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A red countertop microwave in a colorful kitchen.

Best Countertop Microwaves for $150 or Less

6 inexpensive but high-performing models for households on a budget

More than 40 of the 70-plus countertop microwaves in Consumer Reports’ microwave ratings cost $150 or less. And several earned top ratings in our lab tests for heating evenness, defrosting, and quietness.  

Above the $150 threshold, you might be paying a premium for bells and whistles you may not use. So if all you need to do is reheat leftovers, defrost frozen food, or zap a cup of coffee, you might save money by skipping the microwave with the one-touch button for "baking" a potato, for example.

Better to focus on size and a few key specs. The countertop models listed below vary by a few inches in footprint and height. Once you’ve found one that fits, check out the wattage.

“The higher the wattage, the more energy is being delivered,” says James Dickerson, CR’s chief scientific officer. “More energy, in this case, allows your food to transform faster and will save you cooking time.”

Another feature worth noting? Many newer models contain a sensor that monitors the amount of steam that food emits and turns off the machine precisely when cooking is complete.

Here are six microwaves that stood out in our performance tests, all for $150 or less. They're listed alphabetically, not by CR's performance ranking.

1
Frigidaire FFCM1134L[S]

Frigidaire FFCM1134L[S]

CR's take: For folks who use a microwave frequently, the Frigidaire FFCM1134L[S] is a good choice. It’s quiet; in our tests, we measure each machine’s noise level while microwaving on high. Plus, the 1,100-watt machine earned an Excellent rating in the defrosting evenness test we use to determine how evenly a microwave defrosts a pound of ground beef. The Frigidaire is available in stainless steel (shown), black, and white. It's 21 inches wide and 16 inches deep.

    2
    GE JES1656SRSS

    GE JES1656SRSS

    CR's take: With a Very Good rating in heating evenness, the large countertop GE JES1656SRSS features a number of dedicated buttons programmed with settings for items like beverages, popcorn, and pizza. It's also very quiet and gets the job done quickly. Defrosting, however, is not as impressive. It comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor, though you get a five-year warranty on the magnetron—the part that makes a microwave a microwave, by generating the electromagnetic waves that cook food. The appliance measures 22 inches wide and 18 inches deep.

      3
      LG LCS1112ST

      LG LCS1112ST

      CR's take: The LG LCS1112ST is fairly quiet and superb at defrosting. In our tests, it earned a Very Good rating for heating evenness. And though this model lacks a sensor, it does come with a confidence-inspiring 10-year magnetron warranty. This microwave also has plenty of one-touch buttons that you might find on more expensive models, including presets for warming beverages and cooking fresh or frozen vegetables. It measures 20 inches wide by 16 inches deep.

        4
        LG NeoChef LMC1275SB

        LG NeoChef LMC1275SB

        CR's take: This LG costs a bit more than the LG above but if you like a microwave that looks sleek, you may want to try the LG NeoChef LMC1275SB with it's pared-down matte panel of buttons. It's not as intuitive to use as some microwaves because it doesn't have a numbered keypad—you swipe between the minus and plus sign to set the time—but it does have 10 power levels and seven auto-cook options. If you routinely defrost food, this microwave is a good choice. It earned an Excellent rating on our defrosting evenness test, in which our testers see how well a microwave can defrost a pound of ground beef without cooking any part of it. The LG NeoChef LM1275SB comes with a 10-year warranty on the magnetron. It measures 21.5 inches wide by 17 inches deep.

          5
          Panasonic NN-SN736B

          Panasonic NN-SN736B

          CR's take: The Panasonic NN-SN736B isn't even the biggest microwave on this list but can accommodate a 9x15-inch baking dish, which is handy if you're reheating a casserole. It has a doneness sensor, and earned an Excellent rating in our speed of heating test, which gauges how hot food gets in under 5 minutes. It's fairly quiet, and we found the controls easy to use. At this price, it's hard to find another large countertop microwave that performs as well. It has a five-year magnetron warranty, and measures 21 inches wide and 19 inches deep.

            6
            Westinghouse WCM11100SSB

            Westinghouse WCM11100SSB

            CR's take: The reasonably priced Westinghouse WCM11100SSBhas a usable capacity of 0.9 cubic feet, which is ample for a midsized model. In our tests, it earned a rating of Very Good at heating evenness and better than average at defrosting, meaning you can rely on it for a range of cooking needs. This model comes with a five-year warranty on the magnetron and measures 22 inches wide and 16 inches deep.

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              Haniya Rae

              I​’m interested in the intersection between design and technology​—whether for ​drywall or robotic vacuums—and how the resulting combination affects consumers. I’ve written about consumer advocacy issues for publications like The Atlantic, PC Magazine, and Popular Science, and now I’m happy to be tackling the topic for CR. For updates, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@haniyarae).