The Best Microwave Ovens of 2018

The Editors' Choice award winner  the Panasonic NN-SD745S.
Struggling to make absolutely perfect popcorn? After researching over 75 different models, we bought the 10 best microwaves currently available on the market and tested them head-to-head to see which appliance is really the best around. While you may think that a microwave is a microwave, we found there to be an enormous spectrum when it came to performance for these products. Some are easy to use and heat quickly and evenly, while others tended to render food rather inedible. To see which microwave zapped the competition, we heated up dozens of frozen burritos, individual lasagnas and pot pies, Hot Pockets, and plate after plate of leftovers, judging and scoring each appliance on how long it took to heat up each item and how evenly it was warmed. We also rated the ease of operating each microwave and the various convenience features that each one had. Check out the full review below to see which microwave bested them all and which is the best bet when shopping on a budget.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Rank #10 #4 #5 #7 #2
Product
Awards    Best Buy Award       
Price $150 List$110 List
$76.19 at Amazon
$100 List
$72.52 at Amazon
$140 List
$114.99 at Amazon
$248 List
$191.79 at Amazon
Overall Score
100
0
46
100
0
61
100
0
59
100
0
55
100
0
66
Star Rating
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Pros Solid at defrostingEven heat, great for leftovers, good at defrostingGreat for frozen burritos and lasagnaSpeedy, decent at frozen burritosGreat at heating food, great at Hot Pockets,
Cons Slow, poor at heating, expensiveTerrible at frozen burritosTerrible at Hot Pockets, uneven heatingExpensive, difficult to useExpensive, poor frozen burrito performance
Bottom Line This model performed very poorly and is exceptionally pricey.A fantastic budget option that defrosts food and heats up last night's leftovers well.A good value option, but not a great one.While this model is fast at heating, it got beat in the most important testsA fantastic product, but it is a little on the pricey side
Ratings by Category MS11K3000AS WM009 OGH6901 NN-SU696S NN-SD745S
Heating - 40%
10
0
3
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
Ease Of Use - 30%
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
6
Defrosting - 20%  Sort Icon
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
5
Speed - 10%
10
0
2
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs MS11K3000AS WM009 OGH6901 NN-SU696S NN-SD745S
Model MS11K3000AS WM009 OGH6901 NN-SU696S NN-SD745S
Watts 1000 W 900 W 900 W 1100 W 1250 W
Cubic Feet 1.1 cu ft 0.9 cu ft 0.9 cu ft 1.3 cu ft 1.6 cu ft

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Friday
April 13, 2018

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Updated April 2018
After a very long drought of new products, we have finally found a new microwave that showed real promise: the hOmeLabs HME010002N. This product is exceptionally fantastic at heating foo, performing this task both consistently and quickly. It's incredibly easy to use and — even better — comes at a relatively reasonable price. However, it isn't quite the best at defrosting items, delivering a relatively mediocre performance. Regardless of this, we are overall very impressed with this kitchen appliance. In fact, the hOmeLabs did so well in our tests that it toppled our previous champion, the Panasonic NN-SD745S, delivering the best performance that we have seen to date and claiming both an Editors' Choice Award and the title of Best Overall Microwave. If you want the best of the best when it comes to these products, then the hOmeLabs is the perfect choice for your home.

Best Overall


hOmeLabs HME010002N


The hOmeLabs HME010002N.
Editors' Choice Award

$119.99
at Amazon
See It

Size: 1.3 cu. ft. | Power: 1050 Watts
Evenly heats food
Extremely easy to use
Heats food very fast
Mediocre at defrosting

Earning the highest score out of any microwave that we have tested to date, the hOmeLabs HME010002N is our new favorite when it comes to these products. This product delivered a phenomenal performance when it came to heating up food, evenly heating up all of the prepared food that we placed in it, such as chicken pot pies, individual servings of lasagna, frozen burritos, or Hot Pockets. Not limited to processed food, this microwave also did a commendable job at evenly heating up a mixed plate of leftovers using its "Sensor Reheat" function. This microwave is also very fast at heating up food and is quite easy to use, having a variety of pre-programmed functions that are very effective and one-touch buttons that automatically start the microwave. On top of all that, the hOmeLabs is about half the price of our previous award winner, the Panasonic NN-SD745S that it ousted for the top spot.

