Canstar Blue’s microwave review compares LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Morphy Richards, Breville, Kmart and Sharp on cooking performance, even heat distribution, ease of use and cleaning, cooking functions, appearance & design, value for money, and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
The microwave could arguably be considered the unsung hero of the kitchen. Whether it’s re-heating leftovers, defrosting chicken at the last minute, or even warming up a heat pack… this trusty kitchen appliance has become an essential part of modern homes.
Microwaves are convenient for busy lifestyles, featuring auto programs to take the guesswork out of the cooking equation, plus a compact build that usually doesn’t take up much benchtop space, making them ideal for even the smallest of houses and apartments. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend big to get the best microwave for your household. There are a few cheap microwaves available for under $200, with some even selling for just $50. But are the more expensive models and brands maybe worth paying extra for? Or can you still get all the food-zapping satisfaction you need from a cheaper microwave?
To find out ‘what’s cooking’ in the microwave market, Canstar Blue has surveyed more than 850 Australian consumers for their feedback on their recent microwave purchase(s) within the last three years. Respondents rated brands on cooking performance, even heat distribution, ease of use and cleaning, cooking functions, appearance and design, value for money, and overall satisfaction. Brands that received the minimum survey sample size (30 responses) are featured in our report.
LG turned the tables in our latest survey and rated best with a five-star review for overall satisfaction and in most other research categories!
Here are the best microwave brands in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:
LG plated up a perfect five stars for cooking performance, functions, even heat distribution, ease of use, appearance and design, and overall satisfaction.
Former winner Panasonic rated best for ease of cleaning, as did Morphy Richards, with both brands also achieving full marks for even heat distribution and cooking functions. Panasonic additionally scored the same result for ease of use, while Morphy Richards joined Kmart as one of the top brands for value for money.
Compare top-rated microwave brands featured in our ratings on specs, functions, prices and more.
Making ‘life good’ with several feature-packed microwave ovens, LG has most price points covered with its extensive range. Starting towards the lower end of the price spectrum, the LG 23L NeoChef Smart Inverter Microwave Oven (MS2336DB) provides 1000W of heating power for $259. It’s boasted for its ‘NeoChef’ technology, claimed to offer precise temperature control for defrosting food and avoiding overcooked and unthawed areas. It also features an anti-bacterial coating for easy maintenance, while helping remove up to 99.99% of harmful surface bacteria. Along with this, expect a sleek minimalist design with tempered glass on the front to help create a stylish look.
For larger capacity microwaves, several LG NeoChef microwave ovens offer 1200W of power and boast interior anti-bacterial coating, as well as more even heating and defrosting functionality with LG’s Smart Inverter technology. These models are also claimed to have a stable turntable and to provide 33% faster cooking compared to the LG 1000W conventional microwave oven. NeoChef microwaves also feature an LED lamp that is said to be three times brighter and more energy-efficient than other LG microwaves.
LG’s microwave oven range includes:
LG achieved five-star reviews for cooking performance, ease of use, even heat distribution, cooking functions, appearance and design and overall satisfaction. It got four stars for ease of cleaning and value for money.
Panasonic is one of the first appliance brands to introduce the flatbed microwave, ditching the turntable to provide more usable space and distribute heat more evenly. However, Panasonic still stocks plenty of traditional microwave ovens, with the manufacturer constantly adding new features like sensor cooking, and steam and grilling functions to its range.
On the budget-friendly side, Panasonic offers compact models like the Panasonic 20L Silver Microwave (NN-ST25JM), which offers 800W of heating power, nine auto programs and five heating levels. On the other end of the price spectrum is the family-size 31L 4-in-1 Convection Microwave Oven (NN-CS89L), which offers 36 auto programs and a 1000W power output.
There’s also the 44L Stainless Steel Cyclonic Inverter Microwave (NN-SD79L) for a mid-price option ($549). This model apparently uses Cyclonic Inverter Technology and a 3D Cyclonic Waveform to cook, reheat and defrost food without affecting flavour or texture. This model also features a Genius Sensor to automatically calculate what it considers to be the optimal cooking time for your food, and a Sensor Reheat Function which similarly decides the power level and cooking time.
