Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ Combination Microwave Oven Review
A combination microwave that can steam and grill
The Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ may look like an oven, but it also offers a microwave function, as well as grill and steaming abilities. Its capacity is large thanks to the flatbed design and it has three slots that can take several of the provided trays at the same time. What really sets this appliance apart is the long list of pre-sets and automatic programmes, some of which are capable of customising the cooking time by sensing the moisture in the food. While navigating the controls and finding the best cooking method for each food isn’t intuitive, a thick instruction manual is provided. Handily, the steam function also allows for easy cleaning with four specific cleaning settings.
- Self cleaning
- Not very intuitive
- Some uneven results
- UKRRP: £519.99
- TypeThis is a flatbed microwave combination oven, which can act as a conventional oven, grill and steamer.
- PowerThis is a 1000W microwave
- Max temperatureThe oven goes up to 230C
Combination microwaves are well equipped to tackle a variety of cooking tasks – and the Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ Combination Microwave Oven goes even further, with grill and steam functions, as well as an array of programmes featuring various amalgamations of its four cooking modes.
Because of its design, the three slots for trays and the lack of a turntable, the emphasis here seems to be more on the convection function than the microwave. Yet, the NN-CS89LBBPQ also shines in combination modes, particularly with its smart auto sensor programmes.
Design and features
- Minimalist design with touch-sensitive buttons is not exactly intuitive
- Door opens downwards like an oven
- Trays can be positioned at various heights
At the first glance, the NN-CS89LBBPQ appears to be more of a convection oven: its door opens downwards and there’s no turntable inside. Instead, you get various trays, which can be positioned at three different heights, or left at the bottom of the oven.
The glass tray is suitable for all functions, while the plastic trivet is meant for steaming tasks. Not suitable for straightforward microwave cooking, the wire shelf and enamel tray come in handy for grilling, convection and steaming tasks. If you primarily use the microwave feature, you’ll need to find somewhere to store those extra trays.
The oven space is generous here, allowing several items to be cooked at the same time on different levels, further emphasised by the auto programmes’ ability to cook as much as 2kg of meat.
The bottom front part of the appliance also has a drip tray that stops water from running onto your worktop when the oven door is opened. This is particularly useful for the steam function, which also requires filling the water tank – a rectangular plastic box located behind the drip tray.
The NN-CS89LBBPQ’s design is sleek and minimalist: smoked glass and gunmetal give a sense of quality. However, the glass door doesn’t allow for good visibility since it’s a bit too dark and the glass is very reflective. Also, the decision to go with a touch-sensitive panel of buttons means it’s likely to get covered in fingerprints and muck.
The control panel consists of a small LCD and 12 buttons: two for turning the appliance on and off, another two for navigating the menu, Timer/Clock, Steam, Convection, Micro Power, Grill, and Combination, plus Auto Cook for pre-set programmes, and the curiously named Chaos Defrost – a smart defrosting setting that lets you input the weight and type of food (bread or meat).
Navigating the controls takes a little getting used to, not helped by the small LCD that only allows one word to be displayed at a time. Handily, there is a thick instruction manual, and a quick guide to all programmes is provided in a sticker format, so it could be attached to a surface for safekeeping.
The manual also includes general defrosting, cooking and reheating guidelines, as well as some 40 pages of recipes, covering every course, with vegetarian and vegan options, plus bread, cakes and preserves.
The touch-sensitive buttons make a beeping sound when pressed – useful to establish everything is operational, but it can get annoying when a lot of button-pressing is required. There’s no dial, so setting the time means stabbing the up and down buttons for 10-sec intervals. You can hold the button down when setting a longer cooking time and the appliance remains quiet after the initial beep, but this doesn’t apply to mode selection.
The microwave has seven, the grill three and the steam setting has two different power levels, while the oven temperature ranges from 30°C to 230°C. In addition to the 36 smart cooking (counting three for defrosting) and 12 combination programmes, the NN-CS89LBBPQ has four cleaning settings, including deodorisation and cavity cleaning to remove grease build-up inside the oven.
- Regular defrosting proves uneven, while Chaos Defrost yields better results
- Humidity-measuring auto sensor programme delivers a great baked potato
- Cleans itself using steam power
The NN-CS89LBBPQ impressed with its auto programmes and grill setting, while some tasks using its regular microwave and convection functions delivered somewhat uneven results, requiring a longer cooking time.
