It’s hard to imagine modern life without a microwave. Although the technology has been around for a long time, not all microwave ovens are created equal. Today, there are more than 400 microwave models sold under dozens of different brand names. Furthermore, marketing jargon makes it difficult to choose the best microwave amongst a vast array of options. The good news is that modern products are packed with nifty features. Picture this: an Alexa-enabled microwave that monitors how many bags of popcorn you’ve cooked and automatically orders more from Amazon!
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about microwave ovens - from choosing the right style and design, to understanding Watts and sensors, and even installation pitfalls to lookout for. We’ll also share our 8 best microwave picks for 2020.
What Are the Types of Microwaves?
There are four types of microwaves on the market today: Countertop, over-the-range, built-in, and drawer.
Just like the name suggests, countertop microwaves are designed to be placed on the counter. This is the simplest and most popular type of microwave on the market. You can find the best countertop microwaves at a variety of sizes and affordable price points.
The one disadvantage of countertop microwave ovens is that they take up precious counter space. To work around this, some countertop models now come with trim kits that make it possible to install them in cabinets for a built-in look that frees up your countertop surface.
Check out the specifications document of your microwave to find a suitable trim kit. Trim kits usually come in 2 standard sizes; 27-inches or 30-inches in width. We like the GE PEM31SFSS for the flexibility
Most countertop microwaves offer another unique solution to free up counter space via a hang-kit. You can simply attach a microwave under a cabinet using the kit that is included in your microwave's packaging.
Microwave drawers offer excellent space management, blend with your kitchen design, and are easy to reach/clean. They are installed under the counter, alongside your regular cabinet drawers. You can even install them in a kitchen island. With the push of a button, you can open up the oven and place your food on the tray inside. Microwave drawers are installed at a lower level, therefore they work particularly well in households with children, elderly folks, or others with accessibility requirements. All the necessary features, functions, and buttons are easy to reach.
We covered microwave drawers in our comprehensive article, which also includes an in-depth review of the best models. Also, our exclusive video has great visuals to help you with your research. Sharp holds the patent on drawer micowaves and other brands outsource their manufacturing to Sharp. Yet, most brands use their own design, quality criteria, and materials. As an example, the Sharp SMD2470ASY is a good model to start with your research.
Over-the-range microwaves are predominantly 30-inches wide and designed to fit directly above your stove. They serve dual functions, both as an exhaust fan (or commonly referred to as a ventilation hood) as well as a fully featured microwave. This design saves you space in your kitchen and also provides high quality lights focused on the cooking surface.
Recently, Haier - the parent company of GE and XO and a niche manufacturer from our very own New Jersey - started making 24-inch wide over-the-range microwaves for smaller urban kitchens. You can check them out at HMV1472bhs and XOOTR24BS.
Over-the-range microwaves are slightly more expensive than even the best countertop microwaves, but come with lots of powerful features. As an example, we reviewed the budget friendly GE JVM3160RFSS in detail in the next section.
You may want to opt for a professional installation as it gets tricky to secure the microwave to the adjacent cabinets. Make sure that you read the manufacturers' recommendation for the acceptable distance from the cooking surface to the bottom of the microwave in order to prevent a fire hazard. It's important to note that the fire safety distance varies depending on your type of cooktop, for instance whether it is electric vs. gas.
Almost all over-the-range microwaves recirculate air in their exhaust venting system to trap grease and eliminate odors. However, some may have an outside venting option. Before investing in a microwave, check to see if you have outside venting and if your duct is horizontal or vertical. This way you can shop for an appropriate over-the-range microwave model.
A Word About Filters on Over-the-Range Microwaves:
Most of us completely forget about grease filters when using our over-the-range microwaves. These simple mesh filters do a great job trapping grease so it does not spread around the kitchen. Almost all grease filters can be cleaned under running water, and most models are even dishwasher-safe. It's good to remember to clean your grease filter every three months.
Charcoal filters, on the other hand, sit on top of the grease filters. They are not visible from the outside and help to eliminate odors. Again, most of us are not even aware that these filters are part of our microwave oven. If you want to reduce the cooking smell in your house, we recommend that you replace charcoal filters every 6 to 12 months, depending on how much you cook.
