Microwave and toaster ovens are simplified versions of a traditional convection oven, but there are important differences between the two. Microwave ovens generally require less energy, less time, but the end result also can be less appetizing food. The toaster oven will reheat food more evenly, but also will require more energy. You’ll need to decide which features are important before deciding whether to buy a microwave or toaster oven.
A microwave oven can cook or reheat food much faster than a conventional oven. Using microwave technology, water and particles within the food are quickly heated, usually turning cold or frozen foods into steaming and hot meals. A microwave requires less energy than a toaster or traditional oven, using an average of 750 to 1,100 watts.
A toaster oven essentially works the same way as a traditional convection oven and can cook the same foods. The only limitation is the size of the foods that can be cooked; toaster ovens are best suited for smaller portions. Toaster ovens require less energy than traditional ovens, but more than microwaves, using around 1,200 to 1,700 watts.
There are a few safety concerns that differentiate the ovens. There is a danger of a fire starting in a toaster oven if the food is left in too long, or if food debris or crumbs fall into the heater. Since microwave ovens quickly heat foods there is a danger of liquid or vapor exploding in the user’s hand. A microwave oven is unable to heat substances placed within a metal container, so putting such items into a microwave can cause it to spark and possibly even smoke.
A key difference between the two ovens is cooking times. A microwave oven quickly reheats meals, or cooks frozen meals. This can usually take around 30 seconds to 4 minutes, with it taking around 6 minutes to fully cook a small russet potato. However, a toaster oven typically will reheat food first before the start of the baking or broiling process. Reheating takes longer because the toaster oven has to preheat. Reheating a piece of pizza in a microwave can take around 2 minutes, but can take up to 5 minutes in a toaster oven.
There is a slight difference in price between toaster and microwave ovens. The cost of a toaster oven ranges between $30 and $120. The price of a microwave oven is between $50 and $120 although higher-end models can cost up to several hundred dollars.
- Photo Credit microwave image by andrey polichenko from Fotolia.com
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