The best microwaves for everyday home cooking
Whether you're making curry in a hurry or mash in a flash, invest in a quality microwave. Discover which microwaves are best by reading our expert reviews
This guide is regularly updated with new models that have been tried, tested and top-rated by BBC Good Food's reviews experts. Those featuring earned it based on their performance during rigorous, impartial product testing. Included is a selection of new releases and firm favourites that continuously hold their position against new brand models. We will only ever feature microwaves that prove to be good value for money. The latest models in this guide were reviewed by Natalie Bass.
Not just reserved for jacket potatoes and reheating dishes, microwaves can be used to make a whole host of delicious recipes. Our microwave recipe collection is a popular destination on the BBC Good Food site; it's incredible what you can rustle up at the touch of a button.
Plus, they're more budget-friendly than turning on the whole oven – a jacket potato can be ready in 10 minutes from the microwave rather than turning an oven on for an hour.
They are the workhorse of a busy household, and it is no surprise that 93 per cent of households own one. However, despite their ubiquity, microwaves can be quite an investment, ranging in price from low double figures for a basic, low-watt model to hundreds of pounds for the latest multi-functioning cookers.
If you get it right, a microwave can quickly become one of your best friends in the kitchen. Of course, what you want to use the microwave for will govern what type you should buy, so it. We’ve outlined the different styles of microwaves available and done the research to recommend the best.
Read more about why microwaves could be the next most popular kitchen item after air-fryers, and discover how to responsibly dispose of your old gadgets with our guide on how to recycle electricals and appliances.
All costs-to-run calculations were done against the variable tariff at the time of testing (16.6p/kWh), which has since changed – read more on the current energy price guarantee rates.
For more unbiased expert buyer's guides to investment kitchen kit, visit our reviews section to find over 400 round-ups of everything from the best air-fryers and best slow cookers to the best dishwashers and best kettles. Read more about how our experts review products.
Jump to section:
- Best microwaves at a glance
- Best microwaves to buy 2023
- What are the differences between standard, grill and combination microwaves?
- How to choose the right microwave
- How we tested microwaves
- Best combination microwave overall: Sage the Combi Wave 3-in-1 microwave oven, £399.95
- Best flatbed microwave: Sharp Digital combination microwave, £169.90
- Best combination microwave for crisp results: Sage the Quick Touch Crisp microwave, £299.95
- Best value microwave: Russell Hobbs RHM1731 Inspire microwave, £74
- Best combination microwave for steam cooking: Panasonic combi microwave oven 4-in-1 NN-CS89LBBPQ, £599
- Best combination microwave for families: Panasonic 4-in-1 combi microwave oven NN-DS59NBBPQ, £399
- Best combination microwave for style: Smeg 34-litre combi microwave oven, £399
- Best microwave for medium-sized households: Beko Solo Digital Touch microwave MOC20130SF, £83.99
- Best budget microwave: Russell Hobbs RHMD714G Scandi microwave, £69.99
- Best microwave for small spaces: Swan Retro digital microwave, £93.99
- Best microwave for ease of use: Russell Hobbs Buckingham digital microwave, £89.99
- Best microwave for Scandi kitchens: Swan Nordic digital microwave, £124.93
Sage The Combi Wave 3-in-1 microwave oven
Best combination microwave overall
- Super easy to use, endless clever functions
- Great for families
- Need adjusting from usual temperatures
Star rating: 5/5
As we have come to expect from Sage, with their intuitive technology, good looks and ease of use, this combi microwave is no exception and more. Thanks to the well-written, logical instruction book of many preset programmes and cooking methods, it was one of the fastest to get up and running.
Say hello to healthy cooking with the 3-in-1 merging of air-frying, convection and microwave and perfectly cooked food using their Element iQ™ inverter system, which steers power to where and when it's needed.
More like this
Read our full Sage The Combi Wave 3-in-1 microwave oven review.
Sharp digital combination microwave
Best flatbed microwave
- Sleek and attractive
- Quality accessories included
- Precise timer
- Large footprint
- Defrost setting was slow
Star rating: 4.5/5
A microwave with some serious heft, this 25-litre microwave has a flatbed interior that takes the faff out of cleaning up splatters and spillages on a turnable. It's large and just over 50cm deep, but what you get in return is versatility. Functions include microwave, grill, convection and defrost, and a grill rack and baking tray are also included.
Despite its multiple functions, there are no cooking charts in the manual but the quick-start guide was a handy companion during set-up. In use, the microwave hums quietly and loses little heat during cooking. The timer is also precise and goes up in 10-second increments.