Apart from countertop models that can fit in cabinets, manufacturers also make truly built-in microwaves that you can install flush inset with your cabinets. These microwaves cannot be placed on a counter. Their design tends to be visually pleasing and match other cabinet-mounted appliances for a consistent look.
Built-in microwaves typically have drop down doors (left-hinge swing doors are also becoming more common among this type) that make their placement versatile. Their sizes are mostly 24 or 30-inches, with a few manufacturers still making 27-inch wide models.
Wall oven microwave combinations are another type of built-in microwave, commonly referred as combo ovens. This type of oven incorporates traditional convection oven functions within a microwave appliance to give you all-in-one versatility. Having the microwave off the counter helps to reduce clutter, and often, these combo microwaves are loaded with useful features.
What’s the Difference Between Speed Ovens and Microwaves?
We get asked this a lot. Speed ovens combine regular convection oven capabilities with that of a microwave oven. They have the fit and finish of a standard wall oven. One benefit of a speed oven is its fast preheat time. Additionally, a speed oven gives you flexibility in cooking, as it can do everything from baking to grilling. Manufacturers such as GE take speed-cooking to an even higher level, making use of their Advantium technology to hit faster cooking levels.
How to Choose the Best Microwave
As with other household appliances, there are several important factors to consider when choosing a new microwave oven.
Determine Microwave Type
In the section above, we introduced you to the different types of microwaves that are available on the market today. The first step when choosing a new microwave is to determine if you want a counterop, built-in, over-the-range, or drawer microwave.
Will it Fit? Size it Correctly
Microwaves come in various sizes, so you can choose the perfect fit for your kitchen cabinets or countertop area. Depending on your cooking needs, you may require a model with a larger interior. But - what is the average interior size of a microwave?. In general, a microwave with less than 0.9 cu. ft. of interior volume is considered small. The average microwave is about 1.1. cu. ft. Large microwaves have 2.0 cu. ft. or larger footprint.
Once you have settled on the type and size of your microwave, you may come across different marketing jargon about products that claim to have fancy features such as inverter or convection technology. Since these words are not part of the average consumer's daily vocabulary, we want to explain them in plain English. Also, as manufacturers are in a race to outperform each other, we expect to see more and more microwaves including multiple technologies from the list below.
Most microwaves fall into this category. They are great for reheating or defrosting food. They are also a fantastic way to make a quick side dish, meal, or snack. For instance, fold a couple of pieces of bacon into a paper towel and pop them in the microwave for 1 - 2 minutes per slice, and voila! Delicious breakfast. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are also easy to cook in the microwave, too. Just poke a few holes in the skin with a fork, put it in the microwave for about 5 minutes, and you’ll wind up with a steamy ‘baked’ potato.
Technically speaking, all standard microwaves depend on a part called a Magnetron to generate "microwaves" from electricity. The Magnetron also blasts these microwaves into the cavity. These activities combined are how a microwave generates heat and cooks the food.
What is a Convection Microwave?
A convection microwave is much more versatile than a standard microwave. In addition to simple tasks like reheating, defrosting, making microwave-ready meals, and melting things like chocolate and butter, they also act like a second oven.
So what does convection mean?
In addition to standard microwave technlogy, these dual-purpose appliances come with an extra built-in heating element, as well as a fan that helps circulate the heat around the inside of the unit. When used in convection mode, the unit acts like a traditional oven. This means you can bake, roast, crisp, and cook as you would in a full-size oven.
Want to roast a crispy golden chicken? Check. Cook a pizza with a golden brown crust? Sure! Bake some moist, delicous cookies? You got it. You can also bake cakes and casseroles in convection mode, then switch back to microwave mode to pop your after-dinner popcorn.
These combination standard/convection ovens are particularly great for small spaces, like studio apartments and campers that can’t fit both a regular oven and a microwave. When in 'convection only' mode, metal cookware, like rotisserie pans and cookie sheets can be used. Convection microwave ovens also come with helpful features like 'auto convect' for precise roasting. You can also preheat and switch between modes from your smart phone.
