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Best Microwave

This product earned one of the lower overall scores of the bunch.
Credit: Laura Casner
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Dec 15, 2020
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
After extensively researching close to 75 different microwaves, we bought the 10 most compelling models currently available today and tested them side-by-side to help you find the perfect kitchen appliance for your needs and budget. We reheated plate after plate of leftovers and just about every type of frozen food out there, comparing how evenly and quickly each microwave heats, as well as rating and ranking how easy each one is to use. Check out our complete review to see which product topped them all, which is the best at defrosting or reheating leftovers, and which is the best if you are shopping on a budget.

Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $170 List
$116.24 at Amazon
$112 List$190 List$100 List$100 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
71
71
69
64
64
Star Rating
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Pros Excellent at defrosting, convenientExcellent with packaged frozen foods, compact, very easy to useGreat with premade foods, easy to useGood at reheating, does well with premade frozen foodsGood at defrosting meat
Cons Large, expensiveSo-so with mixed leftoversExpensive, so-so at defrostingDidn’t defrost frozen turkey wellNot the most convenient to use, heating performance could be better
Bottom Line This appliance is a fantastic choice for anyone who want a larger model and predominantly is heating up frozen foodsIf you have a smaller kitchen and are looking for a top-tier appliance, then we think this is one of the best options out thereThis is one of the better appliances in this category we have seen but we think it has a few significant drawbacksWhile this appliance did alright in our rankings, we didn’t feel that it can quite match some of the better ones we have seenWhile this appliance did deliver some great results in a few of our tests, it overall finished in the middle of the group
Rating Categories Toshiba EM131A5C Kenmore 70929 Panasonic NN-SN67KS BLACK+DECKER... Panasonic NN-SB458S
Heating (40%)
6
6
7
7
6
Frozen Foods (30%)
7
8
9
7
7
Defrosting (20%)
9
8
4
4
7
Ease Of Use (10%)
8
7
6
7
5
Specs Toshiba EM131A5C Kenmore 70929 Panasonic NN-SN67KS BLACK+DECKER... Panasonic NN-SB458S
Watts 1100 900 1200 1000 900
Cubic Feet 1.2 0.9 1.2 1.1 0.9
Dimensions 20.5" x 17.1" x 12.8" 14.5" x 17.7" x 11" 12.25" x 20.7" x 15.8" 20.2" x 15.6" x 12.1" 19.1" x 11.5" x 14.8"
Turntable Diameter 12.4" 11.2" 13.4" 12.4" 10.6"
Internal Dimentions 13.1" x 15" x 9.5" 9.3" x 12.4" x 13.6" 9.9" x 13.9 x 14.4" 13.9" x 14.5" x 9.1" 12.4"x 13.9" x 8.1"
Warranty 1 year limited 1 year limited 1 year parts and labor
5 year magnetron
1 year limited 1 year parts and labor
5 year magnetron
Child lock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Best Overall Microwave


Toshiba EM131A5C


Toshiba EM131A5C
Editors' Choice Award
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$116.24
(32% off)
at Amazon
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Heating 6
  • Frozen Foods 7
  • Defrosting 9
  • Ease of use 8
Power: 1100 Watts | Size: 1.2 cu. ft.
Great at defrosting
Easy to use
Good for frozen foods
Expensive

If you're looking for a top-tier microwave on the larger side, then we highly recommend the Toshiba EM1315AC. This appliance is one of the best when it comes to evenly defrosting or heating up premade frozen foods, and it's very user-friendly and easy to use. It can heat food fast, while the quick button and useful preset functions make that task even easier.

We did notice, however, that this microwave isn't the best when it comes to evenly heating different types of food at once, such as a plate of leftovers. This model is also a little on the larger side and a bit more expensive than some of its competitors, but we still highly recommend it if you are looking for the best of the best and want a higher capacity microwave.

Read Full Review: Toshiba EM131A5C

Best Smaller Option


Kenmore 70929


Kenmore 70929
Editors' Choice Award
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$112
List Price
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Heating 6
  • Frozen Foods 8
  • Defrosting 8
  • Ease of use 7
Power: 900 Watts | Size: 0.9 cu. ft.
Fantastic at frozen foods
Good at defrosting
User-friendly quick features
Lackluster with leftovers

If you're searching for a smaller and more compact option, then we think it's hard to go wrong with the Kenmore 70929. This machine does impressively well with premade frozen food and efficiently defrosted frozen meat, all while being very user-friendly and easy to operate. It's one of the smaller microwaves that we tested and heats most food fairly uniformly.

However, this model did create some temperature gradients in food when they spanned across the turntable. We noticed foods in the center of a plate heated up much faster than those at the outer part. It also isn't the most powerful appliance out there. Nevertheless, we heartily recommend it to anyone shopping for a top-tier microwave with a smaller, more compact footprint.

