Whether you use it to cook meals on a regular basis, or you use it to heat up foods or beverages, a countertop microwave oven is a handy appliance to have in your kitchen. With this appliance, you can quickly heat up or prepare different types of food, which is certainly a lot more convenient than having to wait for the oven to heat up and warm or cook your food.
When it comes to buying a countertop microwave oven, you will find that there are what seems like countless options to choose from. Having a lot of options is great; however, it can make finding the best countertop microwave for your needs a bit of a challenge. With so many options, it can be hard to determine which one will suit your needs. To help you on your quest for finding the best countertop microwave, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide. In it, you will find a wealth of information that will help you find the best countertop microwave oven for your needs, including the different types of countertop microwave ovens, the factors to consider when choosing one, the available features, and the best brands on the market. With the information presented in this buyer’s guide, you will be well informed so that you can find the best countertop microwave oven to suit your particular needs.
Types of Countertop Microwave Ovens
A countertop microwave oven is an excellent appliance to have in a kitchen. They provide a fast and efficient way to cook or heat up different types of foods and drinks. Countertop microwave ovens can be differentiated based on their size. There are three main types of countertop microwave ovens, which include:
- Compact countertop microwave ovens
- Mid size countertop microwave ovens
- Full size countertop microwave ovens
To determine which type will best suit your needs, it is important to understand the differences between each one, and what they offer.
Compact Countertop Microwave Ovens
These microwave ovens have a capacity of about 0.9 cubic feet, though some are even smaller. Their compact size makes them an ideal option if you have limited counter space, or if you have a compact kitchen. They are a great choice for small areas, such as cramped kitchens, apartments, college dorm rooms and offices. A compact countertop microwave oven is ideal for cooking small meals or for reheating leftovers, or for heating up beverages.
Mid Size Countertop Microwave Ovens
Mid size countertop microwave ovens range in capacity from 1.0 cubic feet to 1.4 cubic feet. Because they are larger than compact countertop microwave ovens, they require more space; however, they can accommodate larger meals. They are ideal for preparing food or reheating leftover for a medium sized family.
Full Size Countertop Microwave Ovens
The full size countertop microwave oven has a capacity of 1.5 cubic feet or more. They are the largest of all three types, and they require the most countertop space. They are deal for preparing meals for larger families and for people who rely on the appliance to cook on a regular basis.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Countertop Microwave Oven
There are a number of factors that you are going to want to take into consideration when choosing a countertop microwave oven. These factors, which include the size, the wattage and the energy efficiency, among other things, will help you choose the best one for your specific needs. To learn more about the factors that we think are the most important to consider when choosing a countertop microwave oven, please keep on reading.
The first and most important factor that should be taken into consideration when purchasing a countertop microwave oven is the size. There are a few variables that will impact the size of the machine that you need, which include:
- The amount of space you have to accommodate the appliance. If you are short on countertop space, than a compact size is the best option for you.
- The number of people you will be using the microwave to prepare food for. The more people you will be cooking for, the larger the countertop microwave you will need.
- The type of food you will be cooking. If you will only be using it to pop bags of microwave popcorn or to reheat small plates of leftovers, a compact microwave will suit your needs; however, if you will be using it to prepare larger meals, then you are going to want to choose one that can accommodate larger items.
The wattage indicates how much power the countertop microwave offers. The amount of power it offers will directly impact how quickly it will heat up or cook food. To determine what type of wattage you need, consider the electrical set up of the space you will be using the appliance in; most spaces will be able to handle 1,650 watts of power; however, an older home or a smaller space may not be able to handle as much power. You should also bear in mind how fast you want the microwave to prepare your food; if you want it to prepare your food quickly, you will want more wattage.
If the amount of energy your countertop microwave oven will consume is important to you, than the energy efficiency of the appliance is an important factor to consider. More energy efficient models consume less energy, which will cut down on your electric bill, and will also minimize the impact on the environment.
You should also consider how much you want to spend on your countertop microwave oven. These appliances can vary significantly in price, with smaller, more basic models running around $50 or less, and larger models that boast more features costing upwards of $150 or more. Make sure you know how much you want to spend so that you don’t go over your budget.
Countertop Microwave Oven Features
This appliance can boast a wide range of features. These features are intended to improve the efficiency of the appliance and to make cooking an easier task. These features can also make the countertop microwave oven more versatile. Keep in mind, though, that the more features a countertop microwave oven offers, the more expensive it will be. It’s important to understand the different types of features and what they do so that you can determine whether or not you want or need them.
Here is a look at some of the most common countertop microwave oven features.
Some countertop microwave ovens double as a convection oven. This feature is ideal if you live in a space that doesn’t have a traditional oven, as the microwave can also function as an oven. It also allows you to cook your food more quickly, and makes the microwave more energy efficient. Additionally, a convection oven gives you more flexibility when it comes to cooking; for example, you can bake a pie in this appliance, or prepare a roasted chicken.
Some microwave ovens feature turntables. This feature consists of a glass dish, which the food is placed on, and rotates it around as the microwave is in operation. With a turntable, your food will be more evenly heated, which will make your microwave more efficient.
Another feature that you may find useful is preset functions. These functions can include things like ‘popcorn,’ ‘hot dogs,’ ‘chicken nuggets,’ and so on. You don’t have to set the timer; just press the preset button and the microwave will automatically cook the food for the perfect amount of time for the item you have selected. This could mean never having burnt popcorn again!
Child Safety Locks
If you live in a home with small children, a countertop microwave oven that features a child safety lock could be very beneficial. This feature will prevent a child from opening the microwave while it is in operation, and even when it isn’t.
Pushbuttons make it much easier to operate your countertop microwave oven. Instead of having to turn a dial, you simply push the buttons to input the amount of time you want to run the appliance, and to start or stop it.
If you plan on using your microwave to defrost foods, this is a handy feature. Simply place the frozen item in the appliance, choose the defrost setting and select the amount of time you want the item to defrost. You could go from having a frozen solid piece of meat to one that is thawed and ready to grill up in a matter of minutes.
The best countertop microwave ovens come with warranties. A warranty will protect your investment and is certainly handy to have. Should anything happen to your countertop microwave oven during the lifespan of the warranty, you may be able to have it repaired or replaced, or your money reimbursed. Make sure you read the details of the warranty to determine exactly what it covers.
The Best Countertop Microwave Oven Brands
There are many different manufacturers that produce countertop microwave ovens, which can make it difficult to determine which company makes the best product. To help you find the best options, we have done extensive research and have tested out several brands. The results of our findings concluded that the following brands of countertop microwave ovens are the best of the best.
Panasonic is highly regarded in the appliance industry. Their countertop microwave ovens are some of the best available. They produce a wide range of sizes that offer various features and are very easy to use.
Another highly regarded name in the kitchen appliance industry, Oster also produces some of the best countertop microwave ovens. We liked that they offered so many different options and features, and that they efficiently cooked and warmed different types of foods and drinks.
LG is known for producing high quality appliances, and their countertop microwave ovens are no different. They utilize the most state of the art technologies, sleek designs, and helpful features to provide outstanding results.
We also really like the countertop microwave ovens produced by Westinghouse. This company has been producing kitchen appliances for generations, and their countertop microwaves are exceptional. We liked how easy they were to use and how efficiently they cooked and warmed a variety of foods. We also liked the various features that they offered.