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Whether you have limited time, a lack of skills in the kitchen, or just need to easily reheat your leftovers, there are plenty of reasons we rely on microwaves. They’re a kitchen staple, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all created equally.
There are a few considerations to think about when you’re looking for a countertop microwave. “The major factors to consider when shopping are the style, budget, and capabilities,” says Allison Grady of The Home Depot.
“Countertop microwaves are often the more budget-friendly solution and can accommodate any kitchen budget,” Grady says. “They come in a variety of finishes to serve as a cohesive addition to any kitchen design.”
We’ve rounded up the eight best countertop microwaves, from an adorable retro model that makes a statement while it heats up your lunch, to a large capacity microwave that comes in handy while feeding your family or entertaining.
Our pick for best overall countertop microwave is the Toshiba ML-EM34P(SS) Smart Countertop Microwave because it’s affordable and practical. It features 10 different power settings, a pre-programmed sensor menu, and the ability to use it with your smart home device. Read on for our full list of recommendations.
Why You Should Get It: It gives you the ability to heat food up hands-free using your Alexa.
Keep in Mind: This microwave is 1.3 cubic feet, so it’s pretty compact.
The Toshiba ML-EM34P (SS) Smart Countertop Microwave is the best overall countertop microwave because of both its basic, tried and true functions (like its power settings and presets), as well as its innovation. It can be controlled via your Amazon Dot or Echo with your voice, which means that you can heat up your food hands free.
You can also program up to 23 preset time menus on the microwave’s accompanying app. For example, if you pop leftover pizza into the microwave, you can just say, “Alexa, reheat my pizza,” and the microwave will heat your pizza for the appropriate time.
The microwave has a capacity of 1.3 cubic feet, which is on the more compact side as far as size goes. But it is small but mighty—it boasts 1100 watts, which means it is still powerful enough to heat your food quickly.
You can choose from 10 power levels, depending on your needs. It also has preset menus, which includes the microwave staples like popcorn, baked potatoes, pizza, frozen vegetables, and more.
For those who get overwhelmed by kitchen noises, we also appreciate this microwave’s mute setting, which gives you the ability to stop the appliance from beeping when your food is done cooking.
There are also energy saving features like an LED cavity light and an eco-mode that reduces the amount of energy it is consuming. Because of the amount of features for the price, this countertop microwave earned the top spot.
Price at time of publish: $180
Product Details: Wattage: 1100 watts | Voltage: 120 volts | Dimensions: 16.6 x 20.4 x 12.4 inches | Space Capacity: 1.3 cubic feet
Why You Should Get It: It’s affordable, while still featuring multiple settings for food and power.
Keep in Mind: The wattage is 700, whereas standard microwaves are typically 1000 watts.
For a more affordable option, the Black + Decker EM720CB7 is the best countertop microwave for those on a budget. This compact microwave measures 0.7 cubic feet, with a width of 13 inches, length of 17.3 inches, and height of 10.2 inches.
The glass turntable has a diameter of 10 inches, a small dinner plate or a bag of popcorn will fit perfectly. It also has a push button to open the door, making it easy to open when your hands are full.
This wallet-friendly microwave contains all of the same basic functions of more expensive microwaves, without some of the higher tech perks. The stainless steel microwave has a basic, easy-to-read display and control panel.
It also has 10 power levels, and preset buttons that allow you to easily heat up popcorn, pizza, potatoes, or frozen vegetables. The microwave also allows you to defrost either by time or weight, using a sensor.
Instead of the standard 1000 watts that most microwaves use, this one operates using 700 watts so you may have to heat up your food for longer. But because it's affordable and has all the features you need, it’s one of our top choices.
Price at time of publish: $100
Product Details: Wattage: 700 watts | Voltage: 110 volts | Dimensions: 13 x 17.3 x 10.2 inches | Space Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet
Why You Should Get It: It’s sleek and stylish, and comes with a soft-close door.
Keep in Mind: The door has a handle, not a push button.
The Breville BMO650SIL Compact Wave Soft-Close Microwave is stylish in a stainless silver finish, and it’s only 0.9 cubic feet.
It’s the best countertop microwave to splurge on not only because of its aesthetics, but because of its function. It has one-touch buttons that can perform oft-repeated tasks, which include making popcorn, heating a beverage, reheating, and defrosting.
