Best Over-the-Range Microwaves of 2020

Save space on the counter with a cabinet-mounted model that stands out in Consumer Reports' tests

One of the best over-the-range microwaves in CR's tests.
In CR's ease-of-use test, we assess the results of each of the microwave's quick keys, including the one for popcorn.
Photo: Stephen Yang
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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, such as Home Depot, offer free installation if the purchase price exceeds a certain amount. Below are eight models in a variety of price ranges that perform well in our tests.

There are some drawbacks to OTRs, however. Although they have a built-in exhaust fan, they don’t vent as well as range hoods. 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."

In the lab, we assess how fast and how evenly microwaves heat. A microwave's speed score 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 temperature readings of the food in 20 different spots.

We also incorporate ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction—using survey results from members who purchased almost 58,000 over-the-range microwaves over the past 10 years.

There are more than 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.

Cafe CVM721M2NS5
Cafe CVM721M2NS5

    Cafe 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. In our member survey, Café earns middling scores for 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 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 you 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 LMH2235ST
          LG LMH2235ST

            LG LMH2235ST

            CR’s take: The LG LMH2235ST is a good choice if you often find yourself having to defrost something straight out of the freezer—it earns an Excellent rating in our defrost test. It's impressive at heating foods quickly and evenly, too. Plus, this microwave is one of the quietest over-the-range models in our tests. But like most OTRs, venting is only so-so. It has a sensor to prevent you from overheating your food, and a rack in case you want to cook more than one dish at the same time. LG ranks in the middle of the pack for predicted reliability based on data from our member survey, but gets a Very Good rating for owner satisfaction.

            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 turns the microwave off to keep you from overheating your food. This model earns Very Good ratings for speed of heating and heating evenness, and it vents well, although—like most OTRs—not as well as a dedicated range hood. LG gets average marks for predicted reliability but gets a Very Good rating for owner satisfaction.

              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, allowing you 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.

                  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.