Whether you're making curry in a hurry or mash in a flash, invest in a quality microwave. We've selected the top performers, from traditional models to convection grills.
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For a meal in minutes, microwave ovens are hard to beat – but with so many models boasting different features, how do you choose the one that's right for you? We’ve done the research and picked the best microwaves on the market.
Best for big use
Sharp R959SLMAA Combination Microwave Oven
Capacity: 40 litres
If you’re after an all-singing (or should that be all-pinging) microwave, then look no further. Choose from five power settings or use the presets to take away the guesswork. Instructions flash up on the display to prompt when needed and there’s a broad range of recipes and cooking charts to navigate different dishes, food types and functions. The grill crisped bacon beautifully, while convection produced a perfect Victoria sponge. It’s designed either for countertop or as a built-in, but be aware that at 40 litres, it’s a big unit.
Wilko Copper Effect Microwave
Capacity: 20 litres
On the other end of the scale, this was the smallest of all the products we tried. Yet despite its diminutive stature, it still offers five power settings, an express button which quickly selects 30 secs, 1 min or 1 min 30, and the option to delay start time. Ideal for basic use, singles and small families.
Available from Wilko (£70)
** STAR BUY **
Best for ease of use
Russell Hobbs Luna
Capacity: 23 litres
Many microwaves come in at around this price, but what we loved about the Luna is its design simplicity. Large, clearly marked buttons and a pull handle are sturdy and functional. The instruction booklet is equally straightforward, assuming no knowledge of microwaves or microwave cookery, so it’s perfect for beginners and technophobes.
Best value combi
Swan Retro SM22080 Digital Combi Microwave with Grill
Capacity: 25 litres
For a combi microwave oven, this is a great price. The capacity is sufficient for standard use and it provides a handy addition to your oven when entertaining. However, convection oven temps are limited. For example, you can set it to 140C and 180C but not 160C, which we found restrictive for baking. Basic instructions and functionality are clear but we would have liked more information on how to cook different dishes.
Best bang for your buck
Electriq Freestanding Microwave
Capacity: 25 litres
A sleek-looking unit with mirrored front, this microwave appears more expensive than it is. We liked that you can time to the nearest five seconds where most models offer 10 seconds – useful for more delicate heating, like melting butter. As well as five power settings, presets and a quick start of 30 seconds, bonus features include a child lock and a kitchen timer.
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Our microwave recipe collection is a popular destination on the site and it’s amazing what you can rustle up at the touch of a button. From chocolate cake to butternut squash risotto, microwaves can add an extra dimension to your cooking while saving valuable time. However, as even the smallest models take up a substantial amount of kitchen space, it’s important to have a clear idea of how you’ll use it before buying.
Microwaves are seldom needed for showstopping dishes. Our visitors told us their main reasons for using one were defrosting, reheating meals and cooking porridge. It’s the little things that make a microwave a useful kitchen addition. If you don’t have a lot of time for cooking on a daily basis then a microwave can help you out.
What should I buy?
The main points to consider are how often you plan to use your microwave and what it will be used for. There’s no point in getting a combi microwave and grill if you’re likely to employ it solely for reheating leftovers. Size is a factor too – for infrequent or basic functionality, we’d recommend going small. That said, 25 litres is really the minimum for a larger family, especially if you’ll be reheating oven dishes, rather than single plates of food. Finally, if you’re looking to expand your cooking options when entertaining, then a combi is the way forward.
What we looked for
Ease of use: We figure microwaves are mostly used 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. We also checked that these options were adequately explained in the instructions and simple to put into practice.
Defrosting: When we asked our visitors what they looked for in a microwave, defrosting was considered key. We looked for effective thawing – and presets were a bonus.
Moisture retention: We checked the food didn’t dry out before it had finished cooking.
Additional features: Small 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.
How we tested
We blasted jacket potatoes to make sure they cooked through to the centre yet stayed moist at the edges. We defrosted chicken breasts, then went on to cook them, looking for a tender, juicy finish. Where applicable, we also grilled bacon and made cakes using the convection oven.
More on microwaves...
Check out our guide on how to cook food in a microwave.
For recipe inspiration, browse our microwave recipe collection.
For more product picks, visit our reviews section.
This review was written in April 2018. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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