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Microwaves are an essential kitchen appliance for reheating, meal prep, and even defrosting. It’s the most convenient way to make a bowl of popcorn in minutes, defrost last week’s lasagna, or warm up that cold cup of coffee without needing to brew an entirely new pot.
There are a few features that set over-the-range microwaves apart from your standard countertop and newer drawer models. For starters, these appliances won't take up precious real estate on your countertop, they double as ventilating range hoods, and—because there are hundreds of models out there—it won't be challenging to find one that will match your existing stovetop and kitchen aesthetic.
The number one thing to look for in an over-the-range microwave is the size. After all, you can’t install an over-the-range microwave if it doesn’t fit properly in its designated space. Additionally, you should consider what features a model has. Would you like it to double as a convection oven? What about a popcorn setting, a mute button, or WiFi connectivity?
There's a lot to sort through. So we combed through and researched dozens of over-the-range microwaves in various sizes, with different options, finishes, and features.
If you’re in the market for one, we recommend the Whirlpool 1.7 Cu. Ft. Over-the-Range Microwave with Electronic Touch Controls.
Here are the best over-the-range microwaves to help you narrow down your choices.
Best Overall: Whirlpool WMH31017HS 1.7 Cu. Ft. Microwave Hood Combination with Electronic Touch Controls
What We Love: Large dishwasher-safe turntable, charcoal filter helps with odors, quick and powerful heating, easy clean-up
What We Don't Love: Stainless steel handle can get hot when cooktop is in use, no option to stop turntable rotation
Whirlpool's Microwave Hood Combination With Electronic Touch Controls is our top pick for good reason: It has all the basics and quite a few extras, making it a great value. There are even four finishes to choose from—white, black, stainless steel, and fingerprint-resistant stainless steel—so you can easily match the rest of your kitchen appliances.
With 1000 watts of power, it cooks any meal quickly and thoroughly. It even has a generously sized 12-inch turntable to fit in those larger dinner plates. The turntable is dishwasher-safe, making clean-up a breeze. This model also has several preset buttons for cooking and defrosting, including a convenient one to add 30 seconds to the cooking time.
In addition to all its features, there's an adjustable cooktop light, a two-speed fan (which turns on automatically if detects excessive heat output), and a charcoal filter to help remove those pesky cooking odors. You really can’t go wrong with this option.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 29.9 x 15.6 x 17.1 inches | Capacity: 1.7 cubic feet | Wattage: 1000 W
Best Value: Frigidaire FFMV1846VS 1.8-Cubic Foot Over-The-Range Microwave
What We Love: Stylish finish, multi-stage cooking feature, can fit a 9 x 13 baking dish
What We Don't Love: May be costly to change the LED light
The Frigidaire FFMV1846VS is a great over-the-range microwave ideal for anyone who wants many of the features you’d find on a more expensive model.
It checks all of the boxes: Not only does this have a stylish stainless steel finish (and is available in three other colors), but it’s also quite powerful. With 1000 watts as well as 10 power levels, there’s no need to worry about sitting around waiting to reheat a plate of pasta or last night’s roast chicken. Its multi-stage cooking feature, which allows you to choose the power level and cook time in advance, comes in handy during big dinners.
It also has some of the presets that you’d find with more expensive models so you can cook popcorn, soften butter or make a potato with just the touch of a button. It does double as a hood with ventilation and two fan speeds—and it has a heat sensor that can start the fan automatically.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 29.9 x 15.4 x 16.4 inches | Capacity: 1.8 cubic feet | Wattage: 1000 W
Best Splurge: KitchenAid KMHS120KPS 30-Inch 1000-Watt Microwave Hood Combination
What We Love: Stylish exterior, spacious interior, easy to use, smudge-resistant finish, operates quietly
What We Don't Love: Stovetop light may malfunction if microwave isn't installed properly
The KitchenAid 30-inch microwave-hood combination isn’t cheap, but it is worth the price for a larger family. Generously sized at 2 cubic feet, there’s more than enough room to heat large casserole dishes to feed everyone.
With 1000 watts of power, every meal cooks fast, even if you aren’t sure you know how long to cook it for. It also has sensor functions so you don't have to guesstimate when it comes to precise cooking, heating, or defrosting—every time. There are also 16 presets for one-touch cooking. The large 14-inch turntable and interior rack assure it all cooks evenly.
Another great feature of this microwave is its three-speed fan with grease and charcoal filters, so it freshens up your kitchen as you cook. There aren’t too many microwaves that can do that. Furthermore, this model improves on the previous one (KMHS120ESS) with KitchenAid's "PrintShield" coating that's made specially for stainless steel; it helps resist stains and smudges.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 30 x 16.25 x 17.25 inches | Capacity: 2 cubic feet | Wattage: 1000 W
Related: The Best Microwaves
Best Convection: LG LMVH1711ST 1.7 Cu. Ft. Over-the-Range Convection Microwave Oven
What We Love: Beautiful stainless steel construction, spacious rotating turntable can be turned off, heats evenly
What We Don't Love: Baking times for regular convection cooking need to be adjusted when using this appliance, fan is loud regardless of setting
If you’re looking for a microwave and convection oven in one, this LG Over-the-Range Convection Microwave is an excellent choice. With 950 watts, this stainless steel model is a great way to cook and reheat any meal. When used as a convection oven, it can offer up to 1500 watts of power.
