10 BEST MICROWAVES OF 2024: COMBINATION, RETRO AND MORE

While it’s important to eat fresh, cooking from scratch isn’t always possible every night of the week.

Whether you want to heat up a ready meal, make a quick snack or simply need a more efficient way to cook, a microwave can help.

A crucial piece of kitchen kit for students, flatshares and the country’s culinary-challenged, microwaves are an invention of the last century that has become a kitchen essential and remain popular to this day. Modern designs are super versatile, offering a huge selection of add-ons and functions that do more than simply heat food.

Shop online and you can find microwaves with grill and convection oven functions as well as ones with pre-programmed buttons to cook pizza and popcorn to perfection.

For those with simple tastes (in more ways than one), there are budget designs that do no more than cook food quickly and efficiently.

How to shop for a microwave

Before you begin, decide first on the functions you’d like it to perform. For instance, do you like the sound of all-singing, all-dancing advanced features? Or are you shopping for someone who needs a simple option, like your uni halls-bound children or an elderly relative?

It’s also worth considering the capacity of your ideal microwave, especially if you plan to use it for big groups. Needless to say, the bigger it is, the more space it will take up in your countertops.

What to consider when buying a microwave

When purchasing your pre-heating device, consider:

  • Type of microwave: These tend to fall into three categories - standard (your classic, cheap and cheerful option), combi (that has both a grill and an oven), and grill (for a quick and easy way to create grilled favourites like cheese sandwiches, pizza and more).
  • Wattage: This is the unit of measurement in which your microwave is measured and tends to fall into the bracket of 700 to 1,200. The higher the wattage, the faster and more even the bake. Simple.
  • Programs / adjustable power levels: Whether you opt for a basic microwave or one packed with programs is a matter of personal choice. As you may expect, the more bells and whistles, the more expensive the microwave will be. You can opt for devices with pre-sets for defrosting or cooking certain items like chicken, meat or rice as well as various power levels.
  • Size and capacity: For larger families, you may need a microwave with a larger capacity. This is measured in litres. There are small or large models ranging from 15 to 32 litres. If it is acting as your main cooking facility, consider big dishes like chicken or turkey.
  • Noise level: This may or may not be important to you as all microwaves make some level of humming or buzzing when in use. If it sounds noisier than normal, this could be an indication that it's time to replace your model.
  • Integrated vs countertop: This refers to where your microwave will be placed - either on your counter or shelf or built into your cupboards. Integrated devices don’t tend to come with exterior sides for easier installation.

How to deep clean a microwave

You’ll most likely use a microwave far more than an oven, so grease and caked-on food is to be expected - but not necessarily tolerated. It’s easy to return your device to its sparkling best with a few simple cleaning hacks and microwave cleaning products.

  • Hack: cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both pieces into a microwave-safe bowl filled with water. Drop the lemon shells into the bowl and microwave the whole lot for three minutes, leaving it to stand for five minutes after the beep so the steam can loosen the gunk. Wipe clean with a microfibre cloth. This technique also works with lime or oranges. 
  • Hack: microwave one part white vinegar with one part water for five minutes. Wipe clean after the beep. 
  • Hack: keep the glass turntable fresh by handwashing it in the sink with soapy water or adding it to a loaded dishwasher. 
  • ProductHG Combi Microwave Cleaner 500ml is a powerful cleaner in a handy spray bottle, good for use on microwaves and combi microwaves, £7.14, Amazon. 
  • Product: make cleaning that bit more amusing with this Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner. Simply twist off her hair, fill with vinegar and water and reseal before microwaving for around eight minutes on high. Wipe down the steam she emits with a cleaning cloth.
  • Product: this pack of 25 heat-activated wipes make light work of microwave cleaning. Simply place one inside the machine, heat it according to the instructions, and then use it to clear up the filthy interior. Done!

Best microwave deals to bag now

Take advantage of models on discount and special offer

Best microwaves of 2024 at a glance

Whether you’re in the market to buy your first microwave or need to replace an old, tired model, we’ve reviewed the best microwaves to order for home delivery right now.

Shop now

Sharp R861 900W Combination Microwave

  • Best for: Simplicity and effectiveness
  • Capacity: 25L
  • Power: 200W

This 25-litre, 900W combi microwave from Sharp ticks a crucial box that seems oddly to elude most other microwaves: it’s easy to operate.

The R861’s usability is thanks in part to its clearly marked cooking time buttons (which add 10 seconds, 1 minute or 10 minutes); pre-sets for commonly cooked foods including jacket potatoes, pizza and rice; and refreshingly uncomplicated grill and convection oven modes.

It cooks evenly without the need for a rotating plate, which makes it possible to cook larger meals than most other microwaves of the R861’s size would allow.

Buy now £200.00, Amazon

Panasonic NN-DS596BBPQ 4-in-1 Steam combination Flatbed Microwave Oven with Grill

  • Best for: Grill, steam, microwave and oven options
  • Capacity: 27L
  • Power: 1000W

When you turn this microwave on for the first time, the blue digital display urges you to ‘Refer to operating instructions before use’.

We think this is astute, and we say that because this microwave is a complex machine, operated with twelve buttons and a multifunctional dial. If you’re after a feature-rich combination oven that can fit on a work surface to use in place of a traditional oven, it would make a superb purchase.

An impressive array of grill, steam, microwave and oven options is just a few button presses away. Simply enter your desired function and cooking time settings and hit ‘Start’.