Below is a table to describe the differences between standard conventional microwaves and convection microwaves:
Do I need a grill in my microwave?
Some of the more modern microwaves come with a broil element on the top. Using the grill rack accessory, you can perfectly position your food to start grilling. These microwaves can act as a standard microwave and grill. When placed in combination mode, you can even speed up your cooking. Unlike convection microwaves, they do not have a fan to distribute heat evenly around the inside of the unit. This means they are not ideal for baking.
Creating a crispy pizza or reheating a slice to perfection is the claim to fame for a grill microwave. However, you can cook chops, sausages, steaks, hamburgers, bacon, and thin fish in these microwaves too. Your children will also enjoy toast or grilled cheese sandwiches made in this unit.
If you are on the go a lot, a grill microwave is great for your needs. Dishes done in under 15 minutes, with a one-step process from freezer to table, are a good reason to choose a grill microwave. In this category we like Samsung MG11H2020CT and MG14H3020CM.
Are there Microwaves with Steam Technology?
The answer is yes and no. Many of us love the capabilities of a steam oven. They offer healthier cooking, save time preheating, and help food retain a fresh taste, even when you reheat it. Manufacturers want us to belive that microwaves with steam technology are as amazing as full fledged steam ovens, at a fraction of a cost. In reality, the microwaves with steam technology such as the Whirlpool WMH53521HZ simply come with advanced sensors that are able to detect the boiling point of the liquids and start a countdown for steam or simmer. This way, you can follow a recipe depending on what you are cooking.
We do not recommend steam microwaves at this time because they do not add incredible value.
What is an Inverter Microwave?
Inverter microwaves were patented by Panasonic (formerly known as Matsushita Company) in 2005. Inverter microwaves have 3 major advantages over regular microwave technology:
- Gentle, even, and smooth cooking/defrosting
- Shorter cooking time
- Larger oven cavity
Traditional microwaves pulsate the power levels in the interest of not burning the food. Inverter microwaves, on the other hand, consistently apply the microwave energy. For example, you can melt butter evenly and gently in an inverter microwave, whereas a traditional microwave might drill a hole into it. If you're tired of food splashing all over the inside of your microwave, an inverter microwave might be a good fit for you. In addition, you can defrost or reheat food evenly, which is a challenge for standard microwaves. All in all, eliminating a cold center and overcooked edges while defrosting is the biggest advantage of this technology.
The inverter has a much smaller power supply. A standard power supply weighs about 11.6 lb's in comparison to 1.2 lb's of an inverter. This translates into 29% more space in the same box size, a great win for us home chefs.
Currently, Panasonic makes most inverter microwaves and licenses the technology to the LG NeoChef series.
What's the Best Cooking Power (Watts) in a Microwave?
Cooking power, measured in Watts, is an important factor to consider when choosing a microwave. Most microwave ovens have a cooking power range of 500 to 1,500 Watts. Cooking power also determines the speed of cooking. The higher the wattage of the microwave oven, the faster it cooks the food. If you are in the market for a new microwave, we recommend that you target 800 to 1,000 Watts. Depending on your cooking needs and the features you're most interested in, you can use this as your baseline. Also, keep in mind that most microwaves allow you to dial the cooking power up or down on an as-needed basis.
The final, and perhaps most fun, thing to consider when picking a microwave oven is the set of features it comes with. Here are some features and functions that we think are important to look at:
Sensor cooking is super helpful, as it allows your microwave to apply the correct level of cooking power based on the dish and cooking mode. Sensor cooking takes the guesswork out, as it adjusts the wattage and duration automatically for you. Models with the sensor reheat option are fully capable of estimating the amount of time required to defrost or reheat your food. A sensor cooking option also enables you to set the unit to a specific temperature, which can help with things like not over-cooking vegetables.
Pre-programmed keys add a fantastic level of convenience, and make using your microwave incredibly easy to use. Case in point, most modern microwaves have the popcorn button, which has been pre-set to offer the ideal cooking heat/time for the perfect, steamy bag of popcorn. The express cook button, with options for meat, veggies, casseroles, and more, also offers a quick shortcut for preparing a delicious meal without the risk of overcooking. Another example is the extra 30 seconds button, which allows you to cook at full power if you want an extra kick of heat.
