Top five best microwaves for 2020
By Georgia Wilson
We recommend five brilliant microwaves that are quick and easy to use, and won't let you down at mealtimes
The best microwaves heat and defrost food quickly and evenly, keeping your meal moist and succulent.
We’ve rounded up five of the best microwaves we've tested to help you choose a new one fast, including the best cheap, flatbed and combi microwaves.
We’ve also flagged some poor performers so you know the models to avoid.
In this guide:
- Top five best microwaves revealed
- Best easy-to-use microwaves
- Microwaves to avoid
- How we test microwaves
- Choosing the right microwave
Just want to compare specific models or find the best for your budget? Head to our microwave reviews.
Top five microwaves
This is a magnificent microwave, which is hard to fault. It’s a large combi that heats and defrosts food both quickly and evenly. It also does a great job of baking like a regular oven, and has an excellent grill, too. Most microwave-grills we come across are mediocre at best, so this one stands out from the crowd.
It's easy to get a delicious meal out of this vintage-style microwave, regardless of whether you're cooking just for yourself or for the whole family. It's great at producing a perfectly-steamed dinner and is super quick on both the heating and defrosting settings, so no-one is left waiting for food. It's nice and easy to use, too.
If you want a cheap microwave that’ll do the basics brilliantly, this no-frills microwave is a great choice. It doesn’t have any auto programs, so you’ll have to set the time and power yourself, but on the plus side the controls are incredibly simple to use - and it looks smart too. It defrosts quicker than most, cooks evenly and steams food well too (if you use a steaming lid).
This is a great all-rounder. As well as excelling at all the usual microwaving tasks, it’s also spacious – you can fit in a 32cm-wide plate – and quiet. It will heat up and defrost your food quickly and evenly and, if you like your kitchen to be co-ordinated, look out for the matching kettle and toaster.
This sleek microwave does the basics like reheating and defrosting incredibly well, plus it comes with a handful of handy auto-cook programs. You can squeeze in plates up to 30cm wide and it's easy to remove the turntable to wipe down any nasty spills. It's on the slower side, but the near-perfect results are worth waiting for.
Table last updated: November 2019
Flummoxed by the range of weird symbols and buttons on your microwave? As well as testing how well each model heats your dinner, we also look at how easy it is to use.
We check how easy the controls are to read, use and understand, how easy it is to press the buttons and open or close the door, whether you can see food while it's cooking and if the microwave is easy to clean.
Cheaper manual models with simple rotary dials for cooking time and power can be a good bet, but if you want the whole package, we've picked out a model that is exceptionally easy to use and cooks well too:
Programming this microwave is incredibly simple. It comes with just a handful of auto-cook programs that have clear text labels, rather than ambiguous icons, and the buttons don’t take any force to press. The display has big, bright text that’s easy to read. It also cooks, reheats and defrosts brilliantly.
For more easy-to-use microwaves, head to our microwave reviews and filter reviews by ease of use to see all the models that scored four stars or more.
This microwave was just average at almost everything. It doesn’t heat food as quickly and evenly as other models, and it doesn’t do a great job of retaining moisture. It doesn’t maintain its power level over time, so you’ll have to keep adding more time on if heating up a few dishes in a row.
It does a good job of heating food quickly, without losing too much moisture in the process. But if you regularly eat out of the freezer you’ll want to steer clear – the auto defrost function doesn’t thaw food properly so you’ll have to put in back in for another go, and the manual defrost function is only slightly better.
Our rigorous independent tests separate the great microwaves from the rubbish ones. We only recommend microwaves that are easy to use, heat and defrost your food quickly and evenly, and leave no overdone or cool patches in your food.
We also tell you which microwaves to avoid. Poor microwaves may dry food out, or heat unevenly – leaving you with a half-cooked meal. Others are slow to cook and lose power if used for several meals in a row.
Make sure you buy a microwave that won’t disappoint by picking from our full list of tried-and-tested Best Buy microwaves.
The cheapest microwaves cost around £40, but prices can top several hundred pounds. You don't need to spend a lot: we’ve found some great cheap microwaves that are easy to use and do a great job of heating and defrosting, but you might have to sacrifice some fancier features and settle for less cooking space.
Pricier models tend to have more room inside to fit bigger dishes and come with more advanced auto-cooking programs. Combi microwaves are like mini ovens, and can grill and bake food, as well as microwaving.
Here are four key features to consider when choosing a microwave:
- 1. Microwave-only or combi – some microwaves can also cook using convection heat, like a traditional oven, offering more cooking flexibility than basic microwave-only models.
- 2. Capacity – internal space varies widely. We check what size dinner plate can fit in each microwave we test and have found this can vary from a snug 27cm to more than 40cm.
- 3. Flatbed or turntable – flatbed microwaves have no turntable, meaning more internal space for bigger plates or awkwardly-shaped dishes.
- 4. Digital or manual controls – digital controls can have handy presets for common cooking jobs, whereas manual controls tend to leave timings more up to you - though they can be simpler to set if you just want to turn a dial.
Read our microwaves buying guide for more advice on choosing the right model for you.