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Are you looking for a sleek, modern take and the best microwave in the kitchen– preferably with lots of preset modes to speed up heating time? Then allow us to introduce the best stainless steel microwave of 2019! That means our top picks had to have at a minimum stainless steel frame, a cooking space no smaller than 0.7 cubic feet, and at least two one-touch buttons for automatic cooking.
Of course, the very best microwaves are not only versatile and pretty, but also pack enough power for quick heating. That’s why our #1 pick is the Breville Quick Touch ($235) model as our top pick. This model combines power, size, customization options, and smart features to provide a full range of services that most microwaves simply can’t offer. It also has a large cooking space for bigger meals and many different one-touch buttons, as well as sensors that track steam and can adjust cooking times – all features that we love to see in a microwave.
We try to look carefully at how microwaves handle two very important tasks: heating beverages, and heating food. After all, that’s what most of the best stainless steel countertop microwaves spend their lives doing, right? When it comes to size, we were a little lenient on these models, since the stainless steel design was the most important concern: our models range from 1.2 cubic feet of space to 0.7 cubic feet, so there are options no matter how small your space may be. Our top Breville pick, meanwhile, has a 1100 watt rating which makes it easy to quickly heat foods and was a major factor in our decision to give it the top spot – the other models we chose had lower wattage which means they may take a little longer to cook food. Additionally, we took into account menu settings and features. The Breville Quick Touch, for example, has 33 different menu options, which is the most we’ve ever seen in a microwave.
Related: Have a look at our list of the best small microwave.
Note that while there are plenty of options for the best over the range microwave in stainless steel, we focused primarily on the countertop microwave options. Countertop microwaves are both versatile, easier to match with the rest of the kitchen, and aren’t subject to the spacing needs of a range microwave. However, if you absolutely need a range unit, we suggest you take a look at the brands we picked, and see if there are any sizes out there at work for your kitchen’s particular layout. It’s also smart to take a look at your oven and see what brand it is. If your range is an Emerson or a GE, then you may want to look for a microwave that fits it!
Although you may not notice, microwave efficiency can decrease over time. Even the best built in microwaves or the best over the range microwaves can eventually start to malfunction, take longer to heat food, or break (moving parts around the door are particularly fragile). If your microwave is getting old, then it’s time to replace it!
Related: Check the best speed cooking microwave.
Of course, there are other good reasons to upgrade too. You may prefer to switch in a microwave that matches your other stainless steel appliances (that reminds us of a common question – can you microwave stainless steel? No, no you cannot). Or you may be moving and need a portable microwave to take with you to a new home. Just make sure that you keep your stainless steel microwave clean!
You may also want more power with your microwave. If your current model is only around 700 watts and you’re frequently microwaving for a family, then you may want to upgrade to a model above 1,000 watts for faster, more thorough microwaving. You should also take a look at your plates and cups! The smallest microwaves are often affordable, but only have around 0.7 cubic feet of space, which may not be big enough for your big plates or cups.
Price: $235 | Watts: 1100 | Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet | One-Touch Options: 30 Seconds, Extra Time, 33 Smart Menus| Power Levels: 10
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Smart features galore, and includes both power and space.
“Quick touch” is certainly right. This Breville model amazed us with its large size and vast number of customization options. In addition to the 10 power levels, you also get several welcome smart features, like a reheat option that automatically adjusts the cooking time based on sensors that monitors factors like stream output, and the “Bit More” button that adds a little extra cooking time if it looks like you need it.
These kitchen-friendly features show a microwave that isn’t just going through the motions, but rather one that provides new, innovative features that people actually need. Combine that with the powerful 1100 watt rating, a 1.2 cu ft capacity, power levels dial, and the incredible number of smart menus to choose from, and you get one of the best microwaves we’ve ever seen. The stainless steel design is, to be honest, just a fortunate add-on.
However, as with many of our top models, the caveat is the price: $250 may be a little expensive for some consumers, especially if you are replacing an older model and just want something that works instead of investing in all the bells and whistles. Just as you want the best chef knife to be sharp and fairly priced, the same is true of microwaves. Quality and a good price.
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Price: $60.00 | Watts: 700 | Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet | One-Touch Options: 30 Seconds, 6 Smart Menus| Power Levels: 10
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: A ton of size options and easy cooking buttons make this Danby a winner.