Let's face it - most of us are usually in a rush when serving dinner. This means we rarely have the time to wipe the microwave's interior clean after use. The last thing you want is a microwave that you have to scrub clean.
Luckily, most modern microwaves come with an easy-to-clean ceramic enamel finish. Another popular and prefered type of interior is stainless steel with an antimicrobial coating. The best way to clean your microwave is to use a moist sponge. With just a few passes, your interior will shine again.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Replacing an Old Microwave
A good microwave can last as long as eight to ten years. When the time to replace it finally arrives, there are a few common pitfalls to look out for.
Using a Microwave Over a Pro-Style Range
Professional ranges have high powered burners. They are styled after commercial kitchens, with more emphasis placed on performance. This means installing a regular, over-the-range microwave above the pro range might burn the microwave. Currently, there are only 2 exceptions on the market. Viking VMOH330SS and Thermador MU30WSU are the only two microwaves that are qualified to be placed above a high-power gas range.
Replacing a Slim Over-the-Range Microwave with a Tall One
To fit the different shape and size, and prevent the oven from sticking out, you would have to drill into the kitchen tiles. In addition to altering the kitchen’s natural look, this also means extra installation work.
Replacing a Tall Over-the-Range Microwave with a Slim One
If you are selecting a slim over-the-range microwave as a replacement for a tall one, there will be a little leftover hanging space after installation, which will expose the wall. This has the potential to diminish the seamless design of your kitchen.
Changing a Built-in Microwave with a Trim
In most cases, especially if you did not get the exact same size or model as the old unit, you may end up having to change the trim as well. This means a bit of extra installation.
You can easily avoid these pitfalls by taking a careful measurement of the old microwave oven, and the space it resides in, before heading to the showroom to purchase the replacement. This will allow you to find the perfect size and shape to fit the open space.
The Best Microwave Ovens of 2020
Now, let’s look at our list of the best microwave ovens of 2020. In our review, we considered wattage, size, features, design, and price.
1) Best Small Microwave: Toshiba EM925A5A
At a price point around $80, this compact Toshiba EM925A5A microwave is a great buy. Its 0.9 cu. ft. footprint means that it can fit on almost every countertop. Its 900 Watt cooking power, though lower than some of the others on this list, is adequate for most small families. It comes with 6 essential preset buttons for your convenience, meaning your perfectly cooked popcorn is just a touch away.
An exciting feature of this microwave is that you can turn the indicator sounds off. This simple feature becomes helpful if your kids are sleeping, and you don’t want the beeping to wake them up. Another great feature of this microwave is its Energy-saving Eco Mode, which allows you to dim the lights when not in use and save up to 50% of power consumption.
Toshiba deliberately keeps this microwave simple and limits its features and functions to the very basics to keep the cost low and the product virtually maintenance-free. The company offers slightly larger, more powerful, and feature-rich versions of this product at a nominally higher step up the pricing ladder. Toshiba provides this microwave in two colors; Stainless Steel and Black Stainless Steel.
Its compact size is perfect for small spaces, like studio apartments, RVs, offices, dorm rooms, and vacation rentals. This Toshiba microwave is well packaged to endure the travel from an online store, so you can rest assured that it will be in perfect condition when you pull it out of the box.
2) Best Over the Range Microwave: GE JVM3160
The GE JVM3160RFSS also sits comfortably at the top of our list, and is a fantastic over-the-range microwave oven. It has a generous 1.6 cu-ft capacity and a 1,000 Watt cooking power, which makes it great for a large family. In addition to the regular grease filter, the JVM3160RFSS comes with a charcoal filter, which helps to eliminate odors. This is extra helpful when cooking things like fish.
Other features of the JVM3160RFSS include the convenient cooking controls and pre-programmed keys, auto/time defrost functions, turntable on/off control (just like the PEM31SFSS), and a robust two-speed, 300-CFM venting system for removing steam, smoke, and odor. It also comes with ten power levels and a two-setting cooktop light to help illuminate your range while cooking.
