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- The Panasonic NN-SN65KB microwave comes with many useful preset buttons and cooks food efficiently.
- We named it the best microwave overall after testing several for our guide to the best microwaves.
- My favorite features include the Sensor Reheat preset for leftovers and the beverage warmer.
If you thought cooking food in the microwave couldn't get any easier, microwaves now come with tons of presets, and some are even smartphone connected. When it comes to picking out the best microwave for your household, you want something that heats food well and is dead simple to use.
After many hours of research, interviewing experts, and testing five microwaves from reputable brands in our guide to the best microwaves, I've learned what sets a great microwave apart from an average one. Key features like even heating, useful preset buttons, and high power output are just a few characteristics essential to the best microwave. The Panasonic NN-SN65KB microwave was our best overall pick out of the five I tested. I'll tell you why below.
Design and specs
The first thing I noticed about the Panasonic microwave is that at 1,200 watts power, it cooked food faster than any other model I tested. It's compact yet spacious inside, with dimensions of about 21 inches by 12 inches by 16 inches, and comes with 11 power levels and five presets, including Sensor Cook Reheat, Coffee/Milk, Turbo Defrost by the pound or kilogram, Popcorn, Frozen Foods, More and Less buttons that add or subtract 10 seconds to the cooking time, and a 30-Second button for quickly adding time.
The buttons themselves are easy to press, and the microwave chimes loudly when it's done cooking. At first glance, this microwave has everything and anything you would need in a standard microwave.
Review of the Panasonic Microwave
Now, it was time to test how well it cooks food. I experimented with the marshmallow test - an actual industry-standard experiment to check for hot and cold spots by heating marshmallows for a set period of time. To conduct this test, I cut parchment paper to the size of the microwave's glass tray and completely covered it with mini marshmallows, leaving no blank spaces. I cooked the marshmallows in the microwave for two minutes on high to see how they expanded and cooked. I noticed they all expanded evenly in this microwave, and at the end of two minutes, there was only a bit of burning in the very center of the marshmallows, which was to be expected since it's the only part that doesn't move as the turntable is spinning.
The microwave's power levels start at P10, the highest cooking level, and go down to P0, the Keep Warm level. P10 is the default setting and the one I used regularly for heating and cooking. I tested the Keep Warm level with a small bowl of stir fry sauce that I left in the microwave on P0 for 20 minutes, and it kept the sauce warm without changing its consistency. You can even set up to three stages of cooking, a great feature if you want to cook food and then automatically keep it warm for a few minutes, or if you are defrosting food and then want to cook it immediately after. This three-stage cooking process really comes in handy when you're multitasking because you can just set it and focus on your other tasks at hand.
Aside from cooking food, the microwave also has a Sensor Reheat feature that works well for reheating leftovers. A chart in the manual tells you what sensor level to select for different types of foods, and I tried it with oatmeal, which is Category 2. I selected the corresponding sensor level and started the microwave. Once cooking, it detects the humidity level of the food inside and starts counting down the cooking time. The oatmeal was perfectly warmed and didn't burn or spill over.
The microwave also comes with a Coffee/Milk preset that reheated my cup of coffee perfectly. As someone who despises when my coffee gets cold, I am constantly reheating it, but nothing is worse than the burnt taste it gets after nuking it in the microwave. I was really pleased to find this preset warmed my coffee up to the perfect temperature while keeping its original flavor.
If you want to make popcorn, this microwave makes it super easy. The Popcorn button features three levels based on the amount of corn you're popping. I tested this with a 3.2-ounce bag of popcorn. None of the popcorn burned and only 23 kernels were left unpopped, so I was pretty pleased with this preset feature.
Cons to consider
I was less impressed with the Frozen Food preset that categorizes food groups into numbers, much like Sensor Reheat. I used this when making frozen mac and cheese and found that the microwave grossly overestimated the amount of time needed to cook it. By the time the microwave chimed, the mac and cheese was overcooked and burned at the edges, so I'd stick to package instructions when cooking frozen foods in this microwave.
I also found the light inside to be too dim, so it was difficult to monitor food while it was cooking. However, the preset buttons heat pretty accurately so I didn't feel the need to constantly monitor my food. Another minor downside is the noticeable fingerprint smudges on the control panel. If you're someone who is vigilant about keeping your appliances smudge-free, you may find yourself wiping this microwave down frequently.
What are your alternatives?
The Panasonic microwave is a good option for most families. However, if you're specifically looking for something with a larger capacity than standard, we tested and like the Panasonic NN-SD975S Microwave. If you want a microwave that can also cook foods like an oven, the Toshiba Microwave Oven EC042A5C-SS is our top choice.
We didn't test over-the-range or built-in microwaves as part of our most recent guide, so if that's something you're after, you'll have to look elsewhere.
The bottom line
At a reasonable price of around $180, the Panasonic microwave is a great option because it has more preset features than your average microwave and it heats food the best out of the microwaves we've tested. It's a great option for your household, even if you have small children since it comes with a child-safety lock, and will fit most, if not all, your needs.
Pros: Five useful preset buttons, 1,200 watts of cooking power (more than most microwaves), includes a child-safety lock button
Cons: Fingerprint smudges are visible, the light inside isn't bright enough to check food while it's cooking, it's loud, Frozen Foods feature doesn't cook accurately, doesn't have Express Cook buttons