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How Do I Choose the Best Microwave?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing the best microwave depends on what the microwave is for, where it will be placed, and how much one is willing to spend. Generally speaking, any microwave that is not broken can fulfill the purpose of a microwave, but some models have more features and may be more powerful. It is important to think about whether a countertop or built-in model would be preferable, and whether or not the microwave needs to be new. For people who do significant amounts of cooking in the microwave, choosing a machine that can adapt to very specific cooking instructions may be the best choice, but for people who primarily use the microwave for basic functions, this is usually not necessary.

The first thing to consider when choosing the best microwave is what style of microwave one will purchase. There are two major types of microwaves, and each has certain benefits. A countertop microwave may be the best microwave if one is renting or may move in the future. On the other hand, a built-in microwave is usually installed above the stove and can save counter space.

People who frequently cook using this type of oven may find that the best microwave is one with many different settings. Being able to change the power of the microwave is extremely valuable when cooking certain dishes, but many people get along without this feature. Settings for defrosting, certain types of food, and even rotation may be useful for people who regularly cook food in a microwave. The size of the microwave is also an important consideration, because small microwave ovens cannot accommodate some large dishes. For people who primarily heat popcorn, frozen meals, or other simple items, the added expense of these features is likely not necessary.

Budget is certainly a factor when choosing the best microwave, but it is sometimes possible to get a better microwave than one could normally afford by buying the machine used. This is a good solution for many people, but microwaves do break, and choosing a used model may prove a disappointment. A new microwave is guaranteed to work and may even come with a warranty. Which choice is best depends on the risks the consumer is willing to take.

Most people do not consider the appearance of the microwave to be a primary consideration, but since this object will most likely be visible in one's kitchen, it is a good idea to at least think about how it will look. Most microwaves are either white or black, but there are some stainless steel or colored models as well. There are also retro microwaves, which may be authentic vintage items or may simply have retro details.

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Discussion Comments

By serenesurface — On Nov 24, 2013

@burcidi-- But can you defrost ice cream to the exact point where it becomes soft enough to scoop without melting? I can do that with my smart microwave.

I think the best countertop microwave is a smart one that uses steam technology. But I agree with you that it's not good for the lazy.

By burcidi — On Nov 24, 2013

@donasmrs-- I bet that it was very expensive.

I have an oven, so I don't need a combination microwave. I want an affordable and simple one. I don't like sharp microwaves, they're too complicated. I only use the microwave to heat up left-overs and defrost frozen foods. Why do I need a button for potatoes and popcorn? I can set the timer if I need to, it's not that hard. I'm not going to shell out a bunch of money for that.

The other downside to combination microwaves is that they require different equipment and cookware. For example, if you're using the oven function, you have use steel shelves and cookware. If you want to switch to the microwave function right afterward, you have to take all that out because steel is not safe for microwaves. Who's going to bother with all that?

By donasmrs — On Nov 24, 2013

I just bought the best combination microwave. It's an oven and microwave in one. I can do so many different things with it and it has shortcut buttons for the most common foods. So I don't have to worry about the timing.

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