How to choose the best microwave for all your cooking needs.
Ah, the humble microwave. An unbeatable kitchen staple for the time-poor and the lifeline of students everywhere, it has become a necessary modern appliance. But how do you go about picking the right one for you?
Microwaves can do everything from simple tasks like defrosting and reheating to more-complex ones like grilling and baking. Choosing the perfect one simply comes down to your personal needs. If you're in the market for a new microwave, the good news is that there are more models on offer than ever. Whether you're cooking for the whole family or heating up your last packet of Mi Goreng for a 2am study session, there's a product out there to suit you.
Based on our own research, as well as customer reviews and ratings, we've compiled a list of the best microwave oven picks to help you find your perfect model.
How to decide which microwave best suits your needs
Purchasing a new microwave may seem like a simple enough process. That is until you find yourself standing in front of a wall of microwaves asking yourself what the difference is between each of them. While most microwaves boast similar functions, some are better suited to certain needs than others. The questions you'll need to ask yourself before you start shopping are:
- How often will you be using it?
- Will you be using it for the whole family, for you and a partner or just yourself?
- How much room do you have?
- What's your budget?
By having a clear idea of what you need from your microwave, the task of choosing the best product for you will be a lot easier.
Best microwave by category
Microwaves come in a range of sizes, colours, prices and litre capacities to suit different lifestyles. They can also vary from plain and simple models to the more technological types which come with a number of handy settings. Below, we have explored the best on offer to suit a variety of different needs.
Breville is among the most trusted brands when it comes to kitchen appliances. If you're in the market to purchase a microwave, you'll want something reliable that's going to last, which is why we've picked this product as our best all-rounder. The Breville Quick Touch Microwave Oven is easy to use and comes in a range of colours. Grab it in the popping Cranberry shade for a splash of colour in your culinary corner.
- The 34L capacity is a medium size to suit most needs. Perfect from couples up to small families.
- 1,100W means your food will cook quicker and more evenly than some standard models.
- Smart cook, reheat and defrost features let you choose from a range of food types and take the guesswork out of cooking with predetermined times and power levels for selected weights.
- The "A Bit More" button is perfect for those times when you need a time in between the ones you can preset. Press once to add just a little bit longer at the end of your cooking cycle.
- Features an LCD display and child lock.
Best for families
For those cooking and reheating meals for the whole family, the larger the capacity size of the microwave, the better. The LG MS4296OSS 42L Inverter microwave oven is rated highly by customers online. Featuring an antibacterial coating to make cleaning simple as well as a stable turntable to prevent items from spilling, this is a top family-friendly pick.
- 42L capacity is the perfect size for medium to large families.
- 1,200W of power reduces cooking and reheating time compared to standard 1,000W LG conventional microwaves.
- LG inverter technology means more-precise temperature control, resulting in a more even distribution of heat through your food.
- The interior white LED light is three times brighter, with better energy efficiency than other LG microwaves.
- "Anti-Bacterial EasyClean" interior coating eliminates harmful bacteria from the surface, ensuring food is safe to eat for the whole family.
Best on a budget
Microwaves don't have to cost a fortune and for those who just want a simple appliance, there's no need to break the bank. Featuring a 28L capacity, 900W power, 3 cooking functions and a sleek, stainless steel design, the Kogan Stainless Steel Convection Microwave Oven caters to all your basic needs. For a price tag as low as $149 from the Kogan website, you'll also have more cash to update the rest of your kitchen.
- Comes with three handy functions: grill, convection and microwave to suit all your cooking needs.
- 10 pre-set cooking settings make it easy to pick the right time and temperature, no matter what you're cooking.
- Memory button allows you to preset your most-used programs to save time next time you cook.
- Includes a wire grilling rack.
- Features an LED display for maximum visibility.
Best for small spaces
When you're a little short on space in the kitchen department, the biggest consideration when buying a microwave is whether or not it will fit. Luckily, smaller microwaves do exist meaning you don't have to sacrifice your dream of convenient cooking. The LG MS2336DB 23L Smart Inverter Microwave Oven is the perfect little product for your cosy kitchenette.
- Despite the small capacity size, the 1,000W power means this little microwave still packs a punch and will heat your food in no time.
- The interior hexagonal ring supports the turntable with six support points, preventing tipping and spilling while cooking.
- Versatile cooking allows you to do everything from delicately proofing yoghurt to baking potatoes.
- LG Inverter technology ensures evenly heated food.
- The sleek, minimalist design means it will slot effortlessly into any kitchen design without attracting too much attention to itself.
Countertop models are the most common microwave choice. They are usually at the cheaper end of the microwave price range and are incredibly simple to install: just find a spot, plug it in and away you go. The Panasonic 27L 1000W Stainless Steel Microwave comes highly recommended as a product which has a stylish aesthetic and increased cooking space. The unit has an innovative Flatbed design which foregoes the usual turntable to give you up to 31% more cooking space. As an added bonus, the Flatbed design is much easier to clean, explaining why it's currently one of the most popular designs on the market.
