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7 best microwaves 2024: Panasonic, Samsung, Smeg and more brands tried and tested

From simple student-friendly appliances to fancy microwaves that’ll make your oven redundant, we’ve tested the best available

Clare O'Reilly
Friday 05 January 2024 16:08 GMT
We popped packets of popcorn, reheated a Sunday roast and cooked jacket potatoes galore in these top-rated microwaves
We popped packets of popcorn, reheated a Sunday roast and cooked jacket potatoes galore in these top-rated microwaves (The Independent)
Our Top Picks

Long before we were all exclaiming the virtues of our air fryers, microwaves reigned supreme as the go-to space-saving, energy-reducing way to cook. But while air fryers are the new kid on the block, more than 93 per cent of homes in the UK still have a microwave.

Anyone who has ever let their coffee go cold will know how useful they are, and with everyone from chefs at Michelin-star restaurants to competitors on the Great British Menu using them, they appear to be having a resurgence.

If you’re in the market for a new model, the first thing to ask yourself is what you use it for the most. If that’s heating up leftovers, or making the occasional jacket potato, you won’t need to spend a fortune. But for more complicated culinary purposes, it’s worth thinking more carefully. Are you a multi-person household? How often do you heat more than one item and just how much room do you have in your kitchen for it?

Should speed be an issue, choose a higher wattage, and if dinner is sometimes a last-minute affair, check the defrost settings. There are plenty of models with child locks, so if little hands can reach your microwave you’ll want to make sure they can’t get in.

So, whether yours is due for an upgrade or you want one that does more than reheating, we’re here with the best microwaves to make your food ping.

How we tested

Considering their versatility, we tested them with different demographics in mind. The lifeline in a student kitchen, we tested a ready meal. The go-to for busy mums and dads, we popped packets of popcorn, reheated leftover Sunday roast, cooked a jacket potato and made a vanilla sponge cake. We followed the packet instructions on the ready meals and popcorn and the manufacturer’s instructions for the leftovers and cake.

The best microwaves for 2024 are:

  • Best microwave overall – Sage quick touch crisp: £349.95, Sageappliances.com
  • Best budget microwave – Russell Hobbs Scandi black digital microwave with wood effect: £84.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for capacity – Smeg microwave stainless steel: £449, Smeguk.com

Sage quick touch crisp

Sage quick touch crisp.png
  • Best: Overall
  • Power: 900W microwave, 1100W grill
  • Dimensions: 42.9cm x 51.3cm x 31.4cm
  • Capacity: 25l
  • Convection oven/grill: Grill
  • Why we love it
    • Includes an air fryer function
    • Supremely powerful

This is the only model on the list that combines a microwave and air fryer – yes, you read that right – not to mention a grill and convection oven. So while it’s the most expensive, this microwave really is the Swiss army knife of kitchen gadgets. It’s also the most powerful on the list with 900-1,100W of power and a perfectly acceptable 25l capacity. The microwave comes with some recipe ideas, and a digital read-out and manual dials and buttons make it look the part too. This model doesn’t sacrifice style for substance though and has chocolate-melting and butter-melting programmes as well as a “bit more” button, which is sometimes what every microwave user needs.

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Russell Hobbs Scandi black digital microwave with wood effect

Russell Hobbs Scandi black digital microwave with wood effect.png
  • Best: Budget microwave
  • Power: 700W
  • Dimensions: 25.6cm x 45.1cm x 35.3cm
  • Capacity: 17l
  • Convection grill/oven: No
  • Why we love it
    • Great value for money

One of the cheapest on the market and with just 700W of power, this little box of brilliance comes with eight pre-set cooking programmes but also features a multi-sequence function which allows you to vary the cooking power during a single cycle without having to stop and restart. It didn’t fit some huge dinner plates and has half the capacity of the biggest microwave on the list, but given the price, it really can’t be beaten. It also comes in black, green, blue, grey and white so will fit with any kitchen colour scheme.

  1. £84 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Panasonic DS95NBBPQ steam combination microwave

Panasonic DS95NBBPQ steam combination microwave.png
  • Best: Multi-function microwave
  • Power: 1100W
  • Dimensions: 34.7cm x 51.4cm x 45.6cm
  • Capacity: 27l
  • Convection oven/grill: Yes, both
  • Why we love it
    • Boasts plenty of functions, including a steam boiler

While this microwave doesn’t look particularly futuristic, its sleek monotone black didn’t appear out of place on the work surface. What sets this model apart is its multi-functions and, arguably, you might never want to turn on your oven again. It features four different cooking methods – including steam and oven – with a top and bottom heater, grill and microwave. You can also combine and use two of the settings at once.

It’s the only one we tested with a unique built-in steam boiler as well as a large 600ml water tank. Plus, the 27l capacity makes this model among the biggest we tested, and oven-proof dishes easily fit inside. Panasonic robots press the buttons more than 60,000 times and open the door 150,000 times during testing – movements that would normally be made over the course of 15 years.

