Which Microwave Ovens?
Discover which Microwave Ovens are best and which Microwave Ovens are right for you.
What Microwave Ovens
Learn about what Microwave Ovens can do, the key features of Microwave Ovens and what to look for when buying Microwave Ovens.
Best Microwave Ovens
Find the best Microwave Ovens by popularity, price and functionality -- browse by the most popular brands and featured stores for Microwave Ovens.
Microwave ovens (usually called microwaves) were invented in the 1940's and started to become widespread in the 1970's. Traditional microwave ovens literally heat food using a microwave (or radio) radiation technology, which converts the waves into heat when absorbed by water or other particles such as fat and sugar. They have become a popular and often indispensible addition to our kitchen appliances, especially as they are now so affordable.
They heat food much more quickly and evenly than conventional ovens and are also suitable for defrosting food fast and efficiently, but the traditional basic-function microwave ovens are not suitable for some types of cooking such as roasting, browning or grilling. There are, however some types of combination microwave ovens which do offer additional functions such as grilling and/ or convection oven and in this case they can eliminate the need for a traditional convection oven which can be suitable for smaller households or those short of space.
Many people associate the use of microwave ovens with food which is poor in nutritional value, due to the fact that many people choose to use them for packaged ready-meals which can be high in salt and/or sugar, but they can in fact be used to prepare healthy nutritious food using fresh ingredients.
They are available in a very wide range of brand names and the choice of microwave oven depends on several criteria including budget, space and usage.
Basic or Solo Microwave Ovens
This type of microwave oven offers microwave cooking only and is not suitable for browning or grilling the food. It can be used to defrost, reheat or cook foods. All microwaves come with a timer function so that the user can pre-set how long the food item is to be cooked for, and a variable power setting. Most models have at least 5 levels of power including defrost, but some have up to 10 or more. The majority of microwave ovens have an audible signal at the end of cooking to alert the user and an interior light to easily view the contents.
Grill Microwave Ovens
This also features a grill function for crisping and browning in addition to the basic microwave functions.
Combination Microwave Ovens
This type of microwave oven has a grill and convection oven incorporated in the machine in addition to the microwave functionality. It can replace the need for a traditional convection oven although this is only recommended in households where space is extremely limited or the oven is used infrequently, due to the relatively small capacity compared to a full-sized oven. It is also useful as a second 'spill-over' oven when the main convection oven is full.
Most combination microwave ovens have adjustable shelf positions and many come with 1 or 2 wire racks as standard as well as an enamel or glass shelf.
There is also a small selection of combination microwave ovens which includes a steam oven function.
Most microwave ovens use a turntable system for easier heat distribution, but there are some combination models available which do not use a turntable and are suitable to use with a wider choice of dishes. With others the user can choose whether or not to use the turntable.
Basic, grill and combination microwaves can be further subdivided into freestanding and built-in variations:
Freestanding Microwave Ovens
These are usually positioned on top of the workspace or in a cupboard. If you are planning to put the microwave in a cupboard, make sure that there is adequate space to open the microwave door properly.
Built-In Microwave Ovens
These are fitted into the kitchen units and save valuable space on the worktop. Some have fitting kits as standard although others are optional.
If you are looking for a basic microwave oven with no additional functionality then budget might be the most import criteria. Basic microwave ovens can be very inexpensive and are commonly sold in supermarkets as well as electrical stores.
However microwaves can vary enormously in price and you need to decide whether you are willing to pay for features over and above the basic microwave functionality. The features may look attractive in the brochure but you are wasting your money if you are not going to use them on a regular basis.
The combination microwave ovens are more expensive however they offer far more functionality.
The most basic microwave functionalities are cook and defrost and most microwaves will offer a quick start feature.
However many manufactures offer additional programmes such as:
- Auto-weight programmes for both defrosting and cooking where the user programmes in the food type and the weight and the microwave sets the power level and time accordingly.
- Pre-set programmes for different types of food such as baked potato, pizza or grilled meat.
- Multi-sequence cooking which allows the user to perform multiple tasks and functions.
- User-set programmes with memory function.
- A programmable timer.
Other features may include:
- A child-lock to prevent toddlers being able to access the microwave.
- Pop out controls for easier cleaning.
- LED touch controls for more precise timing
- Residual heat indicator on combination microwave ovens to indicate when the interior of the machines is still hot.