However, this product didn't deliver an amazing performance when it came to defrosting food. We attempted to use the "Defrost by Weight" function to thaw a 1 lb. roll of ground turkey and the "Defrost by Time" function on a frozen muffin, finding both food items to be heated very unevenly and far from satisfactory. This microwave also lacks the ability to operate as a standalone timer — a surprisingly handy feature once you become accustomed to it. Regardless of these pitfalls, we still think the hOmeLabs is the best microwave you can get and the perfect option for most people.

Read Full Review: hOmeLabs HME010002N

Best Bang for the Buck


Kenmore 73773


The Kenmore 73773.
Best Buy Award

$66.46
at Amazon
See It

Size: 0.9 cu. ft. | Power: 900 Watts
Great at frozen burritos
Fantastic for frozen lasagna
Easy to use
Heats leftovers unevenly

Shopping for a top-notch microwave but don't want to zap your bank account? The P90D23AP-WJS by Kenmore is a fantastic value option, providing overall excellent performance at a much more budget-friendly price than our Editors' Choice award winner. This all-around performer heats food rapidly and evenly, earning it one of the top scores of the entire group. It also is very easy to use, with single-touch buttons and presets that are decently effective.

While this model doesn't quite defrost or heat as evenly as our top choice, the Kenmore retails for far less, making this product the perfect choice if you are shopping on a budget and looking to spend a little less than the top-tier models retail for.

Read Full Review: Kenmore 73773

Best Bang for the Buck


Westinghouse WM009


The Westinghouse WM009.
Best Buy Award

$76.19
at Amazon
See It

Size: 0.9 cu. ft. | Power: 900 Watts
Good for defrosting
Great for heating leftovers
Uniform heating
Awful at frozen burritos

Just narrowly bested by the Kenmore, the Westinghouse WM009 is another great pick for those searching for a value buy. This appliance does an amazing job at defrosting food items, although it is slightly slower than the other award winners at heating up food. It's a snap to use and will heat your food evenly. On top of that, it is simple and intuitive to use, with preset functions that are surprisingly accurate and effective.

However, it's also oddly deficient at heating up a frozen burrito, despite its superior defrosting performance in our other tests. Additionally, it will also take just a tiny bit longer than some of the other products out there. Despite those setbacks, this is still an excellent value microwave and a great option for those looking to save some cash, especially if you don't plan on heating up frozen burritos on a regular basis.

Read Full Review: Westinghouse WM009

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
67
$127
Editors' Choice Award
Earning the top score of the entire group, this kitchen appliance delivered a fantastic performance and is our overall favorite
66
$248
Expensive, but delivers a great performance overall
62
$90
Best Buy Award
Not great at defrosting, but the best you can get for the price
61
$110
Best Buy Award
A lower cost microwave that could thaw its way out of an ice age and keep your leftovers piping hot
59
$100
A semi runner up for the Best Buy Award, but not quite as good as the others
57
$140
Second-rate microwave for the price
55
$140
Quick to heat, but had to wave at the competition as it got passed by trying to figure itself out
49
$250
Easy to use pricey microwave, but got zapped down by the competition
46
$230
It will heat up the runway, but not much else
46
$150
Poor performer for a higher price

The top models in our tests: Panasonic NN-SD745S  Westinghouse WM009  and Kenmore 73773.
The top models in our tests: Panasonic NN-SD745S, Westinghouse WM009, and Kenmore 73773.

Analysis and Test Results


We bought the top microwaves available and put them through the wringer, comparing their performance at everything from heating up frozen burritos to how fast they could heat up water. We directly compared the results in a side-to-side test to determine the overall scores, ranging from 0-100. Our testing process was split into four metrics — Heating, Defrosting, Ease of Use, and Speed — with over 15 different tests spread among the metrics. We detail how each model did in each test in the following sections, assigning a subscore for each metric that was then used to compute the overall score and rankings.

Value


As you can see, the spectrum of prices for these products is quite wide, ranging from about $90 to $250. Our favorite microwave of the group, the hOmeLabs falls right in the middle, with a list price around $120 — significantly less expensive than the $240 list price of our prior top pick, the Panasonic NN-SD745S. If spending over $100 is unacceptable to you, then you should consider either the Westinghouse or the Kenmore. This pair of bargain buys both have a list price of around $90 and performed very similarly. Additionally, you can also usually find one or the other of this pair selling at a discounted price if you search around a bit, allowing you to get even more bang for the buck.

