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The over-the-range microwave plays a central role in the kitchen in 2020: it serves as a clock, a preparation tool, a cooking device, a reheater, and so much more. For our tests of over-the-counter microwaves, it’s all about capacity – nothing under 1.6 cubic feet of cooking space, venting options, and competent exhaust fans with speed options. We also took into account wattage, with none of our picks falling below 1,000 cooking watts, and power levels, which range from one to ten.
Ultimately, these considerations and tests led us to pick the GE JNM3163DJBB as our top model. It has the “right” features for an over-the-range microwave oven for most kitchens along with a useful number of customization/one-touch features…all at an affordable price. They do so much more than your gas range. Keep reading below to learn more about this excellent GE microwave oven and our other top picks for the year. For more options, also check out our review of the best microwaves.
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Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: The GE JNM3163DJBB offers power, a large cooking capacity, and a sleek design that is sure to look good in any kitchen. This microwave is the best bet if you want the best all-around option.
The GE JNM3163DJBB over-the-range microwave is an excellent choice for modern kitchens. With its classy black design, easy-open handle, and large buttons, the model scores extra high on the usability scale. The additional features also impressed us, primarily because they suit almost any kitchen and can easily fit in many oven arrangements without worrying about compatibility. The 950-watt power rating is average cooking power, but enough to handle most food items without surprises. We also like the 1.6 cubic feet capacity on the GE JNM3163DJBB because it’s the perfect size for families and can handle nearly any size of dish. The venting system is also of note, with its simple two-speed controls and 300 CFM airflow.
There are also a few small but noticeable bonuses which we appreciated with this 950-watt microwave. The turntable can be turned on or off based on what you are cooking, and power levels can either be programmed automatically or switched to manual mode based on your preference. While there aren’t a lot of one-touch buttons, you do get options for popcorn and potatoes, the two most common microwave foods – along with defrosting options by weight or time, reheating options, and a beverage button. There’s a little something for everyone here, and no feature does more than it needs to. The control panel is easy to use as well. If the built-in aesthetic interests you, consider one of the best built-in microwaves. If you prefer something smaller, check out the best countertop microwave.
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Magic Chef MCO160UW is a simple over-the-range microwave that provides a hidden vent design and utilitarian controls with unique cooking options. This microwave is great for all of your quick and easy microwaving needs.
If your kitchen and oven needs are a little smaller, try out this Magic Chef model. With a large 1.6 cubic feet capacity, you can still handle cooking most dishes, and with the 1,000 watts of power you get, you won’t need to worry about extra-long heating times. This 1.6 cubic feet microwave comes with an exhaust fan that isn’t too overpowering with two speeds and a 220 CFM airflow, more than suitable for small kitchens with less active stovetops. However, the food buttons allow you to cook popcorn, potatoes, and similar foods with ease – and there’s even a pizza reheat button in addition to common features like defrosting.
Related: Also check out the best microwave popcorn.
Note that this version only comes in white, so if you need stainless steel microwave, you might need to consider other options. However, the white color is still easy to match in a variety of different kitchen setups. Like other models, the Magic Chef MCO160UW also features a hidden vent that streamlines the whole design and adds a touch of simplicity that defines this utilitarian model. The only downside here is that this simplicity also means there’s a lack of some modern features like sensor cooking. Either way, the Magic Chef MCO160UW is an excellent choice for most kitchens, and one of the best over-the-range microwaves.
Award: Best Value
WHY WE LIKE IT: With the largest cooking compartment on our list and the most powerful fans we’ve seen to date, the Frigidaire FGMV176NTF means business. If you need extra power and cooking capacity, this is the over-the-range microwave for you.
If you’re less worried about compatibility and space, and you’re more concerned with finding a 1000-watt over-the-range microwave large enough for your ambitious cooking projects, you can’t pass up the Frigidaire FGMV176NTF. We’re not saying you can cook an entire chicken in this 1.7 cubic feet over-the-range microwave, but you could certainly reheat one with no trouble at all. The large capacity is certainly one of the biggest selling points here. This Frigidaire FGMV176NTF is perfect for larger plates, platters, and even small pizzas, which makes it particularly suitable for families.
