The microwave is a bit of a magical thing, if you think about it relative to how long it's been around for. We've been enjoying low-effort cooking with microwaves for decades, but they have been getting better and better over the years. 

It's also one of those appliances that's a little hard to shop for — they largely all look the same, and it can be pretty difficult to know what to look for, beyond price, when you're trying to pick between different makes and models. 

With that in mind, we've rounded up the best models on the market for you, to give you a look at some of the very best options. Read on to find out what's made the cut. 

Our pick of the best microwaves to buy today

Amazon

Panasonic NN-SF464MBPQ

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We're starting with an immediate twist on what you expect from a microwave. This great model from Panasonic ditches the age-old tray, instead letting your put your food anywhere inside it while still getting an even cooking treatment. It's got 27 litres of capacity, more than enough for us.

The extra space you gain by not relying on a tray is the main benefit here, but it's also easy to use and has enough smarts to offer a range of auto-cooking features and defrosting. As with all the brands we've picked, it's also got longevity. What more could you want?

Amazon

Sage by Heston Blumenthal Quick Touch Crisp

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If you want more of a personal touch on the machine you bring into your kitchen, though, perhaps Sage has the answer for you. Heston Blumenthal's signature gives this combination microwave and oven a bit of class. It can defrost, microwave and even grill your food, and is nice and powerful, leading to shorter cooking times. 

Despite having fairly complicated options if you want them, the controls are also simple and easy to use, which is a great combination. Of course, as you might expect given Heston's pedigree, it isn't a cheap option by any stretch. 

Curry's

Samsung MS28J5215AS

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If you fancy spending a little less and don't mind about a celebrity chef having had a little input on its design, Samsung's microwave is a simple, cheerful option. It's much less expensive, but still has a good 28-litre capacity and a range of functions including a plate-warming option that we love (if you're not warming your plates before eating hot food, please start doing so). 

Its design is fairly slick given the price, and might even give off the impression of a bigger investment than you actually made, which is always welcome. 

Amazon

Russell Hobbs RHM2031

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With a classic stainless steel design, and also packing pared-back controls, Russell Hobbs has made a great microwave here and managed to squeeze a grill in, too, at a price that wouldn't normally get you extra features.

That makes it adaptable and useful for different types of cooking and finishes. Its 20-litre size is also on the generous end for a microwave, and a little extra space never hurt anyone in this field. One little feature that we're fond of is the delay timer, which lets you put your dish in but stop it from starting for a period, useful for planning meals in advance and not having to worry during that plating-up rush. 

Amazon

Alexa Smart Oven

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Sometimes smart devices can feel like answers to questions no one was posing, a bit like, "What if a microwave could have Alexa?" Amazon obliged by releasing the Alexa Smart Oven, though still only in the US for now. 

In fairness, it makes this list, not for novelty, but because it is genuinely smart, letting you ask for specific cooking styles with your voice, and packing convection oven, air fryer and food warming tech in the bundle. A temperature probe even lets you check when things are cooked through, making for a feature set that's nearly unmatched. It'll take some getting used to, though, and you'll have to live with the idea of Alexa knowing what you eat and when. 

Amazon

Bosch Serie 2 HMT72M450B

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For our final pick, we've stripped things back to the simplest controls we've found pretty much anywhere on the market (with quality to go with them). This Bosch oven gives you a power dial and a timer, nothing more. The fact that both are analogue dials does mean that you can feel in the lap of the gods at times, but we think it could be worth it for the simplicity that you gain. 

Whatever your ready meal tells you to use, settings-wise, follow those instructions, and you're away. Sometimes there's just no need to make life more complicated.