Microwave is so common in every kitchen. Whether you just want to melt your butter and cheese, or just want to heat up your leftover food from last night party, these incredible devices do a great job. Though, heating up food or cooking with a microwave is not at all good for health but you just can't ignore its benefits in daily use. Here are top 10 microwaves to get for your everyday cooking.
The four-step programming is the stand-out point with this great value 800W microwave – it means you can set it to automatically carry out four different cooking stages in a row while you get on with other things, making it a fabulous time saver. Also worth a special mention is the steaming function, as well as the setting for reheating hot beverages. Despite the low price tag, it keeps food moist and cooks it evenly, with none of those rubbery edges that are so common with microwaved food. The vintage aesthetics look smart and it’s available in four different colours – red, black, cream and blue. The only downside is that it’s quite noisy.
The innovative flatbed design of this microwave means there’s more room inside than with traditional turntable ones and you can fit odd shaped dishes in it too – sometimes even two. An added bonus is that food doesn’t spill because the dishes don’t move around. It all combines to make this a great microwave for larger families or people who like entertaining. The 1000W machine has five power settings and 18 auto-cook functions, as well as the opportunity to set your own. And if all this sounds too complicated, it isn’t – the intuitively designed touch controls and excellent instructions means it’s surprisingly quick to get your head round, and it’s quick and quiet too, with no cold spots. But there’s no combi cooking or grill, despite the high price tag.
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This has been designed to squeeze into worktop corners, although don’t feel you have to – it sits nicely enough anywhere. And despite being so compact, it still has a decent sized turntable at 28cm. It can cook at five power levels and although it’s only 700W, and therefore slower than some, it manages to defrost surprisingly quickly. Not a machine if you want lots of wow-factor features, but it has all the basics plus timer, clock and child-safety lock and it’s so simple to use that you’ll probably won’t even need to refer to the instructions. On the downside, it does a lot of bleeping so won’t suit those that get easily irritated by unnecessary kitchen sounds and the light stays on until you manually press the stop button.
This is a handsome microwave, if ever we saw one, with the mirrored door, curved edges and wood effect handle and trim around the control dial all making for a chic, Nordic finish, which is available in either grey or white. Performance wise, there’s good news too as this 800W microwave cooks quickly and evenly. The auto-cook programs save time and hassle, with the three auto-defrost settings ensuring that meat, poultry or fish don’t start cooking before the time’s up. You can warm up hot drinks on a special setting and it steams to perfection. Forget it if you have extra-large plates though – the inside is on the small side. The mirrored door is prone to fingerprints, although it wipes clean easily enough.
This vibrant red 700W microwave is a steal for a cooker that gives even results even when it’s been used by everyone else in the household before you get a turn. It’s easy to use, with the digital display offering plenty of versatility – 10 power levels and two defrost programmes, plus the option to cook in two steps. There’s plenty of room inside too. And unlike others in this price tag, it’s nice and quiet (unless you count the beeps that go off whenever you press a button) and it’s a doddle to keep clean. But as you might expect at this price, it’s on the slow side, so you will need a bit of extra patience, and the turntable is prone to rattling.
This 900W combi grill microwave has a pull-down door, which makes for easy loading and unloading. And as with the Panasonic NN-SF464MBPQ, the flatbed design replaces a traditional turntable, allowing you to fit in more unusual shaped dishes, as well as the wire rack and baking tray it comes with. There are six auto functions for the likes of jacket potato, rice, pizza, roast chicken, oven chips and cake, with another seven for auto reheat, beverages, veg, soup, grilled bacon, grilled fish and roast lamb or fish. With this long list, it’s hard to think if anything they’ve missed, although we think it could be better at grilling. We couldn’t fault the evenness of cooking, it’s easy to work and it’s great value too, but it’s quite noisy and bulky.
Sage has become the go-to brand for kitchen electricals with special functions for foodies. Backed by Heston Blumenthal, this 25-litre 1000W microwave-grill combi is no exception, with a row of extra buttons just inside the door for everything from melting chocolate to softening butter (making it a particularly good choice for keen bakers). At 31cm, the large interior means the turntable is good for big plates – brilliant for entertaining. It’s quick, intuitive, quiet and looks good. And if you’re not sure how to make the most of your new toy, check out the vast range of menus – from entire dishes to toasting nuts on its crisper pan. But it doesn’t come cheap.
If your primary use for a microwave is to reheat takeaways, look no further. This 800W machine has auto-programs for reheating Chinese food, curry and pasta that means you can practically get dinner on the table with your eyes closed. It’s also great at reheating healthier options like vegetables and fish, as well as defrosting. And all in record time, with no signs of food drying out. There are five power levels and nine auto-programs, so everything is covered, and the intuitive touch controls, delayed start and multi-step programming are all genuinely useful, especially in busy households. But it’s on the small side, so forget it for larger families, and we didn’t think it was much cop at steaming.
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This sleek looking 800W microwave won us over with its comprehensive list of genuinely useful features, as well as being incredibly user friendly and big enough for large families (25L). Not only does it have a decent grill, crisp function (great for pizzas) and defrosts to perfection, but it triggers you to stir, add or turn when needed and even pauses cooking so you can do it. Unusually, you can turn off the rotating feature of the turntable – handy for oblong or very large dishes. Be warned it’s heavy and big, though, so might dominate smaller kitchens.
If you’re up for compact retro looks, this 700W machine with its curved corners and vintage-style buttons and dial will make an attractive addition to your kitchen appliances. Smaller than most, it’s great for one or two person households and is easy to use and cooks well, keeping everything moist. It has seven auto programmes to speed things up and you can run one after the other, for instance to defrost meat then cook it. But the inside is a no-go area for big plates and it’s not the fastest at cooking, although we have certainly seen slower. Available in blue or cream.
This microwave from the budget end of the market is the cheapest in our roundup. Like the Cookworks machine, it couldn’t be easier to use if it tried and it’s versatile, as well as cooking food evenly and keeping it moist. But we think this one has the edge when it comes to steaming and defrosting and it’s also better for smaller families and/or kitchens as it’s more compact (be warned plates bigger than 27cm won’t fit in). There are no auto programmes and no assistance with cooking or defrosting, but that’s what helps keep things simple, and be warned the mirrored door is a magnet for fingerprints.
Besides being a bit on the noisy side, we found it hard to fault the Beko MOC20200C, which performs extremely well at pretty much everything and whose star feature is the four-step programming – a boon for the time-poor. For a microwave-grill combi, the Sage quick touch crisp microwavedid us proud – it’s intuitive and as comprehensive as they come, although it doesn’t come cheap.
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