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Easy-to-use microwaves

By Zoe Galloway

We recommend three Which? Best Buy microwaves that are easy to use and will also cook your food well.

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A good microwave should not only heat your food evenly but also be easy to use, with controls that are simple to understand and effortless to press, and a door that's easy to open and close.

Sadly, not all microwaves we've tested for our microwave reviews fit this description, and if you're an older person and have reduced dexterity or strength, or difficulty with your sight, you'll want to find one that does.

The best microwaves for you

To help you find the best microwave for you, we've scoured our reviews to find the ones that are the easiest to use and that will also cook your food well. 

Whether you're looking for a solo microwave, a model with a grill or a combination oven that can grill and bake, our selection of the easiest microwaves to use, below, will help you.

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Top three easy-to-use microwaves
 Microwave Our verdict Quality of food Evenness of heating Score

Pros: Heats food evenly, defrosts well, large and well-marked buttons, quiet and extremely easy to use.

Cons: Fairly small for a built-in microwave, so larger dishes may not fit.

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Pros: Excellent at baking and defrosting, great at heating food evenly, very good at grilling, good at being used continuously.

Cons: No major criticisms.

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Pros: Excellent at defrosting, produces well-cooked food that retains its moisture, good at being used continuously.

Cons: No multi-step cooking, poor visibility through window. 

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Table notes: Prices and availability correct as of March 2016.

Choosing an easy-to-use microwave

Microwave vs solo microwave vs grill

There are three main types of microwave: solo microwave, grill and combination. Solo or microwave-only models just heat and defrost your food, but combination microwaves are more versatile and can grill as well as bake food. Grill microwaves - as the name suggests - come with a built-in grill. 

Ideally, once you've chosen a microwave from the table, visit the shops to have a go at 'using' the microwave so you can make sure it's right for you. When you go, ask yourself these questions:

Is it easy to open and close the door and put food inside?

If the microwave has a handle, check that you find it comfortable to grip and that you don't have to use force to open or close it. If it has a button to open it, this should be large and easy to press.

Make sure it's easy to get plates and food in and out of the microwave - one of the microwaves in our selection can fit a 35cm plate inside and opens by lifting the door down, leaving a lot of space to put food in. 

It also helps to have a microwave with a larger capacity inside, which most of ours do - we've often found that a microwave's actual capacity differs from the manufacturer's claims. 

Is it easy to clean the microwave inside?

Again, a larger capacity will make it easier to clean - make sure you find it easy to look into the microwave and to get your hands inside. 

Ideally, you should be able to get the turntable in and out easily, too. All of the models we've chosen gets four stars for ease of cleaning.

Are the controls easy to see and use?

You'll want to make sure that you can clearly see the marking and controls, whether it's a digital display or not. The writing or symbols should be large and should contrast well with the background to make them stand out, which is the case with all of the microwaves in our selection.

For digital displays, check that they are brightly lit enough for you to see so the writing stands out. 

See if the buttons are large enough for you to press with little effort, and that they aren't too close together. Any dials should also be comfortable for you to grip and turn - the microwaves we've chosen have large buttons and simple dials. 

If you have issues with your sight, it's worth choosing a model that beeps when you make a selection.

Are the programs easy to understand?

Some microwaves have a huge array of programs - both automatic and manual - while others have a select few. See what you prefer before you buy and make sure that, either way, you can easily make sense of them. 

Can you see the food while it's cooking?

It's useful to be able to keep an eye on the food while it's cooking, so a larger window (which most of the featured models have) that isn't dark or tinted and an interior light will help.

Need more advice to help you decide on a microwave? See our guide to buying the best microwave to see more on how to buy the best for you.

Easy-to-use microwaves - our research

To find the very easiest-to-use microwaves, particularly for those with reduced dexterity or strength, we first looked at all of the microwaves that have scored more than 70% overall, and had four or five stars for ease of use and for heating overall.

We then narrowed down the selection to models that had been given four or five stars for five or more of the following areas within ease of use: using the controls, knobs and buttons; opening and closing the door; clarity of the display; manually programming the microwave; using auto-programs; visibility during cooking and cleaning.

For combination microwaves, we only selected models with four or five stars for grilling toast and baking cakes, and microwaves with a grill needed to achieve four or five stars for grilling.

Lastly, we've taken price and type into consideration so that there is a mix of models and price ranges.


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