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The 3 Best Microwave Ovens of 2024

We tested microwave ovens from Toshiba, Kenmore, Panasonic, Cuisinart and more to find the best on the market
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Best Microwave Review
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The Best Microwaves for 2024


Need a new microwave oven? Our appliance experts researched over 70 models before purchasing and testing 12 of the best microwave ovens available today. We put them all to the test, reheating plate after plate of leftovers, zapping family dinners, popping popcorn, and defrosting meats. We compared how evenly and quickly each model heats and ranked and rated how easy each one is to use. No matter what kind of microwave you're looking for, our extensive review highlights many options to help you find the one that best suits your home needs and budget.

If you're looking for more upgrades to your kitchen, we've tested a wide array of the best kitchen appliances, from the best food processors and top-rated griddles to our favorite toaster ovens and the best blenders. We also have recommendations on cleaning tools such as the best steam mops for when cooking gets a bit messy.

Editor's Note: We edited this review to add more photos of our test group and to remove a discontinued microwave on February 20, 2024.

Top 12 Microwave Ovens

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award    
Price $219 List
$189.00 at Amazon
$150 List
$140.33 at Amazon
$200 List
$199.95 at Amazon
$125 List
$99.95 at Amazon
$130 List
$119.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Impressive defrosting, high performance in every aspect, doubles as an air fryer and broilerExcellent at defrosting, easy to use, affordableEfficient defrosting, user-friendly, great for frozen burritos and wrapsGood at defrosting meatGreat popcorn, convenient one-touch buttons, quick water heating
Cons Expensive, some users may find buttons challenging to readInefficient sensor reheat function, bulky storage sizeExpensive, uneven heating, not the best craftsmanshipNot the most convenient to use, heating performance could be betterInconsistent heating, lackluster defrosting, underwhelming
Bottom Line A well-rounded and reliable appliance that offers versatile functionality and excels in heating and defrostingDespite its substantial size, this microwave justifies its footprint with strong performance and an affordable priceThis compact, user-friendly model is suitable for individuals with limited space, but its overall performance could be betterThis product pairs average results with an average price, failing to stand out from the competitionThis microwave performed average overall with a higher price tag than products performing similarly
Rating Categories GE JES1109RRSS Toshiba EM131A5C Cuisinart CMW-100 Panasonic NN-SB458S Farberware Classic...
Heating (40%)
7.3
4.9
6.1
6.2
6.4
Frozen Foods (30%)
8.3
8.0
6.0
6.7
6.0
Defrosting (20%)
10.0
9.5
8.0
7.0
5.0
Ease of Use (10%)
8.1
8.1
7.4
5.5
7.9
Specs GE JES1109RRSS Toshiba EM131A5C Cuisinart CMW-100 Panasonic NN-SB458S Farberware Classic...
Wattage 1050 watts 1100 watts 1000 watts 900 watts 1000 watts
Size 1.0 cu. ft 1.2 cu. ft 1.0 cu. ft 0.9 cu. ft 1.1 cu. ft
Dimensions (WxHxD) 20.6" x 11.9" x 16.6" 20.5" x 12.8" x 17.1" 20.5" x 12.8" x 17.5" 19.1" x 11.5" x 14.8" 20.2" x 12.1" x 16.5"
Turntable Diameter 12.4" 12.4" 12.4" 10.6" 12.4"
Internal Dimentions (WxHxD) 13.0" x 8.4" x 12.4" 15" x 9.5" x 13.1" 12.9" x 9.0" x 12.9" 13.9" x 8.1" x 12.4" 12.9" x 8.1" x 14"
Child lock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
45 Sec Heating Temp Rise 71 F 79 F 78 F 89 F 109 F


Best Large-Capacity Microwave


GE JES1109RRSS


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Heating 7.3
  • Frozen Foods 8.3
  • Defrosting 10.0
  • Ease of Use 8.1
Power: 1050 Watts | Size: 1.0 cu. ft
REASONS TO BUY
Impeccable defrosting
Great performance across the board
Includes air frying and broiling
REASONS TO AVOID
Buttons have low contrast

The GE JES1109RRSS delivers exceptional performance across the board, with defrosting being its most standout feature. While it falls on the higher end of the price spectrum, we think it justifies its slightly elevated cost. This microwave not only excels in basic functions but also elevates your kitchen with advanced features like air frying and broiling, adding a large degree of versatility. In terms of value for the price, it's challenging to find a superior appliance in this category.

