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Top combi ovens and best buy microwaves


Although numerous gadgets are deemed must-haves, you can’t forget about the humble microwave – no kitchen is complete without one partially due to their impressive versatility. 

Traditionally, microwaves were just used to quickly heat and reheat food but recently they’ve taken on a whole new status, boasting even more additional features for hassle-free cooking, defrosting and even grilling. 

As some microwaves can go well past the £100 mark, it’s worth assessing your needs before making an investment. If you know you’ll solely use your microwave to reheat leftovers, then you probably don’t need a more premium pick with multiple mod-cons. 

If, however, you’re looking for an appliance that can do a bit more, then a combination microwave would be a better investment for you. A combi microwave can boast features including individual cooking programmes for different foods, convection ovens and even grill modes, so you can truly do everything with just one appliance. 

You should also consider power levels, program settings and the size of the physical microwave to make sure it’ll fit comfortably in your space. You also should ensure that the internal capacity of your microwave is big enough to fit your widest plates and tallest containers. 

To help you decide, we’ve tested multiple microwaves, from the budget-friendly to more premium models, and compiled the highest-rated options into this handy list. 

All microwaves we review are rigorously tested by our experts. We inspect every aspect from the design and capacity to the cooking functions, performance and power. 

We then ensure that each microwave is built for purpose, putting them through real-world tests such as defrosting bread, reheating cooked rice and cooking jacket potatoes. 

If you want to add more to your kitchen beyond a new microwave, you might be interested in our other numerous review guides including best air fryer guide, best toasters, best kettles and best coffee machine.

Best microwave at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test microwaves

We test microwaves to see how good they are at their main job. For that, we start with tests designed for the microwave mode only. These include reheating rice and toasting bread, using a thermal camera to see exactly how well (and how evenly) the microwave heats.

We also cook a baked potato, using a microwave-only mode if that’s available, but we’ll use a combi mode, adding convection oven or grill, to see how this works.

Where microwaves have a grill, we test them with bread and see how even the grilling is across as many slices as we can fit into a product.

We’ll also test convection oven settings by heating a baking tray full of ceramic cooking beads, and then using a thermal camera to view how evenly the oven heats.

If there are other key functions, such as air frying, steaming or crisping, we try these out following suggestions in the manual.

Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1

The best overall microwave

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
  • Powerful and fast

The quality of the Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1 is obvious: the intuitive design has a premium feel, and the large LCD, clear buttons and shortcuts make it very easy to use. As a combination microwave, it also works as a convection oven and an air fryer, as well as boasting a grill function and a range of smart programmes and pre-sets.

With its spaceship-like design and proportions, the Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1 isn’t for every kitchen, and it’s also rather pricey. But it’s versatility is handy, as are the combi mode-compatible metal trivet and crisper pan with foldable legs. The manual outlines specific functions, including which receptacle to use for which mode, and recipe ideas are available as an e-book on the Sage website.

Defrosting frozen bread and reheating cooked rice yielded even results overall. The rice itself was prepared using the minimal-effort rice programme. A raw jacket potato took only 7mins to cook in the microwave-only mode, coming out soft and fluffy. Combi mode took longer but resulted in brown, crispy skin and a soft, mash-like middle.

The grill proved a little weak for toasting the defrosted bread, but a combi cooking programme for a 1.6kg chicken browned its skin nicely, and air frying frozen chips crisped them up well.

If you’d like a powerful microwave that can also function as a back-up oven and an air fryer, the Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1 is a solid choice. The smart programmes and combi settings help to take out the guesswork and cut the cooking time of many household staples.

Full review: Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1 review

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Neff N90 C29MY7MY0 Microwave Oven

The best integrated microwave

Pros

  • Powerful and flexible
  • Pyrolytic cleaning
  • Temperature probe cooking

If you want a small integrated microwave oven that has all the features of and is as powerful as a full sized oven, then the Neff N90 C29MY7MY0 Microwave Oven is the one for you. 

Its flatbed design offers up to 45 litres of usable space and includes a full range of automatic oven modes, a grill and an intelligent temperature probe.

