Microwave ovens have become a necessity in our kitchens nowadays. It is a versatile and multi-purpose appliance which is suitable for cooking, heating and even baking. It is a way for convenient and faster cooking. You can bake side dishes, defrost meat, bake cakes, and cupcakes, reheat leftovers, and even cook vegetables and poach eggs. All you need to know is the art of oven timing. Once you master that, you can do almost anything with it.

If you are looking for a good oven for your kitchen, there are a few things you need to know. Even the basic and low-quality oven will heat up your cup of coffee or cook something. The main thing is its features and the taste of the food. In this article, you will get to know each and everything there is about these ovens.

Let’s start!

What is a microwave oven?

Basically, a microwave oven also known as a microwave for convenience is an electric oven that heats or cooks the food by using radiation in the microwave range.

When compared to a stove or conventional ovens, these ovens consume less energy and time. They don’t need preheating either. An average microwave oven uses about 1000 to 1100 watts of energy and gives out 700 to 800 watts of energy.

The process which is employed is known as dielectric heating. The molecules in the food are rotated in a certain way by the radiations; this produces the thermal energy which heats up the food.

Food is heated or cooked uniformly using these radiations as compared to other conventional, the reason being uniform excitation of the polar molecules. This uniform heating gives easy, quick and convenient heating and cooking options.

The efficiency of these appliances lies in their ability to channel the heat to the particles of the food. Unlike radio waves, microwaves have a shorter wavelength. The energy of that these waves carry is inversely proportional to their wavelength.

Since microwaves have a smaller wavelength, their energy is more and this is the energy that they induce in the food. These radiations can be harmful to human tissues as they can damage the human cell. This is the reason why these ovens usually have a thick metal box around them.

How does it work?

The strong metal box that covers the oven has a wave generator inside it. It is set to a certain frequency and is known as a magnetron. When you turn the oven on, the electricity passes through the magnetron and causes it to produce waves.

These waves are high energy radio waves with a wavelength of 12 cm. along with the magnetron; a waveguide is also installed. As the name suggests, this waveguide is installed to channel the wave direction. Once the magnetron produces the waves, they are channeled by the waveguide into the food compartment.

The food compartment has a small table or plate that rotates evenly so that the food can be cooked uniformly. When the waves reach the food, they pass through it making the molecules vibrate rigorously producing thermal energy.

If the waves reach the sides or walls of the food compartment, they reflect off it like light reflects off the mirror. The reflections keep on like this until the waves reach the food. This is why using metallic dishes and tools in these ovens is not advised.

Is it safe?

When talking about microwave safety, there are a few things that come to our mind. These are:

Microwave safety

The ovens are built in a way that keeps all waves inside the box. The waves are only generated when the oven door is closed and power is turned on. Otherwise, no waves are generated. The glass door is also made according to the international standards which provide minimum leakage.

However, there are always some leakages which are why it is advised not to stand in front of the oven while it is heating the food.

Food safety

Heated or cooked food in these appliances has the same nutrient value. Although while cooking food you have to make sure that the food cooks completely or else the bacteria in uncooked food might not be killed. These waves require a longer time to penetrate into thick foods.

Thermal safety

Although the outer part of the oven is created so that it is heat resistant and does not heat up but the ill handling of food items and dishes can cause injuries since it sometimes the food items and dishes can be triggered by sudden boiling.

Do Microwaves kill nutrients?

This aspect of cooking and heating food using microwave has been rigorously studied and observed since the nutrient values of food are the most important. The studies and research have shown that the nutrient value of food before and after being exposed to microwaves remain the same as it does in the conventional oven.

Since these appliances tend to have a shorter cooking and heating time as compared to conventional ovens, which Is why they are considered less destructive in case of nutrition. Studies even show that vegetables, when cooked in water, lose about 70 to 80 percent of their nutrients and retain almost all of them while cooked in the microwave oven.

This shows that rather than being destructive, these ovens are even better than cooking on the stove. If some nutrients are heat sensitive and get destroyed by heat then there is no guarantee that they will not be destroyed in these ovens either.

