For many the microwave is a kitchen hero; speeding up cooking times means piping hot food sooner than if it was oven cooked. But there is more to this little appliance than meets the eye with many offering as many functions as an oven.
This guide is here to help you think about what you want to get out of a new microwave, whilst explaining their functions without using jargon.
Freestanding or Integrated?
When it comes to choosing the right microwave, you could be left with more questions than when you started, but to make it simpler we have outlined the key benefits of each type below.
Freestanding microwaves - These microwaves are the standard counter-top units that most people are familiar with. They range from basic solo models to combination models.
Integrated microwaves - Integrated microwaves range from basic solo models to top-of-the-range combination microwaves. This type of microwave is more expensive than a freestanding model, but have the advantage of freeing up kitchen worktop space.
There is no standard size for microwaves, but many do use a similar design.
Freestanding microwaves differ in size from model to model, so make sure you have enough counter space for it to sit.
Integrated microwaves are also available in a variety of different sizes, ranging from 453mm to 595mm wide. Heights and depths also vary by model, so it is always best to measure up before you buy.
Standard, Grill or Combination?
There's a different type of microwave for every type of person. If you only need a microwave for basic needs such as heating ready meals or defrosting, then a basic microwave would be ideal. If you're looking for a microwave to do do a bit more in the kitchen, then you may want to consider a microwave with a grill or even a combination microwave.
Standard microwaves - Standard microwaves are great for simple tasks like heating milk or ready meals, cooking jacket potatoes, or defrosting frozen food.
Microwaves with grills - Microwaves with a grill offer the convenience of a microwave with the benefit of a grill.
They can be used independently as a stand-alone grill, as well as in conjunction with the microwave. They come with metal racks so you can position the food close to the grill.
Combination microwaves - Combination microwaves have the benefit of a convection oven, which uses fanned hot air, and a grill. They’re fast and economical, halving the cooking time for many foods.
They offer flexibility and convenience; you can microwave, grill or oven cook either at the same time, or independently, at the touch of a button.
Auto-defrost - Enter the weight of the food, and the microwave chooses the best defrosting program.
Vegetable steamer - Some microwaves come with a vegetable steamer, which offers a fast and healthy way to cook vegetables.
Auto-reheat - Enter the weight of the food and the microwave then calculates how long it should take to cook. More expensive microwaves also let you enter the type of food you're cooking, so the cooking time is set more precisely.