With some combination microwave ovens, the microwave can either be used independently or in conjunction with other cooking functions such as grill or convection oven.
Both of the internal and external size of the microwave oven should be considered.
The external size is important for both freestanding and built-in models. The user should have adequate space on the worktop to accommodate the freestanding model. With a built-in model it should exactly match the size specifications.
The internal size depends on how many people you are cooking for and the amount of food to be cooked. Microwaves range from 17 litre capacity to over 43 litres, and most average sized families would need at least a 25 litre capacity. A higher capacity microwave oven has the advantages of a larger turntable and increased height, but bear in mind that the physical external size will also be larger.
Weight may or may not be a factor in the decision.
The power of a microwave oven is specified in watts and models on the market today range from 700W to 1100W. The higher wattage models offer a quicker cooking time but 800-900 watts is sufficient for most people.
Some people prefer the traditional white microwave however there is an incredible choice of designs and colours available with many microwave ovens available in 'designer' styles.
On a more practical level, the majority of microwave ovens have doors which open from a handle on the right of the machine but there are some which open downwards. This can be more convenient depending on where it is located and with many models you can rest items on the opened door but check the specifications for the maximum weight that it can handle.
- If you are going to be using the microwave oven on a regular basis, make sure that it is well-positioned in the kitchen for easy access. If it is placed too high up or if it is difficult to access in any way the user runs the risk of accidents and scalding.
- Choose a microwave oven that is easy to clean. Some microwaves offer catalytic oven liners or pyrolytic technology for self-cleaning and others have ceramic enamel for easy cleaning. Some use a steam cleaning technology.
- Stainless steel models can be more difficult to keep clean although some models offer anti-fingerprint surfaces.
- There is a huge range of microwave accessories available to make your microwave cooking as flexible and efficient as possible, such as egg poachers and bacon trays.
- If design is very important some manufacturers offer ranges of co-ordinated built-in kitchen appliances.
Popular Microwave Ovens Brands
||AEG Electrolux Microwave Ovens AEG Electrolux - they have a wide range of freestanding and built-in microwave ovens from compact 17 litre capacity models to 38 litre combination ovens.
||Baumatic Microwave Ovens Baumatic - their range includes combination microwaves with up to 16 pre-set programmes, both freestanding and built-in. They also offer a microwave within their co-ordinated 46cm range of compact kitchen appliances.
||Bosch Microwave Ovens Bosch - they have a full range of freestanding and built-in models including many within their mid -priced Exxcel range.
||Daewoo Microwave Ovens Daewoo - their range of microwaves includes combination convection ovens and models with full touch control.
||Hinari Microwave Ovens Hinari - this UK manufacturer offers microwaves amongst its offering of kitchen appliances.
||Miele Microwave Ovens Miele - their microwave ovens range from 17 litre to 43 litre capacity and are available in several colours to co-ordinate with other appliances in the built-in range.
||Neff Microwave Ovens Neff - their built-in range of combination and standard microwave ovens offers up to 70 automatic cooking programmes and some models have catalytic or pyrolytic liners for easy cleaning.
||Panasonic Microwave Ovens Panasonic - they offer a full range of compact and family sized microwaves and combination models.
||Samsung Microwave Ovens Samsung - their range includes freestanding and built-in microwaves in various sizes including grill and combination models.
||Sanyo Microwave Ovens Sanyo - amongst the selection of freestanding models on offer are grill, combination and solo microwave ovens.
||Sharp Microwave Ovens Sharp - they have models up to 40 litre capacity including combination models.
||Siemens Microwave Ovens Siemens - this German manufacturer has microwave ovens in its iQ500 and iQ700 ranges up to 42 litres, some with pyrolytic liners.
||Smeg Microwave Ovens Smeg - their range includes built-in and freestanding models with a wide choice of programmes.
||Whirlpool Microwave Ovens Whirlpool - their extensive range includes freestanding and built in models including those with their 6th Sense and/or Jet Defrost technology.
Catalytic Liner Catalytic Liner - these liners are treated with a material that absorbs grease, which is then automatically burnt off at high temperature.
Programmable Timer Programmable Timer - this device can be used to programme the microwave oven to come on or off at a set time.
Pyrolytic Pyrolytic - this is a self-cleaning oven which reduces any food spillage or grease to ash at high temperatures, which can then be easily wiped away.