The Panasonic NN-SD745S heating up a test plate of leftovers.
The Panasonic NN-SD745S heating up a test plate of leftovers.

Heating


Heating up food with little to no effort is the main reason that you are going to buy a microwave. Period. Whether you are heating up leftovers from last night's dinner or zapping a Hot Pocket for a quick lunch, you want a microwave that is going to quickly and evenly heat your food to the desired temperature. This metric is so important that it comprises 40% of the total score — a model that does poorly in this metric is something that we would definitely caution against buying. You can see how the models stacked up in the chart below.


We heated identical frozen burritos, trays of lasagna, and Hot Pockets in each model of microwave, then used an array of cooking thermometers to evaluate how uniform the food was heated. We also reheated a typical plate of leftovers, simulating a Thanksgiving dinner, as well as chicken pot pies to test each model on a variety of different food types and see how they did. Finally, we generated a heat map with a plate of melted chocolate to look for any inconsistencies or dead spots while the microwave was heating.

The top-performing models in this set of tests were the hOmeLabs and the Panasonic NN-SD745S, both earning an 8 out of 10 for their stellar performance.

The hOmeLabs started out with a fantastic performance in our Hot Pocket test. We heated the Hot Pocket for two and a half minutes and found there to only be an average temperature difference of 2.1°F between the three zones that we measured. However, this wasn't quite the top performance we saw, with the NN-SD745S being slightly superior with only 1.9°F of variation, but both products produced excellent pocket sandwiches.

This product did a great job quickly and evenly heating up a Hot Pocket.
This product did a great job quickly and evenly heating up a Hot Pocket.

The performance of the hOmeLabs dropped a little when we moved on to some other types of heat-and-eat food — such as a chicken pot pie, an individual frozen lasagna, and a frozen burrito — but still did very well overall, finishing in the top of the group. There was just a bit more average temperature variation present in these food items, on the order of 10-12°F.

The lasagna was heated evenly across all the zones.
The lasagna was heated evenly across all the zones.

This appliance continued its exemplary performance into our leftovers test. For this evaluation, we relied on the "Sensor Reheat" function of the hOmeLabs to set the proper time. The plate of food was heated fairly evenly, although the items closer to the center seemed to be slightly warmer than the rest. This product finished out this metric with an almost perfect showing in our heat map test. It completely melted the chocolate in its entirety, with only a single singed spot hampering its otherwise flawless showing.

Only a tiny burned spot kept the hOmeLabs from earning a perfect score.
Only a tiny burned spot kept the hOmeLabs from earning a perfect score.

Moving on to the other top performer when it came to heating up food, the NN-SD745S did a great job at heating up our sample Thanksgiving dinner an even amount, with the green beans being just a tiny bit warmer than the other food items. It also did a great job at heating up the pot pie, easily heating it to the necessary temperature of 165°F, and having less than 10°F of temperature variation between different zones. However, where this model truly excelled was our frozen pocket sandwich test and our heat map test. We heated up a Hot Pocket brand sandwich using the "Frozen Pocket Sandwich" setting and then measured the internal temperature with an array of kitchen thermometers.

This model made an exceptional Hot Pocket.
This model made an exceptional Hot Pocket.

The SD745S had the smallest temperature variation between the thermometers, with less than 2°F of difference. This model also had a very uniform chocolate heat map, melting the entire plate evenly with no cold or burnt spots.

Getting ready to test the NN-SD745S for uniform heating with the prepared chocolate.
This model melted all of the chocolate without burning  showing very even heating performance.

However, this Panasonic model fell a little flat on our frozen burrito and frozen lasagna test, failing to heat the burrito to 160°F and both the lasagna and burrito having wide temperature variation across.

Following this duo of top-notch products, the Kenmore P90D23AP-WJS, the LG LCS1112ST, the Oster OGH6901, the Panasonic NN-SU696S, and the Westinghouse WM009 all earned a 6 out for 10 for their slightly above average heating score. While these models all received the same overall score for their heating performance, they performed wildly different in the individual tests in this metric — meaning you will want to look at the models that performed the best in tests that most closely match what you tend to use these products for.

