Toaster Ovens vs Microwaves – Which Is Better?

Thinking about getting a toaster oven or a microwave and not sure which might be best?

Toaster ovens are often seen as a more natural cooking method when compared to microwaves, however, both offer a similar capacity. Which is better is likely to depend on what you regularly like to cook.

In this post, we’ll be discussing the basics of each appliance as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you determine whether a toaster oven or a microwave is better.

What Is A Toaster Oven?

A toaster oven is a small kitchen appliance which gets its name as a result of its appearance – it looks like a small oven. The appliance is powered using electricity and has been around since 1910.

The appliance uses heating elements which are situated at the top and bottom of the interior of the appliance to cook a range of ingredients.

Types Of Toaster Ovens

There are two types of toaster ovens. These types differ based on the way the power is used to circulate hot air which in turn cooks the food.

Convection Toaster Oven – A convection oven uses radiant heat which is produced from heating elements situated inside the cooking area of the toaster oven. This heat is then pushed around the entire internal space of the appliance which allows the air to circulate and cook the food evenly.

Conventional Toaster Oven – These appliances also use radiant heat which is produced from the heating elements inside of the internal area of the appliance. However, they don’t have a fan which then circulates the air.

As a result, conventional toaster ovens take longer to heat up and can result in burning spots or undercooked areas in your meal.

What you may be confused by when discussing the types of toaster ovens is the difference between traditional toasters and toaster ovens specifically.

Benefits Of A Toaster Oven

The benefits of a toaster oven includes;

Small – These appliances are relatively small and are therefore well suited to kitchens with little counter space.

Portable – Toaster ovens are relatively portable making them a great kitchen appliance for vacations and in RV’s.

Versatile – There’s a number of different ingredients and a number of different things you can cook inside a toaster oven.

Energy Efficient – Being a relatively small appliance they don’t require much power and are often available in power capacity of between 1200 watts and 1800 watts.

Easy To Use – Despite being incredibly versatile a toaster oven is still relatively easy to use.

Multiple Capacities – Given the increase in popularity of toaster ovens over the past couple of decades, there’s a number of makes, models and capacities for buyers to choose from. Which means you’re able to buy one that specifically fits your needs.

Easy To Clean – This appliance has an open body and large door which makes accessing the interior for cleaning relatively easy compared to some other kitchen appliances.

Disadvantages Of A Toaster Oven

The disadvantages of a toaster oven includes;

Can Cook Foods Unevenly – A toaster oven tends to cook foods unevenly given the space between the two heating elements and the food.

Some makes and models do a better job at coping with this than others so be sure to check the reviews for feedback on this disadvantage specifically to see if it’s a major issue for your appliance.

Doesn’t Last Long – A toaster oven has an average life span of five years. While this is still a significant amount of time it’s something to think about considering this appliance is also more expensive.

Noisy – These can be noisy appliances given the power they consume. While they won’t be as noisy as the majority of full-size conventional ovens they will be noisier than your toaster.

Expensive – Given the versatility of these appliances it should come as no surprise that they can be expensive. Toaster ovens start at around $25 and go up to $250 depending on the make, model and capacity.

What Is A Microwave?

Similar to toaster ovens, microwaves have also been around since the early 1900s and are a staple in many households across the country.

These small kitchen appliances which are again powered by electricity. There are two types of microwaves; flatbed microwaves and turntable microwave. Microwaves use microwaves (confusing I know) to cook a range of ingredients inside a small area.

Types Of Microwaves

There are currently two different types of microwaves on the market right now;

Turntable Microwaves – These are the traditional types of microwaves which have been around since the early 1900s.

Food sits on the turntable and while the power transmits the microwaves to cook the food, the turntable rotates to ensure that the food is cooked evenly.

Flatbed Microwaves – Where a flatbed differs to a turntable microwave is based on new technology that allows the microwaves to transmit evenly throughout the interior of the appliance without the need of the turntable.

This allows for a larger internal capacity and makes the appliance easier to clean. However, these luxuries do come at a price. Flatbed microwaves often retail at double the price of traditional turntable microwaves.

Benefits Of A Microwave

The benefits of using a microwave to cook food includes;

Durable – Microwaves are generally relatively durable kitchen appliances that can last eight or more years if well cared for.

Variety of Sizes & Types – The popularity of microwaves means that there’s a number of manufacturers which offer a range of different styles, colours and settings.

Evenly Cooked Food – Both types of microwaves use technology to cook food evenly and thoroughly.

Disadvantages Of Microwaves

The disadvantages of using microwaves to cook food includes;

Microwaves – The food in a microwave is cooked using micro-waves. Some people don’t like this technology and deem it to be a problem.

Difficult To Clean – Traditional turntable microwaves specifically can be difficult to clean in some cases due to the turntable area and the smaller opening into the cooking area of the appliance.

Should You Buy A Toaster Oven Or A Microwave?

Ultimately a microwave and a toaster oven are used to cook some different foods (although both can cook some of the same foods in certain circumstances) so which is right for you is going to depend on what you want from your new kitchen appliance.

If you’re wanting to cook quick pre-packaged meals and re-heat food then a microwave is likely to be the better appliance.

If you’re looking to cook frozen meals such as pizzas or bake a small number of buns or cakes then a toaster oven is likely to be the better appliance for you.

Sadly right now neither a toaster oven offers microwave abilities nor does a microwave offer toaster oven abilities so you will have to choose between the two appliances (or if justified buy both!)