Some models from Panasonic’s microwave range include:
Panasonic earned five stars for even heat distribution, cooking functions, ease of use, and ease of cleaning. It got four stars for overall satisfaction and everywhere else.
Samsung produces a range of microwaves at somewhat modest prices compared to models on the market with similar capacities and power levels. Samsung microwaves will usually set you back between $179 and $499.
For under $300, Samsung offers several nifty microwaves with SmartSensor Cooking and Humidity Sensor functions which are essentially smart moisture sensors that are claimed to detect the humidity level of food, before suggesting what it considers a suitable cooking time and power level. These are also said to contain a ceramic enamel to ensure only a minimal amount of moisture is absorbed, helping reduce odour transfer.
Samsung’s range of microwave ovens includes:
Samsung scored four-star reviews across most of the table, including for even heat distribution, cooking functions, ease of use and cleaning, appearance, and overall satisfaction. It got three stars for cooking performance and value for money.
Despite only entering the Australian market in 2000 when it became part of the Glen Dimplex Group, Morphy Richards had made waves in the world of appliances decades prior. It’s even claimed to have introduced the first electric iron to the UK, and the first automatic toaster in 1949!
When it comes to microwaves, Morphy Richards has a few options, most of which provide a 34L capacity. You can expect to fork out around $150 to $350, placing the brand towards the low to mid-price range. For a powerful model from the brand, the Morphy Richards 34L Inverter Microwave (MRINV34BLK) provides 1200W of power and contains a turntable with a 31.5cm diameter. It includes features such as digital touch controls, inverter cooking menus, and a child safety lock.
Morphy Richards’ microwave oven range includes:
Morphy Richards received five-star reviews for cooking functions, even heat distribution, ease of cleaning and value for money. It ended on four stars for overall satisfaction and everywhere else.
Breville offers a variety of low to mid-range microwaves that will set you back anywhere between $199.95 and $799. The brand appears to have paid close attention to creating convenience through automatic programs, adding features like Sensor iQ technology, which automatically adjusts the power level to help cook or reheat food correctly and save you from wasting time fiddling around with settings. You can also find one-touch pre-sets and a Power Smoothing Inverter which similarly adjusts the power intensity to provide even heating.
Breville’s The Quick & Easy (BMO300BSS) is the most affordable, offering a 34L capacity, a 1100W power output, five power levels, nine auto-cook menus for oats, pizza, pasta, soup, fish, meat and vegetables and reheat. The Combi Wave 3-in-1 is alternatively Breville’s top-of-the-range model, boasting air fryer, convection oven, and microwave functionalities. It comes with 32L worth of space and up to 1100W worth of heating power (1550W for convection power).
Breville’s microwave oven range includes:
Breville cleaned up with mostly four stars, including for ease of use, even heat distribution and overall satisfaction. It scored three stars for ease of cleaning and value for money.
Kmart offers a line-up of microwaves and benchtop ovens starting from a cheap and cheerful price tag of $48, and maxing out at just under $150. The Kmart 20L Microwave kicks off the retailer’s microwave line with a basic, compact model that provides an output power of up to 1200W. It additionally boasts 10 power levels, six auto-cooking menus and a child safety lock.
For a microwave with oven functionality, the Kmart 30L Convection Microwave Oven might be worth considering. It comes with 2200W of convection power, 10 power levels, eight auto-cooking menus, an LED display and a child safety lock. Despite being on the higher end of Kmart’s product range, this model is still competitively priced at $139.
Other microwave ovens from Kmart include:
Kmart received a five-star review for value for money and four stars in most of the remaining areas, such as cooking functions, even heat distribution, ease of use, and overall satisfaction. It got three stars for cooking performance and appearance and design.
Sharp divides its microwaves into three sizes – compact, mid-size, and large – with most being in the mid-size range. The majority of Sharp microwave ovens tend to cost around $200 to $550, with only a couple of models passing the $1,000 mark. One of the cheapest microwaves available is the Sharp 900W Midsize Microwave (R30A0W), which has 11 power levels and a 31.5cm turntable. This mid-size model also includes eight pre-set menus such as rice and pasta, jacket potatoes, pizza, frozen vegetables and tea & coffee. You can expect to snag this model for $214.