The Westinghouse and the Oster did the best of this bunch at reheating our plate of leftovers — all of the food types were piping hot and within a few degrees of each other. Following this pair was the other Panasonic model that we reviewed, the NN-SU696S, which just had a little too much temperature variation on our plate of leftovers, with a few of the chicken tenders being close to 40°F warmer than the mashed potatoes. The rest of the models — the Kenmore and the LG — all did a less than stellar job with the plate of leftovers, failing to evenly heat the same type of food. For example, the Kenmore had close to a 20°F temperature difference between the head and the foot of a single chicken tender.

The Kenmore didn't do the best at heating evenly  with almost 20°F difference between the head and foot of some of the dinosaur chicken tenders.
The Kenmore didn't do the best at heating evenly, with almost 20°F difference between the head and foot of some of the dinosaur chicken tenders.

When it came to heating up the pot pie, the LG almost matched the performance of the Panasonic NN-SD745S, but had slightly more temperature variation. The rest of this pack all did an acceptable job at the pot pie, with the exception of the Westinghouse. This model did poorly, failing to hit the necessary temperature and having differences of over 40°F between different regions of the pie. The story changed dramatically when it came to Hot Pockets, with the Westinghouse doing the best job of this group, finishing just ever so slightly behind the Panasonic NN-SD745S.

The Sharp exceeded the stated minimum temperature and did an alright job at heating the Hot Pocket evenly.
The Sharp exceeded the stated minimum temperature and did an alright job at heating the Hot Pocket evenly.

The rest of the models in this group (Kenmore, LG, Panasonic NN-SU696S, and Oster) all did close to average, exhibiting 10-15°F of temperature variation across the pocket sandwich, with the Kenmore on the lower end of that range and the Oster on the higher.

This group of 5 products also displayed a wide variation in performance in our chocolate heat map test, with the LG doing the best, matching the performance of the Panasonic NN-SD745S. Next came the Kenmore, which almost matched the performance of the three top-scoring models, but left an unmelted board around the outside of the plate that was about a quarter-inch thick.

The LG evenly melted the chocolate  leaving no solid areas or burnt sections.
The LG evenly melted the chocolate, leaving no solid areas or burnt sections.

The Oster and the Panasonic NN-SU696S did a little worse than the Kenmore, with the Oster burning a slight ring in the chocolate and leaving an unmelted ring on the outside, and the NN-SU696S leaving a nickel-sized cooler spot in the exact middle.

The Kenmore, LG, Oster, and the Panasonic all did well at heating up a frozen burrito, averaging 8-12°F of temperature differences between left, right, and center of the burrito. The Westinghouse did terribly at heating up a burrito — the worst of the bunch — failing to reach the required 160°F and having almost a 65°F temperature difference between the left and the right side of the burrito.

The Kenmore, LG, Oster, Panasonic NN-SU6969S, and Westinghouse all passed the frozen lasagna test, with each model heating the lasagna past the required 160°F. The Oster and the Kenmore tied for the best frozen lasagna of the group in this review, with a minuscule amount of temperature variation across the different areas of the lasagna.

As you can see  there was very little temperature variation between different areas of the lasagna heated up by the Oster.
As you can see, there was very little temperature variation between different areas of the lasagna heated up by the Oster.

This pair was followed the LG and the Westinghouse with about 7°F of difference. The Panasonic NN-SU696S had about 9°F of difference, with all regions exceeding 160°F.

Following the middle pack, the Samsung MG14H3020CM earned a 5 out of 10 for its overall average heating performance. This model actually did very well at heating up the plate of leftovers — almost as well as the Panasonic NN-SD745S, but not quite. It did much worse at heating up the pot pie, doing a below average job as it failed to heat it up the pie evenly, with some areas over 190°F and others below the required temperature of 165°F. This Samsung did a little better at heating up a frozen pocket sandwich (Hot Pocket) and frozen lasagna, doing an average job at both. However, this model did exceptionally terrible in our frozen burrito test and in our heat map test. The burrito had a ton of temperature variation throughout, with a small sliver that was not up to temperature. Looking at the heat map, it was immediately clear why this happened. The heat map showed a clear bullseye pattern, with the center and the outer ring remaining solid with the middle ring melting.

The Samsung MG14H3020CM did a terrible job in our heat map test  producing a very clear bullseye pattern  alternating between solid and melted rings.
The Samsung MG14H3020CM did a terrible job in our heat map test, producing a very clear bullseye pattern, alternating between solid and melted rings.