But size isn’t the only thing that made us include the Frigidaire FGMV176NTF on our list. The venting system is one of the most powerful around with two-speed options and 300 CFM airflow. The sensor cooking options will automatically sense and set times for foods like mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, and hotdogs, so if these are some of your favorite foods you know which model will take care of you. The glass-like control panel is also particularly easy to clean, and the model is designed to save energy thanks to its EnergyStar rating. Aside from that 1000-w over-the-range microwave feature, it is also a good-looking stainless steel over-the-range model. It will cook food flawlessly and is easy to clean.
Award: Best Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Samsung ME16K3000AS over-the-range microwave is designed well, with aesthetics in mind. Featuring a stainless steel design and clean lines all around, this microwave is an excellent pick for any kitchen.
There’s nothing quite like stainless steel appliances in your kitchen. They add a level of class that’s just hard to beat. The Samsung ME16K3000AS is a stainless steel microwave with a sleek design that looks good. It’s also super durable and easy to install. We were most impressed by Samsung’s 10-year warranty, though, which covers you in the event you run into defects. This is the longest warranty on our list.
When it comes to cooking, you get four different preset buttons for foods like popcorn, pizza, veggies, and potatoes. Unfortunately, the Samsung ME16K3000AS doesn’t offer a sensor cooking functionality, which adjusts cooking times on the fly based on how done the food is. We liked how you could adjust both the light and fan speed with this microwave, a level of flexibility you don’t see often in over-the-range microwaves. If you need a strong warranty and sleek design, you should definitely consider the Samsung ME16K3000AS.
Award: Best GE Microwave
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s easy to see why another GE microwave made its way onto our list. The GE JVM6175SKSS is powerful and high-tech, with sensor cooking, a specific melt feature, and a powerful 1,000-watt design.
The GE JVM6175SKSS is another excellent over-the-range microwave that’s the best of its class in the GE range of models. With a powerful 1000-watt cooking power and large 1.7 cubic feet internal capacity, you can cook pretty much anything you’d like with this over-the-range microwave. While it doesn’t feature any kind of sensor cooking, you do get a unique melt feature that works perfectly for melting butter, chocolate, and cheese without overcooking the ingredients.
We were also really pleased with the 300 CFM venting system that features two individual speeds to get rid of smoke or odors from your cooktop. The GE JVM6175SKSS is also designed well, with a durable stainless steel finish and an easy-to-clean control panel. The buttons can be a little finicky at times, but not often enough to cause a problem. If you need the best GE over-the-range microwave, then the GE JVM6175SKSS is the pick for you.
Over-the-range units are a little different from countertop models, so we focus more on each kitchen appliance with features that are important to these oven-centric microwaves. That includes:
Whether you choose Samsung or pick GE, some might prefer their microwave black stainless steel, while others might want some color. A stainless steel over-the-range model looks great in modern homes, but not so great in a rustic environment where a stainless steel over-the-range microwave looks out of place. No problem. There’s something for everyone, with models that look great with your coffee makers, rice cookers, toaster ovens, pressure cookers, food processors, and other appliances. And unlike countertop microwave ovens, all will save you kitchen counter space. Most people seem to like stainless steel over-the-range models, but we are all different. One last note: Your microwave should be easy to clean. It is recommended to clean grease filters under the microwave every month, and if your microwave has a charcoal filter, this should be cleaned every six months.
Read More: How to Clean a Microwave Easily
Microwaves, like the GE JVM3160DF and JVM3162DF, make a perfect partner for the average kitchen oven. First, they give you an easy set of controls for your oven fan/ ventilation system, which can siphon away smells and even decrease grease build-up on surrounding cabinets – with multiple fan speeds to increase airflow if necessary. Many over-the-range microwaves also include lights to increase visibility a bit, quick timers that may work much better than your kitchen timer, and other features that help with multiple cooking projects!