This GE over-the-range microwave comes in five different colors: stainless steel, black, white, slate, and bisque, making it great for any kitchen. It comes with a full set of directions that take the guesswork out of installation. This microwave cooks food very quickly and is also very quiet, so you can continue to enjoy your kitchen conversations as your food is prepared with speed.
This model also comes standard with 1-year parts and 1-year entire appliance warranties. Pro tip: Check your fuse box to ensure your kitchen circuit is equipped for a 15-Amps appliance to save yourself the inconvenience of tripping your breaker.
3) Best Match for a Pro Stove: Viking VMOH330SS
Pro stoves emit too much heat for regular over-the-range microwaves to handle. The Viking VMOH330SS is one of the few exceptions to this. The heat-shield at the bottom of this microwave will not melt as long as it has been installed at least 36-inches above the cooking surface (make sure to read the exact specifications in the product documentation prior to installation).
The ventilation system on the Viking VMOH33OSS has three power levels and provides 450 CFM circulation. This is a big step above most over-the-range microwaves, which come with only 300 CFM ventilation. Recirculation mode is the default ventilation setting, meaning the air circulates back around your kitchen. However, this unit can also be modified, either from the top or horizontally, to vent the air to the outside.
This Viking 30-inch over-the-range microwave is large at 1.1 cu-ft capacity. It comes with ten power levels at 1,100 Watts and can handle any work that you can throw at it, including sensor cooking. This microwave comes in stain-resistant stainless steel and has an easy to read LED display. Viking products are revered by professionals and home chefs alike. In addition to being a powerhouse cooking appliance, having a Viking microwave installed above your professional-style range also makes a bold statement about who you are as a chef.
Viking offers many specials and rebates, including their 5% rebate, or their buy-one/get-two offer, which allows you to save up to $4,000 when you bundle your Viking appliances into a kitchen package.
4) Best Over-the-Range Microwave (24-inch) : Haier HMV1472BHS
Haier, the parent company of GE, is the first manufacturer to have invested in a compact over-the-range microwave. Up until it debuted a year ago, smaller apartments with 24-inch stoves had to endure the "cheap-looking," ineffective, space-grabbing vent hoods. Thanks to Haier, you can now free up your counter space, even in a small apartment.
The 24" Haier HMV1472BHS has a 1.4 cu-ft capacity that affords you just as much cooking space as a traditional microwave oven. Though it is small, you can still fit a large dinner plate, casserole dish, full-sized glass, or coffee mug.
As an over-the-range microwave, the HMV1472BHS makes night cooking fun, adequately lighting up the range cooking surface with its LED lights. The HMV1472BHS also has sensor cooking, ten power levels, 1000 Watts of cooking power, a charcoal filter, and a 300-CFM venting system.
This microwave has a super sleek and modern design. Rather than a handle that sticks out, this unit has a hidden hole underneath the door for smooth operation. The vent on this unit is also hidden, contributing to its sleek look. Another nice touch is that the control buttons are made of glass instead of plastic for easy cleaning.
5) Best Slim Microwave and Hood: Whirlpool WML75011HZ
The Whirlpool WML75011HZ is the only low profile microwave on the market. It is designed to fit in a standard 30-inch ventilation and is ideal for spaces where a regular over-the-range microwave would hang too low above a cooking surface. This slim Whirlpool microwave keeps a safe distance from the cooktop and comes with a ventilation system, range top lights, and exceptional cooking power.
The WML75011HZ has the same dimensions as its cousin, the Whirlpool WML55011HS, yet it comes with upgraded features such as:
- fingerprint resistant stainless steel
- sensor cooking for convenience
- a non-stick, easy-to-clean interior
- LED cooktop lights
This little microwave has a whopping 23 preset programs for convenience! The control panel is located inside the microwave, giving it an ultra-clean look that effortlessly blends with the surrounding kitchen. Furthermore, unlike most over-the-range microwaves that come with 300 CFM ventilation, this Whirlpool microwave comes with 400 CFM ventilation.
Though this microwave is super slim and sleek, it's still tall enough to hold a full sized glass, large dinner plates, bowls, and casserole dishes. It also comes in five colors: black stainless steel, fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, sunset bronze, black, or white. The tap-to-open door means there's no handle sticking out, and their trademarked CleanRelease Non-Stick Interior ensures quick clean up.