Finishing out the bottom of the group in our heating test, the Breville BMO734XL and the Samsung MS11K3000AS earned a 4 and a 3 out of 10 respectively. These models had tons of temperature variation across most of our tests, in extreme amounts. For example, the Samsung MS11K3000AS had close to a 70°F difference between the center and the right side of the burrito, and the Breville had over 30°F between the left side and the center.

The interfaces varied across these products  using different screens  dials  and buttons. Some were clearly superior to others.
The interfaces varied across these products, using different screens, dials, and buttons. Some were clearly superior to others.

Ease of Use


For this metric, making up 30% of the total score, we looked at the various features and functions that these machines have to make your life easier. We evaluated how effective the preset settings were, whether or not there were quick buttons present and how they worked, the quality of the interior lighting and timer, as well as if the appliance would slide around on the counter when the door was opened or closed or when a button was pressed. For the preset effectiveness, we made a bag of popcorn and baked a potato in each model, precisely following the manufacturer's directions, and rated the results. You can see how all of the models ranked in the graphic below.


The Kenmore led the pack in this metric, earning the highest score overall with an 8 out of 10. This model had the best quick buttons, with a "+30 second" button that would automatically start the microwave, as well as one-touch buttons to quickly start the microwave — pressing the "3" button automatically put three minutes on the machine and started it. The Kenmore had a great interior light, could act as a kitchen timer independent of heating food and had an alright keypad. This model also did about average when we tested the presets, popping almost all of the popcorn on the popcorn preset, but leaving a drier and slightly burnt taste compared to some of the other models.

The Kenmore left very few kernels unpopped  but the popped ones tasted slightly overdone.
The Kenmore left very few kernels unpopped, but the popped ones tasted slightly overdone.

It did a little better at baking a potato using the potato preset. This model allows you to input a rough weight, though there were no beeps to flip the potato. It produced a potato that was perfectly cooked on the sides, but slightly firmer than we would have preferred in the middle. This model didn't have the best anti-slip feet going, and it would slide slightly on the counter when we opened and closed the door.

Following the Kenmore, the Breville and the hOmeLabs earned the next highest score in terms of ease of use, both earning a 7 out of 10.

The hOmeLabs got off to a good start in this metric by having presets that are both accurate and effective. The potato was baked all the way through, with the ends being cooked perfectly and the middle just bordering on overcooked. This product almost got burned in our popcorn preset effectiveness test, with the popcorn just starting to think about burning towards the end of the time period set by the "Popcorn" button. There was some slight discoloration and a slight tinge of a burned flavor, but the popcorn was overall quite tasty.

The popcorn almost burnt when using the preset function  but the microwaves stopped just in time and the popcorn still tasted fine.
The popcorn almost burnt when using the preset function, but the microwaves stopped just in time and the popcorn still tasted fine.

This product has both a "+30 Seconds" button and single-touch features for buttons 1,2, and 3. This means you can hit the "1" button and it will put one minute on the clock and automatically start. Unfortunately, this model doesn't have the best visibility to see your food while it is heating and can't be used as a standalone timer.

The keypad is very intuitive and the microwave doesn't slide around when a button is pressed  even on smooth surfaces.
The keypad is very intuitive and the microwave doesn't slide around when a button is pressed, even on smooth surfaces.

The Breville has an exceptionally bright light inside and will turn it on when the door is opened. The Breville has a "+30" button, but lacked the quick buttons. These models were both very solid on the counter, with the Breville refusing to budge when the keypad was used or the door opened.

The Breville wouldn't slide on the slickest of countertops.
The Breville wouldn't slide on the slickest of countertops.

The Breville did decently well in our preset test, doing a good job at making popcorn and baking a potato using the presets. The Breville left behind a decent number of kernels, but we found it to make the best tasting popcorn out of the entire group.

Next were the majority of models, with the LG, Oster, Panasonic NN-SD745S, Samsung MS11K3000AS, and the Westinghouse all earning a 6 out of 10. These models all have some sort of light inside that will turn on when the food is being heated, but the Oster and the Samsung MS11K3000AS were much dimmer, making it harder to see the food. Out of this group, only the Oster and the Westinghouse had the capabilities to act as an independent kitchen timer. We liked the interface on the LG and the Oster, finding that that dial on the Panasonic NN-SD745S was a little irritating to use. The Samsung MS11K3000AS lacks a keypad, using a large group of presets instead, something we found extremely annoying and was the worst interface of the entire set. The Westinghouse has a keypad, but doesn't have a cancel/stop key to retract a mistake, instead of requiring you to hit reset and start from scratch. The Oster, Panasonic NN-SD745S, Samsung MS11K3000AS, and the Westinghouse wouldn't slide on the counter when opening or closing the door or using the keypad, but the LG would slide about a quarter of an inch every time we opened or closed the door.

