The best countertop microwave oven brings convenience to any kitchen. Perfect for cooking, heating and defrosting food, a microwave oven is a must-have appliance for British kitchens. However, the choice can be overwhelming.
As with most kitchen appliances, it’s possible to spend a fortune, only to end up with something average. Here, we have focused our research on finding the best solo microwave oven for your kitchen. A solo microwave doesn’t grill or double-up as a conventional oven, it’s designed specifically to defrost & heat food (& drinks), quickly & evenly – without fuss.
Easy to Use Microwave Oven
A microwave oven should be easy to use. Nobody wants a kitchen appliance with a range of buttons and dials that are never used. This is especially important for elderly users, where simple controls can make a big difference (more on this later).
How do you know which size microwave to buy?
Size is important. Manufacturers make comparisons in terms of litres. However, the external dimensions and turntable diameter are much more useful. Clearly, it must fit in your kitchen and a turntable that’s too small for your dinner plate is more than annoying!
Simple, Easy to Use Controls & Settings
A good microwave must be easy to use. The technology hasn’t really advanced in recent years. Essentially, you need two adjustments – time and power. There are machines out there, that seem to make this incredibly complicated. Nobody should be required to learn a programming language in order to warm a bowl of soup!
Choosing the Right Microwave Oven for You
Spending big can get you a higher wattage and more power, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to a better appliance. We have compared 100s of models, checked details with experts, scrutinised specifications and listened to owners in order to recommend the best microwave ovens. Here’s the basic version of our checklist …
- External Dimensions – Will the oven fit on your countertop?
- Turntable Diameter – Is it big enough for your favourite plate?
- Power – The higher the watts, the quicker it will cook (usually!)
- Features – Eg: Inverter technology (more on this later)
- Durability – Is it easy to keep clean and will it last?
- Ease of Use – Perhaps the most important
All the models below are of excellent value. They all do the basics well but offer differences in terms of size, power, controls & features.
Easy to Use Microwave
This Sharp microwave is easy to use, good value and highly rated by owners. It stands out for the simple controls. Rather than an array of buttons, there are two large dials. One for power and one for time. It’s ideal for an elderly person and non-rocket scientists!
For heating your dinner, warming a coffee or defrosting food from the freezer – this simple to use microwave is perfect.
Microwave with Simple Controls
The two dials are large enough for arthritic fingers and the graphics are clear & concise. The door simply pulls open & pushes shut – there’s no hard to push button.
This oven won’t take too much space on the worktop. However, the capacious interior allows for a 270mm turntable – which is big enough for most plates. At 900w it’s powerful enough to cook quickly, should you desire.
This microwave from Sharp does everything it should, plus it’s super easy to use.
SPECIFICATION | Sharp YC-MS31U-S | POWER 900w | SIZE: H293 x W485 x D410 | TURNTABLE DIAMETER 270mm | CAPACITY 23l | CHILD LOCK No | WARRANTY 1 year
Sharp 900w | Verdict price £90 | Check Best Price on Amazon
Recommended Easy to Use Microwave
There’s a lot to like about this medium-sized Samsung microwave. Internally, it has a 23-litre capacity (matching the Sharp). Plus, the all-important turntable diameter is 288mm. This compares well to most models in its class – It’s certainly big enough for most dinner plates.
The controls, although more complicated than the Sharp, are relatively easy to use. However, the instructions (although clear) are certainly required to operate the microwave correctly.
Other features of this Samsung microwave, include an easy to clean ceramic enamel interior. This smooth surface is easily cleaned without scrubbing and is coated to be scratch-resistant & rust free – it will last.
How to avoid a smelly microwave
Most people keep their microwave door closed, which can result in a stale internal smell. Samsung has devised a deodorisation feature that forces air out and therefore dissipates any unwanted odours. This means that your new Samsung microwave should never smell!
This 800w model comes with the backing of numerous owner recommendations, a two-year guarantee from Samsung and a Best Buy verdict from Verum.
SPECIFICATION | Samsung MS23K3513AK | POWER 800w | SIZE: H275 x W489 x D375 | TURNTABLE DIAMETER 288mm | CAPACITY 23l | CHILD LOCK Yes | WARRANTY 2 year
Samsung | Verdict price £90 | Check best price on Amazon
Similar dimensions to the Samsung above, externally and internally, this model from Panasonic is rated at 1000w. Your food will cook even quicker!
