Best Microwave Oven 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

The speed of modern life means that sometimes you just want to get a meal on the table as fast as possible – that’s where microwaves and combination-ovens step in.

Whether you want a cheap and cheerful countertop oven, or want to upgrade to a fancy integrated option with all the latest mod cons – we’ve reviewed some of the top kitchen appliances on the market to help you make tasty, healthy and convenient food fast.

Embrace the modern cooking revolution with these energy-efficient appliances.

Our team have spent hours testing and reviewing these microwaves, putting the various models through their paces so you can decide for yourself which one suits you best.

The Best Microwaves and Combination Ovens – Our Top Picks

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
apr2-table__image
  • ✓     Dimensions: 48.9 x 27.5 x 37.4 cm (H x W x D)
  • ✓     2400 W fan assisted convection-oven & 1110 W grill & 900 W microwave
  • ✓     30 L capacity – generous!
  • ✓     31.5 cm glass turntable
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apr2-table__image
  • ✓     Dimensions: 48.9 x 27.5 x 37.4 cm (H x W x D)
  • ✓     23 L capacity
  • ✓     800 W cooking power
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apr2-table__image
  • ✓     Dimensions: 455 x 596 x 548 mm (H x W x D)
  • ✓     45 L capacity
  • ✓     Innowave technology
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Best Solo Microwaves

Panasonic NN-ST479S Sensor

Panasonic countertop appliance with all the basic functions – one of the best original Panasonic models on the market.

This nifty little portable option is simple and functional. With a good spread of auto functions, programmes, and a stainless steel exterior, we love the fact that you can get this lovely little machine for less than £150! A great family microwave purchase.

We like

  • 15 programmes (including automatic weight sensing cooking programmes)
  • Timer and large turntable (34 cm) for accurate cooking

We disike

  • Panel doesn’t light up well – hard to read
  • Open door button pushes the microwave back (it’s a good idea to have it near the back wall, but you need at least a 10 cm clearance zone)
  • No grill or convection heat – only basic functions

Final Verdict

This Panasonic countertop microwave offers all the basics you need and has some great defrost and cooking functions. Great to see some automatic weight sensor technology; it is a nice and roomy option for its price-point – perfect for families.

+ Specifications

  • 31 x 52 x 39.5 cm (H x W x D)
  • 27 L capacity (family size)
  • 900 W cooking power

+ Downloads

Panasonic NN-ST479S Sensor product manual

Download

Panasonic NN-SF464MBPQ Solo Microwave

The Panasonic NN-SF464MBPQ is a powerful machine that fits in well with any kitchen. Its stainless steel design and black finish make it blend well with other furniture, whether you want to keep it hidden or use it as a counter top microwave. With inverter technology, the Panasonic cooks evenly and delivers more heat performance to ensure fast cooking times. This microwave offers a range of different programmes depending on the type of food you are cooking.

The flatbed design inside this appliance makes for 30% more cooking space and so is recommended for families and those living with a couple of people. The flatbed design offers more space than the traditional turntable design found in most microwaves. This way you can cook and reheat more food at once and save you waiting around. With five different auto cooking programmes you can cook anything, from soup and fish to desserts and drinks. These controls are precisely tweaked to ensure great even cooking for specific dishes with the click of a button.

The digital touch screen display lets you keep an eye on your food and is easy to read. Change settings and set a programme with the touch controls located underneath the display. This option offers plenty of functional settings including comprehensive defrost, reheat and warm settings to ensure your food tastes great every meal. It is great value for money and is suited to those living with a couple of people.

We like

  • Durable and stylish design
  • Easy to use
  • Simple to clean
  • Very quiet microwave
  • Spacious
  • Powerful

We disike

  • Quite a big microwave
  • Need to keep turning food while cooking

Final Verdict

This is a stylish and durable microwave that works well in busy environments where a lot of food needs cooked at once. Perfect for families and those living with a couple of people.

