The best over-the-range microwaves of 2023

The best over-the-range microwaves of 2023

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Published Aug 31, 2023 5:00 PM

We live in the age of the air fryer, but a solid over-the-range microwave can still prove useful for just about any level of cook. While microwaves have gotten better looking and easier to use over the years, the underlying technology hasn’t changed all that much. But, in recent years, even professional chefs have again started acknowledging just how handy a tool a solid microwave can be, especially if they leave space for prep work. The models on this list free up precious countertops for your other kitchen gadgets. But they don’t sacrifice performance or features. Between venting into a hood and resting at eye level, the best over-the-range microwaves will spoil you with their simplicity and space savings.

How we chose the best over-the-range microwaves

Like so many other kitchen appliances, you’ll find a wide range of models on the market. Generally, you’ll want to ensure the model you choose fits your culinary needs and budgetary restrictions. It’s easy to lust after the high-end models, but they may have you paying for features you’ll never even use in the first place.

This list of microwaves considers numerous factors, such as overall customer ratings, affordability, and availability. After all, what’s the point in recommending a microwave that isn’t sold in stores anymore? Some brands you may recognize as reliable in reputation, some you may not be familiar with but are long-time trusted kitchen appliance brands.

The best over-the-range microwaves: Reviews & Recommendations

We look at three specifications when buying an over-the-range microwave: wattage, capacity, and external size. Does it heat up fast? Is it big enough on the inside? And exactly how big is it? Answering those questions kicks off your decision tree, sprinkling in some additional features like handle type, color, and digital features.

Best overall: GE JNM3163DJBB

Why it made the cut: This reliable model offers a ton of useful features in an attractive design that would make Jack Donaghy proud.

Specs

  • Capacity: 1.6 cubic ft.
  • Wattage: 1000W
  • Size (inches): 16.7h x 30w x 15d
  • Popcorn button: Yes 

Pros

  • Large capacity
  • Built-in venting system
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Venting is loud

The GE JNM3163DJBB is exactly what you’d expect in a modern microwave, which is why it’s at the top of this list. For most people, a microwave is a utility device that serves the simple purpose of reheating food. With simple digital controls, including an add-30-seconds button, a moderate 1.6 cubic feet of cooking capacity, and no useless novelty features to drive up the price, this is your typical family microwave.

It has a two-speed 300-cfm built-in ventilation system that can get a little loud at times, depending on whether you’re running the fan or not. Its 1000-watts of cooking power delivers quicker performance than a smaller microwave, so it might take some trial and error to get those Hot Pockets right above frozen-in-the-middle but below stuffed-with-hot-lava. 

The GE JNM3163DJBB comes in black, white, and brushed stainless steel to match your current appliance color scheme. There are also some presets, and you can switch the turntable off and on. Overall, the GE JNM3163DJBB meets our expectations of what a microwave should be and how it should perform.

Best budget: Amana AMV2307PFS

Why it made the cut: Often on sale, this microwave is one of the cheapest yet just as powerful options on the market.

Specs

  • Capacity: 1.6 cubic ft.
  • Wattage: 1000W
  • Size (inches): 17h x 30w x 15d
  • Popcorn button: Yes

Pros

  • Push button latch
  • Charcoal filters
  • Powerful vent

Cons

  • No sensor cooking
  • Taller than most microwaves

Coming in usually just above $200, the Amana AMV2307PFS is one of three microwaves produced under the Amana brand, made by Whirlpool. It performs on par with more expensive microwaves, with some distinct differences. First, it’s an inch taller than the standard 16 inches you’ll find with most microwaves. Why is that a problem? Because mounting this microwave can become a pain if you’re replacing an older model. You can’t use previous brackets, and any backsplash tiling above the oven has to be removed. However, once you work that out, it’s a great microwave.

It has excellent ventilation, on par with some more expensive models. Even if you don’t have it hooked into an oven hood (not every kitchen has one), it still quickly disperses the rank odor of your boiling leftovers or burning stovetop mistake through its charcoal filter. 

Additionally, it doesn’t have a traditional handle but rather a push button. If you’ve ever had a handle break off a microwave, or a door unable to close because the latches are worn down, this method is designed to last just a bit longer. As for cool features, prepare to be whelmed: it has an auto defrost. Just slam in your leftover Jalapeno Poppers and let the Amana AMV2307PFS take over. 

Best high-end: Viking RVMH330SS

Why it made the cut: Viking is the closest your kitchen can get to the look and feel of a commercial kitchen.