The only minor issue we encountered was the button layout, which could be more challenging to discern in dim lighting due to the lack of contrast on the buttons. Other than that, we found few faults with this great GE model. But, if you're looking for something cheaper that can still do a great job at defrosting, and you don't need the extra powerful functions like broiling and air frying, check out the Toshiba EM131A5C.

Read more: GE JES1109RRSS review

There are many standout features of the GE, the foremost being defrosting.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Value Microwave


Toshiba EM131A5C


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Heating 4.9
  • Frozen Foods 8.0
  • Defrosting 9.5
  • Ease of Use 8.1
Power: 1100 Watts | Size: 1.2 cu. ft.
REASONS TO BUY
Great at defrosting
Easy to use
Good at heating frozen foods
REASONS TO AVOID
Large storage footprint

If you're on the hunt for a more affordable, full-sized, high-end microwave that excels at defrosting, we recommend checking out the Toshiba EM131A5C first. This appliance performs well across all test metrics, yielding exceptional defrosting results. It defrosts without cooking, which can be a tall order for most microwaves, making this an excellent option for those who frequently keep frozen meat on hand. The EM131A5C also has no problem heating frozen meals quickly, and the user-friendly interface is chock-full of convenient presets, making tasks like this hassle-free.

While this speedy kitchen appliance will have your dinner warmed up in no time, it falls a little short in heating food evenly (an issue we found with almost every microwave tested). This issue mainly occurs when different food types are heated at once, like a plate of leftovers or pizza, as the cheese heats up much faster than the crust. But we think you'll be satisfied with this contender. Although we can't offer a full endorsement for the Galanz Retro across all aspects, it excels at reheating leftovers. If that aligns with your primary needs, it's certainly worth a closer look, especially if you enjoy the unique, vintage design.

Read more: Toshiba EM131A5C review

You'll need to heat leftovers just a little longer with the Toshiba, but it produces great frozen food and has excellent defrosting abilities.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Microwave on a Tight Budget


Comfee EM720CPL-PMB


55
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Heating 5.5
  • Frozen Foods 4.3
  • Defrosting 7.0
  • Ease of Use 6.3
Power: 700 Watts | Size: 0.7 cu. ft.
REASONS TO BUY
Small footprint
Efficient leftover reheating
Convenient presets
REASONS TO AVOID
Less-than-stellar build quality
Lackluster at heating frozen foods

In today's market, finding a streamlined product tailored to a specific user can be challenging. However, we believe this appliance fills a role for those not overly concerned with high-end features. If your microwaving needs are somewhat simple and you're short on cash (and space), the Comfee EM720CPL-PMB is an excellent choice. It's a small but mighty appliance capable of reheating leftovers evenly and quickly, all while providing every preset button you might need.

While it excels in a few key areas, this model falls short when it comes to quickly heating frozen food and overall build quality. Although we appreciate the considerate design of the preset buttons, this model has a tendency to rock back and forth due to its unstable base when using said buttons. If you're willing to spend a bit more, the Toshiba EM925A5A scored just a bit more overall, is still fairly affordable, and managed better results in our frozen food tests — though don't count on it to defrost anything quickly.

