January 22

Toaster Oven vs Microwave – Which One to Buy?

Author: Ana Stanar
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As the chefs put it, heat the food to the right degree, and you will enjoy a healthy and germ-free delicacy.

Toaster ovens and microwaves have a key role in our modern kitchen today. They both are essential appliances for heating and even cooking food.

Convenient and efficient cooking of these gadgets may have desirable results if only they are used to their full potential and for the right type of cooking.

In this article, we will compare toaster oven vs microwave. We shall give an insight into their functionalities, where they excel, among other things, to bring you much deeper into their knowledge in the culinary world.

Also Read:

Toaster Oven vs Microwave Comparison Table – Quick Glance

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Operating Principle

Let us briefly look at how the toaster oven and the microwave oven compare in terms of how they operate and function.

Toaster Oven

Toaster Oven vs Microwave Oven
Toaster Ovens use heating elements for outside to inside cooking

Toaster ovens heat up food from the outside to the inside.

A toaster oven uses heating elements, usually located on the top and the bottom to cook food. A heating element is basically an object that converts electrical energy into heat.

These heating elements can be made out of metal, ceramic as well as other materials and they need more time to heat.

With new and improved models coming into the market every other day, the heating elements vary in number, size, and functionality.

The amount and size of a heating element depend on the size of the oven. However, the larger the heating component, the more electricity it will consume.

Advanced convection toaster oven models have fan assistance which disperses heat evenly and efficiently and can operate at lower temperatures.

Some toaster ovens may have infrared elements designed to heat dishes at very high temperatures by harnessing the infrared rays.

Standard toaster ovens cook from the outside to inside direction . It has diverse functions such as defrosting, roasting, broiling, and baking.

Also Read: What are Toaster Ovens


Microwave Oven
Microwave Oven causes friction within the food which heats it from inside to outside

Microwave ovens use electromagnetic waves that heat the food up from inside to outside.

Microwaves use high-powered electromagnetic waves and molecular friction. Waves generated penetrates inside the food, making molecules vibrate, this causes friction, which in turn emit heat that makes the food hot.

Microwaves cook and heat the dish from the inside out unless fats or water surrounds the food.

The microwave waves are unique because they do not melt glasses or (select microwave grade) plastics.

Key Points Comparison

Let’s compare the two appliances over a few key points below:

1. Cooking Results

Toaster Ovens cooked or heated foods are crispier

Do you love your pizza crispy? A toaster oven should be your top choice kitchen gadget. Heating components in a toaster oven do an excellent job in evenly browning food, toasting, and making it crispy.

In case of reheating a pizza and baking bread, the results would be a crispy base outside and a  soft fluffy on the inside. Lowering the temperature to a minimum can help keep food warm for the required time.

Microwaves work well with high water content food. Therefore you can heat tea, milk, or a cup of coffee perfectly.

On the downside, microwaved food ends up soggy, so you would not want to use it to heat crispy chicken skin, bacon, or a pizza.

Microwaves do not have features to keep food warm once the cooking cycle is complete. If the food is not consumed right away when it is ready it will surely get cold.

Microwaves are excellent for defrosting and quickly warming up the food.

Also Read: Best Breville Toaster Ovens

2. Frozen Food Convenience

Compared to a toaster oven, a microwave defrosts food faster, but both get the job done.

Some toaster oven models have frozen dish settings that adjust the temperature and cooking time of defrosting foods.

Convection toaster oven’s ‘fan-factor’ might have an advantage over the standard oven toasters as it speeds up the cooking, defrosting, broiling, and grilling process.

Also Read: Best Large Toaster Ovens

3. Cleaning and Maintenance

Manual Clean
Toaster Ovens require plenty of cleaning

Toasters are a bit trickier to clean as compared to a microwave oven.

Toasters have wire racks and crumb trays to be washed and walls and glass doors that need wiping, meaning more time. The heating components occasionally need to be cleaned as well.

You have to be careful while doing it because they are a bit more sensitive and you have to make sure you do not damage them.

Microwaves are very easy to clean as all parts are reachable. Most models have removable glass trays that can be taken out and washed under the sink or a dishwasher.

Depending on the quality of the model chosen for either the toaster oven or microwaves, and if well maintained, they can last for a relatively long period.

Microwaves can be used for plenty of times before it needs cleaning. A Toaster Oven, on the other hand, requires cleaning quite often.

Also Read: What is Oven Self Clean Feature

4. Energy-Efficiency

Energy efficiency highly depends on the model and individual wattage of toast oven or microwave chosen.

They are both energy efficient, depending on the food you intend to prepare as well as their overall size.

Most toasters are rated at 1200-1800 watts. As far as heating up the food goes, toasters also take a longer time, which means more energy bills.

A microwave oven is rated at an average of 700-1300 watts and also heats the food up relatively faster than a toaster oven.

