Microwaves are such helpful gadgets - they can simplify all sorts of kitchen tasks, from defrosting and heating leftovers, to baking potatoes and steaming vegetables. They may get a bad rap from cooking purists, but there are few appliances quite as versatile!
However they also come in all different shapes and sizes, with a dizzying array of extra features. So today we’re going to be looking at some of the best microwaves you can currently buy, across a variety of categories.
Let’s start simple, and the Bosch HMT84M451 is pretty much the simplest appliance on our lists. There are no complicated dials or menus - just easy-to-use buttons and a large LED display. It has a good capacity of 25 litres, a built-in grill and the standard defrost and reheat programs.
However the HMT84M451 is lacking any other special features found on shinier models. It doesn’t have many auto-cook programs, no weight sensor, and the design is utilitarian. You’re getting a standard microwave, plain and simple. Sometimes that’s all you need, though many people will find themselves wishing the HMT84M451 did a bit more.
If you’re looking for something with a few more bells and whistles, then the Samsung MC28H5013 may be more your style. The price is slightly more than the Bosch HMT84M451, but it has a lot more under the hood. It has a reasonable capacity (28 litres), which allows it to fit a lot of food in, and 30 separate auto-cook programs. These include a special low-temperature mode for bread proving, and an array of ‘healthy cooking’ programs for everything from quinoa to lamb.
It also has a deodourisation setting, which is a special cycle that forces bad smells from the microwave cavity - perfect if you’ve been cooking fish! There is a lot to like about this microwave - it may not have the largest capacity or the most power, but it has a good range of features for the price. The only negative to highlight is that the menus and buttons can be somewhat complicated, so you may have to spend some time getting used to how it works.
The Russell Hobbs RHM2031 is very much the budget choice in our list - it is the cheapest microwave of the 5, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in features. It has a lot of power - 1000W - and has a built-in grill, so you can cook jacket potatoes using the microwave, and crisp the tops using the grill!
It’s not a big microwave - this is both a positive and a negative. It’s bad because it only has a capacity of 20 liters - the lowest of all the microwaves we’re looking at today. However this also means it has the smallest footprint, meaning it can fit into even the smallest kitchen.
It has a number of auto-cook programs - not a massive amount, but it has the basics covered. Most importantly, it has a dedicated setting for reheating coffee and tea - something I have to do most days, so I definitely appreciate that!
Overall, it’s a cheap and cheerful little microwave that would do good for solo living or couples. It punches above it’s weight in several features - especially power - and it’s not going to break the bank. A perfect budget model!
The Samsung MS23H3125A is a mid-tier microwave, and one that focuses on features more than hefty stats. It has a slightly lower capacity and power than average, but makes up for it with a stylish design, and some nice features under the hood.
For instance, it has ‘Smart Sensor Technology’, which measures the humidity inside the microwave and weighs the food, in order to work out how long they need to cook. This means it will always cook meals perfectly, never over or under-cooking. It also has a handy steam-cleaning function, and a deoderising function, meaning smelly meals won’t stink out your kitchen for the rest of the day!
It also had a number of auto-cook programs, including several healthy eating-specific programs, but lacks several important features - most importantly it has no grill and no convection cooking, so for certain meals you’ll have to stick with the standard oven.
3.5 / 5
Lots of features
Middling capacity & power
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Finally, let’s think big. If you are rebuilding your kitchen, and have some extra money lying around, consider the Bosch CMA583MS0B. It’s a beast of a microwave - 44 litres, double the capacity of the other appliances, and is stuffed full of features. It has lots of auto-cook programs, a grill and convection cooking to cook food quickly and evenly. It also has a clean elegant look, and will fit perfectly in a modern fitted kitchen.
However, there are some serious caveats with the CMA583MS0B. Firstly - it’s expensive. It is triple the cost of the other microwaves on our list, which may well be a dealbreaker by itself. Then added to that, it only comes in a built-in model, meaning it has to be fitted into a specifically-shaped cavity in the kitchen. Finally, this thing is BIG - in the reverse of the Russell Hobbs RHM2031, the size means you can cook a tonne of food into it, but also you have to find space in your kitchen to fit it.
Therefore the Bosch CMA583MS0B comes as a cautious recommendation - it’s a giant microwave with good power, but will only really be a good purchase for the minority, since most won’t have the space or the spare change for it.