Microwaves are convenient appliances when it comes to cooking and warming food. They cook faster than the conventional cookers thanks to their friction heat generated by the vibrating molecules when the microwave is turned on.
You can use the microwave to cook and warm a variety of dishes using a wide range of cookware casserole dishes and your cup which makes it more convenient than your average stove. Moreover, unlike other cookers, the microwave will not heat your kitchen or damage your microwave-safe containers.
What Is An Over the Range Microwave
Over the range microwave, also called an OTR microwave is a combination of a microwave and a range hood. The unit has been designed to be installed over a range or a cooktop. It comes with mounting hardware for quick installation.
The OTR microwave is an excellent choice if you have little space counter space in your kitchen. It works with people that love built-in appliances that match with the rest of their kitchen suite.
By combining the microwave with a ventilation unit, the OTR can utilize the small space in the kitchen effectively. It ensures that all the cooking appliances are located within the same central area.
Here is everything you need to know about the best over the range microwave and how to choose a model that offers value for your money.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Using Your OTR Oven
Given that microwave ovens are unlike conventional cookers, a few rules apply to microwave-specific cooking. Here are some of these tips when cooking with the best over the range microwave.
Do Not Cook with Your Traditional Metal Cookware
Microwaves do not pass through metal. Therefore, your metal cookware will not cook your food. In the breath, avoid using containers with metallic glazing as they may cause sparking.
Beware of Plastics
Not all plastics are microwave-safe. Only use those that are labeled ‘microwave safe. Otherwise, some plastics break down during intense heat and contaminate your food.
Avoid plastics all together when it comes to cooking your food and only use them for reheating it. Heat-resistant glass is the best in this scenario.
Arrange the Foods Carefully so that they Cook Evenly
The location of the food in your cookware determines its cooking rate. Put the thickest parts of the food such as stalks towards the oven wall. Foods of the same size such as potatoes should be cooked together without any other item put between the foods.
Stir Your Food Regularly
Stirring food ensures even heat distribution in your cookware. Turn the food every few minutes so that all the food will be ready at the same time.
Know the Microwaves Power Levels
The power control levels control how often the heating comes on and off during the cooking cycle. For example, a setting of 8 means that the heating occurs on 80 percent of the time while the rest of the time the fan works by circulating the heat. If you do not select a power setting, the default setting of most microwaves is to cook on a high.
Fortunately, most over the range microwaves have an auto cooking function. You need to click on the icon for the food you want to cook or warm, and it will switch off at the end of pre-set time.
Covering food helps the food to hold on to moisture and improves heat distribution. If the lid is plastic, do not let it come into contact with your food to reduce the risk of melting in the food.
Cooking Foods High in Sugar and Fat
These foods are known to cause the cooking containers to be very hot. It is recommended that you use heat resistant glass when cooking the food. Also, be careful when removing the food from the oven to avoid scalding your hands.
Removing Food from the Oven
Given that the oven is high above your counter, there is a risk that you may spill your food as you lift it. Always use an oven mint when removing food to avoid burning your fingers.
Moreover, hold at the middle of your container when lifting food from your microwave. Gentle lower the food to the countertop before taking it elsewhere.
What You Cannot Cook with Your OTR Microwave Oven
Microwaves are extremely useful but cannot cook every food out there. You cannot hard boil an egg by microwaving it. The microwave creates pressure in the egg causing it to burst.
You cannot cook chili papers because they give an awful smell. Green leafy veggies, on the other hand, can spark when exposed to high temperatures. Finally, oils may not heat since there lacks a liquid in most of the oils such as canola, peanut, avocado, and olive oil.
The FDA warns against heating breast milk as it may create some hot spots that may burn your infant’s soft palate. You cannot reheat your bread as it becomes a hard crust that cannot be softened even by butter.
How We Chose Our Ratings
Our ratings were informed by a number of considerations including efficiency, versatility, and performance. We have done in-depth research on the internet to come up with a list of over the top microwaves that are easy to use, convenient and robust.