Alternatively, there’s the Sharp 1000W Convection Microwave (R995DST) for $1,129. This gets you inverter and sensor technology, six power levels, 21 auto menus, four cooking sequences, as well as grilling and convection settings in addition to microwave mode.
Sharp’s microwave oven range includes:
Sharp rounded up the results on four stars for cooking performance, ease of use and cleaning, even heat distribution, appearance and design and value for money. It finished on three stars for cooking functions and overall satisfaction.
Finding the right microwave for your kitchen is imperative to make sure you get the most out of your purchase. This is why we have put together a guide to compare prices, sizes, ease of use and cleaning, power, and cooking functions you should be keeping an eye out for.
Microwaves come in all shapes and sizes, but you’ll commonly find these styles in your search for a trusty kitchen appliance.
Different types of microwaves include:
Benchtop microwaves can be placed on the kitchen counter with the rest of your appliances (i.e. kettles, toasters, etc.) and contain more basic automated functionality. The biggest difference between these types of models compared to regular built-in and convection microwaves is that benchtop units are largely designed to reheat or defrost food, rather than cook. The main advantages of benchtop microwaves are their budget-friendly price, plus their convenient auto programs.
Combination microwave ovens must be installed into the kitchen cabinetry, much like a regular oven, and placed in a well-ventilated area. These contain some of the same features you would expect in ovens and convection microwaves, such as grill functionality and inverter technology. Some built-in microwaves even use a fan and heating element. Combination microwave ovens tend to be more flexible and powerful than regular microwaves and come with a wider variety of pre-set menu settings.
Unlike traditional microwaves, which use a magnetic coil to operate, inverter microwaves contain an inverter that keeps the level of power constant in order to ensure even cooking. They can also maintain the same cooking power at lower temperatures, whereas other microwaves need to switch on and off (this can lead to cold spots and burnt edges).
Convection microwave ovens work more like regular ovens than microwaves in that hot air is circulated around to heat the food up. Regular microwaves vibrate food molecules to create friction, with this friction then creating heat from the inside. This is also why some foods can explode in the microwave. So, think of convection microwaves like mini ovens. The major advantage of convection microwaves is that they can actually brown foods just like an oven. This type of microwave can also cook meals from their raw state, rather than simply reheat or defrost. But be prepared to pay extra for a convection microwave.
According to our survey, Australians spend an average of $158 on a new microwave. Naturally, your budget will determine which microwave oven you will ultimately go home with. Are you looking for a quick fix in the kitchen? Or do you want the microwave to do a chunk of the cooking legwork? The good news is you’ll find perfectly capable microwave ovens at many different price points. If you want to spend less than $100, that’ll be no problem. Likewise, if you want to invest in a high-tech cooking buddy, you also have plenty of options. Countertop microwaves are generally the cheapest type but come with basic functionality, while built-in or over-the-range microwaves will be more expensive, but well worth the investment (they may even improve the value of your home) if you’ve got the space and budget.
Think about how often you’re going to use your microwave in the kitchen, and match a model that meets your needs, rather than letting price dictate your choice. That’s because price alone isn’t the sole determiner of value. Be sure to compare the price of a microwave against its advertised cooking functions, features, and design.
Be sure to consider the size and capacity of your next microwave as you may be surprised to learn they’re not all the same size. That in-built compartment in your kitchen will likely be large enough for most models, but as microwave ovens continue to evolve and take on even more functions they can jump rapidly in size. Have a tape measure on hand to avoid disappointment, just like the 6% of survey respondents who wished they bought a different-sized model. Microwave capacities are measured in litres, and can range from 17L to over 30L (more for integrated models). If you’re shopping for a microwave to accommodate family meals, you’ll need something with a capacity of 20L minimum.
