Countertop microwaves are dependable, affordable and extremely versatile. You can cook, bake, defrost, warm, etc. with them. They can also fit perfectly into any kitchen table, and with the new models available, they will improve the decor greatly.
There are however very many countertop microwaves in the market, and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. You may not be very conversant with which make is the best or the specific configurations that will help you achieve what you want in the shortest time possible.
This is why you need to look at the latest reviews, read the customer feedback about the product, and also research its shelf life. You do not want a microwave that will keep breaking down all the time.
A good microwave will last you a long time, and you can even pass it down to your loved ones if you want to upgrade.
Let’s analyze the top 5 countertop microwaves in the market today;
1. Westinghouse WCM770SS Countertop Microwave
The Westinghouse WCM770SS is one of the best and top-rated microwave ovens on the market. It comes equipped with all the features you would ever want in a microwave, and will certainly make your work much easier.
If you are looking for a microwave oven that will not occupy much space on your countertop, and also looks good, then this is the microwave for you. No matter what you need it to do for you, it will produce great results each and every time.
It is made of stainless steel in the front with a black cabinet that is very attractive to look at. It will revolutionize the look of your kitchen and make it look modern and chic. In fact, there are some instances where a kitchen looks strange without a microwave.
It comes with 10 power levels, which will give you an amazing cooking experience. Each level is unique and will serve a specific purpose for you. It will also allow you to select specific cook times using the controls keypad.
It has a digital clock/timer that makes it very useful in any household.
With 6 menu buttons for a quick cook, you need not bother wondering how long it will take to cook food. The specified recipes are pizza, popcorn, reheat, beverage, potato and frozen food are pre-set options to make your work easier.
The power wattage is 700 watts, which makes it ideal for a small apartment or a studio. The option of defrost with weight will certainly make you feel like a professional chef, as you can quickly hit defrost and you’re ready to go.
The microwave oven also has a child lock feature that makes it safe for any household with small children.
2. Panasonic NN-SN966S Countertop Microwave
The Panasonic NN-SN966S is a small compact microwave oven that will make your food preparations much simpler.
It has a sleek control panel with a four-digit display that gives it a very high-end look. It also has a one-touch cook and reheat button.
What is most unique about this microwave is the use of “inverter” technology. This is a technology that relies on the delivery of microwave energy for cooking food, rather than the common high-low energy.
It also has the “inverter turbo defrost” option that defrosts food very fast.
This new technique has been known to work much faster than the normal microwave. For this reason, the Panasonic microwave oven is high-rated by most customers and is considered to be of high quality.
It makes use of 1250 watts for high power and a power consumption of 1460. The oven has 12 pre-set menu items.
Your favorite foods will be cooked in the best environment and you get to choose from 7 pre-programmed settings and 3 power levels. You will quickly have your delicious popcorn at the touch of a button.
The pre-programmed buttons are;
- Fresh vegetables
- Frozen veggies
- Frozen entree
- Frozen pizza
It also has a keep warm feature that will keep vegetables, gravies, soups, hors-d’oeuvres, and sauces warm until they are ready for consumption. This is an incredible feature that allows you to always have hot food ready at all times.
It also has very advanced features such as a 30-minute timer that allows you to set reheating and cooking times with intervals of 30 seconds up to 5 minutes. This is the delay feature. There’s also a child lock feature that makes it ideal for households with children.
3. GE JES1095BMTS Countertop Microwave Oven
The GE JES1095BMTS is one of the biggest, and the best microwaves you will find. Make sure you have a large enough counter to accommodate it. Don’t worry about this though, it will give you a lot of space on the inside for you to use.
Most countertop microwaves use 700 watts, but the GE uses 900 watts, which is very fast on the cook and preheat. You will not be standing there for many minutes waiting for the food to preheat.
It is 2.0 cubic feet with a 16-inch turntable that can fit a bit casserole dish of 9 x 13. You can even defrost a small turkey in this machine. This combination of high power and huge size makes this a very effective microwave for home use.
