The 80353 also heated water with little trouble. It warmed our test cup of water to 210°F in 3 minutes, which is impressive.
Unfortunately, the Sensor Cooking mode was barely usable. On average, it overcooked our test potato to 7°F above the target temperature of 185°F, and left the whole thing an uneven mix of hot and cold spots.
The Kenmore 80353 (MSRP $609.99) over-the-range microwave will match your Kenmore range, warm up coffee, and cook snacks for the kids. It features 1100 watts of power—more than many other over-the-range models—and has a straightforward control panel.
Otherwise, there's nothing much to shout about here. It won't revolutionize the way you pop popcorn or change how you steam vegetables, and it didn't outperform its competitors in our lab tests. But it's still worth a look if you appreciate a traditional design and don't want to pay extra for features you might not use.
The Kenmore 80353 sports an inoffensive design. Therefore, it should look good in most kitchens regardless of the decor. Though the handle matches existing Kenmore products, it likely won't clash with your existing range regardless of the brand.
The 2.1-cubic-foot microwave cavity is spacious and should be able to handle multiple dishes at once. The 80353 also features standard settings you would except from similarly-priced over-the-range models, plus a traditional control panel that's easy to understand. Compared to Sharp's text-heavy controls, it's quite user friendly.
The 80353 was average as far as sound is concerned. We measured a sound level of 47.6 dB during normal operations, and 62.2 dB while using the vent fan.
In the end, this microwave was average.
Overall, the Kenmore 80353 fell right around average across almost all of our testing criteria. Our biggest complaint had to do with evenness of dishes like baked potatoes and macaroni and cheese. We measured (and tasted) hot and cold spots that required some serious stirring and reheating. The defrost setting was also a big disappointment and left our ground beef still frozen.
It wasn't all bad: The microwave's built in Popcorn setting managed to pop up a bag with minimal fuss and only a few burnt kernels were left behind. The 80353 did a great job heating up water quickly, and it's also relatively quiet compared with similarly-priced models.
The 80353 struggled to reheat food to an even temperature. When reheating a pre-prepared dish of macaroni and cheese, we measured an overall temperature variance of 10°F within the meal. That means you'll get mouthfuls of hot cheese and cold noodles.
The defrost setting was far more even overall, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Yes, we measured only minimal temperature variance within our defrosted ground beef. Unfortunately, the defrost setting was woefully underpowered: About a quarter (0.26 lbs) of the beef was still frozen at the end of the cycle.
For fans of simplicity
We don't want to pick on the Kenmore 80353. We found it on sale at Sears (the only game in town for Kenmore) for $459, and it does do a few things right: The Popcorn setting was above average and we're happy to see any over-the-range that keeps noise to the minimum. But with so many better-performing over-the-range microwaves out there, it's difficult to recommend this particular Kenmore based on its performance.
That said, if you foster a certain brand loyalty and want a microwave to match your Kenmore range, or if you prefer a traditional control panel and just use your microwave to warm up your coffee and steam vegetables, the 80353 is an option.
Meet the tester
Aside from reviewing ovens and cooktops, James moonlights as an educational theatre practitioner, amateur home chef, and weekend DIY warrior.
Checking our work.
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