Once you’ve decided on the size, there are plenty of stylish varieties to choose from, including plain white models, stainless steel microwaves, models with a sleek black finish for modern households, retro-style microwaves, or modular microwaves with round edges! It’s not all just about heating and cooking food after all – you might also want one that looks good, too! Almost one in five survey respondents (16%) said they bought their microwave to complement other appliances and their kitchen aesthetic.
If you want your microwave oven to do more than heat your food, then menu functions that automatically adjust the settings to cater to specific types of food, such as fish, vegetables and pizza might be worth adding to your checklist. Ever yelled to your mum or partner “how long should I cook it for?” With these functions, you can bet the microwave knows better than you do how long to cook something for. Look for any pre-programmed settings to heat up various dishes and meats, as well as snacks and soups. Other convenient functions often include defrosting and food-specific heating features, helping to save dinner time when you’ve forgotten to take the chicken out of the fridge.
Features to look out for include:
The sweet spot for most microwaves seems to be 800W-1000W. Any less than that and you run the risk of having an inadequate machine for anything but the lightest of heating tasks. More powerful microwaves will simply cook and reheat your food quicker but do not necessarily deliver a better result. If you’ve experienced splattered food all over your microwave, it could be that your microwave is a bit too powerful!
There’s no point in owning a microwave you can’t use properly. All those fancy functions are great, but if you have no plans to use them, you could probably save yourself a few bucks with a basic model. A fifth of consumers surveyed (20%), for example, admitted they didn’t know how to use all the functions on their model. Despite this, 29% of consumers admit to using their microwave more than their oven or cooktop. Interestingly, our survey also found more people use their microwave daily (63%).
When it comes to maintenance, make sure to buy a microwave with removable parts (i.e rotating tray) that are dishwasher-friendly (or can at least be soaked in hot water and detergent). The fact that our research showed 60% of survey respondents clean their microwave regularly proves just how important it is to find a microwave that’s easy to clean. If you’re in the market for a model with fewer crevices to clean up, consider buying a flatbed microwave which is much easier to clean.
Microwave cleaning tips:
Read more: Your guide on how to clean a microwave
The right accessories can lift your cooking game from simply reheating meals to suddenly creating masterpieces in your microwave. While not every model will come with accessories, there are plenty to choose from which you can buy separately if you plan on using your microwave for cooking, including:
Messing around with microwaves is no joke, and it’s really important that you don’t put the wrong materials inside, or you risk ending up with a giant bang and a broken kitchen appliance. The best way to check if something is microwave safe is to look for instructions on the bottom of the container or vessel. In general, glass, plastic and ceramic are microwave-safe, as are paper towels, linen napkins, and waxed paper.
Materials you should NEVER put in the microwave include:
Our most recent consumer review suggests LG may be the best pick, with customers satisfied with the brand on most fronts including for cooking performance, functions, ease of use and overall satisfaction. Samsung and Morphy Richards were also particularly impressive when it came to cooking functions and ease of cleaning, while Kmart appeared to offer decent bang for buck.
If you want all the bells and whistles in your new kitchen mate, there are plenty of models with sensor technology and a wide range of pre-set menu options. But let’s be honest, these functions are only worth paying for if you’re going to use them – otherwise they’re just a waste of money. Have a good think about what you currently do with your microwave – and what you’d like to do – before getting carried away with the product specs.
Also, consider how much you use your microwave. It’s easy to underestimate how much you rely on it – especially when it comes to those busy evenings after a hard day’s work – so investing in a quality appliance that should last for a few years could be a smart move. Our reviews over the years have seen a consistent theme, with premium brands usually dominating customer satisfaction. That’s something to keep in mind, but be sure to compare a range of brands and models before making a final decision on what’s best for your needs and budget.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
*Prices are taken from respective retailers and Appliances Online, correct as of March 2022.
Picture credits: Gaf_Lila/Shutterstock.com, Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com, Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com, goffkein.pro/Shutterstock.com, AndreyCherkasov/Shutterstock.com, goodluz/Shutterstock.com.
You can easily find a variety of microwave ovens from different retailers, either in-store or online. Some include:
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used a new microwave in the last three years – in this case, 854 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
Here are the past winners of Canstar Blue’s microwave oven ratings:
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*Prices correct as of publication date.