves with convection we found were priced at $400 to $850. If you want to add to your baking options, especially around the holidays, it could be worth the investment.

Prolonging the life of whatever microwave you buy comes down to common sense, said Richard Spencer, who has been involved in the repair business since the 60s and owns Utah-based Mark-A-Newt Appliance Specialists. Most microwaves make it only about a decade, but if you treat them nice and buy one with good warranty coverage they can last longer. He recommends finding one that is a well-known brand that repair shops are willing to work on and one with excellent warranty coverage, as microwaves can be a bit unpredictable. He's seen microwaves that cost thousands break down in their first few weeks.

Spencer also said preparing dishes without much moisture can damage a microwave. Even microwavable popcorn is too dry in most cases. He recommends using a reusable glass or silicone popcorn bowl instead with a little oil. Going easy on the moving parts can also mean fewer repairs and longer life. Resisting the urge to lean on the open door while looking at foods will help the hinges and other components last longer.

How We Researched  

We have created comparison charts over the years to track the details of the best over-the-range microwaves and get a clear picture of which ones are the best bet for your money. There is a lot to consider, since these essentially give you two appliances in one. To assess the quality of the microwave, we evaluated factors such as wattage, capacity and capabilities. We looked for microwaves that have a lot of options for different kinds of dishes. Microwaves that offer any kind of one-touch cooking were preferable, as were the ones that offer sensor cooking. Our recommendations on the range hood part of this appliance come down to how much air the vent circulates and a few other convenience features.

Choosing an Over-the-Range Microwave 

Power & Cooking
When you turn to the microwave instead of the oven, you are likely in a hurry, so the ability to cook food quickly is important in this appliance. We looked at each unit's ability to cook a lot of food quickly by evaluating total wattage, capacity, convection capabilities and other cooking features.

Vent & Hood
One of the best things about these units is that they combine cooking capabilities with a vent hood to control smoke from the oven. This is not only space-saving, but practical. We looked for the models that move air the fastest and provide convenient features such as night lights and automatic venting.

Design

Since this is an appliance that will be featured prominently in your kitchen design, you will want something that looks good and has a sensible design. Having good options for colors, shelving configurations, child locks and other features can add convenience.

Warranty & Support

We favor units that come with long and strong warranties, so your investment comes with the proper protection.