Specs

  • Capacity: 1.5 cubic ft. 
  • Wattage: 950W
  • Size (inches): 16.5h x 30w x 15.5d
  • Popcorn button: Yes

Pros

  • Instant sensor cooking
  • Stainless steel finish
  • 11 power levels

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Description

The Viking RVMH330SS is the microwave you purchase when your kitchen is as expensive as your annual property taxes. Every restaurant-quality appliance matches, and they always become a talking point with guests as you’re milling around the kitchen island, noshing on reheated pizza. 

This industrial-styled microwave boasts some impressive smart features and a 300-cfm exhaust fan that is on par with most higher-end models. Forget about muddling about, trying to figure out cooking times; this beast has an automatic sensor for cooking, reheating, and defrosting. 

Ergonomically, it mixes digital buttons and press keys for start/stop and light. It also includes a child safety lock, just in case the G.I. Joe figures tend to meet an awful fate given the chance. This unit is a bit heavy at 86 pounds, whereas most microwaves come between 30 and 50, so be sure to really secure those mounting brackets. 

One of the most impressive extra features on this truck of a microwave is its keep-warm feature that will maintain heat for up to 30 minutes. Overall, the Viking RVMH330SS is a luxury microwave that may cost a few hundred north of a grand, but if you want a restaurant-style kitchen without the surprise health inspections, this will get you there.

Best small: Dacor PCOR30S

Why it made the cut: Part convection oven and part microwave, the Dacor offers a sleek over-the-range cooking combination.

Specs

  • Capacity: 1.1 cubic ft.
  • Wattage: 850W
  • Size (inches): 16h x 29.9w x 15d
  • Popcorn button: Yes

Pros

  • Convection microwave
  • Two-level cooking rack
  • Sensor technology

Cons

  • Small inside, standard outside
  • A tad expensive
  • Description

Every space is different; some kitchens don’t have a ton of real estate above the stove. That’s where a more compact model like this comes in handy. The 1.1 cubic feet of space is optimized with a two-level cooking rack, and the control panel features smooth touch controls that only require a quick wipe-down for cleaning.

But if you don’t have a lot of kitchen space and don’t need a family-size microwave, the 850 watts of heating power results in efficient heating for your Salisbury steak. And, as far as kitchen appliances go, its convection cooking option makes the cooking process more efficient, especially if you don’t have to feed an entire Little League baseball team. 

It doesn’t have many special features but includes sensor technology tuned to eight common microwavable items such as potatoes and hot dogs. Depending on your setup, the built-in ventilation system either recirculates the air or pumps it into your vent. The Dacor PCOR30S is a strange little microwave, but it has a sleek look and just enough features to make it an economical choice for life choices that limit attendance at dinner.

Best low-profile: Samsung ME11A7510DS

Why it made the cut: With a height just over 10 inches, this is about as low profile as you can get with an over-the-range microwave.

Specs

  • Capacity: 1.1 cubic ft.
  • Wattage: 1100W
  • Size (inches): 10.75h x 30w x 19.1d
  • Popcorn button: Yes

Pros

  • Slim design
  • WiFi connectivity
  • Voice control
  • Powerful 400-cfm fan

Cons

  • No convection cooking

The only reason that the Samsung ME11A7510DS is not the best overall over-the-range microwave on this list is because of its interior size. Well, that and it has no convection cooking options. Regardless, it’s packed with power and features and a fingerprint-resistant finish with a ceramic blue interior that makes it a great option at a generally fair price. 

Let’s start with eliminating those pesky cooking odors from last night’s salmon. A massive 400-cfm fan provides excellent ventilation without being as loud as some lesser ones, making this microwave tied with its sibling below as the best with exhaust fan. If you are worried about kitchen space, it sits a mere 10.75 inches off your hood cabinets, giving you more space to stir up a roux or tend that goose. But what really sets this microwave apart is its smart features.

Through Samsung’s SmartThings App, you can integrate it into your smart home to adjust settings and use Alexa or Google Assistant to control the microwave with voice controls, and the app provides personalized recipes and meal plans. This is great because, with 1100 watts of power, you’ll have more time to cook more things. From heating up beanie weenies to soup in bowls hotter than the sun, the Samsung ME11A7510DS offers tons of controls, proper ventilation, and special features that really set it apart from most over-the-range microwaves.

Best design: Samsung Bespoke ME21A706BQN

Why it made the cut: The Bespoke line of kitchen appliances from Samsung redefines how traditional appliances appear without sacrificing functionality.

Specs

  • Capacity: 2.1 cubic ft.
  • Wattage: 1000W
  • Size (inches): 17h x 29.9w x 16.5d
  • Popcorn button: Yes

Pros

  • Clean design
  • 400-cfm vent
  • Censor cooking
  • Large capacity

Cons

  • No convection cooking

The Samsung Bespoke ME21A706BQN comes in white glass, navy steel, or Tuscan steel. Once you go bespoke, your choice of finish is just as important to your kitchen design as any special features. For an over-the-range microwave oven, this one mixes a beautiful fingerprint-resistant exterior with features such as glass touch controls and sensor cooking. 