The sleek black/stainless steel design of this Danby model impressed us, but what impressed us even more was the surprising amount of versatility in this little microwave – especially when you consider that it only costs $~60. If you want the best microwave possible for the least price, you’ve found your model.
The wattage may be a little low at 700 watts, but you have 10 power levels to play with, and easy to use, with 6 one-touch cooking buttons for cooking popular foods like potatoes, popcorn, pizza, beverages and so on. There are also options to cook by weight, or speed defrost, or defrost by weight – more advanced options that we’re used to see in larger, pricier microwaves, but were surprised to find on this little powerhouse.
It’s important to note that we picked the version with 0.7 cubic feet capacity. This is definitely a small stainless steel microwave, but 1) outside of super-huge plates you rarely notice this issue and 2)the small size makes it a perfect countertop microwave for an apartment or small living space where you badly need a quick cooking/heating option. However, this microwave is unique among our top picks in that it comes in many different sizes, from 0.7 cubic feet to 1.4 cubic feet. Do you prefer those extra-large plates (or, more rarely, extra-tall canisters)?
Switch to a larger version! It may not be an all-knowing iChef microwave oven model, but it is still one of the best countertop microwaves and it has a handy bit of customization: keep in mind that this is a microwave best for consumers on a budget, and the extra low price will nearly double as you move on to larger versions. You have to pay for space!
Price: $314.98 | Watts: 1100 | Capacity: 1.9 cubic feet| One-Touch Options: 30 Seconds, 3 Food Buttons, Family Snacks, Steam, Soften, Defrost | Power Levels: 10
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Multiple stainless steel options in a powerful over the range model.
If you have an over-the-range convection microwave, you may be looking at these countertop models with a sour face. Don’t worry! We have a model for you, too. This powerful model has an extra-large 1.9 cubic feet of space, and is compatible with a 3-speed, 400 CFM exhaust fan, which can move a whole lot of air very quickly, making this model ideal for large kitchens. It also has a few unique features, including a “Familly Snacks” button and a turntable control button that give you extra customization options. However, if you’re worried most about the stainless steel design, you’ll also love the choice between the 2016 an 2017 stainless steel models – both of which look great.
Price: $116.00 | Watts: 950 | Capacity: 0.8 cubic feet| One-Touch Options: Auto Cook, 60 Seconds, Keep Warm | Power Levels: N/A
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Solid features at an affordable make this an easy choice for quick buyers.
Feel like playing it safe? That’s a good choice! We suggest this Panasonic model, a simpler stainless steel microwave that impressed us with its many solid features, affordability, and all-around middle-of-the-road quality. The 950-watt power rating is enough for even a busy home microwave, and while this shiny stainless steel model doesn’t have a ton of space it’s still suitable for most kitchen needs – and that sleek, square stainless steel look will match most kitchens.
While this model doesn’t offer power levels like many of our other top picks, it does its own customization features for fast decision making. These include a 60 second button (instead of the usual 30 seconds), a delay start option along with a time, keep warm options, and an inverter defrost for extra-fast defrosts. In other words, don’t worry about lack of options!
Forgetting to Measure: Your kitchen space is important, especially if you have a particular corner or shelf where your microwave needs to go. Measure your space carefully, make a note, and always remember to check the stats on microwave dimensions before you buy. Consequently, if you don’t measure, you might damage your microwave drawer when trying to use it.
Ignoring Your Current Specs: Specifically, you probably want to check your wattage and power levels, if possible. If you’re used to operating a microwave with a certain number of watts, set at a certain power, then you may want a similar replacement. Otherwise, you’ll have to mentally readjust all your cooking times.
Buying Based Only on Appearance: Stainless steel looks great, we know, but appearance isn’t everything. Buy based on functionality first, and then worry about how it looks later.
Not Cleaning Your Microwave: Stainless steel in particular can be a little tedious when it comes to fingerprints and stains. Clean your microwave regularly too keep it looking good!
Microwaves are very self-contained devices. While there are some interesting components out there – like an automatic stirrer for soups and liquids – for the most part, the features you buy are the features that you are stuck with. Don’t make a hasty purchase here! Also, remember that whether you want to fry foods at home safely or watch YouTube videos while waiting for your tea to warm up, there are plenty of specialized microwave options out there for you, too.
Additionally, if you want a more traditional microwave oven in a smaller space, then we suggest you take a look at toaster ovens and how they differ from microwaves. A toaster or microwave ovens can provide many traditional cooking effects that a microwave simply can’t handle, but in a space around the same size.