It comes with 10 power levels, a defrost button, and six presets for vegetables, fish/chicken, popcorn, beverages, potatoes and reheat. It is very reliable if you don’t like to do too much work.
The one-touch express cooking button comes in handy on a slow and lazy day, when you don’t feel like doing much. You just need to hit the button, and it will give you 6 minutes of non-stop cooking.
This machine is accurate and looks good just the way you want it. When you choose to make some popcorn or cook a potato, the results are perfect, and you shall be very impressed with the final product. This is because it has sensors that accurately calculate the amount of time needed to cook each of them.
You can also turn on or off the beeping function if you do not want to be disturbed. The pre-programmed are also terrific and you can use the countdown timer to ensure you get it just right.
4. Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor
If you are looking for a small microwave that will occupy just a little space on your counter, then the Toshiba EM131A5C-BS is an excellent choice.
It has a small capacity on the inside with 20.5 x 17.5 x 12.8 inches(w x d x h), large 1.2 cubic feet capacity, cavity 13.07 x 15 x 9.5 inch (w x d x h), turn table 12.4 inch (diameter) , this is an ideal microwave for you to have.
The turntable is 12.4 inches which is a good enough size.
Its wattage is 1550watts, which is good enough, and it has ten preset options for making pizza, vegetables, beverage, dinner plate and popcorn. With the additional two defrost buttons, you are well covered with this microwave.
It has a multi-stage cooking option that allows you to defrost then cook. This feature is available on very expensive microwaves.
It is very attractive and will enhance the look of your kitchen.
5. Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN686S Stainless Steel
The Spanasonic NN-SN686S is one of the most beautiful machines you will ever come across. It has a very sleek design with beautiful buttons on its side to handle its mammoth responsibilities. It is definitely something that will hold pride of place on your spacious kitchen counter.
It has convection cooking capabilities and its one of the most expensive countertop microwaves available. With this added ability, this machine is more than worth its price for anyone looking to buy a great machine.
It’s rated 1,200 watts and has 1.2 cubic ft. interior space. This is certainly more than enough for any household. It has presets for popcorn, reheat and defrost. Not a lot of options, but certainly enough for the kitchen.
The design and functionality are intuitive, which makes them very easy to figure out. You don’t need to keep carrying the manual around to turn on some functions. If you do not want to use the built-in sensor for setting the cooking time, you can use the dial instead.
Now, the best part about this microwave oven is the convection oven feature that can go up to 400° which you can use for baking, browning, and making your recipes crisp. This definitely adds an extra dimension to the Samsung microwave ovens.
It works just perfectly, in the same way an oven would. So, if you choose to buy this machine, you would be killing two birds with one stone. You really do not need an oven in your house with the Samsung microwave.
If you are making biscuits or roasts, they will come out great with this microwave. It also has grilling abilities. There’s almost nothing that this machine cannot do. It’s a jack of all trades and will serve you so well, you will not even think about the cost.
Another incredible feature is what we call the “slim-fry” that allows you to use the convection cooking to fry food without using oil. It is a cool idea that may take forever, but the fact that it has it is just phenomenal.
The amazing microwave+convection and microwave+grill & fry make this one of the most unique machines in the market today.
If it all seems too good to be true, then you need to purchase it to see it for yourself.
Buying guide and factors to consider before buying the a countertop microwave oven
Before buying a microwave, there are some factors that you must consider in order to ensure that all your needs are met by the machine;
The power of the microwave is measured in watts. The higher the wattage, the faster and more evenly your food will cook. Microwaves generally range from 500-1000 watts, but you will find the occasional one or two that go above the 1,000 mark.
A 700 watts microwave should be able to boil a cup of water in under 2 minutes, but a microwave of 1,000 watts and above can do this job in much less time, and therefore if you are looking for a very fast microwave, one that has a high wattage power would be most ideal.
