Nearly 100 five-star reviews praise the Panasonic’s “huge” size. “This is a must for our family,” writes one commenter. “It’s VERY spacious inside — bigger than my built-in — big platters fit inside,” shares another. The wide appliance is even large enough for reheating casseroles, and several reviewers note that it’s big enough to fit a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. One reviewer finds it “cooks much faster and more thoroughly than other microwaves.” “Makes a huge difference in the quality of cooking!” raves another. This comes as no surprise to those already loyal to brand’s line of microwaves, like this reviewer, who raved, “This replaced our previous Panasonic that was almost 15 years old before it died. In our experience, Panasonic makes reliable microwave ovens.”
Capacity is a measurement of the inside cooking space in your microwave, and it can vary drastically from model to model. In other words, the dishes that fit into your old microwave may not fit into a new one…which is why capacity is an important feature for the best microwave brand. It needs to at least hold a dinner plate. Microwaves below 1 cu ft may not be large enough for all plates, platters, or tall mugs. Saving space is great, but don’t do it at the expense of the dishes you prefer to microwave.
The affordable Toshiba EM925A5A-BS microwave is simple to use, with a plainly labeled keypad and intuitive controls. It cooked popcorn, baked potatoes, and frozen mac and cheese perfectly every time, and its mute button—a rare feature that lets you stealthily reheat midnight snacks without waking your housemates. We also appreciated the express cooking option, which immediately starts the microwave with a press of one of the numbered buttons (from 1 to 6 minutes). A dedicated plus-30-seconds button helps further fine-tune cook times. The compact 0.9-cubic-foot Toshiba model is large enough to fit an 11-inch dinner plate or a 9-inch square casserole dish. It’s also available in a stainless steel or black stainless steel exterior.
If you really want microwave power levels that function accurately, look for a microwave with an inverter. What is an inverter microwave? Essentially, it uses a different type of microwave production that actually does change the power levels and heating. Set power to 5, and the inverter will make sure heating is at 50%. Other types of microwaves will use a cycling method, where the power is always set to 100% but at level 5 it cycles half as much as at level 10. Inverter technology tends to make power levels much more effective and sensible, but either way it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
A microwave with a convection function, like the Toshiba EC042A5C, offers multiple ways to cook your meals with one appliance. This 1,000-watt microwave has enough power to reheat food in microwave mode or cook, roast, and bake using the convection function between 170 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Featuring 1.5 cubic feet of space, it's large enough to microwave full-size dinner plates or accommodate a small chicken or pizza. A grill rack (for convection mode cooking) makes it easy to get a crispy exterior. People love this unit for its versatility, but others mention that it’s bigger and heavier than expected. It also may tack a few minutes onto recipe cook times when using convection mode.
The 1.2-cubic-foot Toshiba didn’t heat as evenly as the smaller Toshiba. Unlike the 0.9-cubic-foot version, this Toshiba uses a steam and temperature sensor to automatically determine cooking time. However, we didn’t find the sensor particularly accurate: The baked potato we cooked using it came out completely raw in the center. In our heat map test, the marshmallows near the center of the turntable came out very dark. That said, it heated more evenly across the surface of the turntable than most of the microwaves we tested. The popcorn we made wasn’t burned, though it did have twice as many unpopped kernels as the 0.9-cubic-foot model. We liked that this model beeps to prompt you to flip meat while defrosting, something the smaller one doesn’t do. Impressively, this Toshiba only slightly cooked the edges of ground beef on the defrost mode, unlike most of the models we tested, which fully cooked entire sections of meat.