It also has more specific buttons that allow you to quickly reheat pizza, defrost frozen vegetables, or cook potatoes. It also uses a dial timer to set the cook time, and has user-friendly “stop” and “add 30 seconds” buttons.
This compact microwave has a soft close door, so you can make less noise while heating up those leftovers. Additionally, if you prefer a quieter microwave, you can mute all of the beeps on the microwave. The microwave also has a child lock that keeps your kiddos from using it when they aren’t meant to.
This microwave operates using 900 watts, which is slightly less than standard microwaves. If you prefer push-open buttons, keep in mind that this microwave has a handle on the door which may make opening the appliance more cumbersome if you are multitasking or your hands are full.
Price at time of publish: $245
Product Details: Wattage: 900 watts | Voltage: 120 volts | Dimensions: 17.3 x 19.1 x 11.5 inches | Space Capacity: 0.9 Cubic Feet
Why You Should Get It: It has an old school look, without skimping on modern features.
Keep in Mind: It’s smaller than standard microwaves at 0.9 cubic feet.
If you love decorating with retro motifs, this Comfee Retro Microwave will add both visual interest and practicality to your kitchen. It comes in three colorways: retro green, retro apricot, and retro red. To set your cook time, you use a rotary knob instead of buttons, which adds to the retro feel of the appliance.
At 0.9 cubic feet, the Comfee Retro Microwave may be small—it measures 15.41 x 19.09 x 11.51 inches—but it doesn’t skimp on power. It’s a 900 watt microwave, which is slightly less than a standard microwave’s power. The turntable measures 10.62 inches in diameter, so you can easily fit a plate, a bag of vegetables, or a cup of coffee on it.
This microwave has nine preset menus, like popcorn, beverage, or reheat, to make cooking or reheating as easy as pushing a button. It also has a defrosting function, an express cooking function, and 10 power levels for cooking.
If you are worried about other members of your household getting into the microwave unattended, there is a safety lock to help keep your family safe. Additionally, the microwave also features a mute function, which comes in handy if you are sensitive to noise or trying to make a snack late at night.
To help keep your electric bill low, you can switch to eco-mode to use less power. Because of its balance of retro style and useful features, it’s the best retro countertop microwave.
Price at time of publish: $125
Product Details: Wattage: 900 watts | Voltage: 110 volts | Dimensions: 15.41 x 19.09 x 11.51 inches | Space Capacity: 0.9 cubic feet
Why You Should Get It: It has an electronic control panel, and the beeps can be muted.
Keep in Mind: It only has 700 watts, so cooking time may be different compared to other microwaves.
Having limited counter space can be a serious kitchen struggle, especially when you also don’t have space to install a microwave into a cabinet or above the stove. Coming in at just 12.75 x 17.3 x 10.18 inches, and taking up just 0.7 cubic feet, this compact GE microwave is the space-saver’s dream.
The turntable for this microwave is 10.75 inches, so it’s perfectly sized for heating or reheating food. It features an electronic control panel, so you can enter your cook time more precisely than a dial. This microwave also makes opening the door easy with a push button instead of a traditional handle.
It has preset options for cooking potatoes, popcorn, or reheating beverages, and it also has reheat and auto defrost settings. Additionally, it features a clock and a timer, so you can use it to help you time your recipes if you aren’t actually using the microwave. You can also manually program the microwave for defrost times.
Like several options on our list, you can also turn the sound off of this microwave so that you don’t wake anyone up while making a midnight snack. This compact microwave packs a smaller punch with 700 watts, which means that your cook times may vary or take a bit longer than a standard microwave.
Price at time of publish: $128
Product Details: Wattage: 700 watts | Voltage: 120 volts | Dimensions: 12.75 x 17.3 x 10.18 inches | Space Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet
Why You Should Get It: This 1250 watt microwave is available in black or white.
Keep in Mind: It measures 2.2 cubic feet, so you’ll need plenty of counter space for this large microwave.
The Panasonic NN-SN963B Microwave Oven is the best countertop microwave for someone with a large family or a love of entertaining. With higher power comes shorter cook times, and this 1250 watt microwave cooks food more quickly than the standard microwave. The 2.2 cubic foot microwave is available in two colors: black or white.