+ Specifications

  • 326 x 529 x 430 mm (H x W x D)
  • 27 L capacity (family size)
  • 900 W cooking power

+ Downloads

Panasonic NN-SF464MBPQ Solo Microwave user manual

Download

Best Built-In Microwaves

Siemens IQ-700 CF634AGS1B Built In Microwave

Leaving little to be desired, this Siemens is the very best when it comes to traditional microwaves. Far from being the box on your worktop that you use to reheat last night’s pizza, this microwave sports features that could change your perception of microwave cooking forever.

Our favourite feature by far is the auto cook feature, which allows the microwave to steam or even crisp your food at the touch of a button. Not only that, but the set cooking programmes allow you to make use of pre-set temperatures and cooking times to create the perfect meat or fish dish.

With a beautifully sleek and modern design, this microwave is sure to add that special something to your kitchen.

We like

  • 36 litre capacity
  • Auto cook
  • 7 Cooking programmes
  • Child lock

We disike

  • No grill
  • More expensive than other options

Final Verdict

A beautiful sleek design paired with plenty of useful features make this microwave the perfect addition to any modern kitchen.

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 45.5 x 59.5 x 54.8 cm (H x W x D)
  • Capacity: 36 litres
  • Cleaning: Easy-clean enamel interior
  • Best Feature: Automatic cooking programmes

+ Downloads

Siemens IQ-700 CF634AGS1B user manual

Download

Neff C17MR02N0B Built-in Combi Microwave

If you are looking for a convenient built-in combination microwave then the Neff C17MR02N0B is the perfect microwave for you. Operating as a high-powered microwave with oven and grill functions, you can prepare a range of meals all in one place. It’s powerful, working at 1,000 watts and offers hassle-free cooking to your home. This appliance has 14 different cooking features and settings to ensure your food is cooked to perfection. The Neff C17MR02N0B also has a range of different defrost settings depending on the type of food you are cooking.

This option is clever and allows you to get cooking fast. Simply key in the weight of your food or choose the type of food you want to cook from the pre-programmed menu. The Neff C17MR02N0B comes equipped with innowave technology ensuring your meals cook fast and evenly while in the microwave. This technology reduces your energy consumption by up to 15% and cooks food 10% faster than microwaves without this technology.

The Neff C17MR02N0B has an innovative ShiftControl panel keeping you in full control of settings and cooking functions. The 2.5 inch TFT display is crisp and clear so you can see information clearly. This microwave operates with a drop down door for convenience and ease of use. It has a whopping 45 litre capacity and so can cook a range of food, from heating up meals to defrosting a chicken. The flatbed design ensures you have even more space for cooking your favourite meals comfortably. The Neff C17MR02N0B comes equipped with a plate warming function which is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

We like

  • Good capacity
  • Easy to use once you have got to grips with it
  • Lots of features and programmes
  • Drop down door
  • Sleek design

We disike

  • Complicated controls
  • Start button isn’t very sensitive

Final Verdict

This is an impressive microwave that offers flexibility and versatility to your home.

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 455 x 596 x 548 mm (H x W x D)
  • 45 L capacity
  • Innowave technology

+ Downloads

Neff C17MR02N0B user manual

Download

Best Combination Microwaves

Russell Hobbs RHM3003 900-watt Combi Microwave

This kitchen appliance is for people who are looking for efficiency and style. Combining a convection-oven, grill, and microwave, this powerful Russell Hobbs microwave works hard for its modest price tag. Great style for a reasonable price – this Russell Hobbs model delivers on functionality and flexibility.

We like

  • Great spread of powerful cooking functions means you can mix and match your cooking – e.g. use grill and microwave at the same time
  • Simple white exterior
  • 5 power levels (including 10 auto cook menu/defrost functions)
  • Ceramic interior (anti-bacterial and easy to clean)

We disike

  • Might take you awhile to figure out how to use all the different functions and features

Final Verdict

We love the unusual white finish and mirror door on this Russell Hobbs microwave – makes a difference from the usual metallic styles. Compact and classy, with combination-oven has an attractive price tag too!