The LG would slide on a smooth counter every time we opened or closed the door.
The LG would slide on a smooth counter every time we opened or closed the door.

The Panasonic NN-SD745S and the Westinghouse did the best out of this group of 5 in our preset effectiveness test. The Panasonic NN-SD745S produced better popcorn than the Westinghouse, heating it close to perfection and only leaving about 27 leftover kernels. The Westinghouse only left 19 kernels, but overcooked the popcorn, making it taste a little burnt. The Westinghouse did redeem itself with the baked potato, heating the perfect potato that was one of the best out of the entire group. The Panasonic NN-SD745S did alright at baking the potato, but left the center a little harder than we would have liked.

The potato should have been baked a little longer than the preset button on the Panasonic NN-SD745S recommended.
The potato should have been baked a little longer than the preset button on the Panasonic NN-SD745S recommended.

The preset effectiveness on the LG and the Oster were just slightly behind the Panasonic NN-SD745S and the Westinghouse. The LG left more popcorn kernels behind than the Panasonic NN-SD745S and created popcorn that didn't taste quite as nice. The Oster left behind the least kernels, but also gave the finished popcorn a distinctive burnt taste.

However, the Oster made one of the nicest baked potatoes out of the group, far superior to the LG. The LG overcooked the potato on the bottom and on the left side, lacking a notification to stop and flip the potato like other models.

The Samsung MS11K3000AS did slightly worse than the LG and the Oster when it came to presets. The popcorn tasted fine, but it left over a hundred kernels behind without popping. It also left the center of the baked potato a little raw, though the left side was perfect and the right was just slightly underdone.

While this model did evenly heat the potato  it was still a little undercooked.
While this model did evenly heat the potato, it was still a little undercooked.

Rounding out the back of the pack for ease of use, the Samsung MG14H3020CM and the Panasonic NN-SU696S earned a 5 and a 4 out of 10 respectively. You can see inside the Panasonic NN-SU696S while it's running, but there is no light when the door is opened. This Samsung has a light, but it's really hard to see the food inside with its mirrored exterior.

The mirrored exterior of this model made it impossible to see inside  but handy to check your reflection.
The mirrored exterior of this model made it impossible to see inside, but handy to check your reflection.

Neither of these models could be used as a kitchen timer, and both had an alright keypad. The Panasonic NN-SU696S would slide a little bit when the door was opened and closed, but the Samsung MG14H3020CM was solid as a rock on the counter. These both had a "+30 Seconds" button, but it would not automatically start heating and neither had any one-touch quick buttons.

The Samsung MG14H3020CM left behind a larger number of kernels compared to the Panasonic NN-SU696S, but none of them were burnt tasting. The Panasonic did an average job at baking a potato, significantly better than the Samsung MG14H3020CM which left the center completely raw.

To test the defrosting by weight function  we thawed a frozen muffin in each model.
To test the defrosting by weight function, we thawed a frozen muffin in each model.

Defrosting


Defrosting made up 20% of the overall score for these products and was a much smaller group of tests than heating. We rated these products on how effectively they could defrost a 1 lb roll of ground turkey — if the microwave could satisfactorily defrost a muffin. In addition, we looked at what type of options were available to choose from when it came to defrosting, such as defrosting by time or by weight. You can see how all of the products scored in the following graphic.


Redeeming itself from its poor heating performance, the usually lower scoring Samsung MS11K3000AS tied with one of our Best Buy award winners, the Westinghouse WM009, for the top score in this metric, both models earning a 7 out of 10. These models both had similar performance at defrosting the turkey roll, with practically the entire pound being defrosted without any of it being cooked, though the Samsung MS11K3000AS did accomplish this about three minutes faster.

Only this small amount remained slightly frozen after defrosting in the Samsung MS11K3000AS
Only this small amount remained slightly frozen after defrosting in the Samsung MS11K3000AS

Performance varied substantially when it came to defrosting a muffin, with the Samsung MS11K3000AS doing much better than the Westinghouse. The Samsung MS11K3000AS was basically throughout, while the Westinghouse which had an extremely hot side and an extremely cool side. Both of these models can defrost by weight, but the Westinghouse has a speed defrost option.

