January 22

Toaster Ovens vs Convection Microwave | We Explained the Differences!

Author: Cornelia Suehr
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The culinary universe has grown at a terrific rate, with multiple kitchen appliances being developed to match the increased gustatory needs. People are more conscious of what they eat more than ever before.

Toaster ovens and microwaves are perfect examples of two rather essential appliances that work on an entirely different principle. Yet, they are both used for cooking or heating up the food.

While a normal toaster oven cooks from outside to the inside, a regular microwave oven cooks from the inside to the outside.

However, Convection Microwave Ovens basically combine the best of both appliances. Essentially, they are 2-in-1 devices featuring both toasting AND microwave. Take a look at our convection microwave reviews for the top tips.

In this article, we will highlight similarities and difference between toaster ovens vs convection microwave ovens. On the other hand, there are ovens that combine the best of the two worlds as described in this Mueller Austria toaster oven review.

Also Read:

Toaster Oven vs Convection Microwave Comparison Table – Quick Glance

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Operating Principle

Let us see how they operate and the technology that both the devices use:

Although their names make them sound like two very different appliances, Toaster Ovens and Convection Microwaves can perform quite a wide range of similar tasks in your kitchen.

They can reheat leftovers, defrost, roast, bake, and cook small amounts of food.

As far as the operating principle goes, both toaster ovens and convection ovens overlap at a certain point. However, Convection Microwave Ovens go a step further by adding the microwave feature as well.

Also Read: Best Small Convection Toaster Ovens

Toaster Oven

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

A toaster oven is a mini-oven meant for toasting and baking food for a relatively small number of people.

It uses heating elements placed at the top or the bottom or both. These elements warm the air inside the oven, and by doing so, they heat up or cook the food like any regular oven.

There are two types of Toaster Ovens and both operate on the basis of cooking the surface more as compared to cooking from the inside. Also, check out our Nostalgia BST3AQ review if you are looking for a seriously versatile breakfast station.

Also Read: Best Non Convection Toaster Ovens

Regular Toaster Ovens

These are small, and affordable toaster ovens that have heating elements and nothing else in order to cook the food.

These are great for browning the food surface and making them crispy. However, they consume a bit more energy and do not promote an even texture.

Convection Toaster Ovens

Convection Toaster Ovens feature a fan that moves the air around. As a result, it promotes even cooking as well as helps in cooking from the inside, the bottom and from the sides of the food.

Convection Toaster Ovens generally operate at a lower temperature as compared to regular toaster ovens.

When looking at similarities, a convection toaster oven is much more similar to a Convection Microwave as supposed to a Regular Toaster Oven.

Also Read: What is a Toaster Oven in Detail

Convection Microwave

Toshiba EC042A5C-BS
Convection Microwave Ovens combine both the microwave oven as well as a convection oven features. Source: Toshiba

A convection microwave is a dual purpose appliance since it is a combination of two appliances: a convection toaster oven and a microwave.

It offers a multi heating system that enables you to cook, bake, defrost, and even grill.

Convection microwaves use the quick-cooking technology of a microwave as well as functions of a traditional oven, including browning, cooking, and crisping.

Convection Microwave Ovens can be operated in three modes:

  • Microwave Mode
  • Convection Oven Mode
  • Combination of Both

The microwave technology cooks from the inside out.

Scientifically, microwaves emit waves that cause water molecules to excite generate heat, which in turn cooks the food.

This is similar to rubbing your hands together when you are cold. When you rub your hands, you generate friction. The same principle applies as the Microwave cause the molecules inside the food to move.

The microwave settings are most appropriate for food that heats and cooks within a short period. If you want to make popcorn, warm up a glass of water, or defrost your frozen chicken, then this is the ideal setting.

This setting also works well when preparing steamed vegetables, pasta, and pumpkin seeds.

In contrast, a convection oven uses a fan that circulates hot air. This air allows even cooking at low temperatures. If you are baking intending to achieve a crispy exterior with a soft inside, use convection settings.

Convection technology allows food to cook more evenly and relatively fast. Foods such a whole chicken and pizza cook evenly and quickly in a convection microwave.

If you want the ultimate cooked food that is well prepared from the inside and crispy and browned from the outside, you both modes. However, this mode is generally intended for experts who know exactly what they are doing.

Toaster Ovens vs Convection Microwave Oven Reviewed

Now that we have compared the operating principle of both the appliances, let us compared them on a few other key points.

1. Cost

The market has a variety of toaster ovens and convection microwaves. Therefore, it is your budget and personal choice that will ultimately determine the model you settle for in the end.

Generally, a Convection Microwave is more expensive than a Toaster Oven. This is obvious because Convection Microwave offers more features in one. On top of that, they are bigger than an average Toaster Oven.

2. Size

Microwave Oven
Most Toaster Ovens and Convection Microwave Ovens can easily fit on countertops

Both toaster ovens and convection microwaves are more frugal in terms of space compared to the traditional large oven. They can be put back into storage after use and retrieved when needed.

Most convection microwaves are relatively large because of their dual functionality. This feature makes them ideal in cooking large quantities of food, such as a whole uncut chicken.

Toaster ovens are small in size, making them ideal for preparing small meals. As the name suggests, they are used to toast bread, baguettes, croissants, and larger bread products that cannot fit in a standard toaster.