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 48.9 x 27.5 x 37.4 cm (H x W x D)
  • 2400 W fan assisted convection-oven & 1110 W grill & 900 W microwave
  • 30 L capacity – generous!
  • 31.5 cm glass turntable

+ Downloads

Russell Hobbs RHM3003 900-watt product manual

Download

Panasonic NN-CT55JWBPQ Combi Microwave

The Panasonic NN-CT55JWBPQ is a great addition to any home. It’s sleek design compliments any kitchen and works well for families, couples or those living by themselves. This is a powerful microwave working at 1300 watts for both the grill and microwave. The oven can reach 220°C and comes with 19 different auto-cook programmes. The Panasonic NN-CT55JWBPQ has a large capacity of around 27 litres and so is suitable to cook a range of different meals, from drinks to defrosting meat.

This model offers flexible cooking including a microwave, grill and convection oven. It offers a range of different settings and programmes so you can enjoy specific programmes like vegetables, fish and chips and porridge. This appliance offers multiple options for reheating and defrosting all kinds of different food ensuring that your meals are always cooked evenly and taste great.

The premium control panel is located on the front of this model and allows you to select programmes and settings easily depending on the type of food you want to cook. The Panasonic NN-CT55JWBPQ comes with inverter technology which offers superior cooking and efficient defrost results than when compared to those microwaves without it. This technology ensures that your food is cooked quickly without compromising on quality.

The clear LCD display keeps you in full control of cooking. Change settings and select cooking programmes using the touch controls under the display. This model is modern and sleek and is a valuable addition to any kitchen.

We like

  • Fast and effective cooking
  • Easy to use
  • 27 litre capacity
  • Inverter technology

We disike

  • Much noisier than previous models
  • Slides across work surface when opening

Final Verdict

The Panasonic NN-CT55JWBPQ offers quality without the price tag and is well suited to families, couples and those living alone.

+ Specifications

  • External Dimensions: 310 x 520 x 395 mm (H x W x D)
  • 27 L capacity
  • 1300 W cooking power

+ Downloads

Panasonic NN-CT55JWBPQ user manual

Download

Panasonic NN-CS894S Combi Steam

Steam cooking is great for conserving food quality, vitamins and minerals. If you love cooking with steam, or are just curious about this more unusual appliance – give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. This 4-in-1 combi-oven is great value for money (steam, convection, microwave and grill).

Filled with fantastic features, this microwave’s unusual flatbed design makes it ideal for cooking larger dishes. This is destined to become a firm family favourite.

We like

  • Steam and turbo steam options
  • Easy to use by the whole family
  • Large flatbed cooking cavity
  • Comes with loads of extra features like a drip tray and a steaming trivet
  • Swipe and touch LCD display

We disike

  • If not used to using steam ovens, this option may seem a bit odd at first
  • Flatbed style design takes some getting used to

Final Verdict

Cooking with steam is fantastically healthy and this Panasonic countertop option is jam packed with loads of great cooking features. Behind its slightly bulky and non-descript exterior is a powerful, quality cooking machine that’s certainly worth a try.

+ Specifications

  • 39 x 49.4 x 43.8 cm (H x W x D)
  • 1300 W quartz grill, 1000 W microwave, 240 centigrades convection oven with steam options
  • 32 L capacity
  • Catalytic self-cleaning interior & fluoric coating – easier to keep clean and protects microwave from splashes and wear & tear

+ Downloads

Panasonic NN-CS894S Combi Steam product manual

Download

ElectriQ Built-in 34L Combi Steam Oven

The electriQ Built-in 34 litre Combi Steam offers a sleek and compact design for your whole family to enjoy. With steam cooking functions, you and your family can eat healthier every night to cook some of your favourite meals.

This option works very differently from the usual microwave because it uses moist air to seal in the flavour from your food, ensuring you enjoy every bite of your food. Steam cooking works to lock in vitamins and minerals into your food and ensure it retains its bright and natural colours when cooked. There is no need to add any oils and butter to your food as the steam perfectly cooks food without any extra help.

This model offers four different cooking functions so you can cook exactly the way you want to. With an inbuilt oven, grill steamer and microwave, you have full control over the way you cook your food. This microwave is unbranded and sleek to suit any kitchen. It is an integrated model ensuring your kitchen is uncluttered and spacious. A clear LED display sits at the top of the microwave and the touch control panel makes using this microwave simple and easy.