Does your current microwave overcook or undercook food? This model is designed to help you get it right and take the guesswork out of cooking. It features humidity-sensing technology that determines when your food is ready and automatically shuts off. So you can say goodbye to dry chicken and cold fish.
This appliance is also smartly designed with hidden vents, to give your kitchen a sleek, seamless look. The ventilation can be installed updraft or upfront, whatever you think is best.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 30 x 15.4 x 16.4 inches | Capacity: 1.7 cubic feet | Wattage: 950 W
Best Low-Profile: Whirlpool WML75011HZ 1.1 Cu. Ft. Low-Profile Microwave Hood Combination
What We Love: Space-saving, easy to install, minimalist design matches with many different kitchen styles
What We Don't Love: Anyone shorter than around 5'5" may have trouble peeking to see progress, the sound at the end of cooking is very soft
If you’re looking for a low-profile microwave, the Whirpool Low Profile Microwave is a smart choice. Well-designed, it saves space yet can fit things such as 7-inch-tall glasses, wide plates, and even large bowls. After all, what’s the purpose of a microwave that can’t fit anything?
Don't let the low profile fool you; this appliance has lots of the useful features you expect from an over-the-range appliance, including three-speed venting, sensor cooking, and an "add 30 seconds" button. Another great feature is the nonstick interior, which helps prevent the inside of your microwave from becoming a mess. All you need is a damp paper towel and perhaps a little bit of elbow grease.
It’s also one of the most sleekly designed microwaves on this list because the controls are concealed, giving it a modern aesthetic that’s a welcome addition to any kitchen. Plus, you only need to tap a button (instead of press) to open it.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 29.9 x 18 x 10.3 inches | Capacity: 1.1 cubic feet | Wattage: 1000 W
Best High-Capacity: LG 2.2 Cu. Ft. Over-the-Range Microwave Oven with EasyClean LMHM2237ST
What We Love: Sleek stainless steel finish is smudge-resistant, intuitive controls, heats food evenly,
What We Don't Love: The digital display is a bit dim, ExtendaVent is made of plastic
If you have a larger family and constantly find yourself cooking bigger portions, the LG Over-the-Range Microwave with EasyClean and Sensor Cook is the right choice for you. With 1000 watts, 10 power levels, and eight sensor cook functions, it can cook any meal with true precision. This means you can quickly reheat everything from coffee to chicken nuggets.
Searing scallops or another type of aromatic dish? LG has you covered with its ExtendaVent. It gives you lots of extra ventilation over your entire cooktop, not just above your backsplash. Smoke and cooking odors will quickly be eliminated. It even has a refillable charcoal filter for extra odor neutralization.
The microwave's interior is designed to be easy to wipe down, cutting down on kitchen chores. LG also built in an energy-saving setting, which turns off the display when not in use.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 29.9 x 15.75 x 17.7 inches | Capacity: 2.2 cubic feet | Wattage: 1000 W
Related: The Best Countertop Microwaves
All the basics and a few special extras make the affordable Whirlpool WMH31017HS 1.7 Cu. Ft. Microwave Hood Combination with Electronic Touch Controls our best bet (view on Home Depot). If you don't want a huge microwave above your stove (but still want all the style and features), then the Whirlpool WML75011HZ 1.1 Cu. Ft. Low-Profile Microwave Hood Combination has everything you'll need in a compact machine (view on Home Depot).
What to Look for in an Over-The-Range Microwave
The size of a microwave is measured in cubic feet. It’s very important to have the correct cavity measurement for the right-sized microwave with an over-the-range unit because you can end up with a microwave that is too large or small to fit. You should also note that external size isn’t always related to the internal capacity because vents, buttons, and control panels take up space.
Wattage is how much power a microwave has. You should look for approximately 1000 watts, although a little less is fine. Just note that the cooking time will be a little bit slower. Try to avoid microwaves with less than 700 watts because your food will likely cook unevenly.
Automatic settings can be very helpful depending on what you like to eat and how often you plan on using your microwave. Microwaves can have a variety of automatic settings for reheating different foods and beverages. These buttons will automatically cook with the proper settings; you don’t have to look them up yourself. A very common example of this is a popcorn setting. Some microwaves may have defrosting settings for common foods like chicken.
Microwaves can have different features depending on the brand, price point, and more. As for what features are best, that is an individual decision. For example, if aesthetics and kitchen design are a priority, look for a hidden control panel feature. This means the buttons are hidden on the inside or behind a moveable panel.
Some other examples of features including sensor cooking, hidden vents, odor control vent, and a button to add 30 seconds to the cooking time.
Is it hard to install an over-the-range microwave?
It isn’t hard, but it may be tricky for those who don’t install appliances. "If you are mechanically inclined, it should not be a problem to install an over-the-range microwave," says Aaron Schwartz, chef at Ranch 45 Local Provisions in Solano Beach, California. "If you are unsure, consult the retail store before you purchase to arrange installation upon delivery."
Do you need to clean the vent from an over-the-range microwave?
Yes, cleaning the vent is a great idea. "A clean vent allows better airflow, which extends the life of your microwave," says Schwartz. "The vent should come out easily, but still be gentle when pulling it out. Do not bend the grates. Run under warm water, wash with soap and a light scrub, then allow it to air dry."
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Amanda Lauren is a freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles about kitchen, home, and lifestyle. She’s used countless different brands of microwaves over the years.
This piece was updated by Fran Sales, associate commerce editor for Simply Recipes and a big fan of her parents' sleek-looking LG over-the-range microwave.
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