10 Best Microwave Ovens Under $80 for 2021
Countertop microwave ovens are a lifesaver. Because they cook or reheat food quickly, you save time.
You can easily reheat cold coffee or leftovers, bake a potato, or nuke a frozen dinner.
A microwave is also convenient, versatile, and saves on energy and fuel to promote a better quality of life.
And these days, countertop microwaves are more convenient than ever.
Many models come with different preset options for fast and easy cooking.
Those who own a microwave know that it has default presets dedicated to cooking popcorn, pizza, a dinner plate of food, and more with just the touch of a button.
Newer and more expensive models now come with presets like quick minute, auto reheat, delayed start, keep warm, and melt or soften food.
So, what should you look for in a microwave if you’re on the market to buy one?
We’re here to help you. We wanted to see how much wattage, features, and interior size you can get in a budget model in comparison to a more expensive one.
So, if you’re strapped for cash or don’t want to pay a lot because you only need a model that will reheat a plate of leftovers, here are our top picks based on categories.
Top Microwaves Under $80 For Your Kitchen
Best Multi-Stage Cooking Microwave: Magic Chef HMM1110B Microwave
As a budget model, the Magic Chef has a lot to offer in comparison to higher-priced microwaves.
It features 1,000 watts and a 1.1 cubic feet size interior, which is enough space and power to handle most foods.
It even has 10 power levels and is available in black, white, and stainless steel.
It’s also great for defrosting as it comes with three auto-defrost menus, ensuring that whatever food you want to defrost comes out evenly.
But we chose this handy model for its multi-stage cooking, which is rarely seen at this price point.
Multi-stage cooking—which has inverter technology built-in--allows you to program different stages in the cooking process and all at different power levels.
For example, you can set the cooking power for the first minute at 40 percent, and then an additional 90 seconds at 50 percent without coming back to the oven to reset the time and power level.
|Affordable, low-risk purchase||Loud enough to be mentioned but not so loud that you can hear it in your family room if you have an open-concept layout.|
|You won’t find a better value with all the included features.||Stiff open button: The button used to open this microwave’s door takes a little extra effort to push.|
|Easy to read and straightforward control panel|
|10 power levels|
Best Retro Design Microwave: Galanz GLCMKA07RDR-07 Microwave Oven
Galanz makes great value kitchen appliances like dishwashers and ranges in stainless steel.
But they are most known for their retro collection. Think Smeg on a budget and you’ll get the idea. Galanz makes a retro toaster oven with convection in powder blue.
We love the retro look, which is why we put their retro microwave on our list.
It even comes in more bright colors like hot red, shimmery black, surf green, and baby blue that can bring some contrast to the ubiquitous all-white kitchen.
With its tiny price, the Galanz comes with a tiny .7 cubic feet size and an even tinier 700-watt power.
If you don’t care for its tiny capacity, the lowest power, and fewest features, this model is great if you don’t rely on the microwave throughout the day, from morning to night.
But it’ll be a tight squeeze to fit your standard dinner dish.
Use this microwave for cooking popcorn and frozen single-serving meals.
And buy it if you have little available countertop space.
And one good thing is that the 360 degrees of heating and rotation of the turntable cooks food more even and efficient.
Also, it takes a short time to defrost food.
|One of the cheapest microwaves on the market.||The retro look is not for everyone. Most customers choose a stainless steel model.|
|Simple to use: No confusing features mean no looking at instructions.||Lackluster 700 watts of power that limits what you can cook.|
|Compact and lightweight, perfect for the office or a small kitchen.||Dull LED: The display is dim and tricky to read.|
Best Microwave For Smart Features: Amazon Basics Microwave, 0.7 Cu. Ft
We chose this wildly popular Amazon Basics Microwave (4.4 out of 5 stars from 27,342 global ratings) because it makes cooking a cinch.
No more fiddling with controls since this smart microwave works using your voice when paired with Amazon Echo.
