Top combi ovens and best buy microwaves

Microwaves are a fast and easy way to heat up food, but they can also be much more than that. Freestanding or integrated, solo or combination, flatbed or turntable – we’ve tested a variety of models with different power levels, capacities and selection of programmes.

While integrated microwaves are fitted into a specific space, freestanding microwaves often need a certain amount of space between their top/sides and any nearby walls or objects.

The measurements of a microwave are normally linked to its capacity. When picking the right capacity, it’s best to be guided by your household’s cooking needs – but it’s also worth bearing in mind that lower-volume microwaves (20 litres and under) tend to be too narrow for larger dinner plates and sometimes a little low for taller containers.

Solo microwaves are usually fuss-free, straightforward appliances, while combination microwaves come equipped with convection, grill or other functions to tackle a variety of cooking tasks.

But not all combi microwaves are created equal: while the high-end ones have dozens of programmes, the cheaper ones come with only a handful. Some programmes we saw were gimmicky, while some focused on straightforward staples, such as cooking veg, potatoes or fish fillets, and others aimed to take the guesswork out of common tasks, such as softening butter or preparing popcorn.

Power levels varied, with many more expensive microwaves having higher wattages. But if you frequently cook supermarket-ready meals following suggested cooking times for standard 800W ovens, some of the default full power settings can prove too high. Yet, microwaves usually have different power levels, so you should be able to reduce the power on higher-power models to avoid having to calculate a new cooking time.

Another consideration is whether to opt for a flatbed or turntable microwave. While in our tests, turntable microwaves often demonstrated more overall evenness, any perceived unevenness with flatbed microwaves could easily be fixed by rotating food during cooking – stopping to flip or stir the food is often recommended for defrosting or grilling tasks anyway. More importantly, flatbed microwaves often have more space and they can take rectangular dishes that wouldn’t be able to spin on a turntable without hitting a wall.

Having said that, most flatbeds come at mid-range or high-end prices, and the ones we tested were all combi microwaves. With a turntable combi microwave, an important factor to bear in mind is the availability of suitable containers for convection or combi modes – as only round or smaller rectangular shapes will work. The best turntable combis come with an array of accessories and provide metal crisper plates that are still safe to use in combi mode.

Usability was another factor we considered: some microwaves were intuitive, while others demanded constant reference to the manual. Controls can be manual or digital – although manual ones tend to give less precise timings. Some microwaves feature touch-sensitive surfaces, while others rely on buttons and knobs.

We tested the microwaves’ ability to defrost frozen bread, reheat cooked rice and cook raw jacket potatoes. Where available, we also looked at grills’ ability to toast, cooked potatoes in combi mode and tried out any special programmes or features following manufacturers’ recommendations.

In this list, we’ve got microwaves for every budget and need.

How we test

Learn more about how we test microwaves

We test microwaves to see how good they are at their main job. For that, we start with tests designed for the microwave mode only. These include reheating rice and toasting bread, using a thermal camera to see exactly how well (and how evenly) the microwave heats.

We also cook a baked potato, using a microwave-only mode if that’s available, but we’ll use a combi mode, adding convection oven or grill, to see how this works.

Where microwaves have a grill, we test them with bread and see how even the grilling is across as many slices as we can fit into a product.

We’ll also test convection oven settings by heating a baking tray full of ceramic cooking beads, and then using a thermal camera to view how evenly the oven heats.

If there are other key functions, such as air frying, steaming or crisping, we try these out following suggestions in the manual.

Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1

The best overall microwave


  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
  • Powerful and fast

The quality of the Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1 is obvious: the intuitive design has a premium feel, and the large LCD, clear buttons and shortcuts make it very easy to use. As a combination microwave, it also works as a convection oven and an air fryer, as well as boasting a grill function and a range of smart programmes and pre-sets.