Read more: Comfee EM720CPL-PMB review

The Comfee produces deliciously warm hot pockets that are evenly heated.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
82
GE JES1109RRSS
Best Large-Capacity Microwave
$219
Editors' Choice Award
71
Toshiba EM131A5C
Best Value Microwave
$150
Best Buy Award
66
Cuisinart CMW-100
$200
64
Panasonic NN-SB458S
$125
62
Farberware Classic FMO11AHTBKB
$130
61
Toshiba EM925A5A
$115
61
Black+Decker EM031MB11
$135
58
Nostalgia RMO4AQ
$160
55
Comfee EM720CPL-PMB
Best Microwave on a Tight Budget
$82
Best Buy Award
54
Black+Decker EM720CB7
$100
50
Breville the Compact Wave
$250
46
Galanz Retro GLCMKZ07RDR07
$99

We've tested dozens of microwaves and put them through hundreds of tests to help you find your perfect match.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Why Trust GearLab


We've purchased and tested over 30 different microwaves since 2017. To assess microwaves, we conducted extensive head-to-head tests and had a group of judges evaluate the quality of the heated food. We objectively compared how efficiently each appliance heated the desired item by measuring the temperatures across food and liquids with multiple digital thermometers and a laser infrared thermometer. We used the products in our office and personal kitchens over multiple months to see how they perform over a longer period and how easily they function in a real-world kitchen.

Our popcorn test was just one of 162 individual performance tests we conducted on each microwave. Scores were based on the number of unpopped kernels remaining and whether any were burned.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

We subjected this fleet of microwaves to 162 individual tests to rate their individual performance. The most emphasis was placed on the Heating tests, which correspond to 40% of each product's total score. We broke that metric down into five specific tests that include heat mapping and the rate at which each product heated food. We also placed a significant amount of scoring weight on how well each microwave could heat frozen foods.

Our microwave testing is divided across four rating metrics:
  • Heating tests (40% of overall score weighting)
  • Frozen Foods tests (30% weighting)
  • Defrosting tests (20% weighting)
  • Ease of Use tests (10% weighting)

Our testing team of Austin Palmer and David Wise has extensive experience with kitchen appliances, including testing more than 500 products for GearLab ranging from top-rated food processors and juicers to the best ice cream makers and top-ranked blenders. Austin has a Bachelor of Science Degree and has developed nearly 100 test plans and tested nearly 1,000 products for GearLab. David has used his B.S. in Robotics Engineering from MIT to develop many of the more technical tests at GearLab. Tests to measure both temperature accuracy and heating consistency were particularly important for developing the most objective microwave testing possible for this review. Throughout the testing process, Austin, David, and the rest of the GearLab team became frozen food connoisseurs, consuming far more Hot Pockets, mini-lasagnas, and frozen burritos than anyone perhaps should.

There was just a bit of a cool spot in the center but all three...
There was just a bit of a cool spot in the center but all three regions were well above serving temperature with the Black+Decker.
In our Heating tests, we used a laser infrared thermometer to...
In our Heating tests, we used a laser infrared thermometer to measure for consistent temperature across the food surface area.
The Toshiba EM131A5C left us with mixed results in our leftover...
The Toshiba EM131A5C left us with mixed results in our leftover heating test.

Analysis and Test Results


For the microwaves we tested, 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. Remember to consider what you typically use a microwave for and which performance aspects matter most to you as you read through our metrics and scores.


Value


When you pay more for a microwave, you'll often get a more powerful unit that heats food quickly and has more convenient (AKA more specific) functions. If you're on a budget, one product stands out well above the rest: the Toshiba EM131A5C. It is substantially more affordable than many of the other top contenders yet still holds its own when it comes to performance. Even more affordable, albeit slightly less capable, is the Comfee EM720CPL-PMB. If you don't need all the bells and whistles and are seeking a straightforward appliance for simple tasks, it's a worthy consideration.

microwave - the toshiba is one of the best-performing models that won&#039;t break...
The Toshiba is one of the best-performing models that won't break the bank.
Credit: Laura Casner

Heating Performance


Heating performance is of fundamental importance to your day-to-day use of, and satisfaction with, a microwave. So, it is no surprise that we gave heating 40% of the overall score weighting. To rate microwaves on heating, we challenged each product with five different tests:
  • Heating Map test (35% of Heating score weighting)
  • Heating Speed test (20% weighting)
  • Leftover Heating test (15% weighting)
  • Soup Heating test (15% weighting)
  • Pizza Heating test (15% weighting)


The standout performer in our heating metric is the GE JES1109RRSS, which led the way in the bulk of our heating assessments. The Toshiba EM925A5A and the Panasonic NN-SB458S also delivered strong heating performance, but neither was above average when it came to even heating.