For example, you can say, “Alexa, warm up my coffee,” and Alexa will automatically heat it with the appropriate power and time settings without you having to specify the details as you’d be doing with manual operation.
Another thing that makes our lives easier is that there’s an “Ask Alexa” button on the microwave.
Just press the button and say, “Three minutes” or “frozen vegetables,” and the button will pair with Echo just like saying “Alexa” does.
While there are quick-cook presets, and besides the Alexa feature, this microwave has many shortcomings.
Its 0.7 cubic feet interior means that only a 10-inch dinner plate will fit. Likely, it will not fit anything larger.
And the 700-watt power is too low, which means the Amazon microwave will take longer to heat the food.
Finally, Fire TV, Fire Tablets, Echo Look, and Amazon Tap devices are not supported with the Ask Alexa button.
|Functions can be voice-activated.||Needs to be connected to an Alexa-enabled device for you to use voice control.|
|Child Lock||It pairs with Echo and Echo dot.|
|Echo constantly updates itself, making this microwave have more smart features.||You have to purchase Echo separately and the Echo models cost between $30 and go up to $200.|
|Doesn’t take up that much countertop space.||Features on standalone microwave (without connecting to Alexa) are limited.|
Best Budget with the Features of a More Expensive Model: Hamilton Beach EM925AB9 1.1 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel Microwave
The best microwaves in the $100 and above range come with at least 700 to 1,000 watts of power and have at least 1,1 cubic feet.
This is why we were surprised that this Hamilton Beach budget model that costs under $75 features 1,000 watts and measures 1.1 cubic feet.
An obvious great deal, this microwave has a stainless steel finish that will fit right in with your other stainless-steel appliances.
However, despite having 1,000 watts of power, many reviews complained that this model doesn’t heat frozen food properly, leaving the center and the insides frozen.
You can try cooking the food longer, but the true test of whether a microwave is up to speed is if it gives you the right results the first time.
Still, this is a great deal. A comparable model would cost over $100.
|Easily view the time and kitchen timer from almost anywhere in the room with the bright LED digital display panel.||Only 6 standard presets.|
|Child-safe lockout feature.||Very loud.|
|The touch keys occasionally don’t work.|
Best Compact Microwave: Black + Decker EM720CB7 Countertop Microwave
About 2/3 the normal size of a microwave, this B + D is compact and will easily fit on your countertop.
Built for when space is at a premium, the .7 cubic feet can fit a standard dinner dish, unlike other models at this price point.
But there’s more to like than the B+D’s compact size. It is easy to use. It has a large LED digital display. Also, it comes with features that a comparable doesn’t have.
These include the handy 30 second express cooking with a single push of a button, clock and kitchen timer, and pre-programmed buttons for the most obvious items: popcorn, potatoes, pizzas, frozen vegetables, beverages, and dinner plate.
|Amazon Bestseller.||The primary function keys are labeled with black lettering on a dark grey background, making them hard to read.|
|Runs quietly.||Compact, but the small internal capacity prevents you from cooking tall or long food.|
|Easy to Use; the microwave doesn’t even come with instructions.||Cooks food unevenly while on a pre-set timer.|
|Reasonable price point.||It takes a while to get to its optimal temperature.|
|Push-button release for easy access.|
Best High Wattage Microwave Oven: Commercial Chef CHM990W Microwave Oven, 0.9 Cubic Feet
This compact microwave has .9 cubic feet. That’s a large capacity for a microwave with a small footprint and is really all you need.
Unless you are stuffing a turkey into the microwave, this Commercial Chef model will easily handle a lot of things, such as being able to fit regular-sized dinner plates.
More mid-range models come with 1,000 watts, like another model we chose. The Commercial Chef comes with 900 watts.
Most companies who make microwaves recommend a baseline of 900-1,000 watts for mid-range and mid-size microwaves.
You don’t need more than what the Commercial Chef offers because, at 1,000 watts and more, the food will cook faster but in the process can quickly overcook what you put inside, leaving your food too dry or your drinks scorching.
