For the small appliance masters out there, choosing what to buy to reheat food can be a bit of a chore. The biggest question for many people now is what wins – microwave oven vs toaster oven? It’s not an easy question at all. We need to look at why you should have one of these devices over the other, especially considering that they have different functions.
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t understand what a microwave oven is, but I’ve found that a lot of people find toaster ovens quite novel and new. If you’ve not heard of a toaster oven, this article is for you. My aim is to show you why you want to own one and how it can improve your life.
I wanted to look at four areas in particular when I was comparing these devices: cooking time, accuracy of cooking, overall safety, and energy efficiency. These are my go-to questions for finding good kitchen appliances, so hopefully you will find them as useful as I do.
Table of contents
- How is a microwave oven different from a toaster oven?
- Does a microwave oven cook faster than a toaster oven?
- Does a microwave oven cook more accurately than a toaster oven?
- Is a microwave oven safer than a toaster oven?
- Is a microwave oven as energy efficient a toaster oven?
How is a microwave oven different from a toaster oven?
I imagine that you know how to use a microwave oven, but do you know how they actually cook? By firing microwaves at the food, your microwave oven cooks by heating the water that is inside our food. This is why stuff that has been in the microwave too long gets dry and crunchy – there’s no water in it.
Unlike other cooking appliances, microwave ovens are also fantastic for being very simple to use. You don’t have to set a specific temperature. Watching the food isn’t necessary. You can just pop your food into the microwave, turn the dial to your desired amount of time (or program it to a pre-set time), and let your microwave zap your food. Easy.
Toaster ovens, on the other hand, are much more like conventional ovens. They always come with a cooking cavity that has a grill to hold food over an element. You can turn the element on or off by turning dials or pressing buttons, much like a conventional oven.
Toaster ovens don’t work as fast as microwave ovens, but they are a lot faster than conventional ones. Because they are about the same size as a microwave (most of the time – you can find appliances that are much bigger and can fit whole pizzas in), they don’t need as much energy to heat and can cook your food in an environmentally friendly way.
Does a microwave oven cook faster than a toaster oven?
Yes, every time. Microwaves are designed to cook food as quickly as possible. As they don’t need to be preheated, you save on that time. As they also don’t rely on the heat in the same way a toaster oven does, you save a lot of time there too.
By using a microwave to cook food, all you have to do is set the timer to the appropriate length of time for the dish you want to cook. This can be a bit of an esoteric art – how long does a microwave need exactly? As a rule of thumb, for every cup of food, you need 1 and a half to 2 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave).
Toaster ovens are still fast cooking appliances, however. They can cook, roast, bake, and broil in less time than a conventional oven. This means that you can prepare some dishes with a toaster oven faster than you can with a microwave.
The fact of the matter is that microwave ovens can (generally) be used for at least some of the functions we use toaster ovens for. Toaster ovens are better for cooking a wider variety of dishes in a faster way.
Does a microwave oven cook more accurately than a toaster oven?
No, not even for the dishes that a microwave oven is designed for. Because the appliance simply blasts the food with microwaves, you don’t get an even, thorough cook like you would with a toaster oven (especially if it is a convection toaster oven).
You can get a degree of accuracy, but that’s not really what microwave ovens are for. When we use a microwave, we are mainly reheating food. That’s why the accuracy of the cook isn’t quite as important – we’re unlikely to undercook something that is already cooked.
Toaster ovens are definitely more accurate as they all have dials, switches, or buttons to set the temperature. This is especially useful when you are trying to cook a difficult dish with your toaster oven. You can’t cook complex or intricate dishes with a microwave oven because of that fact.
Is a microwave oven safer than a toaster oven?
Microwave ovens and toaster ovens are extremely safe devices when they are used sensibly and are in good working order. If you keep your appliances clean and make sure to check for any broken components, you won’t have any difficulties with either a microwave or a toaster oven.
If you don’t, the microwave oven can actually become quite dangerous. Microwaves are extremely dangerous in large doses. Long-term exposure can actually lead to cancer and other serious illnesses.
Most microwaves are built in a way that means they do not work if the door cannot close properly. If you think that microwaves are escaping from your microwave oven, turn it off at the plug and get it repaired or replaced.
Is a microwave oven as energy efficient?
Microwaves win this round as they don’t tend to use more than 600 watts per cooking hour (compared to the 1700 watts per hour from a toaster oven). As you will be cooking for short periods, you will find that cooking a larger dish may only use 10 watts, whereas the toaster oven may need over 1700 watts.
I love my toaster oven and I use it for almost everything, but there are some jobs that microwaves just do better. These include warming up leftovers and heating up water. But that doesn’t mean that I recommend a microwave if you can only afford one.
Toaster ovens are better because they can get your favorite dishes heated up to the optimal temperature without losing the quality you need. This is my biggest reason for preferring the toaster oven – even though a microwave is fast and easy on your wallets, they are no good for cooking things from scratch and can make potentially delicious food into dry, tasteless dinners.