Like the other Panasonic microwaves on this list, this large capacity microwave also has inverter technology. Inverter technology microwaves food with a steady stream of power in order to evenly cook it at any temperature. This means no more hot outsides but lukewarm (or, still frozen) middles or spillage and splatters because your beverage or soups heated unevenly.
The microwave also has a “genius sensor” that automatically adjusts power and time by whatever food type you’ve chosen.
It has 14 auto-cook options including: Oatmeal, omelet, quinoa, soup, potatoes, rice, pasta, fresh vegetables, frozen entrees, frozen pizza, and frozen vegetables. If you love to entertain, you can also use the microwave’s ‘Keep Warm’ setting to help keep your food the appropriate temperature while you wait to serve.
Keep in mind that, because this is a large capacity microwave, it’ll also need more counter space. It measures nearly two feet long and 20 inches deep, with a height of 14 inches. It optimizes its internal space, though, with a 16.5 inch turntable.
Price at time of publish: $300
Product Details: Wattage: 1250 watts | Voltage: 120 volts | Dimensions: 23.8 x 19.4 x 14 inches | Space Capacity: 2.2 cubic feet
Why You Should Get It: A genius sensor automatically sets power levels so that you don’t have to guess about cooking or defrosting times.
Keep in Mind: Avoid using harsh detergents or abrasive fabrics to clean this microwave.
If you have stainless steel appliances in your kitchen, the Panasonic NN-SN67K will both fit in seamlessly and suit your needs.
This microwave features 11 power levels, plus a three-level popcorn button and 16 auto-cook options. It even has a reheat option for when you leave your coffee out on the counter for too long. It also has a “Genius Sensor,” which measures the amount of steam that comes off of your food to determine how much longer it needs to cook.
If you often heat up larger amounts of food, this is the best microwave for you since it has a 13.5 inch turntable. The Panasonic NN-SN67K also has inverter technology—microwaves that don’t have this technology use pulses of power to cook food, but this microwave uses a continuous stream of power to heat your food evenly, all the way through to the center.
This same technology is used for the turbo defrost option, which will come in handy if you frequently forget to thaw out your chicken for dinner.
If you aren’t married to the stainless steel option, it’s also available in black or white. When cleaning the microwave, avoid harsh detergents or abrasive materials. Instead, stick to warm water, dish detergent, and a soft cloth to help keep your microwave in pristine condition.
Price at time of publish: $250
Product Details: Wattage: 1200 watts | Voltage: 120 volts | Dimensions: 15.8 x 20.7 x 12.2 inches | Space Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet
Why You Should Get It: It’s a versatile microwave that does the job of four different appliances.
Keep in Mind: The control panel is horizontal, rather than vertical like traditional microwaves.
If you are tired of pulling on multiple appliances or simply don’t have the storage space, this microwave is the perfect solution. The Galanz GTWHG12S1SA10 4-in-1 ToastWave is the best countertop microwave/air-fryer combo, and it even quadruples as a toaster and convection oven.
It has TotalFry 360 technology, which means that it can act as an air fryer and cook whatever you want with little to no oil since it circulates air. It also has inverter technology, which means that it cooks your food more evenly.
Rather than only heating the outside of the food, it cooks the inside at the same rate. It has a capacity of 1.2 cubic feet, meaning it can fit plenty of food, including a 12.6 inch personal pizza.
The multitasking appliance features a humidity sensor, which ensures that your food isn’t under or over cooked. It also has a defrost setting that works by the same principle, using sensors to determine when your frozen food has defrosted.
This four-in-one appliance comes with a silicone mat for toasting ease that also makes clean up easier, plus a non-stick turntable (which is different from the glass turntables you’ll often see in microwaves) and an air fryer kit.
If you’re considering this model, make sure that you have enough counter space in your kitchen for it. While it’s not too tall at 12.56 inches (good for cabinets with a lower profile), it’s 21.25 inches deep and 22.25 inches long. The control panel is also located horizontally toward the top of the appliance, rather than vertically along one side like traditional microwaves.
