Cheapism: Best budget microwave ovens

By Kara

You may not turn to a microwave to roast a Thanksgiving turkey or bake an obligatory fruitcake, but it’s handy to have one around the holidays. Just think of all the leftovers. There’s no need to buy an expensive model with as many buttons as your remote, especially if all you plan to do is heat up plates of meat and potatoes or the occasional cup of cocoa. We’ve found highly rated budget microwaves that can do much more than that for less than $150.

Microwaves in this price range are countertop models, as opposed to space-saving built-in or over-the-range microwaves, which can cost upward of $400. given that a countertop microwave will take up workspace in your kitchen, size is something to watch. Note also that larger exterior dimensions don’t necessarily translate to more space inside. If you’re cooking for more than one person or want to have room for, say, a casserole dish, look for at least a cubic foot of interior space.

Size does generally correlate with cooking power. Compact microwaves tend to have about 600 to 800 watts, while mid-size microwaves need at least 1,000 watts to cook food quickly. Pricey units provide up to 1,650 watts. Keep in mind that, no matter how powerful the microwave, it may not heat food evenly, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so be sure to heed the USDA’s safety tips to guard against bacteria and foodborne illness.

Even low-cost microwaves come with one-touch cooking buttons that are preprogrammed for items such as popcorn, pizza, or frozen dinners. likewise, a defrost function automatically sets the power level and cooking time based on weight. Sensors monitor the humidity level or amount of steam inside the microwave to determine when the food is done. Finally, a rotating turntable is standard even on budget models.

Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable microwaves.

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Cheapism: Best budget microwave ovens

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