You should also note that some dorms for school students may have a limit to the wattage, so look into this before purchasing one.
Most microwaves will come with a ventilation system. Consider this system when you want to buy a microwave as it is very important.
Some vents will come with multiple fan speeds and different filters. This is the best for your house, as it will ensure the air within the microwave will keep circulating. If this is not taken care of, it may not work as required.
The cubic per meter rating of the fan should also be considered. With this, you can be able to tell how much air the fan can move.
A light bulb in the microwave, while it is heating or cooling, is important, as you can be able to see the food clearly.
Pre-set cooking time
Most microwaves will have this feature. They come with a few cooking options that have in-built pre-set cook times such as popcorn, vegetables, pizza, potato, etc. This is very important as it allows you to simply touch a button and the food starts cooking, as compared to having to guess the length of time it would take to prepare a certain meal.
Always go for a microwave that has many pre-set cooking options, because these are well researched to produce excellent results. You will not have issues of burnt popcorn, overcooked potatoes or even bad tasting veggies.
A microwave that has the convection capabilities will blow air over the food and allow it to cook very fast.
The convection microwave will also allow very high-temperature settings that are ideal for grilling, baking, browning, etc. You can even fry food without using oil. This is certainly a great new technology that everyone will love in their homes.
Though a bit expensive, microwaves with convection capabilities come equipped with all the functionalities of an oven and hence eliminating the need to have one.
If you are up to it, this would be a great microwave to have in your house. Choose one that has convection capabilities.
Always buy a microwave that has in-built sensors. These offer optimal cooking abilities which can adjust the power levels and cooking times based on the steam being emitted from the food.
How cool is that? If your food gets too hot, I.e. the steam is too hot, the microwave can shut down, and alert you to what is happening. Definitely a great option in a microwave that will keep you, your household and your kitchen safe.
Buy a microwave that has in-built sensors.
If you have a microwave in your house, it probably doesn’t have racks in it. But one that comes with a few racks makes it easy for you to cook multiple dishes at once on the racks. You can make fish and potatoes in the same oven.
This is definitely a cool option, and if you are someone who is very busy and relies mostly on your microwave, the next time you decide to upgrade, consider one that has a few racks on it and you will surely be sorted.
This technology will allow a consistently steady power percentage in the oven, which ensures a stable heat at very low ranges.
Most microwaves alternate heat between high and low while in use. With this new technology, you are able to make the best quality of poached fish and omelets, with no possibilities of overcooking or burning.
If you want this in your kitchen, then consider the Panasonic and Samsung microwaves.
The grilling option in the microwave will sear the outside of food and prevent a rubbery texture. This may occur if you cook meat in the microwave that does not have the grilling option.
The Samsung Microwave offers grilling options that allow you to grill your meats at very good temperature with excellent results, and also the slim-fry option that will fry your food without using any oil.
If you are a healthy eater or are interested in starting a healthy lifestyle, then the Samsung microwave offers you these incredible options for your cooking experience in the kitchen. The slip-fry is a revolutionary new technique of cooking.
The steam option will allow you to cook your food and keep it very moist without necessarily adding any oil to it.
For vegetables and fish, this is the best way to cook, that ensures they retain their nutrients for the best tastes. You can also use the steam option to poach your eggs in the microwave with excellent results.
Easy clean interior
Look for a microwave with a non-porous interior made of materials such as stainless steel or porcelain enamel. These make it very easy to wipe off splatters, spills or any dried on food. There’s nothing as bad as using a microwave that is full of spilled foods.
Find a microwave that you can easily keep clean and ensure you are hygienic at all times.
It is important to consider the cost of the microwave. Generally, the most expensive microwaves come with very many added advantages to the owner. A microwave like the Samsung microwave will make your work very easy, and eliminate the need for an oven.
If it is a cheap one, then you may only have a few functions with it. Always bear in mind what you need out of your microwave before purchasing one, and get one that will suit all your needs at an affordable cost.