Price at time of publish: $400
Product Details: Wattage: 1000 watts | Voltage: 120 volts | Dimensions: 21.25 x 22.25 x 12.56 inches | Space Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet
Overall, when looking for the best countertop microwave for your home, it’s important to take into consideration the size of microwave you want, what kind of cooking you’ll be doing, and how it will fit in with your current lineup of kitchen appliances. We’ve chosen the Toshiba ML-EM34P(SS) Smart Countertop Microwave because it offers smart and useful features while being relatively affordable.
If you’re looking for a countertop microwave with more style, we love the Comfee Retro Microwave, which looks like it hopped out of a time machine and onto your kitchen countertops.
The best countertop microwaves will cook your food quickly and efficiently using wattage. Wattage is the measure of the power that the microwave has. Oftentimes (though there are exceptions) the wattage corresponds to the size and capacity of the microwave.
Most average-sized microwaves will have around 1,000 watts, while smaller microwaves (like the GE Compact Microwave) only have 700 watts. With lower wattage comes less efficient cook times.
To put it simply, voltage is pressure from a power source that gets electricity flowing (sort of like water being pushed through a tap). The amount of power that flows through is measured in volts. Standard household outlets are capable of producing 110-120 volts.
You’ll notice that every microwave on this list has 110-120 volts. This is pretty much the standard for microwaves, and they can be plugged into any household outlet.
While over-the-range microwaves should be kept on a dedicated outlet, countertop microwaves don’t need special treatment. You should be aware of an appliance’s voltage because the use of a higher voltage can cause malfunctions or even a fire hazard. If you use too low of a voltage, you may notice slower cook times.
When choosing the best microwave for your kitchen, you should ensure that you have not only adequate counterspace, but also enough room to keep your microwave well-ventilated. Though microwaves range in size, the standard is around 21 x 16 x 13 inches. Before purchasing a microwave, measure your space to ensure you are buying a microwave that will fit.
Microwave capacity is measured in cubic feet. For small spaces, compact microwaves measure under 1 cubic foot, which saves you valuable counter space. Medium-sized microwaves are the most standard size, and they have a capacity of 1 to 1.5 cubic feet.
Large microwaves have a capacity of 1.6 cubic feet to over 2 cubic feet. The Panasonic NN-SN936B Microwave Oven has a capacity of 2.2 cubic feet.
Countertop microwaves can take up valuable kitchen real estate, so we understand wanting to clear some space. Countertop microwaves are, by design, meant to be kept out in the open. Not all countertop microwave designs are conducive to being put into an enclosed space.
Unlike in a built-in microwave, a countertop microwave’s vents are placed in the back and sides of the appliance. If you put your microwave into a cabinet, those vents can be blocked, which can potentially create a fire hazard. For safety, it is important that you find a spot in your kitchen that offers landing space below, and that you clean the vents frequently.
This being said, if your cabinet is spacious enough, and you can leave at least a few inches all the way around your microwave, it’s possible to put your countertop microwave into the cabinet. You can also order a microwave trim kit to ensure it is installed safely and properly.
Yes, countertop microwaves need ventilation, and include air vents in their design in order to provide it. Hot air is often a result of cooking or heating food inside of a microwave, and that air needs somewhere to go.
A countertop microwave requires some space to operate efficiently and safely. “There should be enough air clearance on each side as well as the back and top of the appliance to function properly,” Grady says. Otherwise, the appliance could overheat or even become damaged.
Countertop microwaves are often the most budget-friendly type of microwave. Depending on the capacity, wattage, and features that it touts, countertop microwaves can cost anywhere from around $50 to $500, though of course some very high-end models can cost more.
Generally, the smaller the microwave, the less wattage and capacity, the cheaper it is. A small microwave is typically around $50 to $150, while a medium model is anywhere from $70 to $300, and a large capacity microwave can cost up to $500, sometimes more.
The more expensive models tend to have more features, while smaller microwaves typically just have standard features. “Nearly all models have different automations and shortcut buttons. They can also have safety or easy-to-clean features such as child locks and nonstick interiors,” Grady says. “The most common settings available across countertop microwaves is popcorn followed by defrost, cook power, pizza, and sensor cook.”
Andrea Wurzburger is a freelance writer at Better Homes & Gardens. For this story, she spent several hours researching the best countertop microwaves based on features, wattage, voltage, and dimensions. She also consulted appliance expert and merchant for The Home Depot, Allison Grady, on what to look for in the best countertop microwave.
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