The automatic oven modes can be set for different food types and cooking methods but also adjusted accordingly, depending on what you’re making. You can even use the temperature sensor for more precise cooking, which is a brilliant addition on a small appliance.

We found the touchscreen display control to be responsive and easy to swipe through. It usefully shows the estimated cooking time which gets more accurate after the first ten minutes.

If you’d prefer a physical control then you can add on the Twist Pad Flex – a magnetic remote that operates the microwave by attaching to its screen. There’s even a third control option, found in the accompanying Home Connect app. The Home Connect app doesn’t just give you remote control over the oven, it also offers extra options such as ‘crisp finish’, and alerts you when the oven has finished cooking.

Performance wise, we found through our thermal imaging test that heat was well distributed throughout the oven, albeit a touch too powerfully but this is something you can easily adjust.

Using Neff’s Flex design, the N90 is available with a choice of trims and handles in a variety of colours and finishes so you can style the microwave to match other Neff appliances and your kitchen as a whole.

For a microwave oven that has all the power of a full-size model, the Neff N90 C29MY7MY0 is a fantastic choice for those who don’t want to compromise on their cooking.

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Full review: Neff N90 C29MY7MY0 Microwave Oven

Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ Combination Microwave Oven

The best combi oven

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Spacious
  • Self cleaning

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not very intuitive
  • Some uneven results

With its drop-down door, the spacious Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ looks more like an oven than a microwave, but its real shining point are the plentiful auto programmes, covering defrosting, steaming, grilling, roasting and baking.

The oven space is the most generous we’ve seen thanks to the flatbed design and the three tray slots, which allow several items to be cooked at the same time on different levels, further emphasised by the auto programmes’ ability to cook as much as 2kg of meat.

The accessories include a wire shelf, enamel and glass trays as well as a plastic trivet meant specifically for steaming tasks.

One highlight is a humidity-measuring auto sensor combi programme that adjusts the power level and cooking time accordingly and delivers a jacket potato with crispy skin and fluffy texture.

For the steam function, a water tank and a drip tray are located at the bottom of the appliance. The drip tray handily stops water from running onto your worktop when the oven door is opened.

Very conveniently, the NN-CS89LBBPQ is also self-cleaning, with four steam function-based cleaning settings, including deodorisation and cavity cleaning to remove grease build-up inside the oven.

While navigating its touch-sensitive controls and deciphering the various programmes isn’t always intuitive, a thick instruction manual is provided, also featuring some 40 pages of recipes.

Full review: Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ review

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Samsung Easy View Convection Oven with HotBlast Technology MC28M6075CS

The best microwave for automated programmes

Pros

  • Very easy to use
  • Automated cooking programmes work brilliantly
  • Can do many jobs that an oven can do

Cons

  • Need space for all the accessories

If there’s one problem with microwaves, it’s trying to work out how to choose the right setting for the right dish. The Samsung Easy View Convection Oven with HotBlast Technology MC28M6075CS makes this easier, with some very clever automated programmes.

The smartest mode is the Sensor cooking. In this mode, the microwave can cook a range of different ingredients, including jacket potatoes, cauliflower and chilled soup. Measuring the gasses released from foods, the microwave can stop cooking at the optimal point: I found it made my jacket potato perfect: fluffy on the inside, cooked all the way through and not shrivelled up.

HotBlast modes can be used with the baking tray to cook common foods, such as oven chips, using the convection oven feature and blasting air down from the top element. Here, we found the results good, although we did find that an air fryer will give crispier results.

We love the automatic defrost programmes: select the food type and weight, and the microwave handles the rest. Our test bread slices were cool to the touch but not frozen, and leaving them for just a couple of minutes had them ready for sandwiches.

More than just a microwave, the Samsung Easy View Convection Oven with HotBlast Technology MC28M6075CS is a handy convection oven, too. With its very smart automated programmes, it can cook food beautifully with virtually no hassle.