It is also wise to save your money, and buy one that’s the best and will last a very long period of time, then buying a cheap one that will keep failing and will never make your life easy.
Benefits of a having a countertop microwave
So, if you do not have a microwave yet, what are you missing on? What are the benefits of having one?
- The risk of fire in the kitchen is eliminated with the use of a microwave. This is because, when you heat food in it, the food gets warm, while the microwave remains cold, therefore eliminating the possibility of starting a fire as opposed to using pots.
- Because of its low cooking temperature, microwaves eliminate the formation of char and tar, which are carcinogenic.
- It reduces the cooking time greatly if you heat up food before grilling.
- It cooks food in a short period of time, ensuring the food retains its nutrients.
- It occupies much less space.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible for liquids that are being heated in the microwave to erupt and cause burns?
Yes. This is a possibility. While heating liquids, because of the high temperatures used by ovens, they can erupt and burn you as you are removing them from the oven. Even a hot liquid that looks calm can suddenly erupt.
This is known as ‘superheating,’ and it is a consequence of heating the liquid above the boiling point. If you disturb such a liquid it will react buy erupting.
To avoid this, stir the liquid before heating it, or pour it on to another container. This will mix the air within the liquid and prevent the fulminate phenomenon from occurring which is what causes the eruptions.
Can the microwave cause me to harm even if it’s not hot?
No. Microwaves have a thermal effect, and your body’s sensory nerves can be able to feel the heat created by the microwave from very far. This will not cause you any injury even if you are near.
Do microwaves really cause sterility and cataracts?
No. There has never been any case of sterility reported to have been caused by exposure to microwaves. This could be a myth that is not necessarily true. They also do not cause any cataracts.
Can the microwave affect a cardiac pacemaker?
Well, the microwave energy can cause undesirable currents to flow in the electric leads of the pacemaker. The pacemakers have been known to dysfunction near apparatus that emit some form of energy such as a microwave.
It is therefore advisable to prevent pacemaker users from operating microwaves as they may damage the pacemakers.
Is it harmful to eat food that has been cooked in a microwave oven?
No. Regardless of what you have heard, eating food cooked in a microwave is not harmful. This is because microwaves are simply a source of heat energy just like a gas or electricity. The food cooked in the microwave is not radioactive or contaminated, and hence it cannot cause you any harm.
Does the microwave energy escape through the exhaust vents?
No. Microwaves do not escape through the small perforations on the door, nor do they escape through the vents. This is because of how they are made. It is not possible for this to happen.
The small holes you see on the door can only allow light waves to pass, which makes it easy for you to see the food as it cooks in the microwave. The light frequency is very high, making the holes very small, the microwaves have a smaller frequency, which means they are too big to pass through the small holes.
You can relax now, as this is not possible.
Is it safe to operate the microwave when it’s empty?
Generally, it’s not safe to operate the microwave when it’s empty, as it can damage the magnetron which can even start a fire. Therefore, always ensure there is something cooking in the oven before switching it on.
Microwaves are extremely useful in every household, and it’s practically impossible to live without them. It is therefore important to buy the right one that will serve you for a long period of time.
A microwave oven that can do more than defrosting and heating are most ideal. You will need one such as the Panasonic SN686S that can do other things such as grilling, frying, baking, etc. Although the price is high, this is a great machine to have in your house.
Do extensive research, read all the customers’ reviews before buying one, and you will be assured of getting the best machine that money can buy. Also remember that cheap is expensive, and you may end up with a cheap machine that will need constant maintenance.
Use the microwave as outlined by the manufacturer at all times to avoid unwanted accidents that can still happen in the kitchen. E.g. avoid using them with metallic materials such as foil paper as this can cause them to explode.
If you have small children, look out for the child-lock feature to keep your household safe. Also ensure you keep it high enough, away from small children that can even make it topple over.
Replacing the interior glass of a microwave is very expensive so be safe and take good care of it.