The auto-defrost setting was disappointing, taking 12½ minutes to fully thaw a chicken breast, which was lengthy compared to other models we tested. We then switched to the grill setting to cook the chicken for 12 minutes. It retained its moisture well and was juicy in the centre, but the ends were tougher and more unpleasant – owing to the fact they'd cooked (unintentionally) during defrosting.
The jacket potato preset was excellent by comparison, giving us soft, fluffy potatoes with crisp skin on the outside – similar to what you might get in an oven. We also achieved consistent results when heating soup.
Cost to run on high for six minutes: 2.52p
Sage the Quick Touch Crisp microwave
Best combination microwave for crisp results
- Quality cooking results
- Easy to use
- Comprehensive instruction manual
- Variety of presets
- Large footprint
- More expensive than most
- No convection oven
Wattage: 900W (1100W grill)
Star rating: 4.5/5
With similar functionality to the Sage 3-in-1 Combi Wave, but without a convection oven, the Quick Touch Crisp adds a satisfying crispness to dishes that might otherwise go soggy in a standard microwave.
At 25L, it's a chunky but attractive gadget with a variety of presets and power settings, including the 'A Bit More' button if you need an extra burst of heat. The manual is impressively detailed, and a non-stick crisper plate for grilling is also included.
We found there were few hot and cold spots when we heated soup (on high for 2 mins 50 secs), but these quickly disappeared when we gave it a stir. Our jacket potato was also excellent, with wrinkled, crisp skin and a fluffy, nicely cooked middle.
The higher price tag may be off-putting for some, but its plethora of settings, good looks, and quality results make it a worthy contender.
Cost to run on high for six minutes: 2.02p
Russell Hobbs RHM1731 Inspire microwave
Best value microwave
- Variety of power settings
- Difficult to do precise timings
- Non-slip feet are less effective
- Short warranty (1 year)
Star rating: 4.5/5
Investing in a standard, more budget-friendly microwave often means compromising on the number of settings, but this compact model comes with an impressive five power levels and a defrost function, too.
Available in three colours, it's easy on the eye and we liked the textured panel positioned on the right-hand side. It's also lightweight, but this did mean it slid across the worktop a little too easily, even with the non-slip feet.
The timer is controlled by a dial, which rotates easily but offers less precision that you might get with a digital timer. To run the microwave for fewer than two minutes, you have to pull the dial round to two minutes then turn it back again, which feels a little clunky.
Where this microwave shone was its speedy results on the defrost setting, thawing a whole chicken breast in just five minutes. We were pleased with the outcome of our jacket potato (cooked on high for nine minutes), too: crisp skin and a fluffy centre, with no chewy patches.
Cost to run on high for six minutes: 1.84p
Panasonic combi microwave oven 4-in-1 NN-CS89LBBPQ
Best combination microwave for steam cooking
- Technology at its best
- Steam for healthy cooking
- Confusing instruction book
Wattage: 1000W (1300W for grill)
Star rating: 4.5/5
The Panasonic 4-in-1 Combi was both the largest and most expensive combi microwave on our test. Still, it comes with a wealth of programmes and presets, including 12 combi-cooking options and 36 auto programmes.
This is the only combi to offer steam for healthy, nutritious and super tasty food. For its sheer size and power, the Panasonic is remarkably quiet, easy to use and will easily replace a regular oven for those with less space or supplement for those who need more capacity.
Read our full Panasonic Combi Microwave Oven 4-in-1 review.
Panasonic 4-in-1 combi microwave oven NN-DS59NBBPQ
Best combination microwave for families
- Oven-style door, great for small kitchens
- Plenty of functions
- Easy to fill and empty water containers
- Comprehensive manual
- Window steams up easily
- Jacket potato not cooked through
Wattage: 1000W (1350W for grill)
Star rating: 4.5/5
Another Panasonic 4-in-1 model, but this one comes with fewer cooking options and programmes than its older sibling above. Like the above four-in-one model, the DS59 can steam foods, be used as an oven, grill and, of course, microwave.
It also comes with a generous selection of presets for ultra-specific cooking. There are six combi-cooking options and 28 auto programmes.
Unique to this model is the steam cooking function. Great for steamed veggies and fish, this setting is an ideal choice for cooking healthier, more nutritious and altogether tasty food, but we put this setting to the test by making a batch of delicious steamed gooey toffee puddings.