After 2mins of defrosting two slices of frozen white bread using the low defrost power level, the thermal camera showed some extremes, with the corners of the bread showing white (hot) and the centre of the bread dark purple (frozen). I then had to flip the bread over to finish defrosting, which took another 1min30secs, but by the time the cold centre was warmed up, the already-warm areas were getting a bit cooked.
Chaos Defrost, the setting that speeds up the defrosting process based on the weight of the food, delivered faster results (and a handy reminder to flip the bread over halfway through the process) at 49secs, although the corners of the slices came out warm, while the middle remained cold.
Microwaving two slices of frozen bread at full power proved quickest. After 20secs, the bread was still unevenly defrosted, while another 20secs meant it was starting to get a little too warm, putting the optimal full-power defrost time at around the 30-sec mark.
To toast the bread, I used the highest grill setting with the wire rack in the top position. The grill took 4mins to preheat, and the bread came out evenly browned after another 4mins under the grill.
To test the steam capabilities, I used the Auto Cook steam programme to cook 200g of rice with 300ml of water. This took 28mins and the rice came out still a little wet and chewy. After microwaving it for a further minute at full power, it was perfect. Interestingly, rice is the only automatic programme here with a lower capacity – 200g was the maximum amount of rice allowed.
Reheating 200g of fridge-cold rice with two tablespoons of water at full power, it reached 97°C in the middle in 2mins. According to the thermal camera, there was still some unevenness around the edges, and after stirring the temperature fell to 88°C. Another 50secs took it up to an even 99°C.
After microwaving a raw, fridge-cold 350g baking potato on full power for 3mins on each side and letting it stand for a further minute, it measured 99°C. However, it still had a very noticeable crunch when cut, indicating a hard, uncooked middle. After another 3mins50secs I deemed it edible enough, especially as I was starting to worry about the outer layer drying out too much.
I had much better results using the auto cook programme for jacket potatoes, which benefits from a built-in sensor that measures the humidity of the food and adjusts the power level and cooking time accordingly. After 3mins of assessing the potatoes in the oven, the sensor suggested a 17min50sec cooking time. The 350g test potato came out with a crispy skin and a 98°C internal temperature. While it felt a tiny bit crunchy at the very centre, it was cooked through and mostly pleasantly fluffy.
Using the convection-only setting to cook some frozen roast potatoes and to bake a focaccia, I noted the results came out a little pale compared with the same temperature in my regular oven, requiring extra cooking time. But the focaccia benefitted from the Steam Shot function – a quick blast of steam manually added during baking to enhance the rising process of breads, cakes or pastries.
The steam function and the water tank also proved very useful for cleaning the oven: the 20-minute Cavity Cleaning programme that steamed the inside meant that all the muck could be simply wiped away with a cloth.
Should you buy it?
If you’re after a microwave with an array of automatic programmes, the NN-CS89LBBPQ covers defrosting, steaming, grilling, roasting and baking.
If you’re short on space or looking for a straightforward microwave, there are easier to use as well as more traditional models on the market.
The Panasonic NN-CS89LBBPQ Combination Microwave Oven looks more like an oven than a microwave, but its real shining point is the plentiful auto programmes. With its flatbed design, it has a bigger cooking space than its slightly cheaper rival the Sage Combi Wave 3 in 1.
Instead of Sage’s air fryer, Panasonic here delivers a steamer and a better grill function. But with the less powerful microwave and convection output, the NN-CS89LBBPQ seems to require longer cooking times and higher power/temperature levels than the Combi Wave.
While the latter’s automatic programmes prove a bit rigid, the NN-CS89LBBPQ’s controls are not as intuitive to use, requiring longer menu browsing.
How we test
Unlike other sites, we test every microwave we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Used as our main microwave for the review period
We use a thermal camera to see how well the microwave can defrost frozen bread, using the defrost setting and any automatic programmes.
We cook a baked potato using just the microwave setting and, if available, another using the combi setting.
If there’s a grill option, we toast bread to see how evenly it cooks.
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The microwave has a maximum setting of 1000W
It is a microwave, steamer, conventional oven and grill.
Yes, there’s no rotating plate on this model, so you can microwave large rectangular dishes.