Microwave vs Convection Oven: What’s Better For Your Kitchen?

Oven is the most important part of the kitchen. The most-used ovens are the convection oven and microwave oven though there are many new additions in the market. Most of us have the confused to decide the choice between a microwave oven and the convection oven.

Microwave vs convection oven becomes an attractive dilemma now. Many things work on this topic. If you know the detailing differences, then it will be easier to understand which one to choose between them. Here you will find all the detailed functions, facts, and matters that differ both the oven types. Let’s explore deep down. 

Microwave vs Convection Oven: At A Glance

Key Points

Microwave Oven Convection Oven
Cooking Speeds Low

High

Functions

Reheating, Defrosting, warming, and boiling.  Roasting, baking, broiling, grilling, browning, and caramelizing. 
Rack facility Absent 

Present 

Cleaning 

Easier  Hard 
Energy consumption Low 

High 

The Functionality Of Microwave And Convection Oven

As the name says, a microwave oven releases microwave energy to heat and cook food. The microwave energy heats the water molecules that are stored in the food and thus, cook the food. This process cooks food slowly. So, this system is ideal to reheat or warm food primarily.

Microwave vs Convection Oven

This oven is mostly used for heating processed canned foods, frozen foods, and leftovers. If you store any food item in the refrigerator, people reheat them in the microwave oven. Though microwave is better for reheating, you also can cook some foods efficiently through the steaming and baking processes. 

On the other hand, a convection oven provides hot air to cook or heat food. It has a fan in its structure which spreads the hot heat over food evenly. So, it can heat the food in an even way that ensures perfect cooking.

In this system, it is clear that microwave heating is uneven which can overcook a part of the food while the other part is not cooked well. But the convection oven cooks the same and there is no chance of scalding.

The Difference In Machine Setup

Both the convection oven and microwave oven are rectangle in shape and so, they look similar. But there are differences in their parts.

The main parts of the microwave oven are the magnetron, a waveguide, a stirrer, and a movable plate. The magnetron produces microwaves. The waveguide guides the waves and lets them pass from the magnetron to the inner part where the food is being cooked.  The stirrer distributes the waves evenly. The movable plate holds the food and rotates while the cooking process is running.

The convection oven consists of a fan, a grill, and heating elements. The heating elements are set at the top and bottom part of the oven cooking chamber. The fan provides the hot air into the cooking chamber.

Size And Handling Of Microwave vs Convection Oven

Microwave and convection ovens, both of them are similar in shape and size but still, there are some differences. Both of them are friendly to place on the kitchen countertop. Newer models offer several options of getting flexibility in handling an oven.

Size And Handling Of Microwave vs Convection Oven

In terms of handling, both the convection oven and microwave oven are found in three different systems of the place. The wall convection oven or the over-the-range microwave is convenient to handle and space-saver. There is built-in convection or microwave oven and they are also creating a neat and clean interior of your kitchen. Most people like to place their ovens on the countertop.

As there is more functionality found in the convection oven than the microwave oven, the choice depends on the need. Handling a microwave oven is easier than a convection oven because you have fewer options. Convection oven or microwave oven, you can buy convection microwave or with grill options or solar version to reheat the foods only. 

The size of a convection oven is slightly smaller than a microwave oven according to the standard sizing and dimension of these ovens. Cleaning and using the solar oven is easier compared to those with a grill and convection cooking option.

So, this difference is almost similar for both of them. If you want more options, then you have to do more cleaning and a bit of complex handling of course.

The Difference In Heating Process Of Microwave Oven vs Convection Oven

Since the microwave oven uses a microwave and the convection oven uses hot air to cook or reheat foods, the heating mechanism is different. If we see the detailed process, it will be easier to understand the difference. 

The heating process of the microwave oven involves the following steps.

