There are a wide variety of microwave ovens out there. Firstly you have the three types of microwaves i.e countertop, built-in and over the range microwaves.
Then within those, you have sub-types i.e solo, convection and grilling microwave ovens. These differ in how they heat the food.
On top of that you have certain microwaves that come with high-tech features such as an inverter and even smart technology.
What if you want to keep things as simple as possible? What if you just want a simple countertop microwave oven good enough for a small apartment or an average kitchen?
Fortunately, here in this article we will recommend some of the best simple and basic microwave ovens that you can find at very economical price tags.
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Also Read: Best Microwaves for Small Apartment
What is Considered a Basic Microwave Oven?
Everyone has a different definition of what characterizes a basic microwave oven.
However, according to us, the following three are important factors that make a microwave a simple one.
Microwave ovens come with many different features and modes.
As mentioned earlier, there are generally three different types of microwave ovens. These include countertop, built-in, and over-the-range microwaves.
The countertop, as the name suggests, are those that you place on a kitchen countertop. These are, of course, the most common and basic type of microwaves.
Then you have the built-in microwave which can be installed inside the walls or inside a cabinet. These are expensive and require special trim kits along with specialized skills for installing. These are certainly not basic.
Next you have over-the-range microwave, which again as the name suggests, install on top of your cooking range and certainly require expert help. These aren’t basic ovens either.
Also Read: What is a Countertop Microwave Oven?
Then you have the sub-types. You have the convection, grilling and solo microwaves. These differ in how they heat up the food.
Convection microwave ovens feature a built-in fan that circulates hot air inside. This allows the oven to heat up the food quickly and also allows it to bake and roast.
Grilling microwave ovens have a heating element that can be used for broiling and baking.
Hence that brings us to the Solo microwaves. Solo microwaves are the only sub-types that are the most basic option. They offer just the microwave heating and nothing else.
Finally, you have the inverter technology. A few select microwave ovens, especially from Panasonic, feature the inverter technology.
This has recently become very famous as it replaces the older transformer for an inverter circuit. The inverter circuit promises to supply a seamless power, which in turn improves the consistency of the cooking.
So What is a Simple and Basic Microwave Oven?
We mentioned all the main microwave features above to highlight what comprises a simple Microwave Oven.
A simple and basic microwave oven is a non-inverter countertop microwave with solo heating function.
Microwave ovens come in many different sizes defined by their interior capacity and measured in CU FT or liters.
The interior capacity of a microwave oven ranges from 0.7 CU FT to 2.2 CU FT. This basically translates to a turntable diameter ranging from 10″ to 16.5″ respectively.
To give you a better idea, a small pizza has a diameter of about 10″, medium has 12″ diameter and a standard large pizza has a diameter of 14″ inches.
For us, a simple microwave oven is a small-midsize model that is suitable for simple tasks, accommodates smaller sized dinners plates or serves upto a small family.
Having minimal features and small size, as mentioned above, naturally makes a basic microwave an affordable one too.
If have to spend a lot on one you are definitely not looking into the right option.
List of Best Simple and Basic Microwave Ovens
The following are the best basic microwaves in our opinion. They are affordable and offer minimal and simple features.
- AmazonBasics Microwave – 0.7 CU FT – Most Popular Basic Microwave
- Toshiba EM131A5C – 1.2 CU FT – A Family Sized Simple Microwave
- Panasonic NN-SB458S – 0.9 CU FT – Mid-Range Option
- COSTWAY Retro– 0.7 CU FT – As Simple As It Can Get
- Toshiba ML-EM45P – 1.6 CU FT – Large and Affordable
1. AmazonBasics Microwave – 0.7 CU FT – Most Popular Basic Microwave
One of the most popular basic microwave oven. Features a very compact form factor with a low power rating.
First up we have one of the most popular simple microwave oven out there. Is this a basic microwave? well the name “AmazonBasics Microwave” should already give that away.
But besides that, this is an oven that defines what affordability is. Therefore, in terms of value for money on many factors such dollar/size, dollar/power rating or dollar/feature ratio, nothing beats this oven.
If you came here looking for the most affordable option from a high quality brand then this is, hands down, the best simple and basic microwave oven.
Being a basic option, this is also quite small and comes with a low power rating. Both the 0.7 CU FT capacity and 700W power rating are the minimal specifications you can find in the market.