Another misconception is that microwave ovens cook food "from the inside out", meaning from the center of the entire mass of food outwards. This idea arises from heating behavior seen if an absorbent layer of water lies beneath a less absorbent drier layer at the surface of a food; in this case, the deposition of heat energy inside a food can exceed that on its surface. This can also occur if the inner layer has a lower heat capacity than the outer layer causing it to reach a higher temperature, or even if the inner layer is more thermally conductive than the outer layer making it feel hotter despite having a lower temperature. In most cases, however, with uniformly structured or reasonably homogenous food item, microwaves are absorbed in the outer layers of the item at a similar level to that of the inner layers. Depending on water content, the depth of initial heat deposition may be several centimetres or more with microwave ovens, in contrast to broiling/grilling (infrared) or convection heating—methods which deposit heat thinly at the food surface. Penetration depth of microwaves is dependent on food composition and the frequency, with lower microwave frequencies (longer wavelengths) penetrating further.[citation needed]
Of course, once you buy your favorite microwave model, you need to start thinking about what to put inside it! Fortunately, we can help there, too. We’ve also got answers if you’re wondering if styrofoam is microwave safe – or are trying to find the best microwave popcorn for movie night (even low-calorie options). You can also keep up with latest microwave inventions out there, like Samsung’s healthy frying microwave!
The Toshiba EM131A5C-BS is best for anyone seeking out a slightly bigger, more powerful 1,100-watt microwave. It looks similar to our main pick, the Toshiba EM925A5A-BS, but offers a few more express controls for specific tasks like cooking bacon, defrosting frozen muffins, and making oatmeal. It also has a Soften/Melt button for butter, chocolate, cheese, and marshmallows. However, we found these additional controls less intuitive to operate than what our other pick offers, and we don’t think they’ll get used often. This Toshiba also boasts a cooking sensor that’s supposed to automatically determine when your pizza or potato is hot enough, but it didn’t perform any better than the 0.9-cubic-foot Toshiba, which lacks this feature. The 1.2-cubic-foot Toshiba has a larger 12-inch turntable, so it will fit most dinner plates and a 9-inch square casserole dish. Like our main pick, this model is available in a stainless steel or black stainless steel exterior.
Of course, once you buy your favorite microwave model, you need to start thinking about what to put inside it! Fortunately, we can help there, too. We’ve also got answers if you’re wondering if styrofoam is microwave safe – or are trying to find the best microwave popcorn for movie night (even low-calorie options). You can also keep up with latest microwave inventions out there, like Samsung’s healthy frying microwave!
Reviewers of this multipurpose microwave celebrate its great value. “This is the best microwave I’ve ever owned under $200. It works great and it arrived in less than 24 hours. Color me impressed,” writes one. In addition to microwaving food, it includes a convection function for baking or roasting and a broil setting with a removable grill rack. “This oven seems to do everything that I wanted it to do. It … makes fast work of anything I put in it,” says one. “The browner element on the top is just icing on the cake.” Another happy customer writes: “This was my only way to cook for six weeks during flood repair of my kitchen. We were able to have normal meals without going out every time.”
The included turntable is easy to remove for cleaning, and the large programming screen allows you to specify power levels, cooking times, and menu options for shortcuts and more complex cooking tasks. If you aren’t a fan of all those automatic options, then there are an amazing 14 auto-cook options for menu buttons that can cook a specific kind of food. Even the start button stands out and is easy to use.

Microwave ovens produce heat directly within the food, but despite the common misconception that microwaved food cooks from the inside out, 2.45 GHz microwaves can only penetrate approximately 1 centimeter (0.39 in) into most foods. The inside portions of thicker foods are mainly heated by heat conducted from the outer 1 centimeter (0.39 in).[38][39]
Power settings are commonly implemented, not by actually varying the effect, but by repeatedly turning the power off and on. The highest setting thus represents continuous power. Defrost might represent power for two seconds followed by no power for five seconds. An audible warning such as a bell or a beeper is usually present to indicate that cooking has completed.
You’ll find the perfect microwave from our microwaves Black Friday 2019 collection. Treat yourself to a microwave that is outfitted with features you’ll use frequently. There are many different features a microwave can have, including auto defrost, sensor cooking and shortcut keys. Check out our Microwave Buying Guide for more information on each feature and how they can simplify getting dinner on the table.
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