Also Read: Best 6 Slice Toaster Ovens

3. Rack Spaces

Toaster Ovens vs Convection Microwave
Toaster Ovens have racks spaces whereas most Convection Microwave Ovens do not.

One very important distinction between the two is that Toaster Oven almost always have rack spaces.

They may have a single or more racks depending upon their size.

Convection Microwave ovens, on the other hand, do not have racks or grills. Instead, they use the usual glassware dish for placing the food.

Some Convection Microwave models may come with optional racks, but they that is not the case with the majority of the models.

4. Cooking Temperature

Toaster ovens use a relatively faster heating mechanism that uses powerful elements. The temperature used for cooking is relatively high.

The convection mechanism in a convection microwave makes it possible to cook meals at relatively low temperatures. A meal that requires 350 degrees in a toaster oven needs only about 300 degrees in a convection microwave.

5. Energy Efficiency

Toaster ovens take a relatively long time to heat. Pre-heating is important before you start the cooking cycle. Some foods take longer to cook in a toaster oven. This translates to more consumption of power.

The fans used to circulate heat in a convection microwave ensures that the food cooks evenly at low temperatures. One thing you will love about the convection microwave is the fact that it does not need pre-heating when using the microwave feature alone.

6. Installation

The installation would depend upon the type of model you choose.

Countertop Models

The most common toaster oven and convection microwave models are countertop models. These models are very easy to install as you only have to unpack and plug them into a power source.

Most countertop models are easy to move hence can be put away in case you need added kitchen counter space.

Built-in models

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

A few select convection microwaves models are placed in a cabinet for a  built-in look come with a trim kit.

This model requires a qualified technician for installation or carpentry skills in the case the cabinets were not present before.

It is important to ensure proper ventilation and airflow for the best functionality of convection microwaves as well as for safety.

7. Cleaning, Maintenance, and Longevity

Toaster ovens are quite cumbersome to clean. They have removable racks, pans, and crumb trays, which you need to wash under a sink.

You also have to wipe the glass doors and the interior walls and be careful not to damage the heating elements.

To combat build-up, you have to apply a substantial amount of force while cleaning, but you also have to be gentle enough to avoid scraping the ceramic or steel off the walls.

Convection Microwave Ovens are, on the other hand, quite easy to clean. Their heating element is concealed therefore you do not have to worry about damaging it.

Wipe the interior of a convection microwave with soapy water, and you are good to go. For heavy and tough soiling, you can heat a bowl of water where steam will collect on the walls, and it becomes easy to wipe out.

The longevity of both appliances depends on how you look after them. It might also depend on the supremacy of the quality purchased. It is not guaranteed, but if correctly used and maintained, they could last a lifetime.

8. Safety

Like a toaster oven, a convection microwave heats the inside; hence protective gloves are a necessity while removing cooked food from both of them.

A kitchen tong comes in handy when you are using a toaster oven. They aid in turning food to avoid doing it manually, which might cause burns.

Due to the heating elements, the exteriors of both toaster ovens and convection microwaves tend to get quite hot.

Therefore, it is advisable to avoid any contact with flammable materials and anything that can melt at high temperatures.

When using the microwave feature, glass doors should be intact to avoid emitting radiation waves which are harmful.

It is important to remember while the convection microwave is hot from convection cooking, you should NOT place microwave-only cookwares in the microwave. The convection heat might cause damages to both the cookware and the walls.

Also Read: Are Taster Ovens Safe?

Final Words

Are you torn between a toaster oven and a convection microwave? We have highlighted all the main comparison points here.

Yet, if this guide on toaster ovens vs convection microwaves did not help you, then we suggest you look at user reviews. Customers are always right.


1. Is a toaster oven better than a microwave?

Is a toaster oven preferable to a microwave oven? For reheating items such as pizza or anything already fried, a toaster oven is preferable over a microwave. On the other hand, a microwave is superior at fast heating meals, as well as being healthier and causing less damage to food.

2. Do you need a toaster oven if you have a microwave?

A toaster oven cooks food by browning and crisping it with a heating element. However, a microwave uses electromagnetic radiation to heat water molecules. Both ultimately operate differently and produce inconsistent results. A toaster oven can be used in place of a microwave, however, the quality of the food is sacrificed for convenience.

3. Can a toaster oven reheat food?

Because it provides even, mild heating, the toaster or toaster oven is usually my preferred reheating appliance. If you're concerned about food drying out, simply cover it with foil. Aim for a low-temperature oven (no higher than 350°F) and check on your meal frequently until it is thoroughly heated.

4. Can you pop popcorn in toaster oven?

Making popcorn in a toaster oven is achievable because the oven will impart enough quantity of heat to the kernels. Use a cage or a tent of tin foil to protect the popcorn from popping all over the place inside the toaster oven. Thus, using your toaster oven to make popcorn is a win-win situation.

5. Is it safe to use aluminum foil in a toaster oven?

Aluminum foil has a variety of functions, from lining pans for simple cleanup to covering casserole dishes while baking. What we do know for certain is as follows: NEVER use foil to line your crumb tray or the walls of your toaster oven. This can result in overheating and is a potential fire danger.

About the author

Cornelia Suehr

A professional chef and a passionate writer on all topics related to cooking, baking, appliances and kitchenware. Her posts resonate with foodies, home chefs and professionals.


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