Full review: Samsung Easy View Convection Oven with HotBlast Technology MC28M6075CS

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Russell Hobbs Scandi Digital Microwave

The best budget microwave

Pros

  • Auto-cook programmes
  • Affordable
  • Good cooking results

Cons

  • Fits smaller plates only
  • Not the most intuitive

The Russell Hobbs Scandi Digital Microwave stands out among its affordable peer group due to the addition of a couple of simple auto-cook programmes that calculate the cooking time according to the food’s weight. It’s also not as small as a 17-litre capacity may lead you to believe. However, with a 245mm turntable, it doesn’t fit larger dinner plates.

While the combination of shiny glass, plastic and metal with walnut-imitation wood is a very particular look, likely to have a Marmite effect, the Scandi Digital is available in black, grey, and white to suit different colour schemes.

Its auto-cook menu has eight programmes, for reheating food and microwaving popcorn, beverages, pizza, sliced potatoes, vegetables, meat, and fish. Using the reheat programme, cold, cooked rice came out evenly heated. And a raw jacket potato had a decent texture after just 8mins of microwaving.

This is a handy appliance for anyone looking for some microwaving shortcuts.

Full review: Russell Hobbs Scandi Digital Microwave review

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Hotpoint MWH 26321 MB

The best budget combi oven

Pros

  • Great crisping
  • Wide range of programmes
  • Clear control panel

Cons

  • Some auto programmes are confusing
  • Some unevenness
  • Poorly written manual

The Hotpoint MWH 26321 MB is a mid-range microwave with a flatbed design and built-in grill. Its sleek black design oozes sophistication and the fittings are nicely textured and of high quality.

The MWH 26321 MB’s controls are easy-to-understand and it comes with a wire rack and a baking tray-like crisp plate with handle and rack. The latter is used for crisping tasks, such as programmes for fries and fish fingers, as well as a weight-based Bread Defrost programme, which both defrosts and grills bread and pastries.

The auto programmes are plentiful, but some of them are oddly specific and come with recipes, such as Bolognese Meat or Vegetable Cream Soup. Other programmes include the usual pizza, chicken nuggets, fish fingers and fries, as well as more esoteric options like entrecote and croque monsieur, and a somewhat unnecessary 20-minute Toast programme.

Although there is no combi programme for preparing a jacket potato, the MWH 26321 MB is still powerful enough to cook a 400g potato at 800W microwave power in about 10mins.

While there was some unevenness during defrosting and reheating, this could be resolved by rotating your containers during cooking when stopping to stir or flip your food.

Full review: Hotpoint MWH 26321 MB review

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

FAQs

Do I need additional features in a microwave?

The answer depends on whether you’d use them or not. A grill or convection oven combined with a microwave can give you additional cooking space, or the ability to combine programmes, say grilling and microwaving at the same time, to speed up cooking.

Is there any point in buying higher power microwaves?

The more power, the faster the microwave will cook, but that can be a double-edged sword. Warming up your dinner with the 1000W setting may be overkill and leave you with burnt bits. However, heating water in a jar to steralise it may benefit from higher settings.

Should I buy a flatbed or turntable microwave?

Flatbed microwaves often need food to be turned manually to get even results but you get more space in them and can use irregular-sized pots and containers; turntable microwaves cook more evenly but you’ve got less room and are restricted in the size of container you can use.

How much attention should I pay to internal size?

Measured in litres, the internal size tells you how big the cavity is. The bigger the household, the larger the microwave you’ll want. Also consider use; if you occasionally heat some pasta sauce or reheat the occasional left-overs, then a smaller microwave will do you.

Integrated or freestanding, which is better?

Neither’s better, but integrated models are neater as they’re permanently installed and often have larger capacities. They’re a good choice if you’re having a new kitchen and have place to permanently put a microwave, although seriously consider a combi model that can act as a second oven, as this gives you more cooking options. Freestanding models are generally cheaper and come in a wider range of sizes. As they just plug in, they’re easier to change if something goes wrong, and you can take them with you if you move house. Freestanding models are a good upgrade if you’ve got all of your integrated appliances already, or only have room for a single integrated oven.

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