The Best Countertop Microwave

Cuisinart CMW-100 1-Cubic-Foot Stainless Steel Microwave Oven

Our Top Pick for 2016: Cuisinart CMW-100 1-Cubic-Foot Stainless Steel Microwave Oven
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $166.78*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Life can be very hectic, especially when it comes to preparing a meal for your family every night. If you are an individual who lives alone, there is even less reason to cook on a daily basis. We often prepare large meals and save the food that is not eaten for another day. You can reheat the food in the oven, but in most situations, you would simply use a microwave to warm the food. Microwaves can also be used to defrost food as well as pop delicious popcorn. All models are not created the same, so it is important to consider what you need before you make a purchase. How big should your microwave be? To help you decide, we have put together a list with some of the top countertop microwave options.

Table of contents

Inverter Technology For Even Cooking
1000-watt Stainless-steel Microwave Oven
1100 Watts Of Power
Quick Defrosting
1-cubic-foot Interior
1.5 Cu. Ft. Oven Capacity
950 Watts
Touchpad Controls With LCD
Easyclean Round Interior
One-touch Auto Cook
10 Power Levels
EZ-On, Sensor Touch, Auto Cook, Auto Defrost
Keep Warm Feature
25 Preprogrammed Settings
Child Lockout

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Cuisinart CMW-100 1-Cubic-Foot Stainless Steel Microwave Oven

Cuisinart CMW-100 1-Cubic-Foot Stainless Steel Microwave Oven Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $166.78*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerCuisinart has been manufacturing kitchen appliances in America since 1973, but the company was not a well known brand until Julia Child began showing the world just how special Cuisinart products are. They are a company that is committed to bringing high end cooking appliances into every home and kitchen. Our gold pick, which is their CMW-100 Stainless Steel Microwave, is a great appliance for any home.

The microwave is a relatively large sized appliance that is 20.5 inches wide, 17.5 inches deep, and 12.8 inches high. Internally, this microwave is one cubic foot, which gives you a great amount of space for larger dishes, and the turntable is 12 inches in diameter. The outside is designed with a sleek stainless steel design that is complete with a tinted window and a rounded chrome handle. The interior is also comprised of stainless steel, which makes it extremely easy to clean. It also means that food particles and odors will not be absorbed into the surface of the microwave, which is great if you tend to reheat fish and food items that tend to leave lingering odors.

The CMW-100 is a 1000 watt appliance that is large enough for a family to reheat their meals. It has an LCD screen and touchpad controls that allows you access to 25 programmable settings. There are ten power levels on this microwave, which means that your food can be cooked at varying speeds. There is also a two stage cooking option that allows you to set the food to begin heating on high for a few minutes, and then it will automatically reduce the power setting to medium for a few more minutes. This ensures that the food will not be overcooked. This setting also allows you to defrost your food, and then heat it without needing to program the cooking time more than once.

There are two different defrost settings; one which allows you to defrost by weight and the other one by time. There are six instant starting buttons that can be accessed on the one through six buttons. The number on each button corresponds with the amount of time that will be set, so for example, pressing the three means that the food will be heating for three minutes. There is also a button that allows you to add 30 additional seconds to your cooking time and a button to save and preset your own cooking times. If you make a certain meal often enough, you will soon be in love with this programming option.

The CMW-100 has eight preset options that are designed to make it easier to cook food items that are more common. These buttons are for cooking popcorn, rice, baked potatoes, bacon, fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables, heating beverages, and reheating food. When you press the popcorn button, you will be asked to select the size of your popcorn before the microwave begins cooking. Fresh vegetables are measured by cup, and the time it takes to cook bacon is determined by the amount of slices you wish to cook.

As a safety precaution, there is a child lock feature that is designed to ensure that small children cannot add extra time to a cooking time that was set previously. It also makes it so the youngsters cannot open the door and possibly burn themselves by trying to remove hot food. There is a three year warranty on the parts of this appliance, and it also comes with a recipe book that can give you some quick and easy dinner suggestions.