6) Best Microwave Drawer: Sharp SMD2470ASY
As the original pioneer of microwave drawers, Sharp has a broader range of microwave drawers than any other brand. These drawer models all come with 1,000 Watts of cooking power, an auto-open function which uses a button or a wave to open to open the door, and stainless steel or black stainless color options. One of their newer models, the 24-inch SMD2489ES, even comes with wifi connectivity, which is a rare feature in most modern microwave ovens.
Our top Sharp microwave drawer pick is the 24-inch SMD2470ASY with a 1.2 cu-ft capacity and 1,000 Watts of cooking power. The low-profile design of the SMD2470ASY allows it to match a wide range of kitchen styles. It can be installed along the wall or in your kitchen island or peninsula. As we mentioned above, microwave drawers are great for households with older people, kids, or those with limited mobility. All the buttons, features, and functions are easy to reach, and the control panel is at an easy-to-read 45-degree angle.
This unit has tons of features and functions, including six auto defrost settings, a keep warm setting, and melt, soften and reheat options. And of course, there's the all-important popcorn setting.
You might be concerned about your coffee spilling because of the opening action of the microwave drawer. Don't worry; Sharp has brilliantly engineered a soft, smooth speed, which prevents spills.
7) Best Grill Microwave: Samsung MG11H2020CT
The Samsung MG11H2020CT targets a unique niche within the microwave market. It is the only credible brand that makes a microwave with a built-in grill. The MG11H2020CT has all the features of the traditional microwave and then some. It’s like two appliances in one!
- Use the grill to enjoy a crispy crust when you reheat your pizza, make a delicious grilled cheese sandwich, or simply toast bread. You can also grill fish, bacon, chicken, and other foods that you like crispy.
- Use the many microwave auto cook functions to heat or reheat food quickly with 1,000 watts and ten power settings.
The ceramic-enamel interior makes it easy to clean. The stainless steel exterior with a black mirror glass window offers a sleek look and is scratch-resistant. You can even easily wipe off grease with a cloth. The control panel is also intuitive and easy to use.
This grill microwave, which is two appliances in one, is extremely efficient. You can't go wrong at this budget-friendly price point when you add this Samsung microwave to your kitchen.
8) Best Countertop Microwave: GE Profile PEM31SFSS
The GE PEM31SFSS microwave oven is our all-around top pick due to its versatility. You can use it as a countertop microwave, hang it from under a cabinet to free up space, or build it into your existing cabinets by using a 27 or 30-inch trim kit. This GE microwave comes in six different colors: stainless steel, black slate, black, white, slate, and black stainless, which ensures it will be a beautiful addition to any kitchen design.
This model has a 1.1 cu-ft capacity, which is plenty big enough for a family of four people. Its 800 Watts of power is adequate for normal use. In addition to the convenient size and wattage, the PEM31SFSS also has lots of extra features including:
- durable electronic touch buttons
- a control lockout function to prevent accidental activation
- an ‘add 30-seconds’ button
- a turntable on/off switch
- a helpful kitchen timer.
This unit also has a lot of helpful automatic cooking features, including modes for beverages, popcorn, defrost by weight/time, reheat, potatoes, and vegetables. This model also has a complete cooking reminder, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting about your warmed up snack.
This microwave has easy-to-use controls. The panel does not require any force to activate. This makes the GE microwave great for homes with older people, children, or those with limited mobility.
Microwaves add so much cooking convenience that it’s hard to even picture a modern home without one. With so many models, features, and functions to choose from, you’ll have no trouble finding one that seamlessly blends in with your kitchen design, cooking habits, and lifestyle.
We hope you found this overview of microwaves, and our top picks, helpful. As always, we’re here for you. Give us a call, or schedule an appointment to meet with one of our appliance experts to get individual help choosing the best microwave for your home.
How do you clean a microwave?
One of the best ways to clean the microwave is by using water and an orange, lemon, or lime. Squeeze the juices from either of the fruits into a microwave-safe bowl, add water, and heat in the oven until it steams. Turn off the microwave, take out the bowl, and wipe the interior of the microwave clean with a sponge.