These were perfectly moist, bouncy and perfectly baked. When testing the defrosting function, we found it was a little ferocious, with the thinner parts of our raw chicken turning white.
This is a large piece of kit but, like the other Panasonic model, we envision people using this instead of their oven for smaller, everyday dishes or even as an extension of their existing oven. A great option for four or five people thanks to its 27L capacity.
Read our full Panasonic NN-DS59NBBPQ review
Smeg 34-litre combi microwave oven
Best combination microwave for style
- Super-powerful yet quiet
- Generous 34 litres
- Fierce auto-defrost
Star rating: 4.5/5
As we would expect from Smeg, their combi-microwave is a sleek looking, well-built, stainless steel oven that will stand out in any kitchen. There are ten programmes and 40 settings behind its seemingly simple interface.
The shortcuts menu of super-useful settings covers all bases from melting butter and chocolate to a handy 30-second time increase while cooking. With a generous 34 litres, the Smeg will work well in any household needing extra capacity.
Read our full Smeg 34-litre combi microwave oven review.
Beko Solo digital touch microwave MOC20130SF
Best microwave for medium-sized households
- Easy to clean
- Variety of presets
- Slides on countertop
- Mixed cooking results
- Short warranty (1 year)
Star rating: 4/5
This Beko model comes with a range of presets that eliminate the guesswork out of heating certain ingredients – with specific functions for melting chocolate and reheating drinks, to cooking everything from pizza, pasta, rice, fish, veggies and steak.
Its 22-litre capacity offers ample space for a household of three or four, but its understated design makes it feel less bulky than other appliances with similar dimensions. We also liked its smooth touchscreen display and how easy it was to navigate the controls, though we needed the manual to identify a few of the icons.
We microwaved a bowl of soup first of all, which was consistently heated throughout and didn't splatter at all. Making jacket potatoes (using the jacket potato preset) was more troublesome – after three separate tests, we found our potatoes were undercooked after the six-minute timer had run out. When we ran the timer for another three minutes, the base of the potato burned, but the centre was still too firm.
The defrost setting on the Beko MOC20130SF performed much better, successfully thawing a chicken breast in just over seven minutes and only slightly catching the edges.
Cost to run on high for six minutes: 1.82p
Russell Hobbs RHMD714G Scandi microwave
Best budget microwave
- Small but punchy
- No baked potato setting
Star rating: 4/5
The Russel Hobbs Scandi Microwave may be small with just 17 litres capacity. Still, it is big in good looks with its soft touch wood effect accents and mirrored door with programmes and settings rarely found in a microwave of this size and price, including eight auto-cook settings and various handy shortcuts.
At just 700W, the Scandi may take a little longer to cook, but if you want a small, functional, good-looking microwave, then this is the one.
Read our full Russell Hobbs Scandi Microwave review.
Swan Retro digital microwave
Best microwave for small spaces
- Retro styling
- Perfect for small spaces
- Fierce auto programmes
Star rating: 4/5
Brighten up your kitchen with this retro-styled microwave which comes in a range of 11 different colours, so something for everyone. The footprint is small and, at just 20 litres, this is not a microwave for families but one to sit beautifully in any small kitchen.
It comes with several added extras, including a range of auto-programmes from defrosting by weight between 0.1 and 2kg and 12 simple auto cooking programmes, each with further choices.
Read our full Swan Retro Digital Microwave review.
Russell Hobbs Buckingham digital microwave
Best microwave for ease of use
If you're looking for a reliable, sturdy, basic microwave that you can set up and start cooking with in no time, this is a great option. It has few added extras but above average cooking prowess.
Its defrost option impressed, evenly defrosting a chicken breast without leaving frozen patches, as did the preset baked potato function. Instructions are very clear and detailed, meaning extras are easy to use.
Read our full Russell Hobbs Buckingham microwave review.
Swan Nordic digital microwave
Best microwave for Scandi kitchens
Microwaves are notoriously bulky and monochrome, so the matte-coloured finish of this Scandi-influenced Swan oven is a welcome addition to the microwave scene.
Its diminutive size makes it a good option for smaller kitchens, although its 20-litre capacity matches its footprint, so we wouldn't recommend this for larger families.
Read our full Swan Nordic digital microwave review.
Other microwaves tested and rated
- Panasonic NN-CD58JSBPQ combination microwave, £269
- Samsung combination microwave MC28M6055CK, £219
- Sharp R959SLMAA combination microwave oven, £329.97
Microwave buying advice
Life is complicated enough without the added stress of trying to get your head around microwave terminology. To break it down for you, there are three types of microwave – generally speaking, you will pay more for each additional feature a model offers.