Following this top performing pair, the Oster and the Panasonic NN-SU696S came in next, both earning a 6 out of 10 for their defrosting capabilities. The Oster did very well at defrosting the roll of ground turkey, better than the Panasonic NN-SU696S but not quite as well as the Westinghouse or the Samsung MS11K3000AS. The Panasonic NN-SU696S had some almost cooked parts and was just a little harder to break apart than the top models. The Panasonic NN-SU696S did do much better at defrosting the frozen muffin, heating everything except the very bottom of the muffin. The Oster did the opposite, overheating the bottom of the muffin and leaving the sides cold. You can defrost by weight on both of these products, but only the Oster has a speed defrost by time.

The top of the muffin tended to be slightly cooler than the rest.
The top of the muffin tended to be slightly cooler than the rest.

Next were the LG LCS1112ST and the Panasonic NN-SD745S, both meriting a 5 out of 10 for their defrosting abilities. The LG did better than the Panasonic NN-SD745S at defrosting the roll of ground turkey, but not as well as the Panasonic NN-SU696S. There were a few warm parts in the LG's roll of ground turkey, compared to the completely cooked sections in the NN-SD745S's. However, the NN-SD745S did one of the best jobs of the entire group at defrosting a frozen muffin, evenly heating it throughout and just lightly melting the chocolate chips. The LG did almost as well, but the top portion was just a little bit cooler than the rest of the muffin, dropping its score. The LG has a quick defrost and a weight defrost, while the Panasonic NN-SD745S only has a defrost by weight.

The remainder of the models — the hOmeLabs, the Breville, the Kenmore, and the Samsung MG14H3020CM all scored below average at defrosting, earning a 4 out of 10. The hOmeLabs and the Breville did the worst of the bunch at defrosting the roll of ground turkey, leaving the bulk of it too frozen to easily break apart. In the case of the hOmeLabs, we had to run a second defrost cycle to get it to the point where it was easy to break apart, though this did fully cook a small amount of the turkey. The other models did a little better, but not by much.

Weighing the frozen log of ground turkey before testing the defrosting abilities of the Breville.
A majority of the log remained semi-frozen after using the defrost-by-weight function of the Breville.

These models all did roughly the same at defrosting a frozen muffin, with the Samsung MG14H3020CM doing slightly better than the Breville and the Kenmore, with the hOmeLabs delivering the worst performance of the bunch. These models all had defrost by weight functions and only the Samsung lacked a quick defrost function by time.

We measured the speed of each product by recording the temperature rise in 250 mL of water after 30 seconds.
We measured the speed of each product by recording the temperature rise in 250 mL of water after 30 seconds.

Speed


Microwaves are all about conveniently and quickly heating up food, and our final metric focuses on the latter. We heated up a set amount of water in a beaker in each model for 30 seconds, and compared the temperature rise between to determine scores. This metric made up 10% of the overall score. You can see how speedy the models were in the chart below.


The speediest model of the bunch, the Panasonic NN-SU696S, earned the top score of 7 out of 10 in this metric. This model boosted the temperature of 250 mL of water about 37°F in 30 seconds.

Next were the hOmeLabs, the Panasonic NN-SD745S, and the Kenmore, all earning a 6 out of 10. These models increased the water temperature by 35°F, 36°F and 35°F respectively.

The hOmeLabs isn't the fastest microwave  but it is still above average when it comes to heating up food quickly.
The hOmeLabs isn't the fastest microwave, but it is still above average when it comes to heating up food quickly.

Following these, the LG, Oster, and Westinghouse all did about average, meriting a 5 out of 10. The Oster and the Westinghouse drove a 34°F temperature increase in the water, just a hair better than the 33°F created by the LG.

The Breville increased the temperature by 32°F, enough to earn it a 4 out of 10, beating out both of the Samsung models. The MG14H3020CM earned a 3 out of 10 for boosting the water 28°F, and the MS11K3000AS earned a 2 for increasing the temperature by a measly 25°F.

Some of the top models that you can buy today.
Some of the top models that you can buy today.

Conclusion


It can be difficult to find the perfect product. Hopefully, this review can alleviate that pain and help you find the model that best suits your needs and your budget.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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