When it comes to the reviews of this Cuisinart microwave, there are not many on Amazon. Out of the 209 reviews available on the site, about 113 of them have given this microwave either a four or a five star rating. Many of the complaints about this specific microwave revolve around the fact that the microwaves purchased by some did not have a very long lifespan. Many of the positive reviews express how well this microwave heats your food. There are also a lot of comments expressing how great the stainless steel looks against other kitchen décor and how it is tremendously easy to keep clean. Here is an example of one such five star testimonial: “I choose this microwave because a previous poster raved about the stainless steel outer cabinet and interior. She was so right! When the interior light is on it reflects on the stainless steel to give a warm, modern feel. The outer cabinet lights up my small apartment corner.”

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Panasonic NN-SD372S Stainless 950W Countertop Microwave

Panasonic NN-SD372S Stainless 950W Countertop Microwave

View it on Amazon for $116.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerPanasonic is family name that can be seen in almost every home across the country. Whether it is a television, a small appliance, or a battery, Panasonic manufactures high quality products that are designed to make your life easier, and they have been doing so for almost a century. Our silver pick, which is the NN-SD372S, is another durable product that was created to help us lead more productive lives.

This Panasonic microwave is 19.2 inches wide, 14.81 inches in depth, and 11 inches high, which makes it a great size for fitting between cabinets on a countertop. It has a slightly smaller design than our gold pick, so it only has 950 watts of power. This microwave is constructed from stainless steel material that is great for conducting heat as well as being a surface that is extremely easy to clean. The door has a built-in triangle shaped dent that is designed to give you a place to grasp when opening and closing the door. It also gives the microwave a stylish aspect that you will not see on many other microwaves.

This microwave is designed with Inverter technology, which means that it will evenly heat your food to make sure that it will not overcook. It is designed to keep food looking fresh, which means it will not lose any of its color, flavor, or nutrients. There is also an Inverter technology option for defrosting your food. The turntable is 11 ¼ inches, and it can be removed to make it easier to clean. There is also a child lock feature that can be set to protect your child and your food from unwanted disaster. To set the lock, you simply need to press the start button three times. It can then be cancelled or disabled by pressing the stop three times in a row.

As far as functionality is concerned, there are several settings worth taking a look at. This microwave has ten different power settings. There is a quick one minute button that will allow you to add a minute to your cooking time or simply just use it to heat your food quickly and efficiently. There is a designated popcorn button as well as a more or less button that can be used to adjust your cooking time. There is a delay start button that can be used to start heating something at a certain point when you are preparing dinner. This is especially useful for times when you are cooking chicken, but you simply need to reheat some macaroni and cheese that is already prepared.

This device has an auto cook feature that is designed to adjust the power levels as needed and estimate the cook time needed to thoroughly heat the dish that you have placed in the microwave. These estimations are figured based on the type of food that you have in the microwave as well as the humidity levels inside the appliance. There is an auto reheat feature that will use the same ability to check the humidity level inside the microwave to determine the amount of time required to complete the cooking process. In addition, if you cook a dish, and you are waiting on your guests to arrive, there is a feature that is designed to keep your food warm. It uses low pulsing power to maintain the same temperature for up to 30 minutes after the food has finished cooking.

One aesthetic feature that is brilliant on this microwave is the pop-out dial that allows you to cook your food based on either a specific time or the weight of the food. It gives the microwave a bit of flair that is not seen on many push button models. In addition, this microwave comes with a one year warranty that is good for replacing parts and paying for labor, but it also has a five year warranty on the magnetron tube.

When it comes to reviews, 74 percent of all of the users who purchased this small kitchen appliance on Amazon have given it a positive rating of four stars of higher. Many reviewers have expressed how precise the heating technology is in this microwave. Here is an example of a five star testimonial that touches on the space saving aspect of this microwave: “This small Panasonic Microwave was EXACTLY what I was looking for. We have a ‘vintage’ kitchen, with not a lot of counter space. We needed something that didn’t take up too much room, but was still powerful and didn’t look ‘cheap’. This one has all that we wanted. It’s brushed stainless, 950-watts of power, looks great and fits in our kitchen perfectly.”