5. Size

Hamilton Beach
Toaster ovens are, at an average, smaller than microwave ovens. Source Hamilton Beach

Although some quality toaster oven models are designed to cook a whole chicken or bake a medium-sized pizza, they do better with a small portion of food.

Toasters’ size is determined by the number of slices of bread they can bake at once. It might be classified as a 3-slice model or a 6-slice model.

The footprint of most countertop ovens ranges from 14inches wide by inches deep to 20 inches wide by 10 inches deep. Therefore, they are quite compact.

Microwaves range from 1.4 cubic feet to 2 cubic feet. If you are constantly cooking large amounts of foods, too quickly, then a microwave is your go-to choice.

As far as physical size goes, toasters can be found in much smaller sizes than an average microwave oven.

Also Read: Best 6 Slice Toaster Ovens

6. Cooking Time

Toaster ovens take a slightly longer time to cook, allowing even and better overall texture and taste of the food.

Foods such as potatoes will be buttery and soft inside and crispy outside.

Microwaves heat food relatively faster than toaster but toughen them more quickly. Microwaves make use of the contained water molecules to heat the dish therefore this literally dries the dish as it removes the little water molecules present inside.

To circumvent the issue of making your dish devoid of any water, you can place a cup of water inside the microwave during reheating to get better results.

Warming speeds between toasters and microwaves can be compared depending on what you are cooking. For example, warming up bread can take almost the same time.

7. Countertop Convenience

Microwave in Cabinet
Microwave Ovens can easily be fitted above or below the countertop. Source: Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Toaster ovens are relatively small in size, easy, and light to move. Though few toaster oven models require mounting under counters, most of them can be packed into storage after one-time use to be retrieved when needed.

Microwave Ovens take up bigger space on the countertop. An average microwave oven is bigger, heavier, and cumbersome as compared to an average toaster oven.

But microwave ovens might be more convenient especially since many are designed to fit under the counter or in the cabinet space, which can free up a lot of space on the countertop.

8. Installation

Most Toaster ovens and microwaves are countertop models that require no installation. After unpackaging them, you need to plug into a power source, and you are good to go.

Some, however, need to be mounted, depending on your kitchen design. This would, therefore, require professional services.

9. Safety

Kitchen pads, gloves, or other protective gears are essential when removing cooked dishes in toaster ovens. Taking such precautions aids to prevent burns or cooking-related accidents.

Toaster ovens get hot on the surface during use, so it is important to ensure that plastic materials that can easily burn or other flammable materials are far removed from the immediate vicinity of a toaster oven.

Microwaves are safe to use so long as the doors are intact. Damaged doors mean low-frequency radiation waves can escape. These waves are harmful. Read FDA Article on Microwave Ovens.

Microwaves do not get hot on the surface during use. The walls and microwave-grade cookware stays cool, and it is only the food that becomes hot.

Also Read: Are Toaster Ovens Safe?


Here we looked at the difference between a toaster oven vs microwave oven. While there are plenty of areas where the microwave and toaster differ, in the end, the choice boils down to how you want your food to be.

If you like your meal to be heated evenly with a crispy and brown finish, then a toaster oven is the best choice.

To complement this if you might also need a cup of warm tea or milk. For this, a Microwave Oven is more convenient.

Therefore, the distinction here is quite varying in terms of output they give and the food they prepare.


1. Is a toaster oven better than a microwave?

A toaster oven is better than a microwave because it cooks food more evenly and can be used for more things than a microwave. A microwave can only reheat food but can create hot spots in food that can make it overcooked or burnt. A toaster oven takes a little longer to cook food but it cooks it more evenly so you don't have to worry about hot spots.

2. Can you use a toaster oven to reheat food?

Yes, you can use a toaster oven to reheat food. It is a great way to reheat leftovers without using the microwave.

3. Can you cook meals in a toaster oven?

Yes, you can cook meals in a toaster oven. You can cook small meals, like chicken breasts or fish fillets, or you can cook side dishes, like roasted vegetables. Toaster ovens are also great for reheating food.

4. Do toaster oven gives off radiation?

There is some radiation given off by a toaster oven, but it is not enough to be harmful. Toaster ovens are a great way to cook small items without heating up the whole kitchen.

5. Can you cook a frozen pizza in a toaster?

You can cook a frozen pizza in a toaster, but it's not recommended. The heat from the toaster won't be enough to cook the pizza all the way through, and you'll end up with a soggy crust. It's better to bake a frozen pizza in the oven.

About the author

Ana Stanar

An Art Teacher, entrepreneur, and a mother of three, Ana considers cooking a form of art - pleasure for all senses as well as a process that requires creativity, passion and devotion. Since she leads a busy life, Ana just loves testing various kitchen appliances for Kitchen Gearoid, especially those that save her time while preparing food and cooking but also make every meal a masterpiece!


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