The best microwaves of 2020: LG, Panasonic, GE and more

While working on magnetron production for the military during World War II, physicist and Raytheon employee Percy Spencer discovered that a candy bar was melting in his pocket. Spencer quickly filed a patent for an invention based on the strange accident, and the microwave oven was born.

Today, the microwave market offers numerous options for size, power, color, and function. they also have intelligent options how GE Smart Countertop Microwave and the AmazonBasics Microwave that works with Alexa for voice commands. We tested nine popular models to find the best microwave on sale today.

best microwaves of 2020
best microwaves of 2020
Molly Price / Tips Clear

Molly Price / Tips Clear

In all of our tests, this 1.6 watt colorware model was the best microwave for performance at 1.6 cubic feet. I was able to boil water in less than three minutes, and popcorn mode left an average of only 26 popcorn kernels unbroken. Our tests ran smoothly.

At 1.6 cubic feet, it’s big enough for almost anything you might want to put in the microwave, and powerful enough too. It has sensor cooking technology so that not every dish is cooked in the microwave for a flat amount of time, but instead it detects when something is being done.

Special functions also include popcorn, sensor heating, frozen pizza, meat, fish, frozen vegetables, fresh vegetables, frozen meals and weight defrosting. In each of our tests, frozen dinners and personal pizzas were cooked well. Potatoes with a size of 11.76 ounces also came out fully cooked. The only drawback of this model is the lack of a special beverage function for warming up coffee or warming water for tea.

At $ 148, it’s certainly not the cheapest microwave on our list (see below for our budget picks), but this colorware model is probably the best microwave if you’re looking for something big, powerful, and smart.

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If you’re looking for an affordable choice with lots of space and power, this 2.0 cubic foot Easter model is the best microwave you can buy. At $ 90, you don’t have to break the bank to get a good microwave.

With 1,000 watts of power, it can process large starters and thick potatoes alike. This Easter model performed exceptionally well in popcorn mode, leaving an average of 11 kernels unstopped. This is the best of all the models we tested.

It also includes a beverage feature that heats the water to 200 ° F. A simple design with a flat front and a stainless rim make this microwave a thorn in your side.

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True, this Panasonic model doesn’t win beauty pageants, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in a powerful 1,250-watt, 2.2-cubic-foot design.

This model is the largest and most powerful model in our range and has cooked heavy potatoes and frozen meals well. Popcorn lovers should be careful as this model delivers the highest number of burnt cores per batch. That’s probably because of the extra power, but even the 3.0 ounce setting (smaller than our 3.2 ounce popcorn bags) still resulted in burnt chunks.

Boiling water, cooking lasagna, and baking potatoes were a breeze in this microwave. If you want to rely heavily on your microwave when cooking, the powerful Panasonic model is for you. It’s also the best microwave if you want lots of space.

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Not everyone needs a huge microwave. Lots of people just don’t have a place. With a small but practical displacement of 1.1 cubic feet, this 1,000 watt model is more than capable of handling most tasks.

At 20.3 x 12 x 15.6 inches, it doesn’t take up much workspace. You still get a lot of presets including plates, frozen vegetables, drinks, popcorn, baked potatoes, pizza, time defrost, and weight defrost.

It worked satisfactorily in all of our tests and exceeded thresholds for temperature and doneness in most scenarios. It feels a bit like an all-rounder that can’t handle a microwave. Absolutely capable but not exceptional in design or results. However, when space issues arise, the Magic Chef microwave does the job in a minimal footprint.

We tested other models

The four microwaves above have proven themselves at the top of the class, but we tested a total of nine machines to find the best microwave. Here are the other models that didn’t quite make the cut.

  • Breville Quick Touch: This upscale $ 249 model looks and feels luxurious, but we found its performance less than impressive. Breville is also using this model in favor of its new Wave model range.
  • GE JES2051SNSS: This model is a strong competitor, but when it came to popcorn it lagged, and we were left with a few uncooked potatoes. Warming up drinks, boiling water, and cooking frozen meals all went well. It’s also the most expensive model that we tested at $ 280.
  • LG LMC0975ST: This $ 171 model has a small internal capacity of only 0.9 cubic feet. It’s also the only microwave we tested that interferes with our Wi-Fi signal. Sparkling sounds and pretty design weren’t enough to woo us.
  • Hamilton Beach EM031M2ZC-X3: The $ 75 Hamilton Beach microwave offers 1.1 cubic feet and 1,000 watts of power, but poor cooking results, especially when it comes to fully baking potatoes.
  • Toshiba EM131A5C-BS: Toshiba’s $ 120 microwave gave mediocre results. It had an easy-to-clean interior and a lot of special features, but it wasn’t good for reheating leftover pizza or cooking small frozen entrees.

How we test

Finding the best microwaves is more than just the 30-second express button we use to heat up lunch. Microwaves have dozens of special functions and settings that can make them really helpful tools in the kitchen.

Special functions

For each of our microwaves, we tested potatoes, frozen main course, frozen pizza, drinks, popcorn, and reheat when those options were available. To test the potato preset, three rounds of pierced baked potatoes must be cooked in each microwave with this function. Then we take the temperature and record the degree of doneness of the potato.

Potato temp
Hot potato!

 

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For popcorn, we tipped three bags of 3.2-ounce popcorn into each microwave and recorded the number of grains that were unbroken and burned. Frozen items follow with similar temperature records and advice on the degree of doneness. For beverages, we also record the temperature of 1 cup of water after heating with the beverage option.

We use frozen personal pizzas and frozen lasagna entrees to test each microwave’s ability to cook evenly and accurately. If you’re like me, my most common use of my microwave is when I’m heating up leftovers. That’s why we round off each test kit with a piece of leftover delivery pizza.

We recorded the time and temperature for each test so we can see which microwaves do their thing most efficiently.

popcornkernelcount
This microwave had mediocre popcorn results.

 

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When all this data is collected, we have a good idea of ​​the performance and effectiveness of each microwave’s specialty functions. And we have popcorn. Lots of popcorn. Of course there is more to consider than just the special presets.

What else is there to consider?

In this round of microwave testing, we focused on microwaves with an output of 1,000 watts or more. These models are ideal for people who frequently cook in the microwave or reheat large meals. Chances are, you start your microwave hunt by considering which size is right for you. A 1,250 watt 2.2 cubic foot microwave may not be the best option for everyone.

If you’re in a tight space or have power limitations (my dorm limited us to just 900 watts), your best bet is to look for compact models that are less than 1,000 watts. Once you’ve decided on a size, think about which features are most important to you. If you never eat popcorn but eat a lot of leftover pizza, make sure the model you choose has the single slice option.

Narrow it down to the right size, power level, and feature setting, and all that’s left to do is pick a color. Each of the models we tested is available in several versions. When your microwave becomes part of your kitchen landscape, you should be able to find the right shade.

One last tip: don’t throw the manual away as soon as you open the box! The instruction manual for your microwave reads a Great Resource for the exact use of each cooking mode. Each manufacturer seems to do things just a bit differently, and every manual we came across while testing had time guides and helpful explanations.

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