If you’re a space conscious homeowner wanting to fill their kitchen with the best appliances for as many purposes as possible, the microwave vs convection toaster oven question can be difficult. Do I need both? Can I just use one and get all the functions I need out of just one?
Microwaves are a staple in almost all modern kitchens because they are fast, they are easy to use, and they don’t take up much space. But they also use harmful microwaves to cook your food. Could they actually be a health risk?
Convection toaster ovens aren’t as fast because they work like small versions of large convection ovens. Does this mean that you don’t need to worry about potentially harmful microwaves, but are they as energy and time efficient? I did some experimenting to find out.
Table of contents
- What’s the difference between a convection toaster oven and a microwave?
- Which is the healthier appliance?
- Which cooks the fastest?
- Which cooks with the most accuracy?
- Which is the most energy efficient?
What’s the difference between a convection toaster oven and a microwave?
There’s a lot of difference between a convection toaster oven and a microwave. Although they can be used for some similar purposes, the way they cook is completely different. Understanding this is key for choosing the correct device for you.
Microwaves cook by using (you guessed it) microwaves. This means that they can heat up food very quickly and even cook a few simple dishes properly. They’re also usually small enough to comfortably sit on a kitchen side and even be stored away if needs be. Using them is easy too – depending on the model you are using, you can put your food into the device and turn the dial or program the desired time on the keypad.
Convection toaster ovens are generally larger devices. This makes storing them a little bit more difficult, so you need to have dedicated space on the worktop. You also need to know how to make the most of their convection settings. As they are circulating heat, they can save on the amount of energy a conventional toaster oven uses. This also gives to more even cooking than a non-convection toaster oven or a microwave oven.
Which is the healthier appliance?
If you are worried about the harmful effects of microwaves, you might want to get a convection toaster oven. Although microwaves in low doses are safe, if your microwave is malfunctioning and is sending its waves outside of the machine, you could be in trouble. This is very rare, however (and you really shouldn’t be using any broken appliance anyway).
Something not a lot of people consider is the harmful effects of burning. When we burn something, it creates carbon layers on our food. This can lead to long-term health conditions such as stomach cancer.
Microwaves don’t cook like an oven or a toaster, so they do not cause burning in the same way that those devices do. This means that microwaves can actually be healthier than a convection toaster oven.
Convection toaster ovens are by no means unhealthy devices, however. Using it properly, you can get evenly cooked, delicious food without a problem. All you need to do is pay attention to whatever you are cooking and you can avoid the harmful effects of eating burnt food.
Which cooks the fastest?
Microwaves are designed to cook fast. Really, their main function is to heat up food. Most people want this task done fast, especially because we’ve been spoiled by how quickly microwaves can do it.
The average cooking time of a microwave is 1 minute per cup of food. If you are reheating larger dishes like chickens, you may need up to 5 minutes to reheat the entire dish. It’s important to note that you can’t actually cook most dishes from scratch in a microwave. Although some have specialized settings for larger dishes, cooking a chicken from scratch will give you dry, unappealing food.
On the other hand, the convection toaster oven can cook a range of food (from scratch as well!), although it takes longer. From my testing, I found that most toaster ovens take between 5 and 9 minutes to reach their optimal temperature. This means that you will still be waiting for the toaster oven to heat up properly when most microwaves will have finished.
The real point I want to push here is that toaster ovens might be slower to reheat things, they are faster at cooking things. Microwaves can’t cook a wide range of dishes, meaning that you can’t rely on them to cook fast at all for many foods.
Which cooks with the most accuracy?
A lot of mid-range microwaves have settings on them that help you adjust the temperature, but they’re not as accurate as the dial on a convection toaster oven.
By using a convection toaster oven’s dial, you can program your device to cook at the exact temperature you need. This is especially helpful for dishes like roast chicken or baked goods when you need an exact temperature.
Microwaves, on the other hand, blast the food and you need to be careful how long the food is being cooked. They’re not very accurate by design – you need to know roughly how heavy your dish is and then you can choose an appropriate temperature. This is also why you need to be careful with even cooking. It is very easy for your microwave to just blast the outside of a dish while leaving the centre cool.
Which is the most energy efficient?
In terms of wattage, convection toaster ovens in the middle range use around 1500W per hour of cooking. This is really good compared to most larger devices (including non-convection toaster ovens), but it doesn’t compare to a microwave.
Microwaves only use 600 to 1200W per hour, meaning they are more energy efficient. This is especially true because you very rarely need to use a microwave for more than a few minutes. Whereas your toaster oven might need 750W to heat up a dish, a microwave might only need 30W (if we need 5 minutes).
Microwaves are great for a lot of reasons. They are fast, they don’t take up much space, and they’re energy efficient. Surely they are my number one pick, right?
But I have to disagree – convection toaster ovens are far better because of their versatility. If you can only afford one of these appliances, then you need to invest in a toaster oven. A microwave cannot cook all the food you need to cook in a microwave, so it is only really possible to use one if you have other appliances to cover its weaknesses.