We have gone through several reviews of the items listed below to establish the pros and cons from customers who are actually using the appliances.
Top Best Over the Top Microwave Ovens
Here are some of the best over the top microwave ovens that you can consider the next time you go shopping.
The LG LMV2031ST comes with a 1000 Watts power and 2.0 cubic feet capacity. It has eight cooking options and ten power control levels. Defrost options comes in three modes, time, auto and Rapid to several reheat and popcorn cooking options.
Also, the model features an EasyClean mechanism that enables you to clean up the microwave without the use of chemicals. The model has good ventilation. This is actually its bestselling feature.
The auto cooking options are brilliant. It figures out the amount of humidity in the food and adjusts the cooking time to match the amount of water in the food.
On the downside, this microwave ovens touchpad is not responsive as compared to its competitors. It has a slightly tinted window which makes it difficult to view the food while it is cooking.
- 1100-watt over-the-counter microwave oven with 1.5 cu. ft. capacity
- 7-digit, 2 color, lighted LCD display
- Keep Warm Plus lets you keep hot foods hot up to 30 minutes after cooking is finished
- Defrost Center sets times and power levels for meats and poultry by weight
This entry model from sharp combines a compact design with smart sensor technology to give a highly effective and space-saving over the top microwave. With just 55lbs, the microwave add not strain on to your cabinet structure.
Sharp R-1214 has 1-5 cubic feet of cooking space. It also boasts of 1100 watts power which makes one of the most power entry-level OTR microwaves. The keypad is well spaced and takes up the entire space below the glass window which makes its operation a lot easier.
You can use any of its four defrost options and 11 sensor cooking options. These settings enable it to automatically set defrost times for your meet and chicken based on weight. Its Keep Warm Plus keeps your hot foods hot for up to 30 minutes after it’s cooked thereby removing the need to reheat the food.
On the flipside, the model lacks a night light and a child safety lock. However, it is still easy to use and energy efficient.
Frigidaire Gallery FGMV175QF
- 300 CFM Ventilation
- 1,000 Cooking Watts
- Sensor Cooking
- Auto Reheat
- Multi-Stage Cooking
Frigidaire Gallery FGMV175QF boasts of 1.7 cubic feet of cooking space and a whopping 1000W of power.
The high power saves you some precious cooking time. Its two-speed hidden vent coupled with its 300 CFM exhaust fan keeps the microwave functioning efficiently. They are good at dealing with strong odors from a variety of foods like fish and chicken.
The oven has a clean look with a stainless steel outer body and a conveniently placed door handle. Its finish is comparable to many top quality models and works with most kitchen design styles.
You can use any of its over seven cooking options that include auto reheat function for your cooked food, sensor cooking depending on your food’s weight and moisture, and multi-stage cooking support for foods that are prepared in more than one method.
On the downside, it has a tiny window at the door which makes viewing food a problem to some users. Moreover, the handle is made of plastic which makes it less likely to last long.
GE adopted a minimalistic approach when manufacturing then GE JVM3160EFES. It has a clean dark grey exterior which is luxuriously finished along with a conveniently placed microwave door.
Also to the design, the microwave has a smooth and very responsive keypad. It features a futuristic blue backlight which looks fantastic as part of your kitchen style.
When it comes to cooking, the microwave feature award-winning one-touch cooking options that allows you to cook various dishes using the preset times. You will find selections like veggies, popcorn, Pizza among others. It has sensor cooking controls that sense the optimal cooking time depending on the weight, type and moisture content in the food.
GE-JVM3160EFES has 1.6 cubic feet of cooking space and 1000 watts of power. The high power cuts the cooking time for most of the foods.
On the downside, the door feels a little clumsy and makes some noise when it is closing. Moreover, the model has a small cooking space compared to models offering more or less the same features. Some people find the light on the LCD too weak to enable easy reading of the settings.
