Toaster Oven Vs. Microwave Oven

If you’ve never owned a toaster oven, you may be wondering if they’re a better investment than a microwave oven. I, personally, no longer own a microwave, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t have some advantages over a toaster oven.

There are pros and cons to both, and there’s certainly a place for both cooking appliances in your kitchen if you decide you need both. To make the decision easier, we’ve taken a look at the typical uses for a toaster oven and compared them to microwaves. Read our comparison below:

How is Food Cooked in a Toaster Oven and Microwave?

Toaster Oven: When cooking food in a toaster oven, the interior is heated by heating elements. The amount of heating elements varies with each model, so there may be only one element or there could be as many as six. The food is cooked from the outside in, so it takes longer than a microwave.

Microwave Oven: Microwave ovens use electromagnetic waves to heat up the water molecules in food. The reason this process is quicker than a toaster oven is because all of the water molecules are heated up at the same time, ultimately providing quicker results.

Running Costs

Toaster Oven: The average toaster oven uses between 1,200 and 1,800 watts when cooking. Currently, it costs around 12¢ per 1,000 watts per hour, so it costs between 15¢ and 22¢ per hour of usage.

Microwave Oven: Microwave ovens are very slightly more energy and cost-efficient. Typically, a microwave will use between 700 and 1,300 watts for cooking. So, again, as it costs 12¢ per 1,000 watts per hour, most microwaves cost between 8¢ and 16¢ per hour of usage.

Toasting

Toaster Oven: There’s no competition – toaster ovens win in this area completely. The heating elements are ideal for evenly toasting food, whether that’s toast, bagels, or muffins!

Microwave Oven: Unfortunately, microwave ovens are completely incapable of toasting any kind of food.

Crisping

Toaster Oven: Another win for toaster ovens! If you like your bacon or your chicken skins crispy, toaster ovens will do this perfectly.

Microwave Oven: When using a microwave, food typically comes out soggy, not crispy. If you were to cook bacon in a microwave for a very long time, it would eventually come out crispy, but that would take a lot more effort than in a toaster oven and wouldn’t taste as good.

Cooking Pizza

Toaster Oven: Smaller toaster ovens can fit 9” pizzas, whereas larger toaster ovens can fit 13” pizzas, this depends on the size of the interior. A good toaster oven will perfectly cook pizzas with a crispy crust.

Microwave Oven: Microwave ovens aren’t typically meant to cook pizzas, although I have seen some at the supermarket that can be. A microwave oven will cook your pizza quicker, but it will not provide the same results as a toaster oven.

Cooking Potatoes

Toaster Oven: When cooking potatoes in a toaster oven, it does take longer than a microwave. However, I prefer waiting the extra time as they taste a lot better

Microwave Oven: Microwaves are much quicker at cooking potatoes than toaster ovens, but I tend to find microwaved potatoes don’t taste as good as ones cooked in a toaster oven.

Cooking Frozen Food

Toaster Oven: Toaster ovens are great for cooking frozen food – the BOV800XL Smart Oven even has a cooking from frozen setting. Although toaster ovens are slower at cooking frozen foods than microwaves, most models now come with a Convection setting that speeds up the process. I prefer using my toaster oven for cooking frozen food, especially when I want my food to have a nice crisp crust.

Microwave Oven: Microwave ovens are great for cooking frozen food – plus, they also cook frozen food faster. However, if you’d like your frozen food to have crispy edges, a microwave oven won’t be able to do this.

Convection Cooking

Toaster Oven: Not all toaster ovens have a Convection feature, but the ones that do cook food faster and at a lower temperature while also ensuring food is evenly cooked.

Microwave Oven: Microwaves do not have Convection cooking features.

Reheating Food

Toaster Oven: Reheating food in a toaster oven rather than a microwave oven tends to have a lot better results. Pizza, sausages, hamburgers, and more can be reheated – and although it may take a little longer than a microwave oven, it tastes a whole lot better.

Microwave Oven: Reheating food is probably the only reason I used my microwave when I had one. I find they do a quicker job but the food just doesn’t taste as good as when I heat it in a toaster oven.

Keeping Food Warm

Toaster Oven: Some toaster ovens come with a Keep Warm setting – like the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven. However, the models without this setting can keep food warm by simply placing the food inside at a low temperature.

Microwave Oven: There isn’t really a way to keep food warm in a microwave. You could simply leave food in the microwave after it has cooked to try and keep the heat in, but it will start to cool regardless.

Exterior and Interior Heat

Toaster Oven: I am yet to come across a toaster oven that doesn’t get hot on the exterior while in use. The interior also gets very, very hot, so it’s important to take care and use oven mitts when opening the door and removing food.

Microwave Oven: Microwave ovens don’t get hot on the outside during use and the interior also remains cool. However, the food inside the microwave will be hot (as expected), so it’s important to take care when removing it.

Cooking Ware

Toaster Oven: Before purchasing a baking pan, it’s important to check it can be used in a toaster oven. For example, it came as a surprise to me to find out that glass dishes, such as Pyrex and Anchor Hocking, should not be used in a toaster oven. What can be used will be listed in the manufacturer’s manual, but generally, cast iron pans, some stoneware and ceramic dishes are toaster oven-safe, and metal pans. Any materials containing plastic should absolutely not be used in a toaster oven, as this will most likely melt.

Microwave Oven: Determining what’s safe to use in a microwave is a lot simpler than a toaster oven. Some types of plastic, glass, and ceramic materials can be used in a microwave, but it is important to check first. Most cooking ware will have a ‘microwave-safe’ symbol on it if it can be used in a microwave. Aluminum and other metals should absolutely not be used in a microwave, this would create a fire hazard.

Cleaning

Toaster Oven: Compared to a microwave oven, a toaster oven has a lot more parts that will need to be cleaned. Wire racks and crumb trays need to be washed, and the glass door and walls have to be wiped down.

Microwave Oven: These are much easier to clean, as there are fewer parts, and often it is only the walls that need to be wiped down. Some models have a removable glass tray, but this is again easy to clean.

Weight

Toaster Oven: Most toaster ovens are lighter, smaller, and easier to move around the kitchen compared to most microwave ovens.

Microwave Oven: Microwaves are usually bigger, heavier, and harder to move around the kitchen.

Overall, the microwave may cook faster than a toaster oven and save a little more money, but I think the food just doesn’t taste as good.

Toaster ovens are incredibly versatile in what you can cook, whereas microwaves are quite limited. Microwaves are very efficient in reheating food quickly, but I don’t mind waiting a little longer for my food if the taste and texture is a whole lot better.

Ultimately, it depends on what works best for your unique needs.

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