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1 June 2021

Top five best microwaves for 2021

From the best cheap microwave to which combi oven is best, we recommend the top models to buy in 2021
Woman defrosting mince microwave
JP
Joseph Perry

The best microwaves give you hot and tasty food every time. But not all models up to scratch – we've found plenty that struggle with basic tasks, such as defrosting a block of mince and steaming a fish supper.

To help you avoid a dud, we've handpicked our favourites from our full list of the best microwaves, including our top cheap model, the best combi and the best option for catering for a crowd. Each has gone through our rigorous lab tests, so you can be sure it won't scupper your supper.

We've also found three models that are so mediocre you should avoid them no matter how good their prices may seem.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Best solo microwave

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85%
Best Buy
£54.99
Reviewed

It isn't easy on the eye, but this model sets the standard for fuss-free microwaving. If you're after an easy-to-use microwave that heats food quickly and evenly every time, look no further than this. Plus, it's so quiet you'll probably find yourself checking whether you've turned it on – and even then, you'll struggle to believe it can work while making so little noise.

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Best combi microwave

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81%
Best Buy
£174.00
Reviewed

If you're after a model that does more than the microwave basics, look no further. Its five-star convection oven roasts, bakes and browns just as well as a regular oven, even if the fan is a little loud. Its grill works well, too, which is impressive as most microwave grills we've come across are mediocre at best.

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Best microwave grill

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81%
Best Buy
£149.00
Reviewed

Microwave grills tend to disappoint in our tests, but this model is worth considering if you want something between a simple solo microwave and an expensive combi. It comes with six power settings and 32 auto-cook programmes; handy if you like the machine to do the thinking for you. Its two-star grill isn't as good as we've seen on some combis, however, so you'll need to broaden your search if grilling is a dealbreaker for you.

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Best cheap microwave

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81%
Best Buy
£49.00
Reviewed

It costs just under £50, yet this microwave heats, defrosts and steams food better than most other models we've tested. The window is on the small side, which is annoying if you like to keep an eye on what you're cooking, but that's about all we could fault it for. Just don't expect anything beyond the basics: auto-cook programmes and multi-stage settings are alien concepts to this machine.

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Best flatbed microwave

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73%
£479.00
Reviewed

This flatbed combi microwave costs twice as much as some freestanding cookers but, if you're not put off by its price, it could be the right model for you. It easily accommodates awkwardly shaped dishes – we were able to fit a 40cm-wide plate inside this microwave – so it's the best option if you have a large family or are catering for a crowd. If not for its lousy grill, it would almost certainly be a Best Buy.

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Table last updated: June 2021. 

Not found the microwave for you? See all of our microwave reviews.

Three microwaves to avoid

Spending more or opting for a well-known brand won't guarantee you avoid a lacklustre microwave. Our tests have uncovered pricey models from big-name brands that fail to heat and defrost food as quickly or evenly as cheaper competitors. See below for three models to steer clear of.

Only logged-in Which? members can view the models to avoid in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

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50%
£57.99
Reviewed

It takes an age to defrost food – and what comes out isn't always worth waiting for. In our tests, it struggled to defrost a block of mince, with some sections starting to cook before others had even thawed, so if you regularly use frozen food, steer clear of this microwave.

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54%
£85.00
Reviewed

It isn't the worst microwave we've tested, but there are far better models than this. It's just about average in all areas apart from steaming and speed of heating, where it really falls down. For the same price, you could get a Best Buy microwave.

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58%
£249.00
Reviewed

Its four-star convection oven works well, but this combi microwave comes unstuck when heating several dishes in a row. It loses more power than most models after consecutive uses, so it takes longer and longer to reach the same temperature each time.

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Table last updated: June 2021.

Buying a microwave: what to consider

We've tested models that cost more than £500, but you don't need to spend that much for a great microwave – we've found some budget models that deliver fantastic food every time. But if you do opt for a cheaper model, you'll have to forgo some fancier features and settle for less cooking space.

Pricier models tend to be more spacious and come with a better range of features, such as auto-cook programmes and multi-stage settings.

Here are three things to consider when choosing a microwave:

1. Solo, combi or grill

We test three types of microwave: solo, combi and grill:

  • Solo microwaves are a good option if you're on a budget or short of countertop space, but they aren't as versatile as combis or microwave-grills.
  • Combi microwaves can also grill and bake food, but are often more expensive than solo microwaves and usually take up more precious countertop space.
  • Microwave-grills might seem like a decent compromise between the two, but they tend to underwhelm in our tests, so don't assume you'll get the best of both worlds.

2. Flatbed or turntable

You'll also have to decide whether a flatbed or turntable interior would better suit your needs:

  • Turntables are more common, especially in cheaper solo microwaves. A turntable is also useful if you plan to bake in a combi microwave as it gives you a 360-degree view of your food as it cooks.
  • Flatbeds are less common in domestic microwaves, but give you more cooking space for bigger plates or awkwardly shaped dishes as they don't need to rotate.

3. Controls

Similarly, you'll have to choose between digital and manual controls:

  • Digital controls might take some getting used to, but can save time in the long run; pre-set and auto-cook programmes mean you don't have to faff about with the settings. Digital controls also allow you to set the timer to the second.
  • Manual controls are less precise, but couldn't be simpler to use as you just turn the dial.

For more advice, see our guide on how to buy the best microwave.

Our microwave tests

Each year, we put dozens of microwaves through our rigorous lab tests. We test how well the microwave warms a ready meal, whether it can defrost a block of mince without cooking the edges or leaving cold spots in the middle and how easy it is to clean.

The results tell us which microwaves are worth recommending and which are Don't Buys to avoid.

And because our reviews are independent – we don't accept freebies from manufacturers or retailers – and based on decades of experience, you can trust them.

To find out more, check out our guide on how we test microwaves.


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