The Best Microwave

The Best Microwave

Our pick

Toshiba EM131A5C

Toshiba EM131A5C

Good looks, great controls

This midsize microwave looks better and has a few more useful features—including a mute option, automatic reheating, and a door handle instead of a button—than similar ovens.

Buying Options

$120 from Amazon
$120 from Home Depot

May be out of stock

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Our pick

Toshiba EM925A5A

Toshiba EM925A5A

Smaller but similar

If your countertops are a little tight on space or you want to save some money, this slightly smaller version of our favorite Toshiba works well and has most of the same great features.

Buying Options

$90 from Amazon

The Toshiba Toshiba EM131A5C is usually the most affordable microwave that has a full stainless (or black stainless) front finish, rather than the typical glossy black plastic with partial stainless trim. This model also has a door handle, which we found easier to open and easier to clean than the button-style release on most cheap microwaves. Best of all, you can mute the microwave—a rare feature that lets you stealthily reheat midnight snacks without waking up the rest of the house. Like most microwaves, the Toshiba also has a number of express-cooking options, and it heats food quickly and pretty evenly.

If you’re a little short on counter space or you want to save a few bucks, you could also consider the Toshiba EM925A5A. It has most of the same features as the EM131A5C, but it’s a bit smaller and doesn’t have a sensor for auto-heating modes.

Don’t count on these Toshiba microwaves to work better or last any longer than other microwaves you’ll find for a similar price. There’s a ton of evidence that they’re essentially the same microwaves as most models sold by GE, Whirlpool, Sharp, Amazon, Magic Chef, Black+Decker—the list goes on.

Also great

AmazonBasics Microwave

AmazonBasics Microwave

A tiny microwave we like

Most compact microwaves are basically identical to one another, but this is one of the few that has a door handle, and it is consistently among the cheapest. It can also work with Alexa voice commands, if you choose.

Buying Options

$60 from Amazon

May be out of stock

If you need a tiny microwave or just want to spend as little as possible, we’d recommend the AmazonBasics Microwave. It’s usually one of the cheapest microwaves you can buy, and it’s one of the few compact models that has a door handle, which we think is better than a button-style release. Like all compact models, this microwave has 700 watts of heating power, so it’s noticeably slower than larger ovens, which have 1,000 watts or more. We disassembled a bunch of these small microwaves and found that they’re all made from the same parts. The AmazonBasics’s only functional difference is that it can work with Alexa voice commands, if you choose (you’ll need a smart speaker). It’s also totally fine as a plain old microwave. If it’s out of stock, almost any other cheap 700-watt model will work well, too.

Runner-up

Magic Chef HMM1110B

Magic Chef HMM1110B

Another decent microwave

Most countertop microwaves are made in the same factory from the same core components—including the Toshiba we like, as well as this cheaper model. Get whatever fits your space and your budget.

Buying Options

$60 from Home Depot

If our other picks are sold out or are a little too expensive for your tastes, you can choose from tons of other cheap microwaves and still get the same cooking performance and expected reliability. The look and the controls are all slightly different, but they’re clones at the core. Magic Chef, Black+Decker, and Insignia are among the cheapest and easiest-to-find brands. GE, Whirlpool, and Sharp are essentially identical too (though they usually cost more, because the brand names were meaningful a couple decades ago). Pick whatever looks good to you, in whichever size fits your countertop and cookware.

Upgrade pick

Panasonic NN-SN67HS

Panasonic NN-SN67HS

Faster, more even heating

This is the only countertop microwave we tested that clearly outperformed the mass of cheaper models, and it’s not too expensive, either. Otherwise, the features and controls are pretty similar.

Buying Options

$140 from Target

Okay, not all microwaves are carbon copies of one another. Panasonic still makes some of its own ovens, and the models with inverters are really good, including the midsize Panasonic NN-SN67HS. In our testing, it heated faster and more evenly than every other microwave. We aren’t convinced that the Panasonics will last any longer than the mass of cheap Midea clones, and if you’re just making popcorn and reheating leftovers, you might not notice the superior performance anyway. The core microwave comes in most of the common sizes, from compact to extra-large, and in a few different finishes and control styles.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Toshiba EM131A5C

Toshiba EM131A5C

Good looks, great controls

This midsize microwave looks better and has a few more useful features—including a mute option, automatic reheating, and a door handle instead of a button—than similar ovens.

Buying Options

$120 from Amazon
$120 from Home Depot

May be out of stock

Our pick

Toshiba EM925A5A

Toshiba EM925A5A

Smaller but similar

If your countertops are a little tight on space or you want to save some money, this slightly smaller version of our favorite Toshiba works well and has most of the same great features.

Buying Options

$90 from Amazon

Also great

AmazonBasics Microwave

AmazonBasics Microwave

A tiny microwave we like

Most compact microwaves are basically identical to one another, but this is one of the few that has a door handle, and it is consistently among the cheapest. It can also work with Alexa voice commands, if you choose.

Buying Options

$60 from Amazon

May be out of stock

Runner-up

Magic Chef HMM1110B

Magic Chef HMM1110B

Another decent microwave

Most countertop microwaves are made in the same factory from the same core components—including the Toshiba we like, as well as this cheaper model. Get whatever fits your space and your budget.

Buying Options

$60 from Home Depot

Upgrade pick

Panasonic NN-SN67HS

Panasonic NN-SN67HS

Faster, more even heating

This is the only countertop microwave we tested that clearly outperformed the mass of cheaper models, and it’s not too expensive, either. Otherwise, the features and controls are pretty similar.

Buying Options

$140 from Target

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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