Special functions For each of our microwaves we tested Potato, Frozen Entree, Frozen Pizza, Beverage, Popcorn and Reheat when those options were present. Testing the Potato preset requires three rounds of cooking pierced baking potatoes in each microwave using that function. Then, we take the temperature and record the doneness of the potato. For Popcorn, we popped three bags of 3.2-ounce popcorn in each microwave, recording the number of unpopped and burnt kernels. Frozen items follow, with similar temperature recording and notes about doneness. For beverages, we also record the temperature of 1 cup of water after being heated with the Beverage option.
We use frozen personal pizzas and frozen lasagna entrees to test each microwave's ability to cook evenly and accurately. If you're like me, I use my microwave most when I'm heating up leftovers, so we round out each set of tests with a slice of leftover delivery pizza.
We recorded the time and temperature for every test, so we could see which microwaves do their thing most efficiently. At the end of gathering all that data, we have a good picture of both the power and effectiveness of each microwave's specialty functions. And we have popcorn. Lots of popcorn. Of course there's more to consider than just the special presets. What else to consider In this round of microwave testing, we focused on microwaves with 1,000 watts of power or higher. These models are ideal for people who use a microwave to cook often or tend to reheat large meals. Chances are, you'll start your microwave hunt by thinking about what size is right for you. A 2.2-cubic-foot, 1,250-watt microwave isn't necessarily the best option for everyone.
If you're in a tight space or have restrictions on wattage (my college dorm capped us off at a measly 900 watts), then you'll do best to look for compact models under 1,000 watts. Once you've settled on size, consider which functions mean the most to you. If you never eat popcorn but eat a lot of leftover pizza, make sure the model you choose has the single-slice option.
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