Top five best microwaves for 2021
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 , 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.
Best solo microwave
Best combi microwave
Best microwave grill
Best cheap microwave
Best flatbed microwave
Table last updated: June 2021.
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.
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.
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.
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.