Also, if you need a little more than just a microwave, take a look for the best over-the-range microwave convection oven combo or best over-the-range convection microwave – there are a lot of options out there when it comes to smart ovens, and you should find the model that works for your cooking habits best. For some that might be an over-the-range convection microwave oven, while others prefer countertop microwave ovens.
Measure Twice, Buy Once: If you’re wondering how to install over-the-range microwaves or how to remove them, you need to start with measuring. A 36-inch over-the-range microwave may offer a ton of cooking space, but it won’t fit in a space designed for a 24-inch over-the-range microwave. With cabinets usually on at least one side, you don’t really have options to expand the space, either. So measure carefully!
Picking Controls You Don’t Understand: Some of the new sensors and cooking buttons for if you want to cook foods like chicken nuggets are exciting, but it’s usually a mistake to pick controls you don’t really understand. People rarely learn a new microwave cook function– they typically just choose the easiest option. If you’re not already comfortable with a particular set of controls, you may not want to base your buying decision on them. For instance, do you even use an auto cook function on your current microwave? Or the defrost options? Or any of the sensor settings? Extra features are only great when you are going to use them. Additionally, child locks can be purchased to keep your kids safe around the microwave.
Ignoring Your Venting Requirements: There’s not much difference between an over-the-range vs. built-in microwave when it comes to your venting requirements, but don’t get lazy here. Not all microwaves work with all venting setups regarding the direction of the vents, recirculating options, and more. Check out your venting setup and what role your microwave plays in it before you make a purchase! Remember, more CFM is suitable for larger kitchens.
Choosing a Microwave That’s Too Small: The smallest over-the-range microwave may save you money and energy…but it’s not going to do much good if your plates and cups don’t fit inside because the size in cubic ft is too small. Additionally, over-the-range models often need a bit more space than countertop models to fit properly over the oven. This buyer’s guide recommends that you don’t go under one cubic foot of space, if possible. Most range between 1.1 cubic feet and 2 cubic feet. If you’re rethinking what you’re looking for and actually prefer a smaller microwave, you can place the best compact microwave of 2023 on your countertop.
What Else Should You Think About?When looking for the best over-the-range microwave, and you check the price on Amazon or Best Buy, remember to consider how you personally use microwaves before you buy! Our buying guide will help you to make the right choice for your kitchen, with the right price tag of course. It doesn’t matter if you choose a standard microwave or convection cooking with convection ovens.
Additionally, a common question people have when considering an over-the-range convection microwave or any type of microwave is safety, and how they can be properly used without fire or radiation hazards. We have information on if it’s okay to microwave styrofoam, and what sort of portable ovens you can use outside without encountering dangerous chemicals or accidentally ruining your devices. For a more in-depth look at radiation devices and why we all have them in our homes, you can read up on the FDA’s report on microwaves. Also on safety, some OTR microwaves come with a child lock for kids’ safety.
If you want a reminder about measuring properly, here’s a quick form you can download and fill out when comparing specific microwave models for your unique kitchen space. Remember that microwave hoods must be at least 30 inches from the bottom of your cabinets in most setups. You should also spend some time studying your wiring and venting requirements – these can differ based on oven systems, and you don’t want to be caught by surprise with an electrical project or a fan system that doesn’t work in your kitchen.
Today’s popular microwave brands include Panasonic, GE, Sharp, Whirlpool, LG, and Samsung. These companies make many of the popular over-the-range microwaves and convection microwaves that are in homes today like the LG lmv2031st, LG lmhm2237st, (the LG lmv2031st is a favorite) the GE jvm7195sfss, GE pvm9005sjss, the Frigidaire fgmv176ntf, Sharp r1514, the Sharp r1874t, GE jvm3160rfss. The GE jvm7195sfss is another very in-demand model, but these are all outstanding.
When it is time to buy your over-the-range microwave instead of shopping for countertop microwaves for your modern kitchen, make sure that you check prices on Amazon or Best Buy and go over this buying guide so that all of your bases are covered.