What this means is that this low-range, low-size microwave can compete with higher-priced models.
|Quick cook options prepare food with just one touch of a button.||Can be noisy.|
|Handy digital clock/timer.||Not being able to disable the buzzer or the beeping sound when food is cooked frustrates many customers.|
|LED display is bright.||Only 6 default presets.|
Best Energy-Efficient Microwave: Comfee' EM720CPL-PM Countertop Microwave Oven
Microwave ovens consume electric power when in standby mode. If you can eliminate the standby power, you can conserve energy.
That is exactly what the Comfee’ does.
A power saver allows your microwave to reduce energy by turning off the display, which eliminates the standby mode and reduces operating costs.
So now you can reduce energy consumption and still cook with efficiency.
With the 0.7 cubic feet interior and 700 watts, you may not be able to cook much because of the size, but it’s great for those who only rely on a microwave to pop popcorn or reheat coffee.
Another feature we love is getting rid of those annoying beeps when the microwave is done cooking.
In this model, all you have to do is press the sound on and off button. This is great if you don’t want to wake up your roommate while you use the oven.:
|Eco Mode minimizes 50% standby power.||Compact size means you can’t defrost most meats.|
|Child safety lock.||It can barely fit a standard dinner dish.|
|Bright digital display and control panels for easy readability.||With 700 watts, most Amazon user reviews say it takes more time to warm up food.|
|Comes in black or white.||The design looks dated.|
|Only six default presets.|
Best Simple Microwave Oven: Avanti MM07K1B Countertop Microwave, 0.7-Cu. Ft.
Remember rotary dials on microwaves? We don’t. All we know is that it’s a thing of the past and looks ugly.
But even with preset buttons on a microwave that require you to press down to get to the right cooking level, some have a hard time doing this.
That’s why mechanical dial controls on microwaves still exist.
Since you are just turning the dial, it’s very easy to use. It's as basic and as straightforward as a microwave can be,
In general, all these people are searching for an alternative to the electronic controls found on nearly all microwaves.
|Easy to grasp grip-type handle.||Low wattage.|
|Space efficient size is great for small areas like dorm rooms or small apartments.||Some complaints about the turntable's functionality.|
|Speed and weight defrost allow for multiple uses in the kitchen.||Can fit a standard-size coffee mug, but due to the low height, you can’t put in a tumbler-size mug.|
|Good for those who are tech-averse||Loud.|
Best Microwave For Sensor Technology: Black + Decker Digital Microwave, 0.9 Cu.ft
We chose this Black + Decker for its sensor technology.
Sensor technology ensures even cooking with food that comes out at the precise temperature without you having to reset it to get to your expected results.
All you need to do is simply press one of the six pre-programmed buttons and the microwave automatically adjusts cooking time and power level.
In addition, this Black + Decker sensor takes the frustration and guesswork out of cooking.
As such, you don't have to decide the cooking time and power levels.
In addition, this workhorse comes with 900 watts for faster cooking results, 10 power settings, a clock and kitchen time, and 30 seconds express cooking.
Also, the LED digital display is large enough for anyone to see, the control panel is easy to read, and there are extras like an interior light and a child safety lock.
|Best reviewed on Amazon. 4.5 out of 5 stars with 10,268 global ratings.||A 10 7/8 dinner plate will not fit.|
|The microwave can be turned on for one to six minutes at 100 percent power by simply touching the number.||Loud while cooking|
|Thaw frozen food using two different options: Time Defrost or Weight Defrost.||When food is cooked, the buzzer rings 5 times very noisily.|
|Large LED digital display with clock function can show a countdown timer.||Cooking can leave the center of food frozen.|
|Clean modern design.|
Best Budget Microwave That Has All the Features: Toshiba 0.9-cu ft Countertop Microwave
We’ve seen microwaves on our list that have cool features like muting sounds or being energy efficient.