We suggest working out what you'd like to use your microwave for as this will determine which microwave you should buy. Maybe you simply want to defrost meat, cook ready meals and prep the odd baked potato.
You may also want your microwave’s performance to rival an oven’s in terms of crispness and water retention. Or do you want something which goes even further and will, in effect, replace your oven by offering grilling, microwaving and convection cooking in one?
Unless otherwise stated in the product title, most microwaves tend to be classed as ‘microwave-only’. This means they'll perform the basic tasks expected of them – heating up or defrosting food.
If you don't fancy blowing the budget and you only need the basic features, then a classic microwave will serve you well.
A grill microwave goes one step further than a traditional model and is able to grill food, giving foods such as bacon that authentically grilled texture rather than making them dry out.
This is the closest you'll find to a traditional oven in microwave form. Depending on how much you fork out, some models will even be able to bake sponge cakes.
What's more, they also have the ability to brown foods – so if you're trying to achieve a perfectly crisp baked potato, a combination microwave will certainly do the trick.
A solo microwave
If you simply want to defrost the occasional dish or piece of meat, reheat a beverage or leftovers and fast-bake a potato, then a simple microwave will do the job perfectly and not break the budget.
Standard microwaves tend to be smaller, so if space is tight, this will be perfect, but if you have several to cook for, you may want to look for a larger size or, instead of a classic turntable, flatbed microwaves tend to be larger, and they are easier to clean.
Microwave and grill
The next step from the solo microwave is to add a grill for crisping up, browning, or fuss-free grilled bacon. You may, however, want to consider size as the grill does take up room in what often is already a smallish cavity – though, on some more expensive models, the grill element is enclosed, which helps.
Combi microwave oven
Should you have more room, a big family or want extra cooking capacity from time to time, then the combi is worth a look.
They once had bad press for being a costly mistake; the element for the oven was exposed and challenging to clean and took up space in the cavity, but the latest technology has almost eliminated those issues (with hidden oven elements).
The straightforward combi will give you an extra oven to cook and bake, just like a regular oven, which can be a real bonus for smaller households, second homes, student accommodation or small flats.
A level up from this are the two-in-ones, which combine oven-cooking with the speed of microwaving for either cooking from scratch or ready meals to get supper on the table in no time.
3-in-1 microwave, oven and grill, (or with some air frying) and even 4-in-1 (all as before plus steam).
All these extras come at a price and are a serious investment, so work out what you want from yours, and as you can see from our round-up, there are plenty to choose from.
If you are replacing an old microwave, you may be intrigued to find microwaves with inverter technology. Whatever you were used to with your old oven, you will be amazed at how this technology has changed using a microwave, and for the better.
Without getting into science, this new technology means the oven constantly operates at the correct power for whatever is cooking, unlike an old oven where the power fluctuates continuously. The result is gentle cooking resulting in juicer, moist, evenly heated food.
When asked, our readers told us their main reasons for using a microwave were defrosting, reheating meals and cooking porridge. So, we blasted jacket potatoes to make sure they cooked through to the centre yet stayed moist at the edges.
We also microwaved soup to check for any hot and cold spots, and defrosted chicken breasts. With microwaves that came with a grill function, we then grilled the chicken breasts too, looking for a tender, juicy finish. If the microwave had a steam function, we made gooey toffee puddings.
Each product was tested against a set testing matrix. The results of this decided each product's overall star rating. The following were:
Ease of use: microwaves are used mainly by those who want to make life simpler. We looked for pared-down functionality, simple design and easy-to-follow instruction booklets.
Cooking versatility: we wanted to know if customising settings and using presets delivered equally good results.
Defrosting: an essential function for most, we looked for effective thawing, with presets a bonus.
Moisture retention: we checked the food didn't dry out before it had finished cooking.
Additional features: small extra features like a child lock or kitchen timer were appreciated, plus we looked at how well more prominent features such as grills and convection ovens performed.
Size: we assessed the size of the microwave and the space it took up in the kitchen. The models we tested need to be installed a specified height above the floor, with plenty of room all around for ventilation.
Sustainability: we looked at everything from the recyclability of the packaging, spare parts information, the warranty of the microwave, the wattage and more.
Cleaning: the ease of cleaning both inside and out and finger marking, especially on stainless steel.
Microwave recipes and tips
10 dishes you can cook in a microwave
10 easy, healthy microwave meals
How to cook food in a microwave
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