Read Full Review: Kenmore 70929

Best Bang for the Buck


AmazonBasics Microwave 0.7


AmazonBasics Microwave 0.7
Best Buy Award
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$60
List Price
See It

63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Heating 6
  • Frozen Foods 7
  • Defrosting 6
  • Ease of use 6
Power: 700 Watts | Size: 0.7 cu. ft.
Great for frozen burritos
Very compact
Inexpensive
Low power

If you are searching for a compact microwave on a pint-sized budget, then we think the AmazonBasics 0.7 is your best bet. This appliance does quite well at heating food — particularly pre-prepared frozen items — especially considering its lower power output compared to some of its competitors. It is simple and easy to use, with the added benefit of being compatible with Alexa-enabled smart home devices.

We did notice some hot spots in our heat map testing, and food can certainly take longer to heat up in this smaller appliance. Its interface also takes some getting used to, and there is some additional setup required if you are looking to take advantage of the smart home capabilities of this product. All in all, however, this is one of our top suggestions to anyone looking for a more economical option.

Read Full Review: AmazonBasics Microwave 0.7

Fun Retro Look


Nostalgia RMO4AQ


Nostalgia RMO4AQ
Top Pick Award
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$130
See It

60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Heating 5
  • Frozen Foods 7
  • Defrosting 7
  • Ease of use 5
Power: 800 Watts | Size: 0.9 cu. ft.
Stylish
Consistent defrosting
The unique retro look might not be for everyone
So-so heating

If you are a fan of the '50s and going for a vintage retro look in your kitchen, then you should definitely consider the Nostalgia RMO4AQ. This unique kitchen appliance is exceptionally eye-catching compared to the plain appearance of most microwaves. On top of making a distinct style statement, the Nostalgia RMO4AQ also performed admirably in our defrosting and frozen foods tests, so you don't have to sacrifice performance for style.

Unfortunately, we did find that this product doesn't heat food the most evenly, with a noticeable temperature gradient appearing on our heat map test. Different types of food also heated at very different rates when microwaving a plate of mixed leftovers. It's not the best option out there in terms of value or performance, but it takes the lead if you love that old school style.

Read Full Review: Nostalgia RMO4AQ


Some of our favorite options on the market today.
Some of our favorite options on the market today.
Credit: Laura Casner

Why You Should Trust Us


Our testing team of Austin Palmer and David Wise has extensive experience with kitchen appliances, including testing more than 250 products for GearLab ranging from juicers and food processors to ice cream makers and blenders. Throughout the testing process, both Austin, David, and the rest of the office became frozen food connoisseurs, consuming far more Hot Pockets, mini-lasagnas, and frozen burritos than anyone really should.

We conducted extensive head-to-head tests and had a group of judges evaluate the quality of the heated food. We objectively compared how quickly each product can heat something by measuring the temperature increase of a controlled volume of water. Finally, we used the products in our office and personal kitchens over several months to see how they performed over a longer period, and we've updated the review accordingly.

Related: How We Tested Microwave Ovens

There was just a bit of a cool spot in the center but all three...
We weren&#039;t too impressed with the performance of this microwave when...
We liked that all three types of food came out fairly close in...

Analysis and Test Results


We split our suite of testing assessments into four weighted metrics: heating, frozen foods, defrosting, and ease of use. Each metric includes a variety of different tests, with the performance of each product detailed in the sections below.

Related: Buying Advice for Microwave Ovens

Value


If you are shopping for a new microwave on a budget, then we think there is one product that stands out well above the test: the AmazonBasics 0.7. It costs quite a bit less than many of the other options and holds its own when it comes to performance. It's also much smaller, so it may take a little longer to heat up food, but it's hard to beat when it comes to the price.

This product didn&#039;t do the best in our heating test.
This product didn't do the best in our heating test.
Credit: Laura Casner

Heating


First and foremost, we started our side-by-side testing process by ranking and rating how well each of these kitchen appliances did at heating up food. We used a plate of leftovers, a bowl of canned soup, and two slices of pizza as our test foods. We also scored speed and consistency by calculating the temperature increase of a 125 mL quantity of water and creating a "heat map" using a plate of marshmallow fluff.


The BLACK+DECKER EM031MB11, the Panasonic NN-SN67KS, and the Toshiba EM925A5A all impressed us in this regard, earning some of the top scores of the entire group. The Panasonic NN-SN67KS did very well in our heat map test, showing very few hotspots with the marshmallow fluff, though the inner section did heat up slightly more than the outer areas. It also did very well at warming the bowl of canned soup and the slices of pizza, heating them up quickly and evenly. It performed average, however, in the side-by-side heating test, only raising the 125 mL of water by 78.1°F after 45 seconds. There was a large temperature spread between the sausage, potatoes, and green beans on the mixed plate of leftovers.