With its spaceship-like design and proportions, the Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1 isn’t for every kitchen, and it’s also rather pricey. But it’s versatility is handy, as are the combi mode-compatible metal trivet and crisper pan with foldable legs. The manual outlines specific functions, including which receptacle to use for which mode, and recipe ideas are available as an e-book on the Sage website.

Defrosting frozen bread and reheating cooked rice yielded even results overall. The rice itself was prepared using the minimal-effort rice programme. A raw jacket potato took only 7mins to cook in the microwave-only mode, coming out soft and fluffy. Combi mode took longer but resulted in brown, crispy skin and a soft, mash-like middle.

The grill proved a little weak for toasting the defrosted bread, but a combi cooking programme for a 1.6kg chicken browned its skin nicely, and air frying frozen chips crisped them up well.

If you’d like a powerful microwave that can also function as a back-up oven and an air fryer, the Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1 is a solid choice. The smart programmes and combi settings help to take out the guesswork and cut the cooking time of many household staples.

Full review: Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1 review

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Hotpoint MP676IXH

The best integrated microwave


  • Lots of cooking modes
  • Huge number of accessories
  • Cooks evenly


  • Only space for one oven shelf

The Hotpoint MP676IXH isn’t just a standard integrated microwave: it’s also a grill and convection oven that outperforms a regular oven when it comes to certain dishes. Offering a wide range of cooking modes, including automatic programmes, it gets the basics right and delivers good results.

As a turntable microwave, any containers used for microwaving need to fit onto the turntable and allow it to rotate. Fortunately, the Hotpoint MP676IXH is large enough to even fit the widest of dinner plates.

Hotpoint also provides a huge range of accessories with this model, including a large vegetable steamer, a wire rack, a plate cover to avoid random splatter, and a crisp plate with handle, meant for use with the Crisp Dynamic function. A baking tray that slots into the middle of the appliance is also provided, circumventing the turntable while in convection mode.

While the frozen chips cooked with the Crisp Dynamic mode didn’t quite live up to a specialist air fryer, the Hotpoint MP676IXH’s microwaving is powerful and the grill function excellent, delivering even results.

Full review: Hotpoint MP676IXH review

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ Combination Microwave Oven

The best combi oven

With its drop-down door, the spacious Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ looks more like an oven than a microwave, but its real shining point are the plentiful auto programmes, covering defrosting, steaming, grilling, roasting and baking.

The oven space is the most generous we’ve seen thanks to the flatbed design and the three tray slots, which allow several items to be cooked at the same time on different levels, further emphasised by the auto programmes’ ability to cook as much as 2kg of meat.

The accessories include a wire shelf, enamel and glass trays as well as a plastic trivet meant specifically for steaming tasks.

One highlight is a humidity-measuring auto sensor combi programme that adjusts the power level and cooking time accordingly and delivers a jacket potato with crispy skin and fluffy texture.

For the steam function, a water tank and a drip tray are located at the bottom of the appliance. The drip tray handily stops water from running onto your worktop when the oven door is opened.

Very conveniently, the NN-CS89LBBPQ is also self-cleaning, with four steam function-based cleaning settings, including deodorisation and cavity cleaning to remove grease build-up inside the oven.

While navigating its touch-sensitive controls and deciphering the various programmes isn’t always intuitive, a thick instruction manual is provided, also featuring some 40 pages of recipes.

Full review: Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ review

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Russell Hobbs Scandi Digital Microwave

The best budget microwave


  • Auto-cook programmes
  • Affordable
  • Good cooking results


  • Fits smaller plates only
  • Not the most intuitive

The Russell Hobbs Scandi Digital Microwave stands out among its affordable peer group due to the addition of a couple of simple auto-cook programmes that calculate the cooking time according to the food’s weight. It’s also not as small as a 17-litre capacity may lead you to believe. However, with a 245mm turntable, it doesn’t fit larger dinner plates.