Microwave Oven Buying Guide

Buying a good microwave oven is a hard nut to crack since there are above a hundred brands in the market claiming to be the best. Of course, there are some very high quality and efficient microwave ovens as well as some low-quality ones. The feasibility and efficiency are relative to what features work for you. You will be able to find ovens in all price ranges and sizes.

Before going out to buy an oven for yourself, some of the features you should know about are:

Size

Every microwave has a different size which is based on the quantity of food it can heat up at one time. The size is measured in cubic feet and the largest size of an oven is 2.2 cubic feet. If you have a large family, you should go for a bigger microwave oven.

Moreover, your kitchen space also plays an important role in the decision of what size is best for you. It will be a shame if you get a large sized oven but don’t have any place to put it in.

Power

The power is directly proportional to the size and inversely proportional to the cooking time. If the cooking time is less than the power used is much more. Similarly, if the size of the oven is large it takes more power.

For example, a large-sized machine consumes 1000 to 1600 watts and a medium sized oven consumes 800 to 1000 watts. The small and compact ovens consume 600 to 800 watts and are ideal for dorm rooms and offices.

Turntable

This is a permanent feature in today’s ovens since it helps in cooking food uniformly. If it is not present, you will have to stop the oven again and again and rotate the plate manually.

Interlocks

This feature is a safety feature that ensures the oven will not start until the door is properly closed. Some ovens come with backup locks so that if one fails the backup interlock kicks in.

Power control

In old appliances, there was only one power on which the oven would work but now the feature of variable power is added. This feature lets you work on 50 percent power as well.

Child lock

This feature is not available in all of the ovens but in some of them. The door cannot be opened by only pressing a button rather by using the keypad.

Sensors

These automatic sensors are added to very high-end microwave, they sense when the food is cooked and stops automatically. In the ovens you don’t have to set the timer on it works automatically.

Best Microwave Ovens(Guide And Reviews)

Product Capacity (Cu. Ft.) Highlight Power Best for
Panasonic NN-SD945S 1.6/2.2 Inverter Technology 1250 watts Faster Cooking
GE RVM5160DHWWHotpoint 1.6 Fast & Easy to Install 950 watts A wide range of cooking for a big family
Toshiba EM925A5A 0.9 Versatility in Power settings 900 watts Small Kitchens
Sharp R-21LCFS Medium-Duty 1.0 Easy to maintain 1000 watts Speed cooking for a medium  family
hOmelands Black Stainless Steel Microwave Cooker 1.3 Perfect size countertop 1050 watts Hostel Lifestyle

Best countertop microwave Panasonic NN-SD945S

Panasonic is a renowned electronics company that is a manufacturer of microwaves along with other products. It is a big supplier of high end as well as medium quality microwave ovens. Its ovens are known for being countertop as well as built in. the countertop ones can be converted into built-in ovens as well.

It’s worth mentioning features are:

  • Power

This oven uses 1250 watts of power and comes with an inverter technology that saves energy efficiently. The Panasonic patented inverter technology that is used in this oven makes cooking and reheating easier and quick.

  • Evolved microwaving

The old and conventional oven technologies worked by a pulse on and off technology. This caused a few problems in the uniform cooking of food. In the Panasonic NN-SD945S, the stream of waves is modified such that a steady stream of waves reaches the food. This not only helps in consistent and uniform cooking but also helps in cooking delicate food items properly rather than overcooking.

  • Design

A special sleep and delicate design are given to this model. It does not take a lot of space yet it provides a lot of interior capacity. It also weighs 8 pounds less than the normal ovens. The footprint of this oven is also minimum.

  • Turbo defrost

Usually, we see that when food is thawed in ovens, it cooks partially. It is specifically equipped with an inverter technology continuous power delivery that thaws food evenly by preventing partial cooking in some places.

  • Keep warm feature

If you get your food ready sometime before serving, you can turn the keep warm feature on and the oven will keep the food fresh and warm until it is ready to serve.

  • This model comes with sleek design and controls.
  • It is manufactured to maximize convenience and comfort.
  • You can place it on a countertop or convert into the inbuilt

The turbo defrosts and keeps warm feature makes prepping and serving food very easy.                                                                                                                                                                                       

  • It does not have a specific button for hot beverages.                                                     
  • Verdict

All in all, this product is an ideal one for a big family since it features 1250 watts high power for the faster cooking experience. In terms of price and features, it is a perfect combination.