  • First, the magnetron of the microwave oven produces microwaves inside the vacuum tube of the magnetron.
  • The electricity is passed through the magnetron and it converts the electrons into wavering electrons. Then the frequency of these electrons turns into microwave electrons. In this way, microwaves are produced effectively. 
  • Then through the waveguide, these microwaves enter into the cooking chamber where you have placed your food to cook or heat.
  • Now, the fan which is located at the top part of the cooking chamber stirs and lets the microwaves move freely. Thus, microwaves spread evenly inside the cooking chamber.
  • The wall of the microwave cooking chamber is coated with such materials that can reflect microwaves. After entering the cooking chamber, microwaves spread all over the inside part and then get reflected by the inner walls. While reflecting, microwaves bounce back and again move to walls. Thus a motion of microwaves is created.
  • When microwaves run in to-and-forth motion, it enters the food that is placed at the center of the cooking chamber. These microwaves enter the water molecules of food. Every type of food contains a certain amount of water molecules. 
  • When microwaves enter the water molecules of food, these water molecules start to vibrate because the water molecules are dielectric in nature. With this vibration, a constant amount of heat is formed. This process runs and produces heat inside the food slowly.
  • The movable plate keeps moving and rotates the food in the cooking chamber. With the rotation, every side and portion of food gets microwaves and creates heat inside. 

Thus the cooking or heating process in the microwave oven is run. The convection oven has heating elements at the top and bottom of the oven and these elements are responsible to create heat inside the oven. The heating process of the convection oven involves the following steps.

The Difference In Heating Process Of Microwave Oven vs Convection Oven

  • When you turn the convection oven on, the electricity provides the electric energy that turns into heat energy. Then the heating elements start to be heated.
  • After reaching a certain heating point, the heating elements heat up the air and turn the normal air into hot air inside the cooking chamber. This hot air cooks the food slowly.
  • There is a fan at the backside of the oven which circulates the hot air and lets the air reach toward the food. For this fan, hot air is spread all over the cooking chamber evenly which ensures an even eating process. 

In this way, the food inside the chamber gets cooked evenly by the hot air. In this discussion, it is clear that microwave production and cooking by microwaves is a quite complex process while the convection oven uses a bit simple process. 

Food Browning And Crisping Ability And Even Heating Option

The heating process determines if the oven can heat the food evenly or not. There is a huge difference between microwave and convection ovens in terms of even heating ability.

The microwave oven produces non-ionized radiation and uses it for cooking the food from inside. This heating process depends on the quantity of fat and water. If the water or fat is not evenly distributed, then the food cannot be heated evenly. 

It is almost impossible to get food with even water and fat distribution from inside. You can help the food to get even heat by siring in time intervals but it can interfere with a continuous cooking process.

So, the microwave cooking process cannot perform in browning and crisping the food eventually. Browning and crisping food need warm air around the food. A microwave oven heats the food from inside when the air stays at room temperature. 

On the other hand, a convection oven uses hot air to heat the food and this hot air is spread around the food with the help of the fan. So, it can heat and cook the food evenly. So, you can use the convection oven for browning and crisping.  The hot air around the food is perfect to crisp the food.

Cooking Speed

If you compare the microwave oven and the convection oven with the traditional oven, then both ovens are fast. But there is a slight difference in cooking speed between these two types of ovens.

Cooking Speed Of Oven

A microwave oven uses microwaves to heat the food and it takes much time to produce microwaves and enter into the food to heat it up. That’s why a microwave oven takes more time than a convection oven to cook food. It needs heat at a high-temperature range to cook food correctly.

In contrast, the convection oven takes less time to cook the food. First, it eliminates the cold air inside the cooking chamber and spread the hot air. So, cooking is done in hot air condition and it is possible to cook food at low temperature. It is because a convection oven can spread the heat more efficiently and cook food faster. 

Microwave vs Convection Oven On Different Cooking Processes

Depending on different types of cooking processes, convection and microwave oven works differently. You will find the microwave oven better for reheating, defrosting, warming milk, boiling water, making pasta, or popcorn, and warming frozen or refrigerated foods.

On the other hand, convection oven is the better for heavy cooking processes like grill, baking, roasting, browning, and caramelizing. Let’s dig into deep explanation.

  • Reheating or Warming

Reheating or warming is possible with both the convection oven and microwave oven. But for reheating purposes, the microwave oven is the most preferable.

Microwave vs Convection Oven

A microwave oven does not provide heat like a convection oven, it produces heat from inside the food by vibrating the water molecules or fat contained in the food. That’s why microwave ovens can warm or reheat precooked foods or refrigerate foods faster.

  • Defrosting

Frozen ready-made foods are now available in the groceries stores. Moreover, we also make foods in large quantities and store them in the freezer for quick use. So, defrosting is a must need option.