With 34 litre capacity, the electriQ Combi Steam is spacious and perfect for families. It’s incredibly easy to keep clean thanks to the steam settings which ensure your microwave stays sparkling clean every day, and has a maximum temperature of 230 degrees for safety.

We like

  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Effective steam function
  • Clear LCD display
  • Large capacity
  • Powerful 4 in 1 appliance
  • Easy to clean

We disike

  • No timer
  • Complicated on first use

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a healthy alternative for your home then the electriQ 4 in 1 is the perfect option for you.

+ Specifications

  • 454 x 595 x 525 mm (H x W x D)
  • 900 W
  • 34 L capacity
  • 4 in 1 with oven, grill and steam capabilities

+ Downloads

electriQ Built-in 34 litre Combi Steam user manual

Download

Best Budget Microwaves

Samsung MS23F301TAS/EU

Fantastic 5 star value standard countertop microwave.

This microwave’s price tag is hidden behind its understated, yet stylish, exterior. Designed by one of the nation’s favourite appliance brands, this Samsung Solo frequently scores 5 stars in user tests and is trusted by scores and scores of Britons up and down the country.

We weren’t disappointed with this great value appliance, and trust you won’t be either!

We like

  • Generous 2 year Samsung parts and labour warranty
  • Looks a lot more expensive than its price tag
  • Blue LED display completes sleek design
  • Ceramic interior (anti-bacterial and easy to clean)

We disike

  • No exciting colours (we’d love to see this model in a classy red)

Final Verdict

Cheap and cheerful, this Samsung model is a kitchen appliance gem. It always gets rave reviews – and we are no exception. Try it out for yourself and see why it’s the nation’s favourite budget kitchen buy.

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 48.9 x 27.5 x 37.4 cm (H x W x D)
  • 23 L capacity
  • 800 W cooking power

+ Downloads

Samsung MS23F301TAS/EU user manual

Download

Kenwood K25MMS14 Solo

The Kenwood K25MMS14 is a sleek and stylish model that complements any kitchen. With 900 watts of power, it’s powerful and effective to re-heat, cook and defrost food easily. This microwave has an inbuilt LED light inside so you can see your food as it’s cooking.

The LED display is clear and lets you monitor cooking times, check and change settings and keep you in control of your cooking. When not in use, the display conveniently turns into a clock. The Kenwood K25MMS14 is spacious and boasts 25 litres of space inside so you can use it with multiple types of food from reheating drinks, a plate of food or defrosting meat.

This option offers five different power settings giving you more control over your cooking. Move through the different power functions on the buttons on the front of the appliance, and use the silver dial to change the duration to suit your cooking. This model also offers eight different cooking functions depending on the type of food you are cooking. Choose from pasta, popcorn, potatoes, vegetables and more to get the perfect cooking settings for your meal.

The Kenwood K25MMS14 comes equipped with child lock making it safe for the family home. It’s silver, stainless steel finish makes it sleek and suits any kitchen perfectly. It is well built and durable while offering unbeatable power that cooks any food evenly.

We like

  • 8 cooking programmes
  • Powerful and easy to use
  • Stylish design
  • Large capacity

We disike

  • Controls are small and hard to read
  • Noisy

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a stylish, powerful yet simple countertop appliance, the Kenwood solo is a great choice.

+ Specifications

  • Dimensions: 306.2 x 513 x 430 mm (H x W x D)
  • 25 litre capacity
  • 900 W cooking power
  • 8 auto programmes

+ Downloads

Kenwood K25MMS14 user manual

Download

Microwave Buying Guide

Microwaves are super convenient, energy efficient, and they make meal times faster (and more fun). But it’s not just about the humble countertop models anymore –  combi-ovens are hitting the market: giving people the option to opt for a kitchen microwave that offers them much more than just a simple microwave for heating up food.

These appliances can include a convection oven, an electric grill, a steam oven, and a microwave all in one!

Though still convenient and fast, modern microwaves are getting a lot more sophisticated than cheap and ready-made meals. Microwaves have become part of the healthy convenience food revolution; they offer busy people the chance to make excellent home cooked meals from scratch with less hassle and stress.

Microwaves come in gorgeous and stylish designs, including built-in wall options that don’t look out of place in luxury kitchens.