This Toshiba has both, as well as a lot more.
On the 10 power settings, one is to set the microwave to a power-saving eco model for those who are mindful of being energy conscious.
Hate those beeping sounds when your food is cooked? Or are you afraid that the microwave will wake up your roommate in your dorm?
You know, the microwave that chirps incessantly and only turns off until you open the microwave door and retrieve your food?
Well, this microwave comes with a sound on and off option.
And the LED cavity light gives you a very bright view of what you are cooking without having to open the handle.
The Toshiba also comes with a one-touch start – quick access to start the microwave from 1 to 6 minutes or 30 seconds cooking at full power.
|Very quiet while running.||Warning: sparks inside the cavity and on the sides can occur.|
|Interior LED lighting is power-efficient and typically long-lasting.||As soon as it cooks, occasionally it will start flashing and make loud crackling sounds that scare owners.|
|Minimizing 50% standby power by turning on Eco mode.||Interior LED light can start flickering.|
|Fits average size dinner plate.||Comes in stainless steel but only covers the front façade.|
|Compact size surprisingly has a large interior capacity.||The door is light and is somewhat difficult to close.|
|10 power settings.|
How We Decided
With hundreds of countertop microwave oven brands and models to choose from, it can be hard to differentiate which is best.
In making our selection, we took many factors into account, including customer reviews, features offered, pricing and more.
The following criteria had the biggest impact on our decision.
We perused sites mentioning notable compact microwaves and made a note of the appliances that kept coming up and why.
Of the many sites we looked at, a few stand out: Consumer Reports, Reviewed, Warmchef, bestmicrowavee.com, Kitchen Feeds, Best Kitchen Buy, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, mealprepify, New York Magazine, and Cnet.
The best way to gauge the effectiveness of a product outside of rigorous testing is to look at the opinions of those who know best - customers and users of the product.
We considered customer reviews when pulling together our list of the best microwaves and chose those with the best and most relevant customer feedback.
Microwaves can be expensive. Compact ones start at $50 but the more wattage, interior space, and special features you want, you’re looking at spending $100 and more.
We wanted to focus on budget models to make it easier for customers to buy without shelling out a boatload of money.
In this way, we chose to cap the best microwaves on the market by staying under an $80 price range.
While it was difficult to differentiate models in that price range—most were the same and came equipped with 700 watts and .6 cu. ft—we tried to look at models that had the best features specific to their category, from the best that had sensor technology to the best that was energy efficient.
Ultimately, we focused our list on those microwaves that had unique features or features that were notable because they only could be found on higher-priced microwaves.
So we also chose microwave ovens that we felt were a fair balance between price and highly-coveted features.
What is a Countertop Microwave Oven?
A microwave oven is one of the most frequently used appliances in your kitchen.
Because it can heat up fast and can cook your food even faster, a microwave saves you time and energy and is also convenient.
It’s easily the simplest appliance in your kitchen too. If you want to defrost chicken breasts, you can just touch one of the presets that your microwave comes with, and the defrosting will take very little time.
For those on the go—heating a cold cup of coffee and some Danish in the morning before work—a microwave is your trusted source.
Are You in the Market for a New Countertop Microwave?
Microwave ovens come in various types, sizes, power levels, presets, and cooking capabilities.
They also differ in design. You should get a microwave that is designed to match the style of your kitchen and to match your needs.
If you want the sleek, stainless steel look, you’re bound to find one as microwaves in this finish are ubiquitous.
You should also look at how handy the microwave is.
Are there additional features that a comparable doesn’t have that make heating up easier and faster?
Maybe the microwave has additional presets to go along with the default settings?
What Should I Look for in a Countertop Microwave Oven?
There are three things you should look for that will ultimately determine the right microwave for you.
First, you should look at the wattage.
Second, you need to find a microwave with a size that fits your countertop.
Third, you should pay attention to the control panel, which will determine your cooking needs. Is it easy to use?