While the combination of shiny glass, plastic and metal with walnut-imitation wood is a very particular look, likely to have a Marmite effect, the Scandi Digital is available in black, grey, and white to suit different colour schemes.

Its auto-cook menu has eight programmes, for reheating food and microwaving popcorn, beverages, pizza, sliced potatoes, vegetables, meat, and fish. Using the reheat programme, cold, cooked rice came out evenly heated. And a raw jacket potato had a decent texture after just 8mins of microwaving.

This is a handy appliance for anyone looking for some microwaving shortcuts.

Full review: Russell Hobbs Scandi Digital Microwave review

Reviewer: Helen Harjak

Hotpoint MWH 26321 MB

The best budget combi oven


  • Great crisping
  • Wide range of programmes
  • Clear control panel


  • Some auto programmes are confusing
  • Some unevenness
  • Poorly written manual

The Hotpoint MWH 26321 MB is a mid-range microwave with a flatbed design and built-in grill. Its sleek black design oozes sophistication and the fittings are nicely textured and of high quality.

The MWH 26321 MB’s controls are easy-to-understand and it comes with a wire rack and a baking tray-like crisp plate with handle and rack. The latter is used for crisping tasks, such as programmes for fries and fish fingers, as well as a weight-based Bread Defrost programme, which both defrosts and grills bread and pastries.

The auto programmes are plentiful, but some of them are oddly specific and come with recipes, such as Bolognese Meat or Vegetable Cream Soup. Other programmes include the usual pizza, chicken nuggets, fish fingers and fries, as well as more esoteric options like entrecote and croque monsieur, and a somewhat unnecessary 20-minute Toast programme.

Although there is no combi programme for preparing a jacket potato, the MWH 26321 MB is still powerful enough to cook a 400g potato at 800W microwave power in about 10mins.

While there was some unevenness during defrosting and reheating, this could be resolved by rotating your containers during cooking when stopping to stir or flip your food.

Full review: Hotpoint MWH 26321 MB review

Reviewer: Helen Harjak


Do I need additional features in a microwave?

The answer depends on whether you’d use them or not. A grill or convection oven combined with a microwave can give you additional cooking space, or the ability to combine programmes, say grilling and microwaving at the same time, to speed up cooking.

Is there any point in buying higher power microwaves?

The more power, the faster the microwave will cook, but that can be a double-edged sword. Warming up your dinner with the 1000W setting may be overkill and leave you with burnt bits. However, heating water in a jar to steralise it may benefit from higher settings.

Should I buy a flatbed or turntable microwave?

Flatbed microwaves often need food to be turned manually to get even results but you get more space in them and can use irregular-sized pots and containers; turntable microwaves cook more evenly but you’ve got less room and are restricted in the size of container you can use.

How much attention should I pay to internal size?

Measured in litres, the internal size tells you how big the cavity is. The bigger the household, the larger the microwave you’ll want. Also consider use; if you occasionally heat some pasta sauce or reheat the occasional left-overs, then a smaller microwave will do you.

Integrated or freestanding, which is better?

Neither’s better, but integrated models are neater as they’re permanently installed and often have larger capacities. They’re a good choice if you’re having a new kitchen and have place to permanently put a microwave, although seriously consider a combi model that can act as a second oven, as this gives you more cooking options. Freestanding models are generally cheaper and come in a wider range of sizes. As they just plug in, they’re easier to change if something goes wrong, and you can take them with you if you move house. Freestanding models are a good upgrade if you’ve got all of your integrated appliances already, or only have room for a single integrated oven.

You might like…

How to use the right microwave power settings

Best Induction Hobs 2020: The 10 best kitchen hobs for every budget



Size (Dimensions)


Release Date

First Reviewed Date

Model Number

Model Variants

Stated Power

Special features

Oven type

Appliance type

Number of ovens

Oven description

Oven grill

Oven microwave

Oven steam

Microwave bed type

Microwave max power

Oven capcity

Source link

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *