Microwaves came onto the commercial market in the 1940s, and were colossal compared to today's sleek, high-tech models. Originally built from from WWII radar equipment, a microwave oven stood over 5 feet tall and set consumers back about $750.

Today, the microwave oven is a household staple used for reheating leftovers, defrosting frozen ingredients and popping the popcorn for movie nights. Microwaves now offer a host of different features to fit consumer needs.

Top 10 Best Rated Microwaves

Kenmore offers a wide selection of over-the-range and countertop microwave ovens, with features like memory and sensor cooking. The company also offers a microwave/convection oven combo that cooks, roasts and warms in one place.
Sharp offers a selection of countertop and drawer-style microwaves, allowing for flexible placement. Sizes range from 0.7 to 2.2 cubic feet for the countertop models and 24 to 30 inches wide for the drawer models.
GE's over-the-range microwave ovens are available vented to release steam and cooking odors outside. The company also offers countertop, built-in and Advantium models, which are microwave convection oven combinations.
Panasonic countertop and built-in microwaves feature the company's inverter microwave technology. This patented technology ensures the consistent cooking of food and helps improve the texture of microwaved foods.
KitchenAid offers countertop, built-in and microwave-hood combination microwaves. The microwave-hood combination models allow customers to microwave food and use convection cooking to bake at up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
The trusted appliance brand Emerson brings a new level of performance with microwaves that deliver consistent, reliable results. Customers can choose from a variety of styles and prices to fit their needs and budget.
Whirlpool offers hood-style, over-the-range and countertop microwaves with easy-to-clean, steam clean and rapid preheating options. Some models also include the AccuBake Temperature Management System for even, efficient cooking.
Frigidaire offers countertop and built-in microwaves with features like sensor cooking, which automatically adjusts both power levels and cooking times, and one-touch options for quick cooking of foods like potatoes and popcorn.
GE Spacemaker Microwaves are a series that specifically cater to those who want a microwave that can fit in small spaces. These microwaves can be installed under a counter or can hang above one to free up valuable space.
Maytag microwaves, both countertop and over-the-range, are available in sizes up to 1.9 cubic feet. Features include sensor or convection cooking, electronic temperature control, oversized trays and stainless steel interiors.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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What features matter most?


Since the first days of its invention, the microwave has shrunk considerably. You'll find a range of sizes designed for everything from commercial cantinas to small apartments.

  • Large: A large microwave has enough space to reheat a family dinner. Two or more plates or a casserole dish can easily fit inside.
  • Medium: The medium-sized microwave is the most common model to find in any home. It fits a large plate inside.
  • Small: The smaller models are designed to fit efficiently into small living spaces like apartments. These generally fit a small plate inside.


Like all appliances, wattage microwaves are built with a range of wattages. Wattage refers to the total electrical power of the microwave.

  • 700 watts: This is the lowest range on the market. It is an acceptable wattage for small models.
  • 1000 watts: 1000 watts is necessary for a larger microwave oven. This works perfectly well for most household models.
  • 1200 watts: This is for larger microwaves such as those used in large family homes or commercial kitchens.


Due to the fact that microwaves need to hold a useful amount of food inside, they can not really shrink on the same scale as other pieces of technology. Because of this, it's important to think about where you will put your microwave before you purchase one. Despite the inner capacity of each size of microwave, the dimensions of the entire unit can differ from one model to the next.

  • Handles: Many microwaves are designed with a pull-handle on the front of the oven door. This is a useful feature, but it does add several inches to the depth of the oven. Other models offer a button that opens the microwave door.
  • Feet: Microwave ovens with feet can be beautifully-designed and lovely to look at. They will add a certain height to the overall oven, however, which means that it may not fit in a conventional microwave cove.
  • Height: Depending on how you will use the microwave, it may be useful to find a model built with extra height. This will allow different types of tall containers inside, but limit your ability to place the microwave inside a normal shelf or alcove.


Several basic styles of microwave have been designed since these ovens became a regular part of our kitchens. The following styles were created to help you fit your microwave into the perfect spot.

  • Countertop: The countertop microwave is the most common model since it is easy to find and place in any workspace. These are simply set atop your kitchen counter.
  • Over the range: It became fashionable in the 1990s to build a special shelf for the microwave overtop of the traditional oven. These are still a part of many kitchens, with dimensions that match the length of the existing oven.
  • Built-in: The built-in is a microwave that is designed to be concealed into your existing counters, shelves or other kitchen furnishing. These can be installed as pull-out drawers or placed behind cabinet doors.

Default settings

Most microwaves are programmed with default settings that can be used quickly. These allow you to select the appropriate power level and timing without having to consult the manual.

  • Defrost: Defrost settings allow you to select the correct power level and timing to perfectly thaw out certain ingredients such as chicken, vegetables or fish.
  • Popcorn: Microwave popcorn is specially designed only to be cooked in a microwave. Because of its popularity, you'll often find a "Popcorn" button.
  • Frozen dinner: This setting lets you reheat a range of frozen dinners to just the right temperature, without over-heating or under-heating one section of the dinner.

Extra capabilities

Every microwave and microwave manufacturer has a different set of goals in mind when it comes to microwave capabilities. There are some unique and helpful options available.