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): LG LCRT1513ST Countertop Microwave Oven

LG LCRT1513ST Countertop Microwave Oven

View it on Amazon for $234.64*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

This microwave is designed to be a family unit, so it is a bit larger in size than some of the others on our list. It has a depth of 17.2 inches, a width of 21.9 inches, and a height of 12.5 inches. The inside of the appliance is 1.5 cubic feet, and it has a 14.2 inch turntable. Since this microwave is a decent size, it is important to make sure it will fit on your countertop. Nothing would be more annoying than purchasing a microwave that will not fit underneath your hanging cabinets. One unique feature of this microwave is the fact that it has a fully round interior, which means that there are no small corners where food can get stuck. This feature give this microwave a unique interior design that you will adore, in addition, it makes this appliance really simple to keep clean.

This 1100 watt appliance is complete with ten different power settings. In addition, it has sensor cooking technology, which means that the humidity level inside the microwave is constantly monitored to make sure that the food does not overcook. There are two different defrost buttons, which allow you to allow the microwave to auto defrost the food, or you can choose the quick defrost option for faster results. There is also a melt button, which is useful for when you need to melt some butter, as well as a soften button for when you just want to easily spread some butter onto your slice of bread. In addition, you can set this appliance to use multiple cooking stages for one food item, which means that you will not have to tend to the preparation as much. There are also six preset buttons, which include popcorn, rice, potatoes, frozen vegetables, fresh vegetables, and cooking frozen entrees.

This microwave comes with a one year warranty on parts and labor as well as a ten year extended warranty on the magnetron tube, which means that the manufacturers expect this microwave to last a long time. Insofar as reviews, there are only 12 on Amazon, but eight of those 12 individuals gave this Panasonic microwave a five star rating. Overall the reviews express a love for the power, aesthetics, and size of this microwave. Here is an example of one of the five star testimonials given on Amazon: “I bought this for an IT department and after about 4 months of being used several times each day it runs like it’s new.”

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Westinghouse WCM770W 700 Watt Counter Top Microwave Oven

Westinghouse WCM770W 700 Watt Counter Top Microwave Oven

View it on Amazon for $64.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThere is a microwave in almost every home, which is designed to make our lives much more convenient. It is an appliance that is needed when you have a busy life, whether you are ballin’ on a budget or not, so it is good to have an idea what options are available that do not sacrifice their high quality standards to be sold at a lower price point. The Westinghouse WCM770W is an option that fits the bill. It is a 700 watt microwave that has a 0.7 cubic feet interior. Dimensionally, this microwave is 17.8 feet wide, 14.1 feet deep, and 10.3 feet high, which is a little compact, but it will definitely do the job, especially if you live alone. It will sufficient for more people as well, but it may not fit a really large casserole for a family of four or more.

There are ten different power setting as well as six preset options to choose from. The preset buttons are designated for popcorn, pizza, potatoes, beverages, reheating food, and preparing frozen foods. You can choose between two different defrost settings; one allows you to defrost the food based on weight and the other option is a quick defrost. You can also use the cook by weight button if you desire, which is a great option for cooking something like a meatloaf. Doing this method allows the microwave to adjust its cooking method during the cooking duration, which means that you will not have to be tending to it constantly. In addition, there is a multi–stage cooking function that makes it easy to defrost your food and cook it through without any additional button press requirements., There is also a child lock functionality included on this appliance, which is designed to prevent your child from pressing buttons and adding more cooking time to your recipe.

This Westinghouse microwave is available in a few different color options, so it can look perfect in any kitchen. The color variations are black, white, and black with stainless steel trim. When it comes to reviews, 69 percent of the reviews on Amazon are positive ratings of at least four stars. Here is an example of one five star testimonial: “Perfect microwave for a small area. This microwave does the job for what I need. I don’t use one very much and don’t have a lot of counter space, so this one is a great one for that purpose.

Pre-purchase considerations


Considering size means two things; the size of the interior of the microwave and the size of the space that you will need for the microwave on the countertop. Do you have enough counter space for a large microwave? Do you need a smaller option that will allow you to put the appliance on top of the microwave or on a shelf? Make sure that you consider how many people you typically feed along with the microwave’s capacity. You do not want to purchase a small microwave that is designed for an individual person if you are feeding a family of four. A compact microwave is about 0.8 cubic feet, while a full sized option is more along the lines of 1.2 cubic feet. Decide which size is best for you before you make a purchase.


The wattage of your microwave will determine how quickly the food will be cooked. Larger microwaves tend to have more wattage, which means that when you feed a group of individuals, the food will be ready to eat sooner. If you will only be reheating your food, a lower wattage may be acceptable, but when you are reheating a few different dishes, you may not want to extend the time because the wattage is low. If a microwave is under 700 watts, it may not cook evenly. The best wattage to have in a countertop microwave is around 1,000 watts.