If that’s not enough, the large capacity of 2.1 cubic feet can handle any meal, and even a ragged meatloaf looks pretty within the navy blue, scratch-resistant ceramic interior. The large LED display is easy to read, no matter how many times you have to reset the clock. And all these physical features don’t deter from its performance, as it matches physical brilliance with multiple cooking modes and a sensor that automatically adjusts cooking times. 

Of course, the same things that make the Samsung Bespoke ME21A706BQN great in some eyes are what makes it an appliance to skip for others. While it has great capacity, there’s no convection cooking, and the bespoke design isn’t for every kitchen. It does have a powerful vent at 400 cfm, but it’ll need that for the extra cubic feet. But if you are looking for a microwave that’ll spice up your kitchen design, this is the one for you. 

What to consider before buying an over-the-range microwave

There are three main considerations when purchasing a new over-the-range microwave: price, size, and mounting options. Outside of that, the differences between microwaves are dependent upon your particular needs. Have a large family to feed? Then a higher capacity microwave might be for you. Concerned with style? Something with a few finish options might be the range model you are looking for. Switching from a countertop model to a range microwave oven? Then you should probably check out the exhaust fan capability.

Price

Over-the-range microwaves are generally more expensive than countertop models. They tend to be larger and have to fit the standard hood width of 30 inches. Constructed with specialized exhaust fans and additional features, they can range in price from the low $200s to well over a thousand. However, most over-the-range microwaves worth buying fall between $400-$500. These usually have all the special features you look for in a modern kitchen appliance, like touch controls, turntable controls, and a popcorn button. 

Size

Over-the-range microwaves almost always fall between 29 – 30 inches to fit snuggly in the space above your oven, below the cabinets you don’t use, or the hood ventilation. Beyond the width, these units range in depth and height, dependent on model type. However, most come in around 17 inches in height, save for the ultra-slim models.  

Mounting

Every over-the-range microwave comes with a mounting kit and conversion kit in case you do have a hood to vent into. Regardless, you’ll have to mount the microwave after carefully removing the previous microwave (if there’s one to remove). One tip is to use the packing foam and box to protect the stovetop, in case you drop the microwave, because they tend to weigh a bit much for one person to install. They average around 50 lbs, with some weighing even more. And unless it’s the same model/brand as the one you are replacing, you’ll have to poke new holes in the drywall for a new mounting bracket. In the end, there’s no shame in hiring a handyman to install your new microwave. It can be a rough project for beginners. 

FAQs

Q: What are the advantages of over-the-range microwaves?

You’ll save a ton of counter space, which you’ll quickly fill with an air fryer, toaster oven (unless your new microwave is also a convection oven), or bread maker. Considering how many kitchen appliances exist, it’s nice we can get one off the counter without negating its usefulness. 

The other advantage is venting. A mounted microwave usually comes with a stronger vent than a countertop unit. This vents into your hood or back into the kitchen and comes in handy when cooking something that produces a lot of steam or smoke down on the stovetop.

Q: Are all over-the-range microwaves the same?

Conceptually, yes. They all heat up or cook food and use electromagnetic radiation to do so. They all are mounted over the range, and all of them have some buttons to control the action. Outside of that, differences can be in special features like WiFi connectivity, voice controls, sensors that assist in cooking, and size. It’s all up to your personal preference, whether you want an industrial, sleek, or standard microwave.

Q: Do I need an over-the-range microwave?

Absolutely not. Frankly, most ancillary appliances besides an oven are not actually needed in the kitchen. We don’t need a bread machine to bake bread or a pressure cooker to break down a pork shoulder. It’s all about convenience. A microwave is quick, efficient, and often saves energy. Is that a need? Perhaps in this day and age, as we’re all embracing the hustle, but your needs are completely up to you. 

Final thoughts on the best over-the-range microwaves

The microwave has commercially been around since 1947, though the first version (invented by Raytheon) cost around $20,000. In the late 1970s, the microwave finally became something that people wanted in their homes, and by the late 1990s, over 90% of homes in the United States had a microwave in the kitchen. The point is, the decision isn’t whether to get a microwave; it’s where to put it. Mounting a microwave over the range saves counter space, solves an airflow problem, and serves as a constant eye-level reminder of how far food preparation technology has progressed. So, whether you choose a bespoke microwave, a large-capacity option, or a budget model, it sure beats heating up our food outside in a cave.   

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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