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Swan Nordic microwave

Swan Nordic.png
  • Best: For looks
  • Power: 800W
  • Dimensions: 45.1cm x 25.7cm x 38.2cm
  • Capacity: 20l
  • Convection oven/grill: No
  • Why we love it
    • Looks good
    • Suitable for smaller spaces

At 800W, this model is not the most powerful on the list but at just 45.1cm x 25.7cm x 38.2cm and with a 20l capacity it’s perfect for smaller spaces. It also looks mean –  so you’ll want to keep it out on the work surface rather than hide it away in a cupboard. The clever folk at Swan have developed a Nordic range too so you can match the appliance to your toaster and kettle.

The settings are really simple to use and when it comes to reheating, there wasn’t the dreaded cold patch in the middle with the outsides being molten. The defrost function is brilliant, it has a child-safe lock and despite the mirrored front, we didn’t see streaks from fingerprints either. If you want a microwave that does what it says on the tin, looks as good as it performs and is in a very reasonable price bracket, this is the model for you.

  1. £98 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Russell Hobbs stainless steel digital combination microwave grill and oven

Russell Hobbs stainless steel digital combination microwave grill and oven.png
  • Best: For teenagers
  • Power: 900W microwave, 1100W grill
  • Dimensions: 30.5cm x 51.3cm x 49.8cm
  • Capacity: 25l
  • Convection grill/oven: Yes, both
  • Why we love it
    • Easy to use
    • Boasts multiple functions

Another on the list with multi-function features. In addition to microwaving, this model can grill and has a convection oven feature too. The control panel isn’t as sleekly designed as some others in this price bracket, but the mirrored door doesn’t streak and it cleans in seconds, so positioned in the right place in the kitchen, it gives the illusion of creating space.

The 25l capacity is perfectly adequate and the instructions are really simple to follow, making the eight autocook menus easy to learn. And while the beep to signal the end of cooking isn’t terribly sophisticated, the teenager in the house found the appliance easier to use than any of the others tested, and it gave the best cake result.

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Samsung solo microwave oven with health steam

Samsung solo microwave oven with health steam.png
  • Best: For steaming
  • Power: 1150W
  • Dimensions: 48.9cm x 27.5cm x 37.4cm
  • Capacity: 23l
  • Convection grill/oven: No
  • Why we love it
    • Includes a glass steaming bowl
    • Intuitive to use
  • Take note
    • Almost impossible to see through the dark door

Despite appearing fairly compact, Samsung’s solo microwave has a 23l capacity and fits large dinner plates. This model also looks sleek and smart and this design makes us feel like it would be at home in a contemporary kitchen. Plus, it was the only appliance to come with a glass bowl for steaming.

However, looks aside, we did have a bit of an issue with the included instruction manual which wasn’t the most clear, but a more thorough version can be found online with a bit of searching. Despite that though, the microwave is pretty self-explanatory and intuitive to use. The enamel interior makes it very easy to keep clean and wipe down after any spills. It also doesn’t hold strong smells like some microwaves do.

If you’re one who likes to watch your food cook, this might not be for you. The very dark door makes it almost impossible to see what’s cooking inside.

  1. £159 from Samsung.com
Prices may vary
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Smeg microwave stainless steel

Smeg microwave stainless steel.png
  • Best: For size
  • Power: 1100W
  • Dimensions: 31.5cm x 51.9cm x 50.7cm
  • Capacity: 34l
  • Convection grill/oven: Yes, both
  • Why we love it
    • Quiet
    • Boasts plenty of programmes and settings

At 34l capacity, this is the biggest microwave we tested and while it might not have Smeg’s normal rounded corners and colour pop design, it’s got the brand’s brilliance and reliability. At 1100W, it’s one of the more powerful on the list and it’s worth taking the time to read and understand the 10 programmes and 40 settings as there really is so much this microwave can do.

There’s a shortcut menu – including melt, soften and casserole functions – handily placed inside the door which doesn’t take long to pick up at all. It’s also one of the quietest on the market – a good job when you’re defrosting a big piece of meat on a Sunday morning while the rest of the house is still asleep.

  1. £449 from Smeguk.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Best microwaves

Our best buy has to be the Sage quick touch crisp. Not only does this model look the part, but it really does everything you want and more. Its 32l capacity makes the appliance almost the largest on the list, but it’s the fact that it combines the old with the new, bringing the air fryer function in, that really makes this one worth the money.

If you want your microwave to do just that though and are happy with your other kitchen gadgets, the Russell Hobbs Scandi black digital microwave with wood effect does exactly what you expect and the Scandi design makes it look way more expensive than it actually is.

A special shout-out should also go to the Panasonic DS95NBBPQ steam combination microwave. Yes, it does come with a hefty price tag, but if you’re someone who steams food a lot, it’s a brilliant choice. Plus, this is one of the more rigorously manufacturer-tested models on the list too, so you really know it’s going to go the distance and be with you for a very long time.

Looking for more kitchen appliance recommendations? Read our guide to the best air fryers

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