I don't use my microwave every single day, but when I need it, I really need it: for heating up late-night leftovers, quickly melting a few tablespoons of butter, bringing lukewarm coffee back to life, and the list goes on. Sure, I could whip out a pan and use the stovetop. But the microwave is fast, easy, and cuts down on unnecessary cleanup.
If you're in the market for a microwave—whether you've recently moved, need an upgrade, or are buying one for the first time—there are tons of options to choose from. Tons. So many, in fact, it can get a little overwhelming if you're not sure what to look for.
For this reason and more, I've rounded up a few of the top-rated microwaves you can buy online, one for every budget. And because it can be hard to find a decent microwave for under $40 (it is an electric oven, after all), this list starts at $49.99, which I think is around the minimum you have to spend to find one that'll last you a while.
Clocking in at just .6 cubic feet, this compact-size microwave is perfect for cramped countertops, city kitchens, or tiny dorm rooms. It comes with six pre-set menus (think: frozen dinner, popcorn, pizza) and 10 power levels, which makes heating up food and drinks extra simple.
This slightly larger microwave has the same microwaving power (700 watts) as the Proctor Silex, but it comes with a few handy features like time and weight defrosting, mute button (no more microwave beeps!), and child safety lock.
This mid-range microwave from Magic Chef cranks up the cooking power to 1,000 watts to provide more even, efficient heating. It's also a bit more spacious (at 1.1 cubic feet), so you can heat up larges batches of leftover soup, pastas, and the like all in one go.
This Black & Decker option has a good deal of microwaving power, but since it takes up less than one cubic foot, your countertop won't get too crowded. In fact, one reviewer wrote, "It is small inside but fits a normal-size plate and is good enough for my needs!" What more do you really need to know?
This sleek Farberware microwave—with plenty of built-in features—is a consistent hit with customers who purchase it, so much so that 88 percent said they'd recommend it. One reviewer even sang its praises when it comes to popcorn and reheating leftovers: "First thing I did was pop popcorn—only had two un-popped kernels. Second was heating leftovers—food was hot throughout without hotspots." Win, win.
As you move up in price range, you start to get a few more snazzy features, which is definitely the case with this Toshiba 1100-watt microwave. Case in point: It comes with a built-in smart sensor that "constantly detects the humidity level of the food during cooking, then automatically adjusts time and temperature for optimal results."
This roomy (1.5 cubic feet!) microwave from LG comes with all the bells and whistles you could want: a hexagonal-shaped stabilizer ring for the glass turntable, smart sensor cooking so you don't overcook (or undercook) your food, and an easy-to-clean interior with anti-bacterial coating, for starters.
This post contains products that are independently selected by our editors, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission.
Erin Alexander is the Assistant Editor of Partner Content at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.