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Warm Up Food Fast with the Best Microwave Oven

Kitchen trends come and go, but certain appliances like the microwave have made an indelible mark on American culinary culture. The best microwave ovens in 2021 range from basic, no-frills appliances to feature-heavy models boasting convenient features and cooking options. The following lists will help you narrow down your options based on cooking needs, available space, and budget. You'll also find a microwave oven buyer’s guide below to help you with your purchasing decision.  

Best Microwave Oven of 2021 Reviewed in Detail

Cuisinart Stainless Steel Microwave Oven

The Cuisinart CMW-200 offers you tremendous versatility, with the addition of both convection and grill capabilities on top of basic microwaving. This microwave has a capacity of 1.2 cu ft with a 12-inch turntable. This is plenty of space to make full use of the oven's features, which allow it to cook and bake everything from toast to pies, breads, and even meats.

Many users report that the CMW-200 takes over as their primary all-around oven, as it’s much easier and more efficient to use than a typical full-sized oven. The touch controls are simple to use, and offer nine preset options as well as the ability to defrost items by weight or time. Multi-stage cooking is also included. Unlike earlier all-in-one microwave oven models, the CMW-200 is easy to clean and can be had for a relatively reasonable price.

Sharp SMC1585BS 1.5 cu. ft. Microwave Oven

Thanks to its ability to microwave, convection bake, broil, and roast, the Sharp R-930AK can accomplish nearly all your cooking and baking needs. This convection microwave has a 1.5 cubic foot capacity and 900 watts on power on its highest level, including both a turntable and high/low oven racks.

Many users report that this appliance becomes their main oven, thanks to its ability to quickly and evenly bake and cook foods. Sensor settings and manual temperature settings are included, and the microwave is easy to use overall. Although this convection microwave might not have the most modern appearance, it promises to offer reliable performance for years.

GE Appliances JEM3072SHSS GE 0.7 Cu. Ft. Capacity Countertop Microwave Oven

The GE PEB9159SFSS convection microwave is an excellent option for those who want a simple appliance from a mainstream brand at a decent price. This microwave offers both microwave cooking and convection baking capabilities, including both a turntable and a removable oven rack.

This unit offers a 1.5 cu ft capacity with 1000 watts of power on high, making it perfectly well-suited for most kitchen tasks. Though this model is fairly light on features, with just sensor cooking, control lockout, and a simple control dial, it delivers solid basic performance and a reasonably modern appearance.

Buyer's Guide

Microwaves are no longer as simple as they once were as modern technology has enhanced them with a range of high tech features. The best way to cut through the confusion is to identify your needs before beginning your search. A microwave oven suited for your family's needs will take into consideration the amount of space you have available, the features you need, and of course your budget.

Clearly Identify Your Needs

Make note of what you like and don’t like about your current model. Determine how much space you want to dedicate to installing the microwave, and whether you need a specialized model that can be installed over the range or built into the cabinetry.

Determine Your Microwave's Role

For reheating occasional leftovers, you won't need an expensive, feature-laden model. If you have kids or plan to use your microwave frequently, look for features which add to the convenience factor such as preprogrammed buttons and sensor cooking. The amount of features also determines how much power you're likely to need with around 1,000 watts usually being adequate. Lower-cost models tend to have less power so be sure you're not sacrificing convenience and performance.

Consider Ease of Use

Many newer microwaves feature large displays with sophisticated controls which can be confusing to older family members. If your microwave is likely to be used by elderly or young family members, look for large buttons, simple controls, and an easy-open door.

Major Microwave Types

Countertop Microwaves

The microwave types most commonly found in the homes. These units sit on your countertop, making them easy to install with a suitable outlet nearby. Countertop microwaves have the widest range of models available from budget-friendly options to expensive, feature-laden wonders.

Be sure to identify how much counter space you're willing to give up before even beginning to consider what features you're likely to need. Since counter space is often already at a premium in the kitchen, the main problem with these models tends to be the amount of space they take up.

Over the Range Microwaves

Over the range microwaves work the same as a regular counter top model, but include built-in vent systems allowing them to be installed over the range in your kitchen. These microwaves have a large feature and price range, but require precise measurements and a more complicated installation process. These units are more on the expensive side in terms of purchase price and installation

Built-In Microwaves

There are a huge range of choices in this typically higher-end and more expensive category, ranging from drawer models that can be integrated into cabinets to combination microwave/oven units. If your kitchen already has a built-in microwave, take the correct measurements and ensure your power source is adequate. If you're doing a remodel and want the custom look of a built-in microwave, find out how much space you have to work with and ensure that your cabinet cutout matches the microwave's cutout specifications before narrowing down desired features and price range.

This is where it becomes difficult as the number of available features on a microwave can be overwhelming. If you already have a microwave at home, ponder what you like most and least about your existing unit. Perhaps it has convenient one-minute or 30-second buttons for entering or adding time.

If you use a particular feature a lot, ensure your new microwave includes the same option as well. If you have kids, a microwave with dedicated buttons for foods such as popcorn may be a good idea.

Microwave Features

Inverter Technology

This keeps the power level consistent whereas most microwaves will switch back and forth between power levels to reach an average of the power level you want. The inclusion of inverter technology allows for more delicate cooking tasks such as eggs.

Convection Technology

Microwave ovens with this technology blow heat around to speed up cooking time and provide even cooking results. A convection microwave will be better suited for actual cooking versus simply reheating items.

Sensors

Most modern microwaves use sensors for accurate cooking and even reheating. Although this technology is expensive, it drastically enhances microwave cooking capability. Some microwave ovens equipped with a cooking sensor also detect when your food has been thoroughly reheated and will automatically shut off cooking.

Wattage

Simply put, wattage equals power with 1,000 watts usually being enough for the average kitchen. The more watts a microwave has, the faster your food will be heated. Less expensive models will generally have less power while more expensive units will have more.

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