How do microwaves work?

Microwaves heat food through radio waves that are absorbed into food through water and fat molecules and converted into heat. Microwaves only heat up the molecules inside food, not the actual microwaves themselves so they are efficient and deliver a very even cooking result.

Power & size

Microwaves’ power is always measured in watts, with most models ranging from about 700 W to 1100 W. It’s generally better to favour microwaves with a higher wattage as they are going to cook food more efficiently.

Just like ovens, microwaves’ internal capacity is always measured in litres. Microwaves come in all different shapes and sizes, from 17 L up to 32 L. For a family, around 27 L is ideal.

Functions

It’s a good idea to take advantage of your microwave’s pre-programmed functions and settings. You will usually find a few basic ones like defrost and reheat on all models – but more sophisticated microwaves have dozens of pre-programmed ones (and you can even programme your own). The functions are there to help you get the most out of cooking with your microwave.

Safety guidelines

  • You must never ever put any metal utensils or items in the microwave – including traces of aluminium foil.
  • Most countertop microwaves need space around them in order to be able to regulate their heat and cool down.
  • Some plastics, ceramics and glassware are not microwave safe – always check for any markings if you are not sure.
  • You can get child lock features – good idea if you have kids running about.
  • When heating food – always leave it to stand for a few minutes after you take it out, as the food will be burning hot when it first comes out. Always vent food when you are heating it up so that steam can escape.
  • Microwaves aren’t suitable for sterilising baby bottles or utensils.

Different types

There any many different styles and types – from a simple countertop one to an integrated combination-oven with loads of complex functions.

Microwave only

This is the classic one –it won’t have any fancy extras like a grill or a convection oven. A simple microwave can still do a lot of things though – it can defrost, reheat, cook, and even steam food. These microwaves tend to come in countertop models.

Microwave + Grill

Adding a grill to your appliance is a great idea because it helps you save kitchen space and is great for when you just want to crisp something up fast. Sometimes you can use the microwave and grill functions simultaneously.

Combination-oven

Combination-ovens can be simple countertop affairs, or they can include a plethora of complex oven functions like steam, convection, grill, and microwave all rolled into one. It is a very energy-efficient and cost-effective option, and it’s becoming an increasingly common kitchen solution. Especially in small kitchen spaces, these can be a lifesaver.

Built-in / Integrated microwave

These super stylish microwaves sit in kitchen walls and can be mounted at eye-level – making for a sleek and contemporary kitchen look. They are more pricey than the countertop models though.

Are microwaves bad for you / Dangerous?

Not at all. Modern microwaves are very safe and secure. There have been some historic claims that microwaves are dangerous and that they cause cancer – but these claims are unsubstantiated. If properly stored, installed and used, you should have no issues with your appliance whatsoever.

What’s the difference between a microwave and a combination-oven?

A combination-oven offers many different cooking functions (including a microwave), whereas a microwave only offers one. They vary greatly in price, size and functions, but generally they are cost-effective and cheap to run. If you are used to a more traditional oven, it may take you awhile to get to grips with how to use one – but it’s worth it!

What are the benefits of a built-in combination-oven?

Built-in options are more durable, flexible, and stylish than more traditional countertop microwaves. They allow you to install your microwave within your overall kitchen design, and help keep your kitchen worktops clean from appliances.

How to get a good deal

The first thing to do is to shop around and decide on what type of appliance you need. Go for trusted brands or appliances that have received favourable reviews in user tests. Try to pack as many functionalities and features as you can into one appliance – that’s often the most effective way to save money in the long run. Buy kitchen appliances during sales whenever you can to get a good deal, but beware of sales items that you can’t return, or that have shorter warranty periods.

Cleaning and care

  • Be careful with water around your microwave and remove any extra parts like turntables carefully before cleaning.
  • It’s a good idea to regularly clean the inside of your appliance as it can get splattered and dirty when you heat food up fast.
  • Make sure that your appliance has sufficient breathing room around it so that is stays well-ventilated and NEVER store things on top of it.

Now you’ve got your fast-cooking microwave sorted, shall we check out our slow cooker reviews next?