Canstar Blue’s microwave review has seen Panasonic, Sharp, LG, Samsung, Kmart, Breville and Morphy Richards compared on even heat distribution, cooking functions, ease of use, ease of cleaning, appearance and 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 any home.
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?
That’s where we come in. Canstar Blue has surveyed nearly 900 Australians to find out ‘what’s cooking’ in the microwave market. Respondents were asked to rate the latest microwave oven they purchased on factors like even heat distribution, cooking functions, ease of use, ease of cleaning, appearance and design, value for money and overall satisfaction. Brands that received the minimum survey sample size (30 responses) are featured in our report.
Panasonic topped our microwave ovens review for the second year in a row, with five stars in all categories and for overall satisfaction.
Here are the best microwave brands in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:
Panasonic once again topped our customer satisfaction ratings with five stars in all categories, while most other brands rated four stars overall. Morphy Richards rounded up the scores on three stars.
It’s also worth mentioning that Sharp and LG impressed when it came to cooking functions, both receiving five stars for that category. Sharp scored the same result for value for money, alongside Kmart, while LG achieved an additional full mark for appearance and design.
Compare top-rated microwave brands featured in our ratings on specs, functions, prices and more.
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 Inverter Microwave Oven (NN-SD38HS) which provides a 23L capacity and 1000W of heating power. It features an auto-reheat function for a boost of extra power, as well as a Quick 30 mode to heat food within 30 seconds. It also boasts Panasonic’s inverter cooking technology, stated to deliver more evenly cooked food while preserving texture and flavour, plus preventing food from spilling over.
On the other end of the price spectrum is the family-size 42L Panasonic Convection Microwave Oven (NN-C997S) for $1,349. Different modes available include microwave, convection bake, combination, and grilling. It additionally has a stainless-steel interior for a supposedly easier clean.
Panasonic’s microwave oven range includes:
Panasonic served up five-star reviews across the board including for cooking functions, even heat distribution, ease of use and cleaning, design, value for money and overall satisfaction.
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 between $150 and $450, with only a couple of models passing the $1,000 mark. One of the cheapest microwaves available is the Sharp 900 Microwave (R930A0W), which has 11 power levels and a 31.5cm turntable. This mid-size model also includes six pre-set menus such as rice & pasta, jacket potatoes, pizza, frozen vegetables and tea & coffee. You can expect to snag this model for $206.
Alternatively, there’s the Sharp 1000W Convection Microwave (R995DST) for $1,249. 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 earned five stars for value for money and cooking functions, before receiving four stars for overall satisfaction and everywhere else.
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 $227. 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. It’s claimed to have a stable turntable and provide faster cooking compared to the LG 1000W conventional microwave oven – up to 33% faster in fact. These 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 stars for cooking functions and appearance & design, and scored 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 $199 and $649.
For a $250 budget, Samsung offers several microwaves with smart moisture sensors that are claimed to detect the humidity level of food, before suggesting a suitable cooking time and power. With its ceramic enamel inside, Samsung also boasts a limited odour transfer where only a minimal amount of moisture is absorbed to transfer less smell.
One of these models includes the Samsung 32L Mirror Finish Microwave with Ceramic Enamel Interior (MS32J5133BM). Retailing for $229, it offers 1000W of power output and 16 pre-set cooking programs. This model is stated to keep your food warm for up to 90 minutes, and features auto-soften and melt functions – ideal for chocolate and butter. It also has a ceramic enamel inside, said to be scratch-resistant and resilient against discolouration.
Samsung’s range of microwave ovens includes:
Samsung was rated four stars in the majority of categories, including value for money and overall satisfaction. The only exception was even heat distribution, where it got three stars.
Kmart offers a modest range of microwaves and benchtop ovens starting from a cheap and cheerful price tag of $29, and maxing out at just under $130. The Kmart 20L Microwave kicks off the retailer’s microwave line with a basic, compact model that provides an output power of up to 700W. 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 $129.
Kmart’s microwave oven range includes:
Kmart earned a five-star review for value for money, before landing on four stars for cooking functions, ease of use and overall satisfaction. It got three stars everywhere else.
Breville offers a variety of moderately-priced microwaves that will set you back anywhere between $269 and $749. The brand appears to have paid close attention to automatic programs, adding features like Sensor iQ technology, one-touch pre-sets and a ‘Power Smoothing’ Inverter in a number of its models.
From the affordable end comes Breville’s The Quick & Easy (BMO300BSS), 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.
Breville’s microwave oven range includes:
Breville scored four stars for most categories, including even heat distribution, ease of use and overall satisfaction. It got three stars for 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 with a 34L capacity. You can expect to fork out between $129 and $329, placing the brand towards the low to mid-price range. For a powerful model, the Morphy Richards 34L Inverter Microwave provides 1200W of power and contains a turntable with a 31.5cm diameter. It’s available in either white (MRINV34WTE) or black (MRINV34BLK), and includes features such as digital touch controls, inverter cooking menus and a child safety lock.
Morphy Richards’ microwave oven range includes:
Morphy Richards achieved a four-star review for value for money, before ending on three stars for overall satisfaction and everywhere else.
Did you know Aussies keep a microwave for an average of six years before replacing it? A microwave is somewhat of a long-term investment and as such, there are a lot of factors to consider when buying one, such as price, size and ease of cleaning. Fortunately, most respondents to our survey seem to have made the right choice, with just 9% of those surveyed wishing they’d spent more money on a better model.
Here are some of the other key findings from our survey:
According to our survey, Australians spend an average of $190 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
Be sure to consider the size and capacity of your next microwave, 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, make sure you have a tape measure on hand to avoid disappointment, just like the 7% of survey respondents who wished they bought a different-sized model. Microwave capacity is measured in litres, so consider the capacity of your existing or old model and keep this in mind when picking a new one.
Once you’ve decided on the size, there are plenty of stylish varieties to choose from. It’s not all just about heating and cooking food after all – you might also want one that looks good, too! One in five survey respondents (20%) said they bought their microwave to complement other appliances and their kitchen aesthetic.
There’s no point in owning a microwave that 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. Almost a third of consumers surveyed (27%), for example, admitted they didn’t know how to use all the functions on their model. The portion of consumers who said they use their microwave more than their oven or cooktop has also decreased from 45% in 2020, to 30% in 2021. Interestingly though, our survey found more people still use their microwave daily (66%) up from 63% in 2020.
When it comes to maintenance, it may be worth considering buying a microwave with removable parts that are dishwasher-friendly (or can at least be soaked in hot water and detergent). The fact that our research showed 62% of survey respondents clean their microwave regularly proves just how important it is to find a microwave that’s easy to clean.
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.
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. There are no $50 models here!
The sweet spot for most microwaves seems to be 800W. 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!
It’s evident that you’ll be able to find a new microwave with all sorts of fancy features – if that’s what you want in a new kitchen mate. 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 2021.
Picture credits: Gaf_Lila/Shutterstock.com, Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com, Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com, goffkein.pro/Shutterstock.com, AndreyCherkasov/Shutterstock.com, goodluz/Shutterstock.com.
Our latest microwave ovens review saw Panasonic dominate most satisfaction categories:
You can easily find a variety of microwave ovens from different retailers, either in-store or online. Some include:
Canstar Blue surveyed 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, 865 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.
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*Prices correct as of publication date.