Buy now £399.00, Currys

Swan Retro 20L Digital Combi Microwave with Grill

  • Best for: Attractiveness
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Power: 800W

Did you know that the first microwave oven was made in 1947? That particular model – “the Radarange” – was nearly six-foot tall and weighed 340 kilograms.

For mid-20th-century style that comes with the welcome benefits of contemporary tech, you’d probably be better off purchasing the Swan Retro Digital Combi instead.

This remarkably easy-on-the-eye microwave provides a mixture of grill, convection oven and microwave functions up to 900W. It’s incredibly easy to use, and unlike so many other microwaves, it will be an asset to your kitchen’s aesthetic.

From the reflective glass panel on the front to the stainless steel interior, this is a class act that marries function to fabulous form. Available in nine colours.

Buy now £92.99, Amazon

Miele M7140TC 46L Built-In Microwave, Clean Steel

  • Best for: Luxury seekers
  • Capacity: 46L
  • Power: 900W

Built to slot into your kitchen cupboards, this lavish luxury appliance works exceptionally well, glows with a homely light as it cooks and chirrups winningly when your food’s ready. These traits epitomise the M7140TC’s convincing combination of class and character.

Other selected highlights include its enormous 46-litre cooking compartment, 40 cm turntable, internal LED spotlight, and of course, its dedicated popcorn-making mode. We could go on...

If money’s no object, this may well be the microwave for you.

Buy now £1139.00, AO

SAMSUNG MC28H5013AS/EU Combination Microwave

  • Best for: Keen cooks
  • Capacity: 28L
  • Power: 1900W

This powerful, versatile smart oven from Samsung has healthy cooking presets for a wide range of vegetables, poultry and fish, it features dough-proofing and yoghurt-making modes as well as offers simultaneous microwave and grill combi cooking, which rapidly cooks and browns your food.

Stylish and loaded with a huge array of features, this is a highly impressive microwave, capable of working wonders for chefs who wish to improve their efficiency in the kitchen – without losing quality.

The appliance also comes with a high rack and a low rack, enabling you to cook to your taste.

Buy now £229.99, Currys

Bosch Serie 4 BFL523MB0B Built-In Microwave

  • Best for: In-built affordability
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Power: 800W

Simple, effective and reasonably priced for an in-built microwave, the BFL523MB0B could well prove to be the ideal choice for those seeking to fully integrate their kitchen appliances on a reasonable budget.

With a capacity of 20 litres and a turntable diameter of 25.5cm, the BFL523MB0B does its job without dominating the space – something you might consider another boon from a design perspective.

In terms of features, this microwave focuses on doing the basics well, with five power levels ranging up to 800W, plus a few additional tricks up its sleeve including 7 auto cook programs. It is available in black, silver or white.

Buy now £369.00, AO

Russell Hobbs RHM1714WC 17Litre Digital Microwave - White

  • Best for: smaller households
  • Capacity: 17L
  • Power: 700W

This fantastic value microwave by household name Russell Hobbs is powerful, multifaceted and looks good on your kitchen counter.

Featuring a whole host of pre-programmed auto cook settings such as pizza, fish and popcorn, as well as five different power levels, weight defrost settings, a digital clock and a countdown timer– this microwave has all the essentials nailed down.

With a 17L capacity, the kitchen essential would do well in any smaller household and comes at a very reasonable price point.

Buy now £89.99, JD Williams

Kenwood K23CM21 Combination Microwave - Silver & Black

  • Best for: express cooking
  • Capacity: 23L
  • Power: 900W

With a 23-litre capacity, oven temperature of up to 200°C and six auto cooking programs, this combination microwave is an absolute steal. Whether you’re looking for a device to reheat your leftovers, cook a ready meal, or even defrost meat, the K23CM21 is the microwave for you.

We’re fans of the express and quick start cooking functions, which ensure that you’re not going to get stuck fiddling with various settings when all you want is that delicious M&S lasagne.

Buy now £139.00, Currys

Smeg Cucina FMI425X Built In Microwave with Grill - Stainless Steel

  • Best for: powerful reheating
  • Capacity: 25L
  • Power: 900W

The built-in microwave for your dream kitchen, this 25-litre combination grill makes for an incredibly handy kitchen gadget. It is designed to be fitted at eye level, so that you can properly utilise both the touch and dial controls and switch between settings.

The selection of auto-cook programs set the ideal time and temperature for your chosen dish, so you can enjoy your meal fuss-free and at the touch of a button. No more worrying about whether that leftover curry has been reheated all the way through.

Buy now £449.00, AO

Russell Hobbs 17 Litre 700W White Solo Manual Microwave

  • Best for: occasional use
  • Capacity: 17L
  • Power: 700W

Not everyone needs a microwave for every meal. For those who use the appliance infrequently, a simpler (read: cheaper) model may hit the sweet spot.

In this case, Russell Hobbs comes up trumps with a gold and white grooved design that keeps things simple yet oh-so stylish. The 700W countertop design offers a choice of five power levels as well as a defrost function so you can make use of what’s in the freezer for a fast mid-week dinner.

Comes with a one-year guarantee.

Buy now £89.99, Amazon

Verdict

Whilst we’ve been taken in by characterful microwaves at both ends of the price spectrum we have to stick with our guns and name the Sharp R860SLM our ES Best Pick. It’s simply the best at being a microwave.

Register now for one of the Evening Standard’s newsletters. From a daily news briefing to Homes & Property insights, plus lifestyle, going out, offers and more. For the best stories in your inbox, click here.

2022-03-25T19:22:17Z dg43tfdfdgfd