A convection oven is not ideal for defrosting purposes. It is because convection ovens do not have this option. You may use the convection oven for defrosting but you have to stir or lift over the food after a time interval.

The microwave oven is the ideal choice for defrosting as it has a direct option to defrost food. You can quickly and effectively defrost frozen food in the microwave oven.

  • Grilling and Baking

A convection oven performs better to grill and bake foods compared to the microwave oven. While microwave oven cook foods depending on the water molecules and fat contained in the food, the convection oven can effectively cook food by crisping from outside though hot air pass and cook food slowly and make it moist from inside.

Grilling and Baking in Oven

Simply saying, a convection oven has the direct option of grilling and baking foods and the microwave oven is not considered for this feature. But there are microwave ovens with convection grill and bake features included in the market. You can choose these types of microwave ovens to have double benefits.

  • Roasting and Caramelizing

Roasting an caramelizing depends on high heat condition and cooking at outer surface of food mostly. Using a convection oven, you can achieve the desired caramelizing and roasting of food while microwave cook food from inside and it is almost impossible to roast or caramelize foods in this oven.

Energy Usage

In terms of energy efficiency, microwave oven is the better choice to reduce the energy loss. Microwave oven can work using less energy than a convection oven.

The energy consumption rate can vary in different microwave oven models, but the rate is only within 500 to 800 watts. On the other hand, a convection oven uses 2500 to 5000 watts energy. Though the convection oven can cook at low temperature, it consumes more energy. So, using a microwave oven, you can save some energy.

Cleaning The Microwave Oven And Convection Oven

Cleaning is a necessary step for the long-term uses of ovens. Microwave oven cleaning is easier than a convection oven. The convection oven has heating elements which stays in two parts-at the top and bottom.

Before cleaning, you have to wait till the heating elements are cool down. Cleaning the convection oven is quite messy because oft he presence of racks, grills, trays, and heating elements. In contrast, microwave oven has only a movable plate which you can take out and clean simply.

The inner wall is smooth an it is easy to clean it too. You must have to wipe clean using a damp towel and liquid soap. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Microwave vs Convection Oven

Q: Can I use the convection oven as the microwave oven?

Ans: You cannot use the regular convection oven as the microwave oven. You cannot even use some functions of a microwave oven like defrosting in the convection oven.  But there are convection microwave ovens available in the market which offers combined functionality.

These ovens can works as microwave oven and under combination mode, do the work of convection ovens like grilling, roasting, etc. 

Q: Can I place the convection oven on top of the microwave oven?

Ans: Yes, you can place the convection oven on the microwave oven but you have to ensure that the microwave oven is capable to hold that much weight  and the upper-outside wall of the microwave oven is thick and strong. Besides, you should not use both the oven at the same time. It can create circuit problems. Try to use them simultaneously. 

Q: What is the purpose of a fan in the microwave oven?

Ans: The microwave oven cook the food using the microwaves. The fan in it is present for stirring the microwaves all over the food so that the microwaves can enter the food from each sides and parts. It ensures the even cooking as much as possible .

Q: Do we need specialized cookware to cook in the convection oven?

Ans: No. generally, you do not nee any special cookware for convection oven but if you use it is appreciable. The convection oven cooking system uses hot air and it heats the lower part of the cooking chamber than the upper counterparts. That’s why a special cookware for convection oven is useful for the safety from burning. 

Q: Can I use aluminum foil paper to cook in the convection oven?

Ans: Yes but only when you use the aluminum foil paper only at the upper cover part of the dish. If you cover the food by foil paper, the steam inside enhance the cooking process.

But be careful an do not ever use the aluminum foil paper at the bottom of the dish and make sure that the foil paper do not touch the wall of the oven. If you place any foil paper touching the oven wall or bottom floor, then it will damage the oven parts.

Also Read: How Long To Bake A Pie In The Oven

Conclusion

Microwave vs convection oven, is a great question in our mind. In our busy life, both the ovens are the most necessary items to have food in short time range. After the discussion, it is understood that both ovens are perfect for their special performance in certain fields.

When it is about cooking raw foods, convection ovens obviously the better choice. In terms of defrosting or warming or reheating cooked foods, then microwave is another necessity. Depending on your need, you have to choose. Most people keep both of them in their kitchen. The convection microwave meet the demand in one device too.

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