Hence, this is an option that is suitable for very limited tasks with limited quantity of food at a time. You should not be surprised if it takes longer to heat a certain food item than you average 1000 W microwave oven.
It is worth mentioning here that unlike most countertop microwave ovens, this is a smart oven that integrates with Amazon Alexa for voice enabled commands. While not entirely critical, it is still a neat feature to have on a model that is already cheap.
2. Toshiba EM131A5C – 1.2 CU FT – A Family Sized Simple Microwave
An affordable regular sized microwave oven suitable for most kitchens and for serving the needs of a small family.
If you have a small family and you find the microwave oven mentioned above too small and too weak, then we highly recommend this.
This is a staple kitchen microwave oven that can easily serve the needs of a home chef and a small family.
There are only two main factors to this microwave oven that you can take note off. Firstly, it is a midsize model with a capacity of 1.2 CU FT and secondly it has a fairly high power rating of 1100W.
The turntable diameter on this is about 12.4 inches which is large enough to fit a medium sized pizza.
Not only can this fit decent amount of food, its high 1100 W power can ensure consistency as well as quick heating.
Of course, the larger size and the higher power rating makes this much more expensive than the AmazonBasics Microwave mentioned above. Yet, this is still a simple solo countertop microwave with no over-the-top expensive features.
All in all, if you came here looking for a midsize option, then this is the best simple and basic microwave oven.
3. Panasonic NN-SB458S – 0.9 CU FT – Mid-Range Option
Neither too small nor too big. Excellent for those who need a compromise between affordability and size.
If you find AmazonBasic Microwave too weak and the Toshiba EM131A5C too expensive then this may interest you.
Panasonic NN-SB458S has a capacity of 0.9 CU FT and a power rating of 900W making this a decent oven for a couple or for a small family that has very limited needs from a microwave.
While this oven still falls in the small category, it is certainly a step up from the mini 0.7 CU FT microwave ovens.
So in the end, if a 0.9 CU FT capacity with a fair 900 W power rating interests you, then this is the best simple and basic microwave oven. It is affordable and offers minimal features for ease of use.
4. COSTWAY Retro – 0.7 CU FT – As Simple As It Can Get
A small microwave that is the epitome of simplicity. Ditches digital controls for manual ones.
COSTWAY Retro is the face of what simplicity looks like. This is a bear minimum microwave oven that even ditches digital controls and goes back to old-fashioned roots with manual knob selector controls.
Manual knob selectors is a very rare feature to be found on microwaves. This oven only offers two, one for selecting the power/heat level and the other for selecting the cooking cycle.
Nothing more. There are no buttons, or an LCD screen.
So if you want utmost simplicity than this as basic as it can get.
This microwave oven is also an excellent choice for those who love retro themed appliances and also for elderly.
As far as the size and power rating are concerned, this has 0.7 CU FT capacity and 700W power rating putting this in the same category as the AmazonBasic Microwave above.
The only main drawback to this oven is that it rather costs a lot for a oven that is mini and has manual controls.
In the end, if you are sold by the idea of having minimal manual controls, then this, in our opinion, is the best simple and basic microwave oven.
5. Toshiba ML-EM45P – 1.6 CU FT – Large and Affordable
A simple microwave oven for those who need a larger option with regular standard features.
Finally we have a rather large and a powerful microwave. This microwave oven has a capacity of 1.6 CU FT and a power rating of a very high 1200 Watts.
The 1.6 CU FT translates to a turntable diameter of about 13.6 inches, which is about the size of a large pizza.
If you are looking for a simple option but also one that is large, then this we highly recommend this. Why? because it is easily one of the most affordable option for its size and power.
The rest of the features such as sensor cooking or the position memory turntable are bonus features that you get with the package.
In essence, this is still a solo microwave oven without the convection or grill heating and does not feature an inverter. Hence, for its size and power, this is a basic countertop model.
In short, if you want a larger sized option, then this is the best simple and basic microwave.
Here we reviewed some of the best simple and basic microwave ovens. We also talked extensively about what comprises and defines a basic microwave.
To reiterate this, a basic microwave oven, in our opinion is a small to midsize, non-inverter solo countertop microwave oven. Why? because a microwave such as this is easy to operate, is affordable, does not occupy much counterspace and is easy to install.
We must mention, however, that size is an aspect that heavily depends upon the personal preference and needs. Hence, the selected option above range from small to large, yet they are certainly all as simple as possible for their respective sizes.