Best Over-the-Range Microwaves From Consumer Reports' Tests

Save space on the counter with a cabinet-mounted model

An over-the-range microwave oven being tested in a Consumer Reports lab
An over-the-range microwave oven being tested in a Consumer Reports lab.
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Over-the-range microwave ovens are a good choice if you have limited counter space and/or prefer a built-in appliance that matches the rest of your kitchen appliance suite.

And you can get a new OTR microwave for as little as $200, not including installation costs, which vary. Some retailers, like Home Depot, offer free installation if the purchase price exceeds a certain amount.

But there are some drawbacks to OTRs. Although they have a built-in exhaust fan, it won't vent as well as a range hood. And if you’re short, you might find it challenging to remove a piping-hot bowl of soup from an OTR microwave, because the bottom of the appliance is usually 18 inches or more above the range.

“Some newer over-the-range microwaves are very squat and might be difficult to reach when you open the door or press buttons,” says Ginny Lui, who oversees Consumer Reports’ microwave testing. “Make sure to consider the size and placement of the microwave in your kitchen before you buy one.”

How We Test Microwaves
We assess how fast and how evenly microwaves heat. The speed score in our over-the-range microwave ratings is based on how fast a microwave heats a 1 liter bowl of room-temperature water. For evenness, we put a bowl of cold mashed potatoes in a microwave, heat it for 10 minutes, then take the temperature of the food in 20 different spots.

There are nearly 65 over-the-range microwave ovens in our ratings (and more than 80 countertop models). Here, listed in alphabetical order—not in order of CR rank—are eight OTR picks that deliver outstanding performance in our tests.

Café CVM721M2NS5
Café CVM721M2NS5

    Café CVM721M2NS5

    CR's Take: The snazzy Café CVM721M2NS5 has a recessed handle and hidden digital controls that run along the bottom of the microwave. When you tap on the glass touch screen, the options for time and cooking modes pop into view. In addition to looking good, it cooks well, earning an Excellent rating in our heating evenness test. It's also first-rate at defrosting and operates quietly. A sensor prevents you from overheating your food. According to our member survey, Café earns middling scores for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

    Frigidaire Professional FPBM3077RF
    Frigidaire Professional FPBM3077RF

      Frigidaire Professional FPBM3077RF

      CR’s Take: This Frigidaire Professional model receives Very Good ratings in our tests for speed of heating, noise, and venting. It’s one of the better models we've tested for ease of use, and we found it easy to program straight out of the box, without consulting the owner’s manual. Its ability to heat things evenly is so-so; don't get this model if you tend to heat up large plates of food. Frigidaire is one of the more reliable brands of OTR microwaves, according to a survey of our members.

      GE JVM3160RFSS
      GE JVM3160RFSS

        GE JVM3160RFSS

        CR's Take: We named the well-priced GE JVM3160RFSS a CR Best Buy, meaning it combines performance and value. It earns a Very Good rating for speed of heating and for heating evenness. At this price you don't get such extras, such as a sensor or a rack. But this microwave vents better than many of the OTR models in our test, which helps if you tend to cook a lot of steamy things on the stove, such as pots of pasta. GE has average reliability, according to our member survey.

        GE PVM9005SJSS
        GE PVM9005SJSS

          GE PVM9005SJSS

          CR’s Take: This GE PVM9005SJSS is a good choice for a busy household. It earns an Excellent rating in our heating evenness test, in which we reheat a dish of cold mashed potatoes. Speed of heating is also top-notch, and this microwave operates quietly. Our testers found the GE easy to program, and it vents well, something not all OTRs can accomplish. GE ranks in the middle of the pack for predicted reliability, according to our member survey.

          KitchenAid KMHS120ESS
          KitchenAid KMHS120ESS

            KitchenAid KMHS120ESS

            CR's Take: If you're not a planner and tend to take something out of the freezer to make for dinner when you get home from work, the KitchenAid KMHS120ESS is a good choice for your home. It earns an Excellent rating on our defrosting test, in which we defrost 1 pound of ground chuck. The KitchenAid also aces the heating evenness test and is very quiet. It has a cooking sensor and comes with a rack, in case you want to cook two dishes at once.

            LG LMV2031ST
            LG LMV2031ST

              LG LMV2031ST

              CR’s Take: The LG LMV2031ST is a good choice if you use your microwave to cook and not just for reheating and defrosting. It fits a 9x15-inch baking dish and has a wire rack, allowing you to cook two dishes at once. It’s equipped with a sensor that prevents you from overheating your food by turning the microwave off. This model earns Very Good ratings for both speed of heating and heating evenness, and it vents well, although—like most OTRs—not as well as a dedicated range hood. LG ranks in the middle of the pack for predicted reliability in our member survey.

              Whirlpool WMH53521H
              Whirlpool WMH53521H

                Whirlpool WMH53521H

                CR's Take: A top performer from Whirlpool, the WMH53521H earns an Excellent rating in our heating evenness test, meaning a dish of cold mashed potatoes had few or no cold spots after microwaving. It has a cooking sensor that helps estimate how much time and power you'll need for each dish, and it fits a 9x15-inch dish should you want to cook a casserole. This microwave is very easy to use, and our testers noted that it has no discernible flaws. Whirlpool is one of the most reliable over-the-range microwave brands in our latest reliability survey, with few CR members reporting breakages before five years of use.

                Whirlpool WMH75021HZ
                Whirlpool WMH75021HZ

                  Whirlpool WMH75021HZ

                  CR’s Take: The stainless Whirlpool WMH75021HZ earns a rating of Excellent for defrosting evenness, though other models are more capable when it comes to venting and how fast they can heat food. It’s very quiet, and our testers found it easy to use without thumbing through the manual. It fits a 9x15-inch baking dish, and a sensor automatically adjusts cooking time. Whirlpool is one of the most reliable over-the-range microwave brands in our latest reliability survey.

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                  Over-the-range microwave ovens Rated
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                  Mary H.J. Farrell

                  Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.