 

Best over the range microwave GE RVM5160DHWW Hotpoint

Hotpoint is a renowned American and European brand that manufactures domestic appliances of all kinds. It’s over the range microwave has been on the top for years. The features of this microwave are on point.

The highlights of this machine are:

  • Control and display                    

The control pad of this product is electronic touch with all kinds of features. It has a digital display. The buttons included are for all kinds of food. The pre-decided timings are on point and cook the food item perfectly rather than over or under cooking it. It has separate buttons for popcorns, beverages and for baking potato.

  • Turntable

The turntable rotating frequency is associated with the power you choose. You can choose either complete power that is 100 percent of 50 percent power for mild heating.

  • Auto time

The defrosting and cooking time of certain products is already added to the programming of the oven. This helps in better and convenience cooking.

  • Power level

This microwave oven has 10 different power levels. You can cook any kind of food item using these power levels. From extremely delicate to normally cooking items, all can be prepared and cooked to perfection using these features. You can even cook pasta, braise meat and poach eggs in it.

  • Interior size

The interior size of the oven depends on the size of the turntable. The turntable of this oven is approximately 13.5 inches which are quite big. You can bake pasta and big sized cakes easily in this oven.

  • Ventilation

The oven is externally ventilated so that the heat produced by the warming of food is not accumulated in the oven. The accumulated of heat might result in short-circuiting or sparking in the oven.

  • The model has an electronic touch display and 10 different power modes.
  • The timing for almost all the items is pre-added.
  • It comes with child lock and an inbuilt
  • Available in only one color.
  • Verdict

This microwave oven is the best over the range oven because of the wide range of features it provides. The best part is that it meets the international safety standards and also comes with a child lock.

Best small microwave Toshiba EM925A5A

Toshiba is known for its innovative and artistic design and manufacturing ability. It is one of the best brands of domestic appliances in the market.

Some of the prominent features are:

  • Capacity and power

The capacity of this oven is 0.9 cubic feet. It is not much but works well for a small family or in hostels. Since the size is small it consumes less power and requires 900 watts to work. You can easily use it for heating up leftovers or even cooking small portions of food.

  • Design

Toshiba has not disappointed us in its artistry even while designing this small oven. It has a black sleek design made of stainless steel. The exterior is made of two different shades of black. The screen and the door are made of black glass while the rest of the oven has a metallic black touch to it.

  • Screen and buttons

The digital screen of this oven has inbuilt LED fitted to it and the buttons are touch. It has a one-touch start and has a very simple, elegant and enduring design. No complex features and buttons are added to it. It is a basic yet high-quality product.

  • Pre-programmed functions

It has six different pre-programmed recipes for cooking food. The specific times programmed into it makes cooking food easier. The turntable added is also programmed to change speed and direction according to the recipe.

  • Safety

Toshiba is known for its safety measure in all the domestic products. In this oven, the power saving mode is added not only to be eco-friendly but also to keep the user safe. It also comes with child lock.

  • This small microwave by Toshiba is ideal for keeping in your dorm room.
  • It has a simple and elegant design. Even though it is small, it is extremely convenient.
  • Six pre-programmed recipes.
  • It has a power saving mode and a child lock.
  • The sound of door opening and shutting is a little loud.
  • Verdict

This oven is the best small sized oven in the market. It is completely safe and reliable even for houses with children. The technology and pre-programming done are also on point.

Best speed cooking Sharp R-21LCFS Medium-Duty

Sharp has committed to innovation and advancement in the technology of all kinds of domestic appliances. It is a Japanese company that has been seen to make amazing advancements in the technology and design of all kinds of electronics.

This Japanese microwave oven is known for its speedy cooking. The best part is, even though it has high-speed cooking technology installed, it does not consume a lot of power.

Some of the best features of this product are:

  • Operation

This product is very easy and simple to operate. Even though it is Japanese it has everything written on it in English. It comes with a classic dial timer that can be set between 10 seconds to 10 minutes. The dial is innovated with the use of LEDs that shows the time that you have selected. It also has a time guide written on it for one serving.