This product heats up food very evenly.
This product heats up food very evenly.
Credit: Laura Casner

The BLACK+DECKER EM031MB11 didn't perform as well in the heat map test, leaving a darker middle ring and almost completely raw outer ring. However, it did much better than the Panasonic NN-SN67KS at heating the plate of leftovers. The three types of food were all within about 35°F of each other, and the soup and pizza also reheated very nicely. It also managed to raise the temperature of the water by 83.2°F in our time trial, narrowly outperforming the Panasonic NN-SN67KS but failing to match the 89.4°F of the Toshiba EM925A5A.

While the Toshiba EM925A5A did score the best of this group in the speed test, it didn't do as well as the Panasonic NN-SN67KS in the heat map test. We noticed that the marshmallow fluff showed a significant difference in the amount of heating across the diameter of the plate.

The marshmallow heat map before being heated up.
The heat map after heating, showing some very uneven heat...

The Toshiba EM925A5A did redeem itself and gave strong showings with the leftovers and the canned soup, but it left the interior of the pizza colder than we would want.

Next in terms of performance were the AmazonBasics 0.7, the Kenmore 70929, the Panasonic NN-SB458S, and the Toshiba EM131A5C in this set of tests. The Kenmore 70929 and the Panasonic NN-SB458S did the best with the heat map test, followed by the AmazonBasics 0.7 and then the Toshiba EM131A5C. Both the AmazonBasics and the Toshiba models heated the center areas of the fluff much more than the outer ones, practically burning the center while the edges remained raw.

The marshmallow cream prior to microwaving.
A very prevalent hot spot appeared in the middle of the heat map.
The underside of the heat map showing the concentration of heat in...

The Toshiba EM131A5C, however, did heat the water the fastest in our speed tests, raising it 110.6°F. The AmazonBasics 0.7 raised it the least, only boosting the temperature by 70.1°F. Meanwhile, the Kenmore 70929 and the Panasonic NN-SB458S ranked in the middle, raising the temperature 82.5°F and 89.1°F, respectively.

Moving on to the food tests, the AmazonBasics 0.7 and the Panasonic NN-SB485S did the best with the mixed plate of leftovers, heating all three types of food fairly evenly. The Kenmore 70929 did about average, with the Toshiba EM131A5C performing the worst of this group. The Toshiba EM131A5C also performed poorly in our pizza test but rebounded when it came to the canned soup, delivering almost perfect results.

The AmazonBasics 0.7 matched the performance of the Toshiba EM131A5C when it came to soup, with the Kenmore 70929 and the Panasonic NN-SB458S following. The AmazonBasics and the Kenmore both did about average with the pizza, but the Panasonic NN-SB458S delivered very lackluster results with both slices.

The BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 and the Nostalgia RMO4AQ both earned middle-of-the-road results in our heating tests. The BLACK+DECKER produced a near-average marshmallow heat map, but the Nostalgia model did very poorly. The inner ring of the marshmallow remained almost cool while the outsides were almost burned.

The marshmallow heat map ready to put into the Nostalgia.
The underside of the heat map after testing.

These two appliances delivered average results in the speed test, but both struggled with the plate of leftovers, heating the mixed plate unevenly. They did a little better with the soup, and the Nostalgia RMO4AQ did quite well with the pizza. However, the BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 was quite disappointing, leaving us with some slices that were far from heated adequately. The RCA RMW733 brought up the rear of the group, held back mainly by its very poor performance in our heat map and leftover tests.

While it&#039;s far from the best in our minds, this model didn&#039;t perform...
While it's far from the best in our minds, this model didn't perform too poorly in our tests.
Credit: Laura Casner

Frozen Foods


Our next series of tests focused on how well each of these products could heat premade frozen food items, such as Hot Pockets, mini-lasagnas, or frozen burritos. We followed the manufacturers' instructions for reheating, adjusting for the power level of each model when necessary. We used a grid of instant-read kitchen thermometers to compare how evenly heated each piece of food was to determine the scores.


Of all the products we tested, the Panasonic NN-SN67KS stands out to us as the best you can get when it comes to heating prepared frozen foods. This appliance did an excellent job with all three types of foods, producing an average temperature difference between zones that was less than 10°F.

The center came out quite a bit warmer than the edges.
The center came out quite a bit warmer than the edges.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Kenmore 70929 and the Toshiba EM925A5A followed, both performing nearly as well. These products delivered almost perfect results with the Hot Pocket and heated up the burrito very evenly. However, they showed a bit more of a temperature spread with the mini-lasagna, particularly the Toshiba EM925A5A, which left an average temperature difference of 23°F.