- Automatically adjusts time and power for delicious cooking results
- Worry-free melting of butter, caramel, chocolate and cheese
- Light indicates when odor-removing charcoal filter needs to be replaced
GE JVM7195SKSS boasts of a glossy silver finish and perfectly designed handles and the keypad. It is stainless steel built and compact enough for people who are looking to save on the cabinet space.
This model has a slightly higher cooking space at 1.9 cubic feet which allows you to cook large meals without a problem. The power output of 1000 Watts enables you to prepare your foods in a shorter period.
The model has several cooking features that allow you to prepare a variety of foods conveniently. One of the leading features is the sensor cooking controls that adjust power and cooking time automatically depending on the food. The weight and time defrost feature that automatically sets the defrost time for various foods depending on their weight.
The interior is made of enamel material which makes it easy to clean splatters and spills. It has a steam cleaning feature that softens the grime inside the cooking area using steam for the ease of cleaning.
The major disadvantage is the lack of many pre-set options. The inside is also a little dark which makes it hard to see some of the food when it is cooking.
Given that there tens of over the top microwave models in the market, choosing the right model can be a little tough even if you know what you need in your kitchen. Do not worry as we have done the groundwork for you.
Our guide provides some of the most important aspects to look out for when purchasing an OTR microwave.
Check the Size of the Microwave
The greater the internal size, the more likely the microwave will handle innovative cooking recipes and lots of food. When doing your shopping, look for a model that is at least 1.6 cubic feet or higher depending on your preferences.
You have to be sure of the size of your microwave space when purchasing one. Measure the space on your cabinet with the tape measure and use the readings to determine the size of the microwave that you are going to purchase. There are no two ways about it as you will have to return any microwave that does not fit.
Determine the Cooking Power
The higher the cooking power, the lesser the time your food will take to cook. Do not go for anything that is less than 1000 watts. Such a microwave may take too long to cook food compared to your stove.
Exhaust Fan/Venting Options
Most of the range ovens come with an exhaust fan that has a room for the range microwave. The microwave generally connects to the fan system or comes with an inbuilt fan. Some models have varying speeds which allow you to set the preferred speed for your microwave.
The airflow into the microwave is measured in cubic feet per minute. The more the CFM, it means that more air gets moved every minute. For optimal performance in venting, go for a model that has a CFM of at least 250.
A CFM of 300 and above coupled with variable speed options is the best choice. If your range cooker uses a hood for an exhaust fan, go for a microwave with an in-built fan.
One-Touch Cooking Options
Most microwave manufacturers have made it easy to set cooking times and heat cycles for various food by installing pre-set modes. When cooking some food such as heating a pizza, you only click the Pizza option on the heater, and it does the rest.
These options make cooking convenient and simple. Consider models with a few of these options. However, do not be too engrossed on this feature that you forget about other important features such as sensor cooking and Keep warm functions.
Choose the Design
The OTR microwave will be a permanent feature n your kitchen. Therefore, you need to choose one that looks great and matches with your kitchen design. Brands differ from each other in terms design. Take a look at some of the leading ones including LG, Sharp, Samsung, Kenmore, and Whirlpool.
Find Something within Your Budget
The amount of cash that you have for the microwaves is a limiting factor in your choices. When setting a budget, avoid going to the extremes: the most expensive and the cheapest. Set a budget where you will get a model that has all the basics, a few unique features and a reasonable warranty period of at least 5-10 years.
Buy From Reputable Brands
You do not want to buy something that will need fixing every other day. For that matter, pick an appliance from a reputable manufacturer. Check if the warranty covers critical parts of the microwave as well as the labor for fixing them.
OTR microwaves provide an excellent way to have a microwave while still avoiding cluttering your kitchen with appliances. However, you should ensure that the cabinet is within your reach to lower the chances of spilling food after cooking.
These microwaves are useful cooking appliances on top of your typical stove as they are quicker and more convenient for defrosting, reheating and cooking. Read our buyer’s guide below and choose the best over the range microwave that fits your need, space limitations, and your budget.