When was the microwave invented?
The microwave oven was invented accidentally in 1946 by Percy Spender.
Why do some microwaves have racks? Do I need it?
The racks double the cooking surface inside the oven, allowing you to cook or reheat two or more foods at the same time. You are not required to use them. You can simply opt for the turntable.
How Does a Microwave Oven Work?
Each microwave oven has a high-frequency tube called the magnetron, which converts electrical energy into electromagnetic waves known as microwaves. These microwaves are then distributed evenly within the interior of the microwave oven. As the microwaves are reflected back from the metal walls of the oven, they hit the food from all sides.
When these microwaves hit the food, they cause the moisture molecules within the food to oscillate at a rate of 2.5 billion times per second. This oscillation generates friction between the molecules, which in turn generates heat, effectively cooking or defrosting the food.
This method of cooking allows the food to retain its moisture, so you don’t typically need to add additional water or cooking oil. It also helps to retain vitamins and nutrients, while at the same time minimizing the impact on food color and texture.
Microwave ovens are regulated by the FDA and are completely safe to use - when used properly, of course. For instance, metal containers reflect microwaves, and this may generate dangerous sparks, so be sure to stick to non-metal cookware only. Also, pressure can build up inside of sealed containers, causing them to explode inside the microwave. To prevent this, be sure to take the top off of all sealed jars, baby bottles, Tupperware, and other containers and wrappings. It’s also helpful to place a plate cover over anything you cook in the microwave. This helps to keep heat and moisture in, as well as to minimize clean up effort.
How can I test if my container is microwave safe?
First, read the instructions that came with the container. Some containers also have signs at the bottom that indicate if they are microwave-safe or not. Otherwise, you can use the following test to discern if your container is microwave safe (does not apply to plastics):
- Fill a medium size cup that you know is microwave-safe with water (room temperature)
- Place your container (empty) and the cup with water in the microwave
- Start the microwave at the highest power and run it for 1 minute
- If the container is microwave safe it will be cool to touch while the cup of water is hot.
- If the container is hot, that means it absorbed microwave energy and is not microwave-safe
Do Microwaves Kill Bacteria?
Heat generated by the microwave oven kills bacteria. Assuming that you cook your food evenly, you will achieve the desired action. For example, make sure to use the turntable when cooking the food so the container catches the microwave rays from all angles, stir liquids periodically, and follow the instructions on the screen when using a set program such as defrost.
Is it safe to put a microwave in a cabinet?
It is not safe to put a microwave in a cabinet. Most microwaves are made for countertop use. There are, however, microwaves available on the market that you can install in a cabinet. Microwave drawers, built-in microwaves, and countertop microwaves that vent from the front and can be built-in, are the types you can install in a cabinet.
In order to be sure, just check the operation manual of your product and see if it is suitable for cabinet installation. If you don't want to bother finding the user manual of your microwave, simply check if your microwave vents from the front. Side, top, or back vents indicate that you need to have space for the air to circulate near those areas.
Are microwaves worth repairing?
Microwaves are only worth repairing under a few conditions. For example, countertop microwaves usually cost less than $200. The trip charge alone for a repair person is, on average, $150. Therefore, it would not make sense to repair a countertop microwave unless the manufacturer covers 100% of the cost.
On the other hand, an over-the-range microwave costs more and it is a pain to re-install. Therefore, it makes sense to find a way to repair a relatively new (i.e. 1 - 3 year old) model. Specialty microwave ovens such as convection models, grills, and drawers are far more expensive to acquire and are mostly built-in to your custom cabinets. Therefore, it makes sense to try to seek repairs vs a new purchase if your product is less than five years old.
What is the best way to clean inside of a microwave?
Usually, you should be able to wipe clean the inside of any microwave using a wet sponge. If you need to fight a particularly stubborn stain, you should never do the following: Never run your microwave when it is empty. The microwave rays will simply bounce around without getting absorbed by food or dish. Instead, get a cup of water, drop lemon juice plus white vinegar in it, and run 2 to 5 minutes. When the concoction boils, and the window has steam on it, you can stop the microwave and wipe clean the interior with a sponge.
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