The bulk of the microwaves — the AmazonBasics 0.7, the BLACK+DECKER EM031MB11, the Nostalgia RMO4AQ, the Panasonic NN-SB458S, the RCA RMW733, and the Toshiba EM131A5C — all lagged behind the top performers. These underperformers all did decently well with the Hot Pocket and the frozen burrito but average or below with the lasagna. The Nostalgia RMO4AQ did the worst of this group, showing an average temperature variation of 43°F between zones. The other products ranged between 15°F to 30°F.

One side of the lasagna was quite a bit cooler than the middle and...
One side of the lasagna was quite a bit cooler than the middle and other side.
Credit: Laura Casner

The BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 rounded out the results for this metric, delivering a disappointing performance. While it was able to evenly heat the burrito, it displayed exceptional inconsistent heating with both the Hot Pocket and the lasagna.

The roll of turkey, ready to be defrosted.
The roll of turkey, ready to be defrosted.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Defrosting


Our defrosting metric is based on the results of a single test: defrosting a 1-pound block of ground turkey. We ran a defrosting cycle for that weight of food based on the instructions for each microwave, then based scores on the amount of turkey that was successfully defrosted after the test, as well as if any of the turkey was prematurely cooked.


The Toshiba EM131A5C led the way, perfectly defrosting the entire block of meat without cooking any of it in a little under 10 minutes. This microwave also beeps halfway through to alert you to flip the meat over.

This microwave defrosted the entire block of turkey.
This microwave defrosted the entire block of turkey.
Credit: Laura Casner

The BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 and the Kenmore 70929 came next, with the BLACK+DECKER defrosting about 12 ounces of turkey and the Kenmore defrosting just under 11 ounces. The remaining turkey broke apart fairly easily even if it was still a little frozen, and we wouldn't have any issue tossing it directly in a pan after taking it out of either of these products. The Nostalgia RMO4AQ narrowly followed, marked down because it cooked a tiny bit of the turkey during the defrosting process.

The Panasonic NN-SB458S only defrosted a little less than 9 ounces of the turkey, but the remainder was just barely frozen and easily crumbled. The AmazonBasics 0.7 performed almost the same, but the residual frozen parts were still quite solid and would be a struggle to break apart without further defrosting. The remaining microwaves all delivered lackluster results, not only leaving a large frozen chunk of turkey but also fully cooking sections.

This appliance does a great job with premade frozen items.
This appliance does a great job with premade frozen items.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Use


Our final set of tests looked at how user-friendly and convenient to operate each of these kitchen appliances is. We looked at the different preset features and one-touch buttons, as well as the internal lighting and whether they were prone to sliding around on a counter when you opened and closed the door or pushed a button.


Both the Toshiba EM131A5C and the Toshiba EM925A5A impressed us with their overall ease of use. They don't slide around and shine plenty of light inside. Their popcorn buttons were actually pretty good at correctly popping popcorn. They both have +30 seconds buttons and one-touch quick start functions for 1-6 minutes. However, it can be a little finicky to use them as a standalone kitchen timer.

This appliance is convenient and easy to use in our minds.
This appliance is convenient and easy to use in our minds.
Credit: Laura Casner

The BLACK+DECKER EM031MB11 and the Kenmore 70929 came next. These both have all the one-touch features you would typically want, but both slide around a bit on slicker surfaces. They both have decent lighting, but the preset popcorn feature wasn't amazing, particularly with the Kenmore 70929.

The AmazonBasics 0.7, the BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7, and the Panasonic NN-SN67KS all followed, each hampered by a few flaws that we believe make these products just a bit inconvenient to use. The AmazonBasics 0.7 did very well in the popcorn preset test and is rock-solid on most countertops, but the +30 seconds button requires you to hit it twice, and this appliance's internal lighting is only so-so. The Alexa integration can also make it easier or harder to use, depending on how you feel about smart home systems.

This microwave gives you the option to integrate with your smart home.
This microwave gives you the option to integrate with your smart home.
Credit: Laura Casner

We liked the interface on the BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7, but the entire appliance slid around a bit when we opened or closed the door. It fared poorly in the popcorn test, leaving tons of unpopped kernels behind after the preset time elapsed. The Panasonic NN-SN67KS performed almost exactly opposite, delivering excellent popcorn results and remaining securely in place when pushed. However, it lacks some one-touch features we like to see.

The Nostalgia RMO4AQ, the Panasonic NN-SB458S, and the RCA RMW733 all received relatively mediocre marks in this metric. Our largest complaint was about the lack of a +30 seconds button on the RCA RMW733.

Conclusion


We sincerely hope that you have found this review to be both helpful and informative. If it has made it a little easier to find your perfect new microwave, we've done our job. We're confident that there's something out there to match your needs and budget.

David Wise and Austin Palmer