Small externally but big on the inside
Rated by Panasonic as 23-litres, this microwave is an excellent mid-sized machine with a large 285mm diameter turntable. Your dinner plate & maybe even a small serving dish will fit.
What’s Inverter Technology?
Panasonic shouts about their microwaves having ‘Inverter Technology’. The benefit of this technology is that it cooks faster and more evenly (no hot spots). It works by applying even power, at the right level, for the duration of cooking. This compares to a traditional machine that turns the power on and off, effectively pulsing your food with microwaves. So rather than shifting between full power and no power, this Panasonic microwave heats your food quickly and evenly by consistently emitting the right power level.
This Panasonic microwave ticks all the boxes. It’s easy to use, robust and powerful. Owners rave about it and if you’re happy to spend an extra few quid, you won’t be disappointed. Available in black or stainless steel (silver).
SPECIFICATION | Panasonic NN-SD25HBBPQ | POWER 1000w | SIZE: H279 x W488 x D395 | TURNTABLE DIAMETER 285mm | CAPACITY 23l | CHILD LOCK Yes | WARRANTY 1 year
Panasonic | Verdict price £120 | Check best price on Amazon
Best Large Microwave
If you’re looking for a large capacity, high power microwave – this is it. Significantly larger than the majority of models designed for the home, this oven has a 32-litre capacity. It will take up more room on your worktop – but not excessively so. What’s important is that the turntable has a 340mm diameter. Easily accommodating any dinner plate and perhaps more significantly, most serving dishes.
What is the largest capacity microwave?
Rated at 1000w it’s capacious & powerful. And with Inverter technology food cooks quickly and evenly. This works by applying consistent power rather than conventional pulsing on/off microwaves. Plus, an auto setting allows you to simply select what you are cooking and press start. The internal sensors will adjust the power and time according to the steam levels within.
There are numerous models on the market to avoid. Many with bigger external dimensions and smaller internal space. However, if you want a big turntable for big dishes, choose the Panasonic NN-ST48KSBPQ.
SPECIFICATION | Panasonic NN-ST48KSBPQ | POWER 1000w | SIZE: H310 x W525 x D388 | TURNTABLE DIAMETER 340mm | CAPACITY 32l | CHILD LOCK Yes | WARRANTY 1 year
Panasonic | Verdict price £160 | Check best price on Amazon
What’s the best microwave for an elderly person?
For many elderly people, an easy to use microwave oven makes preparing food much easier. Microwaving something straight from the freezer, warming leftovers or simply reheating a cup of coffee is made much easier with the right model. It offers convenience and in some cases, makes cooking doable.
Easy to use controls are good for everyone
Microwaves often come with a baffling number of buttons & controls. However, most of us have a few favourite settings or simply follow the recommendations on the packet. With this in mind, a microwave should be easy to use. However, this is especially important for anyone who finds technology intimidating.
There are numerous factors to consider. Early dementia means easy-to-use and familiar controls. Arthritic fingers need controls of a reasonable size. The burden of poor eyesight can be eased by clear numbers and graphics. Plus, time-limited duration along with an audible beep adds a genuine safety benefit.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use microwave, the Sharp machine ticks more boxes than anything else we could find. It has two good-sized dials, one for power & one for time. Plus, the door simply pulls open and pushes shut (there’s no hard to press button). Nothing is over-designed and everything just works. This Sharp microwave is super easy to use – it’s also great value for money.
Easy to use
Sharp | Verdict price £90
See price on Amazon
High power & even cooking
Panasonic NN-SD25HBBPQ | Verdict price £120
See price on Amazon
Huge on the inside
Panasonic NN-ST48KSBPQ | Verdict price £160
See price on Amazon
Why spend more?
The Sharp microwave does all the basics, well. It won’t take up too much room on your worktop & it’s super easy to use. Best of all, it’s amazing value for money.
Spend a little more to get greater capacity, additional features and more power. The Samsung microwave is a good choice for most kitchens. Alternatively, if you need maximum speed & internal capacity opt for the large Panasonic.
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