Heating Map Test


Our heating map test rates the consistency of heating across a wide area of the microwave. To perform this test, we spread an even layer of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow creme on parchment paper, cut out a disk the size of the turntable, and then heated it on high for 2 minutes. We scored each product based on the consistency of temperature and browning. The products that scored best created an even amount of heating across the entire disk of marshmallow fluff. Poor performers had hot and cold spots, which are visually evident on the marshmallow creme surface. We also looked at the underside of the disk, which was visible through the parchment paper.


The top scorer in our heat map test was the GE JES1109RRSS. We found minimal marshmallow temperature variation, no distinct hot spot, and even browning.

Even tone throughout, if not a tad pale in the center.
Even tone throughout, if not a tad pale in the center.
The GE heated the marshmallow fluff evenly throughout. The top is shown on the left, with the bottom shown through the parchment paper on the right.

Poor performers in the heat map test include the Nostalgia, which left the inner ring hardly cooked at all, while the outer ring was nearly burnt. Similarly, the lower-cost Toshiba model, the Toshiba EM121A5C, had a super-heated center compared to the rest of the disk. The worst by far was the Galanz Retro, which created a burnt center.

microwave - the galanz burnt the center of the marshmallow fluff.
The Galanz burnt the center of the marshmallow fluff.
Credit: Genaveve Bradshaw

Heating Speed Test


To test heating speed, we put a 125 mL beaker of water in the center of the oven, then heated it on high for 45 seconds. This allowed us to measure the temperature rise, from the starting temp (room temperature) to the temperature after 45 seconds of heating.


The high-end Farberware Classic and the Breville the Compact Wave both outpaced the rest in heating speed, raising the water temperature over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a full 25% higher than any other oven.

microwave - for our heating speed test, we measured how much the temperature...
For our Heating Speed test, we measured how much the temperature increased in 124mL of water when heated for 45 seconds on high.
Credit: Laura Casner

Leftover Heating


The Panasonic NN-SB458S and the Galanz Retro did the best with the mixed plate of leftovers, heating all three types of food evenly, an admittedly difficult task for a microwave. Followed by the Toshiba EM925A5A and the Farberware Classic. The GE JES1109RRSS was no slacker in this test either, still earning high marks. Leftovers and pizza were no match for its capabilities.


Soup Heating


This test assessed the ability to heat a bowl of canned soup with a thermometer, ensuring consistent temperature throughout. While many microwaves performed well in this metric, the Toshiba and Black+Decker EM720CB7 ovens, along with our best budget pick, the Comfee EM720CPL-PMB, ranked highest in our soup heating tests.


Pizza


We heated two slices of leftover pizza in each microwave according to its specific wattage, checking which models could heat them evenly and thoroughly. This test accounted for 15% of the Heating metric.


If you love pizza, keep the GE JES1109RRSS at the top of your list. It performed the best in the pizza reheating tests. Conversely, the Panasonic NN-SB458S performed the worst in the pizza test, unevenly heating the slices, with one being nowhere near hot enough to eat and the other exhibiting hot and cold spots.

microwave - checking for even temperature during our pizza reheating tests.
Checking for even temperature during our pizza reheating tests.
Credit: Laura Casner

Frozen Foods


Our next series of tests focused on how well each contender could heat premade frozen food items, such as Hot Pockets, mini-lasagnas, or frozen burritos. We followed the manufacturers' instructions for reheating based on individual wattage, adjusting each model's power level 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.