- Use dishes of any size thanks to Flatbed design.
- Precise power control allows you to melt cheese and chocolate, and even soften ice cream, by ensuring consecutive heating with a low output of power.
- "Auto Cook" options help you get dinner ready quickly. The power levels and cooking times are pre-programmed so all you need to do is select the type of food and weight and it will do the rest.
- Six power levels let you warm breads on a low-setting to maintain their moisture.
- Features a stainless steel finish with integrated door open button for a sleek, modern design.
Best convection microwave
While many needs are met by the average microwave, there are those that would benefit from using a convection model. Similar to an oven, a convection microwave not only directly heats the food, but it also heats the surrounding space, cooking your food faster. The Sharp R995DW 1000W Microwave Convection Oven shows how fast and convenient these models can be. Featuring both convection and inverter technologies, we'd recommend this product for those wanting to branch out from the traditional microwave.
- Convection technology can be used to produce a range of meals, from roast dishes to baked goods.
- Inverter technology offers controlled cooking and shorter cook times.
- Sensor technology calculates reheat and cook time for you, eliminating the need for guesswork.
- Enjoy 21 "Auto Menus" for easy and efficient cooking, defrosting and reheating of all your favourite meals.
- Large capacity oven with 1,000W power make it a versatile choice for the whole family.
Consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to microwave ovens, so the best buy for you will depend on your individual needs.
Consult this checklist of features before you hit the shops to make sure your purchase is right for you.
- Power. Microwave power is measured in watts. Most microwaves range from about 700 to 1,200 watts and generally speaking, the higher the wattage, the more evenly your food will cook. Most microwaves are about 900 watts, so look for something at least that powerful.
- Size. This one comes down to your kitchen and your individual needs. Traditional microwaves sit on top of your counter, but if your kitchen is lacking in the way of space, look for a smaller model.
- Capacity. A microwave's internal capacity is measured in litres and usually ranges from 20–45. A capacity of 20–25 litres will be suitable for 1 or 2 people, but for a family, a larger capacity is better.
- Convection cooking and grilling (combination microwaves). Some microwaves combine a fan oven and grill with microwave power (see the section below). These can be useful for people low on space and time who want one great appliance for all their cooking. However, they are larger and more expensive than your run-of-the-mill microwave, so whether they are worth the extra investment is really up to you.
- Pre-set programmes. This one is particularly helpful for those whose strengths lie outside of the kitchen. Look for a microwave that has a number of pre-set programmes to take the guesswork out of cooking and reheating your favourite foods.
- Automatic cooking and defrosting. Automatic modes let you enter the food weight and allow the microwave to work out how long is needed to cook or defrost the food safely.
- Child lock. This safety option is a no-brainer if you have small children at home.
- Sensor cooking. Higher-end microwaves have a sensor that automatically measures heat and humidity inside the oven. This will automatically adjust the heat level depending on the information (food type, weight) you entered to cook the food perfectly.
- Inverter technology. Traditional microwaves use short bursts of power to cook food. Inverter technology uses a consistent power level to cook food more evenly, which improves texture and flavour. It is available on higher-end models.
- Chaos defrost. This feature uses random bursts of high-intensity energy which speeds up defrosting.
- Removable racks. Removable racks (like those available in regular ovens) allow you to cook different meals or snacks all at once. Convection microwaves and larger models may come with them.
- Oven lining. When you shop for a microwave oven, check out the lining. Traditional microwave ovens have smooth, shiny insides that can be safely and easily wiped clean with a damp cloth. Combination ovens should be lined with catalytic or pyrolytic liners. These liners are excellent at absorbing grease and just need to be run through a self-cleaning program about once a month or so.
As the name suggests, combination microwave ovens combine a regular convection oven with a microwave. The fusion of the two makes for more-efficient food preparation and even heating.
Convection microwaves are ideal for time-poor people who want the quick interior heating of a microwave combined with the surface browning of hot air from an oven. They do tend to be a bit pricier than regular microwave ovens, but if it suits, the extra functions can be worth it.
Microwave ovens are sometimes the target of suspicions and pervading myths that they're dangerous.
In response to some of these myths, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that damaged, dirty or modified microwaves (with leaky seals) could present some danger during use. However, as long as a microwave is in good condition and is used according to the instructions, there is simply no evidence to support claims that they're dangerous. It's still important to conduct research on safety to decide for yourself, though.
According to WHO, food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and nutrient-rich as food cooked in a conventional oven.
"The main difference between these two methods of cooking is that microwave energy penetrates deeper into the food and reduces the time for heat to be conducted throughout the food, thus reducing the overall cooking time."
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