What Interior Size is Right for Me?
Pay attention to the interior size of the microwave.
The overall interior size is measured in cubic feet.
It determines the size of the food and the dish you put in the microwave.
If the interior can’t fit a standard dinner plate, which has a diameter of 10.5 inches, then that’s a microwave you shouldn’t buy.
That’s because many use a plate to heat food in a microwave.
The interior height is also important.
If you can’t fit a tall travel mug, which is the most popular item to be put in a microwave, then you have to pay attention to the overall height.
If you want a fairly compact microwave, like the ones we ranked here, the sizes generally range from 0.5 to just 0.9.
If you are thinking of getting something bigger, the range will be around 2 cubic feet.
The mid-to-upper range is 1.5 cubic feet. But that’s probably too large for you.
|Compact||Under 1 cubic foot|
|Midsize||1 to 1.5 cubic feet|
|Full-size||1.6 to 2 cubic feet|
|Extra-large||More than 2 cubic feet|
You don’t need to go over 1.5 cubic feet or even 2 cubic feet. They are needlessly big.
However, they are large enough to reheat a plate of food, and you are guaranteed that your dinner dish size will fit.
Unlike our budget models, where we found the internal cavity to be around .6 cubic feet, that size won’t fit your dinner dish.
Nor will it fit a standard 13 x 9-inch casserole.
But if you’re just going to nuke popcorn or heat a cold cup of coffee or two slices of pizza, then .6 will be enough for these tasks.
Then you can choose one of the microwaves we recommended.
But if you want to do more than cook one of the foods in your preset mode, that’s when you should go larger, and your budget will exceed our $80 barrier and will cost you $100 or more.
For example, microwaves that have at least 700 to 1,000 watts of power and at least 1,1 cubic feet start at the $100 range and will go up depending on the features you want.
And if you do stretch your budget and spend an additional twenty bucks or more, a microwave oven in that range will have at least 1.2 cubic feet and will easily fit a rotisserie chicken—the whole thing.
What Exterior Size is Right for Me?
Next, pay attention to the external dimensions of the microwave.
You need to measure the external size because that will dictate where you plan on putting your microwave.
The external dimensions can vary a lot, but they usually range from 10 x 18 x 14 inches on the smaller side with a capacity of 0.5 to 0.9 cubic feet.
A midsized microwave with 1.0 to 1.5 cubic feet will most likely be around 12 inches x 24 inches x 12 or more inches deep. Most midsized models have around 1,000 watts.
Finally, a large microwave with up to 2.2 cubic feet and features 1,200 watts, will typically be 12 or more inches tall x 18 inches or more deep by 24 inches wide.
The kitchen countertop is usually where you will place the microwave, but it can also be put in a dorm room, staff lounge at an office, or a small kitchen in a studio apartment where space is a premium,
Measure the space wherever the microwave will be stored and compare that with the external size dimensions.
And remember, bigger isn’t always better.
What Wattage Should I Get?
Wattage is usually related to size. Large and high-priced models come with high wattage.
In short, the larger the microwave, the larger the wattage.
And the higher the wattage, the faster your microwave can cook.
The typical range of wattage is 900-1,000 watts and these come in mid-sized and mid-range microwaves.
Most of the microwaves on our list feature 700 watts. While that’s low, you pay what you get for.
But having 700 watts doesn’t mean your food can’t heat evenly.
And the disadvantage of higher wattage is that the oven can cook at a higher temperature, meaning the high wattage may overcook your food.
If you’re looking for an oven with lightning speed cooking, a 700-watt model can generate that without you having to buy a more expensive microwave oven.
And if you are just aiming to heat food or a beverage, 700 watts is plenty enough.
What Features Should I Look For?
Most microwaves come equipped with common features.
These include cook time, defrost, power level, and time. You should also have a good panel that is easy to read.
In addition, you should look at the pre-sets. Microwaves without the bells and whistles mostly come with 6 standard presets, which we’ll talk about below.