Additional Features

Each microwave has features and additional buttons that can make reheating your food a quick task, but not all features are always available on smaller, more compact microwaves. Here are some of the more common features that you might wish to consider:

Ability to Defrost and Heat Evenly – In the past, microwaves used to be low wattage machines that required you to occasionally turn the food while it was reheating. Today, microwaves tend to do this function without your assistance. In many microwaves, there is a defrost setting that is designed specifically for this function.

Preset Types of Food – Many microwaves have a setting that is specifically designed for certain foods, such as popcorn. Other common presets include settings for potatoes, pizza, beverages, and TV dinners.

Variable Settings – These settings allow you to decide which power setting is needed to heat the food that you are preparing. Typically there is a high, medium, and low setting. The high setting is the most commonly used one and it cooks the food at 100 percent. The medium setting cooks the food at 50 percent. This setting is used for cooking stews, casseroles, or food items that are typically cooked slowly. The low setting is only ten percent cooking power and is typically used to keep food warm.

Ability to Program – Some microwaves allow you to program your cooking time to be done at different levels. This means that you can start cooking on high, and then the temperature will automatically switch to a medium setting at the time you set it to do so. You can also cook the food on high and then keep it on low to stay warm while you are waiting to eat.

Turntable – With a turntable, you will never need to turn the dish during the cooking process. Some casserole dishes may be too large to turn inside the microwave, so it may also be important to make sure that the microwave that you are considering purchasing has the functionality to disable the turntable.

Quick Cooking Controls – Many microwaves have buttons with preset cooking times. Some have a button that adds either thirty seconds or an additional minute to the cooking time. If you are quickly heating up a pastry, then this button is more than sufficient. Some microwaves also give you the option to set the first six numbers as a cooking preset that will place that many minutes on the cooking timer, so if you press the five, the food will be set to cook for five minutes with one button press, which is a lot faster than pressing four or five buttons.

Cooking Sensors – Most new microwaves have the ability to monitor your food, and make sure that it does not overcook. It simply measures the humidity level inside the device, and sets the microwave to a cooking level that is more appropriate.

Child Lock – This is a safety feature that many microwaves have. It locks all of the buttons on the microwave to ensure that a young child cannot add extra cooking time or open the door to the microwave, which means they could be in danger of being burned or injured.

Ease of Cleaning

When you heat up food in the microwave it tends to splash and cause pieces of food to splatter on the interior walls. Some microwaves are designed with a nonstick coating on the walls that will allow you to simply wipe away any food particles. Also, having extra shelves inside the microwave as well as doors on the outside can make it more difficult to clean.


When you purchase an appliance for your home, it is a good idea to make sure that a warranty is included. Some manufacturers require you to keep the receipt, so make sure you know what is needed to take advantage of any warranty that may be available for your new microwave.

Color and Decor

Many individuals like to have matching décor in their kitchens, so choosing a design that will look good in your kitchen may be a priority for some. Others may specifically want a red microwave or a stainless steel model.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Whether you need this household appliance for steaming vegetables, baking individual desserts, reheating dinner, or simply popping popcorn, a countertop microwave oven is a convenience in any home. What microwave functions do you need to have in your home? If you are unsure, then take a look at the available features on our list of pre-purchase considerations and consider your options. If the top picks that we’ve selected are not the right fit for you, then do some additional research to find one that suits your kitchen needs.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!


  1. Saka 2015, CUISINART MICROWAVE OVEN CULINARY TOOL *~* Cuisinart CMW-100 Microwave Oven REVIEW!, YouTube, November 19, 2015
  2. LG 1.5 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave Oven – LCRT1513ST, ABT
  3. 0.7 Cu. Ft. 700W Countertop Microwave, Wayfair
  4. Food Network Kitchen, Microwave 101, Food Network, 2016
  5. How To Clean A Microwave 101, Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch
  • I find the stainless steel interior a little strange looking on the Cuisinart CMW-100. Maybe its one of those things you have to see in person to appreciate. Inverter technology for the silver pick is a huge plus for me. That is really useful for the defrost setting for sure.

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