  • Steam: Steam-enabled microwaves ensure that the food being heated or cooked doesn't dry out during the process. Users simply have to fill a water reservoir to keep the feature working.
  • Smart digital display: In place of the traditional buttons and clock display, some newer microwaves feature a sleek, fully digital display. Some people find the smart display easier to use and understand.
  • Grill: This low-tech feature is actually quite popular. It gives you the ability to heat or cook certain items like chicken or hot dogs on the hot grill while other items can be heated conventionally.

What are different types of microwaves?


A convection oven works on the principle that air moves in a vertical, circular pattern when heated. Traditional electric ovens work this way. The convection microwave oven has a fan system to help the heat move this way and provide even cooking.


The conventional microwave oven simply uses microwaves to heat food. These are usually built with a turntable to ensure even heat, but some are specially designed with only a flat tray at the bottom and a unique distribution method to achieve the same results.


The mixed type of microwave performs both the conventional microwave heating as well as convection movement.

Who's it for?

Singles and couples

Households of one or two people. These people have low-yield needs from their microwave oven and so will likely be fine with a small or medium sized microwave.

Small families

Small families of three to four people generally need a bit more capacity from their microwave as well as more varied functionality.

Large families

Larger families need increased capacity and power from their microwave. They often benefit from more presets as well.

Small or medium-sized commercial kitchens

Keeping up with orders in a commercial kitchen requires use of the microwave for several functions. High capacity is ideal for these users.

Company reviews

  • Kenmore Microwave

    Kenmore is a household name in many parts of the world. The company has more than a century of experience in the appliance industry and provides a wide range of high-quality products that include ovens, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, cooking pots and other home essentials.

    • Best for Singles and couples, small families, large families and commercial kitchens.
  • GE Microwave Ovens

    GE has more than 100 years in the industry and provides a wide range of home appliances. The company believes in innovation and elegant design that transform a home into a modern, sleek and efficient place to live.

    • Best for Small and medium-sized commercial kitchens, small families and large families. Anyone creating meals for multiple people would enjoy this range.
  • Samsung Microwave

    Samsung is a highly-rated technology company that sells a range of electronics and appliances including cell phones, televisions, washing machines and microwaves. They focus on high-tech innovation in all of their products.

    • Best for Singles and couples, small families, large families and commercial kitchens.
  • LG Microwaves

    LG is a popular, top-rated technology company. It sells a range of electronics and appliances that span from cell phones to air conditioners. The company focuses on providing intuitive products.

    • Best for Commercial kitchens, small families, couples and large families. The multi-functionality of these microwaves makes them ideal for singles, families and professionals using them to create top-quality dishes.
  • Sharp Microwave

    Sharp is a top electronics and appliance brand that strives to be involved in every aspect of your technological lifestyle. From televisions to washing machines, they do it all. Sharp products are designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as effective.

    • Best for Singles, couples and commercial kitchens. These microwaves come in three basic ranges: smaller ovens, classic ovens and commercial ovens.
  • KitchenAid Microwave

    KitchenAid invented the heavy-duty stand-mixer in 1919, and since then has dedicated itself to providing consumers with high-quality kitchen appliances and tools. They sell large and small appliances as well as small kitchen tools.

    • Best for Commercial kitchens, small families, large families, singles and couples. The high quality product line lets you cook amazing things in a small space.
  • Frigidaire Microwaves

    Frigidaire focuses on supplying high-quality kitchen wares and other home appliances. They have a range of built-ins and community food blogs.

    • Best for Singles and couples, small families, large families and commercial kitchens.
  • Whirlpool Microwave Ovens

    Whirlpool has a broad range of home appliances available, including washing machines and microwaves. The company is dedicated to helping its customers take better care of themselves and their families.

    • Best for Commercial kitchens, large families and small families. The sizes and functions of the range are best for frequent use.
  • Panasonic Microwave

    The Panasonic brand is perhaps most well-known for its cameras, but the company deals in other electronics and appliances as well.

    • Best for Small families, large families, singles and couples. Many of the ovens feature "family-size" capacity to make it easier to choose.
  • Maytag Microwaves

    Maytag has been in the business of providing home appliances for 100 years. They sell washing machines, microwaves, heating and cooling units and much more for the home. They promote their products as the "hardest-working helper in the house."

    • Best for Large families. The size and basic functionality of the ranges makes these ideal for families.

11 – 16 Best Rated Microwaves

Founded in the 1980s, Viking has made its name in the appliance industry with its comprehensive range of microwaves. Its products are designed to provide the flexibility required to prepare all types of food.
Oster is a household appliance brand that has been marketed and sold by Sunbeam Products, a subsidiary of Jarden Corporation, since 1960. Its comprehensive line of innovative microwaves makes cooking easier and more enjoyable.
From defrosting to cooking and reheating, Sears microwaves are the ultimate all-purpose appliances. Whether customers are looking for conventional or convection microwaves, they will find plenty of options to choose from.
LG microwaves are available in both countertop and over-the-range models, with features like sensor cooking and one-touch operation. The company also offers models with EasyClean interiors for quick cleanup sans chemicals.
In business for over seven decades, Samsung allows customers the ability to shop for countertop and built-in microwaves by color and capacity.
Recognized as a top kitchen appliance brand, Jenn-Air manufactures a range of microwaves designed to cook with power and precision. Its built-in, under counter and above the range appliances offer efficiency and ease of use.