What to Look for When Buying a Microwave

Photo By Chris Kelly on Flickr

Microwaves make life easier, it’s as simple as that, and for many it’s a essential life-saver.

Whether its warming up leftovers or heating up a quick meal when you don’t have time, the microwave comes in handy time and time again.

You can easily find a microwave on Craigslist or other selling apps, but maybe you’re ready to invest in a brand new model.

What should you be looking for when buying a new microwave?

There are so many models and features out there that you could easily become overwhelmed by the options.

Don’t worry, I am here to help you sift through the many options, narrow them down and figure out the best model and brand for you to fit both your living space and your wallet.


Microwave Grill


Above Range


Microwave Grill

Above Range

Microwave Features

What features should you look for in a microwave? The features I’ve listed below are not all necessary, but they should get you thinking about what you need and want in a microwave. Depending on what you will be doing with your microwave, where you will store it and price, these are some of the features to pay attention to.

  • Automatic defrost

    This is a great feature that allows you to chose the type of food as well as the weight in order to defrost your food. Your microwave will adjust the time and power to defrost your food perfectly.

  • Nonstick interior

    Having a nonstick interior makes cleanup really simple and quick. If you don’t want to spend much time cleaning your microwave, this is a must.

  • Power level options

    Being able to adjust the power level helps you not overheat items and yet use just the right amount of power at the same time.

  • Stainless steel

    This is a great feature to look for when searching for a microwave because they don’t retain odors, and they are really easy to clean. Stainless steel is also sleek and stylish.

  • Child locks

    Yes! Some microwaves have child locks. You can unlock the microwave through a keypad.

  • Turntable

    Turntables are great for two reasons. They help food heat more evenly, and it makes clean up easier. You can remove these turntables and through them in the dishwasher or quickly clean them. Most microwaves will come with a turntable. If the microwave doesn’t, I wouldn’t purchase it.
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Types of Microwaves

There are several different types of microwaves in the different ways they function as well as where you can place them in your kitchen. I wanted to dive into a few of the most common types and chat about some pros and cons to help narrow down the search for the perfect microwave. I’ve also included some of the top brands for each type to give you a starting place and reference point.

  • Convection

    Convection microwaves are really neat, because they combine a microwave with the abilities of a convection oven. Convection ovens circulate hot air in order to cook your food more evenly. So when you combine a convection oven and a microwave the end result is evenly cooked food with less wait time. You can bake things in a convection oven along with all the typical reheating you’d normally do with a microwave.

    • Toshiba

      This microwave has excellent reviews, is 1.5 cu ft, 1000 watts, has a turntable and a pre-programmed menu. The pro is the same as the con with this microwave, and that is its size. If you have the space, this is a great option and very reasonably priced. If you are living in an apartment or small home, this may not be the best convection microwave for you.

    • Amazon Smart Oven

      This microwave is a bit more expensive than the Toshiba, but it is an incredible model. It is not only a microwave and convection oven but also an air fryer! It has the option of voice control through Alexa, has a temperature probe and has enough space to cook a 5 pound chicken. This model is for anyone with a love of technology.

  • Grill

    There are microwaves out there that can also grill! These microwaves have a grilling element, a grilling accessory or grilling function that allows the microwave to not only warm your food but also grill it and get the crispy texture we all love!

    • Samsung

      This is a very attractive style, is stainless steel and has a grilling element and a ceramic plate. It also has pre-programmed settings. Investing in this microwave means you’ll be spending between $200 and $300.

    • Emerson

      This microwave grill is a larger model and has a grill function. It has nine pre-programmed recipe settings, a removable turntable and eleven power levels. This microwave also comes with a child-safe lock which is handy for families, and has a lower price point than the Samsung.

  • Countertop

    Countertop microwaves are the most common and least expensive option. There is a variety of styles and functions you can choose from, and they simply sit on your countertop. The great thing is they are really affordable, but the downside is they can take up a lot of space versus ones that sit over the stove.

    • Amazon Basics

      This model is both affordable and small which means it’s great for singles or small apartment life. It has the typical pre-set functions, but it also has voice activation with Alexa! Great for a small space, but not great for microwaving large amounts of food.

    • GE Countertop

      This is a slightly more expensive model. It is a sleek design and stainless steel which makes it easy to clean. It also has all the pre-programmed settings, a turntable and great reviews.

  • Above the Range

    This type of microwave is great for saving space and typically sits at a great height for pulling foods in and out. The only downside is above the range microwaves are a bit more expensive.
    • GE

      This model is a bargain pick, is a trusted model, has great ventilation and a top-notch overall option. The GE is one of the more affordable options when it comes to above the range, so if you’re looking to stay in a budget this is the microwave for you.
    • Samsung

      Unlike the GE, the Samsung is not as affordable but still quite reasonable. It has powerful cooking capabilities along with excellent ventilation which is needed in any above the range model.

Microwave Accessories

Usually I would say less is more, but there are times when having a few accessories can be huge life-savers. I’ve gathered a few of the top items you should have if you use your microwave on a consistent basis. Whether it’s cleaning or storing your food, these couple of items you will not regret having!

  • Food Cover

    If you have a microwave, you need a food cover. Have you ever been the victim of a food fight in your microwave? You’re heating up your spaghetti sauce, all of a sudden there is a popping sound, you stop the microwave and there is spaghetti sauce all over the inside of your microwave. A food cover will save you from the time and hassle of cleaning the spaghetti sauce or other food off the inside of the microwave.

  • Cookware

    If you have a microwave, you need microwaveable cookware. This brand is BPA free, and is able to go both in the microwave and the freezer. It also comes in a variety of designs, so it’s great no matter your style.

  • Microwave Cleaner

    This may look like a funny contraption, but it will get your microwave clean in a snap. You simply put vinegar and water in it, put it in the microwave for seven minutes on high, it creates steam and cleans your microwave. Just wipe down your microwave afterwards.

How does a microwave work

Let’s chat really quickly about how microwaves work, hopefully bringing clarity to the essential things to look for in a microwave.

Microwaves work the same way the sun works in that it brings warmth and heat though radiation. The sun emits ultraviolet rays, and microwaves emit “micro”waves; it’s really as basic as that.

The rays are invisible to the human eye, but just as we feel the sun’s warmth, microwaves are emitted, bounce around in the microwave and heat the food.

Granted, we could go deeper into the science, but this is the simple explanation of how microwaves work!

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Wrapping Up:

Microwave Features To Look For

Microwaves are a time saver and utilized on a daily basis for many people. There are so many different models and types out on the market, so finding the right one can feel a bit overwhelming.

First, narrow down what type of microwave you’d like, a convection, grill or basic microwave.

Then, decide where you’d like the microwave to go. Once you’ve decided on these two factors, you have narrowed down your options, and you’re well on your way to finding the perfect microwave.

Just take your time, think about the features you want, check the reviews and make your purchase!

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