  • Interior

The oven has a one cubic feet capacity and can include a 13.5 inches plate along with other kinds of food items. The dish or the food items are placed on the turntable like it is done in all other microwave ovens. It can only accommodate single servings at a time.

  • Safety

Since microwaves are harmful to humans, it comes with auto-cancel technology. If the oven is running and you open the door in between the heating process is canceled and generation of the waves is stopped at the moment.

  • Maintenance

The stainless steel finish and structure not only protects the user from the waves but also helps in maintaining the product from inside out. Just a damp washcloth will help you clean all kinds of food residues easily and there will be no odor problem either since stainless steel is known not to accumulate any kind of smell.

  • It has a classically styled dial which is innovated using LEDs.
  • The stainless steel body makes it easy to maintain and clean.
  • An energy saving mode which helps in making the magnetron durable.
  • It has a time and cooking guide written on it.
  • The timer does not go beyond 6 minutes, so if you have to cook your meal for 12 minutes you will have to set the timer again.
  • Verdict

For simple and easy tasks, this speed cooking microwave oven is ideal. If you are looking for a high-end good quality product and don’t have a budget barrier than this product is the one for you.

Best countertop microwave hOmeLabs Black Stainless Steel Microwave Cooker

hOmeLabs is known for its energy saving and efficient home appliances. It has all the variety of microwave ranging from medium quality to high-end products.

Some of the best features of this product are:

  • Size

The countertop ovens need to be compact in size yet very efficient and spacious. This product takes all these features into consideration. It is neither very small nor very big. A very small countertop oven has practically no use for families and a very big one always ends up becoming a nuisance.

  • Pre-programming

This model by hOmeLAbs comes with pre-programmed recipes for not only cooking popcorns and vegetables but also has a pizza cooker installed in it. All you have to do is press a button and you can cook a delicious pizza at home in your microwave. It also has other options like defrost and speed cooking.

Also read: How to reheat pizza

  • Accessories

It comes with a BPA free glass plate for the turntable as well as a small grill for heating up leftovers. The turntable is used for evenly cooking your meals.

  • Design

It has a black stainless steel body that is not only dandy looking but also is very easy to maintain. It goes with all kinds of decors and also compliments it.

  • It comes with a digital LED screen and a safety child lock.
  • A simple yet elegant design with 10 power levels.
  • It comes with a pre-programmed pizza cooker.
  • Ideal for both small-sized apartments as well as large houses.
  • Sometimes users find it difficult to find the required button. The keypad is not very efficient.
  • Verdict

If you are a college student living in a hostel and looking for a reasonable sized, reasonably priced and generously featured product then this is the one for you. It is ideal for small families and college students alike.

Tips on microwave-safe operation

Where microwave ovens make your life easy, they can also be very dangerous and inconvenient if you don’t take care of a few things. We see that most of the people commit the same mistakes over and over again. Luckily they don’t get any consequences but for how long will you be lucky?

Some of the dos and don’ts of using a microwave oven are:

  • Do not use metal bowls and utensils in any case as they tend to spark and can cause an explosion.
  • Make sure whatever dish you are using, whether it is ceramic, glass or plastic, it should be microwave safe.
  • Do not put food of different kinds at the same time as each of them have a different cooking time and cause inconvenience.
  • For uniform heating and preventing any kinds of burn make sure you stir your food, especially curries and soups, occasionally.
  • For efficient and safe cooking, it is advised you cook up to 75 degrees Celsius.
  • Make sure you cover your food or else it can explode.
  • If you want to thaw your meat, don’t do it in the microwave as it will partially cook.
  • Clean your oven once in a while or else it can get loaded with bacteria after some time.

Conclusion

The microwave has become an essential tool in our kitchens nowadays. Most of us feel incapacitated and helpless without the presence of a microwave oven in our kitchen this is because of the convenience and safety it provides. If we look at the conventional ovens and stoves, many burn accidents have been reported due to that but how many accidents with microwaves have been reported? Almost negligible.

Keeping this in mind, you should always keep a microwave oven in your kitchen to make your cooking reliable, safe, fast and easy. There are many high-quality microwave ovens present in the market. Once you get your priorities straight you can always invest in the most feasible one.