Some come with a bright LED digital display that’s large enough to read the control panel for those who have vision problems.
And others come with LED lighting in the cavity of the oven so you can check in with what you’re cooking without opening the microwave door.
Some also come with child lock safety and moisture sensors to detect food doneness.
Most come with turntables that rotate your food so it heats evenly.
Using a microwave that doesn’t come with a turntable means you have to manually stop cooking in the middle just to turn your plate around. This is a big hassle.
Further, make sure your turntable is detachable and microwave safe.
The “add 30 seconds” button is essential for heavy users.
It allows you to quickly start cooking or add more time without having to press a series of buttons. This makes cooking easier.
Which Microwave Presets Matter?
Most microwaves have a full panel of preset options for different foods.
Presets are convenient. You just touch one button, which takes out the guesswork on what temperature to heat, reheat or cook your food.
But will the default cook times work for the type of food you want to use in the microwave?
That’s an important question to ask.
If you need a preset not listed here and that will work for your food, you’ll probably have to shell out more money to get additional presets.
Keep in mind that the more presets a microwave has, the more expensive the microwave will cost.
|Popular Presets||Unique Presets|
|Baked potato||Auto reheat Delayed start|
|Pizza||Keep warm or warming|
|Beverage||Melt or soften (like butter)|
Are There Features in a Countertop Microwave That Are Only Seen in Higher Priced Models?
Yes. There’s sensor cook, convection, invertor technology, and smart technology. Most of these unique features can also be found in high-end smart ovens and your full-size stove.
The Sensor Cook Preset
The most useful preset—sensor cook--unfortunately only comes in higher-priced models. But that’s not a hard and fast rule.
The Black + Decker Digital Microwave Oven that we reviewed has sensor technology at a very low price.
Sensors adjust the cooking time based on the amount of steam the food gives off which will make the oven automatically shut down when your food is cooked.
As such, your food will come out at the right temperature and you don’t have to keep resetting a preset to get the desired results.
Sensors also allow you to avoid exploding meat and cold spots.
In essence, sensor technology takes the guesswork out of microwaving when you put some food in it.
Microwaves with convection are extremely expensive than those without.
A convection feature means there’s a fan built into the back of the oven that serves to circulate the heat around your food to cook faster and evenly.
Inverter ovens have an inverter circuit that controls the power delivered to the food smoothly, offering consistent results every time.
The technology heats food at a 50% power level. The technology maintains a consistent 50% power.
As a result, you can cook delicate foods like poached salmon or very fluffy omelets.
Smart technology often uses voice control so you don’t have to fiddle with controls.
For these microwaves, voice control is enabled when paired with an outside source, like Amazon Echo.
You can tell the oven things like, “Alexa, warm up my pancakes,” and Alexa will do that automatically and with the appropriate power and time.
A large-size microwave oven may come with a removable rack—usually made of metal-- which resembles an oven rack.
In this way, you can cook two things at the same time (but at the same temperature) since you’ll have two levels.
Also, microwaves with metal racks are better at distributing heat.
How Much Should You Spend on a Countertop Microwave Oven?
A countertop microwave starts at $50 or $60 and goes up to $2,000.
But since the core technology is the same for all microwaves, higher-priced models aren’t that much different than the ones that cost under $80 or $100.
But say you get a microwave that costs between $400 to $600.
As we suggested, the more presets or features, the higher the microwave will be in terms of cost.
And at that cost range, you should get a lot of unique features.
A “Bit More” button lets you add a little extra cooking time.
|Air Fryer||Lets you cook crispy French fries, chicken wings, and more with little or no oil.|
|Grilling||A grilling function achieves oven-like results without preheating.|
|Soft-close door system||Prevents loud banging.|
|Self-locating turntable||Avoids annoying issues with dislocated or broken turntables.|
|Volume control||Option to cook quietly|
|Unit weight conversion||Converts easily from metric or imperial and vice versa.|