The Toshiba EM925A5A and GE JES1109RRSS scored quite well with frozen foods. These appliances delivered near-perfect results with the Hot Pockets and heated our burritos evenly. However, the Toshiba showed a bit more of a temperature spread with the mini-lasagna, which left an average temperature difference of 23 degrees Fahrenheit, while the GE continued to impress across all the frozen foods.

microwave - each mini lasagna got stuck with six thermometers to determine...
Each mini lasagna got stuck with six thermometers to determine evenness of heating. The GE microwave pictured here scored well in this metric.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The bulk of our test suite — the Farberware Classic, Black+Decker EM031MB11, Nostalgia RMO4AQ, Panasonic NN-SB458S, 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 Breville and Galanz Retro did decently well with the Hot Pocket and the individual lasagna but struggled with the frozen burrito, all failing to heat it sufficiently to serve based on the manufacturer's direction. The Comfee EM720CPL-PMB did extremely well with the hot pocket but failed miserably with frozen lasagna and burritos.

Of these products, the Nostalgia RMO4AQ was the least impressive, showing an average temperature variation of 43 degrees Fahrenheit between zones. The rest of the group ranged between 15 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

microwave - the roll of turkey, ready to be defrosted in the toshiba em925a5a.
The roll of turkey, ready to be defrosted in the Toshiba EM925A5A.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Defrosting


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


The GE JES1109RRSSC reigns supreme, even over the nearly flawless Toshiba EM131A5C, perfectly defrosting the entire block of meat without cooking any of it in a little under 10 minutes. Both microwaves also beep halfway through to alert you to flip the meat over.

microwave - the toshiba em131a5c defrosted the entire block of turkey.
The Toshiba EM131A5C defrosted the entire block of turkey.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Black+Decker EM720CB7 and Cuisinart CMW-100 defrosted about 12 ounces of turkey. 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 these models. The Nostalgia RMO4AQ narrowly followed, marked down because it ended up cooking a tiny bit of the turkey during the defrosting process.

The Panasonic NN-SB458S defrosted approximately nine ounces of the turkey, but the remainder was barely frozen and crumbled easily. The Galanz Retro and the Breville performed similarly. The remaining microwaves all delivered lackluster results, not only leaving a large frozen chunk of turkey but also cooking sections in the process.

microwave - the toshiba em131a5c does a great job with premade frozen items.
The Toshiba EM131A5C does a great job with premade frozen items.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Use


Our final set of tests assessed the user-friendliness of these kitchen appliances. 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 we opened and closed the door or pushed a button.


Both the Toshiba EM131A5C and EM925A5A, as well as the GE JES1109RRSS, impressed us with their overall ease of use. They stay securely in place, and the Toshiba models provide ample interior lighting, whereas the GE leans a bit on the darker side. Each of them features convenient +30 seconds buttons and one-touch quick start functions for durations ranging from one to six minutes. However, the standalone kitchen timers on the Toshiba units can be somewhat finicky, whereas the GE is nearly perfect in this regard.

microwave - the toshiba em925a5a is convenient and easy to use.
The Toshiba EM925A5A is convenient and easy to use.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Black+Decker EM031MB11 has all the one-touch features you would typically want but slides around a bit on slicker surfaces. It has decent lighting, but the preset popcorn feature wasn't amazing. The Breville performed similarly overall but has better lighting and popcorn functions. However, we didn't find its quick buttons to be as convenient.

The Farberware Classic did very well in the popcorn preset test and is rock-solid on most countertops.

The Black+Decker EM720CB7 was hampered by a few flaws that made it less convenient to use. While we liked its interface, the entire appliance slid around some when we opened or closed the door. It also fared poorly in the popcorn test, leaving tons of unpopped kernels behind after the preset time had elapsed.

microwave - microwaves are designed to make your life easier. we hope our review...
Microwaves are designed to make your life easier. We hope our review has helped you choose the best one for your needs!
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


Many households have a microwave in their kitchen, a daily essential for reheating leftovers, defrosting, heating frozen foods, and preparing popcorn for movie nights. However, microwaves vary in performance. Our review is designed to assist you in selecting the right equipment that aligns with your requirements and budget. We hope we've provided the necessary information and details to help you narrow your search.

David Wise, Austin Palmer, Genaveve Bradshaw, and Matt Spencer