The great kitchen debate: Toaster oven vs microwave? While both appliances have their pros and cons, which one suits your needs best?

This blog post will explore the key differences, cooking capabilities, installation options, and cost comparisons to help you make an informed decision in the “toaster oven vs microwave oven” debate.

Let’s dive in and find out which appliance comes out on top!

Key Takeaways

  • Toaster ovens and microwaves offer different heating methods, sizes, cooking times and efficiency.
  • Consider factors such as budget, energy efficiency & kitchen space when selecting the right appliance for your needs.
  • Toaster ovens are ideal for even heat distribution & crispy results. While microwaves offer quick cooking tasks with high energy efficiency.

Toaster Oven and Microwave: Key Differences

When it comes to cooking, toaster ovens and microwaves use distinct heating techniques. Here are some differences between the two appliances:

  • Toaster ovens rely on heating elements for direct heating
  • Microwaves use electromagnetic waves for internal heating
  • Cooking time, efficiency, and size requirements may vary between toaster ovens and microwaves.

To deepen your understanding of their unique features, we will scrutinize each aspect more thoroughly.

Heating Techniques

Toaster ovens employ heating elements, typically placed on the top and bottom, to generate direct heat for cooking.

This results in crunchy and toasted food, perfect for achieving that golden-brown finish.

On the contrary, microwaves utilize magnetron to create electromagnetic waves.

These waves are responsible for causing water molecules in food to vibrate and generate heat.

This method heats food from the inside out, making microwaves more energy efficient than toaster ovens.

However, the heating techniques also affect the cooking outcomes. In a toaster oven, the direct heat provides better browning and crispiness, while microwaves may leave food with a softer texture.

So, if you value crispy crusts and even browning, a toaster oven might be your preferred choice.

Cooking Time and Efficiency

Microwaves are known for their speed, cooking food considerably faster than toaster ovens. This makes microwaves an essential kitchen appliance for those with busy schedules or who need to reheat food quickly.

The reason behind microwaves’ speed is their unique heating method, which directly heats the water molecules in the food, allowing for faster cooking times.

On the other hand, toaster ovens provide a greater control over cooking time and temperature, thanks to their adjustable settings.

This control allows for better precision when cooking various dishes.

Although toaster ovens may take longer to cook food compared to microwaves, they can still cook food faster than a conventional oven due to their concentrated heat in a smaller area.

In summary, microwaves are the go-to choice for quick cooking, reheating, and defrosting tasks, while toaster ovens offer more control and precision, especially when it comes to toasting and baking.

Size and Space Requirements

Toaster ovens are generally more compact than microwaves, making them a great choice for those with limited kitchen space.

They typically fit 4-6 slices of bread and measure around 16” L x 11.5” W x 8.5” H.

Microwaves, on the other hand, come in various sizes depending on their wattage and capacity, usually sold in cubic feet. For instance, a 2.0 cubic feet microwave measures 24” L x 18” W x 14” H.

When considering size and space requirements, it is important to think about your kitchen layout and the type of cooking you frequently do.

If you mostly toast, bake, and reheat small dishes, a compact toaster oven might be the perfect fit. However, if you often cook larger meals or need a versatile appliance that can handle a variety of tasks, a microwave may be more suitable.

Cooking Capabilities: Toaster Oven vs Microwave

Toaster ovens and microwaves each have their own set of cooking capabilities, making them suitable for different types of dishes and preferences.

Toaster ovens excel at toasting and baking, while microwaves are better suited for quick cooking, reheating, and defrosting tasks.

We will delve deeper into their cooking capabilities in the subsequent subsections.

Toasting and Baking

Toaster ovens are specifically designed for toasting bread and baking various dishes, providing even heat distribution and crispy results.

Their heating elements ensure that food is cooked evenly and achieves a delicious golden-brown finish. Toaster ovens are ideal for preparing items such as pizzas, bagels, cookies, and pastries.

In contrast, microwaves are not designed for toasting or baking, as their heating method does not produce the same crispy and browned exterior that toaster ovens can achieve.

Therefore, if toasting and baking are essential aspects of your cooking routine, a toaster oven may be the better choice for you.

Reheating and Defrosting

Microwaves excel at reheating food and defrosting, as their electromagnetic waves heat food quickly and evenly.

This makes microwaves an excellent choice for busy individuals who need to reheat leftovers or defrost frozen ingredients in a short amount of time.

While toaster ovens can also reheat and defrost food, they generally take longer to do so due to their direct heating method.

Therefore, if speed and efficiency are important factors for you, a microwave may be a more suitable choice for reheating and defrosting tasks.

Cooking Versatility

Toaster ovens offer a wider range of cooking options compared to microwaves. From baking to toasting, broiling to roasting, toaster ovens can be used to prepare an extensive variety of dishes, including casseroles, cookies, and even small roasts.

They can also be used to reheat leftovers, making them a convenient alternative to using a full-sized oven.

Microwaves, on the other hand, are best suited for quick cooking and reheating tasks, as well as steaming raw ingredients in their own juices or added liquids like stocks or water.

While they may not offer the same cooking versatility as toaster ovens, microwaves are still a valuable kitchen appliance for those who prioritize speed and convenience in their cooking routine.

Installation, Maintenance, and Safety Concerns

Both toaster ovens and microwaves come with their own set of installation options, cleaning and maintenance requirements, and safety precautions.

Understanding these factors can help you make a more informed decision about which appliance is best suited for your needs.

We’ll dissect each factor more thoroughly for better understanding.

Installation Options

Toaster ovens are primarily designed as countertop models, making them conveniently placed on your kitchen counter or even mounted on a wall with specialized hardware.

This versatility is perfect for those with limited kitchen space.

Microwaves, on the other hand, come with more installation options, including built-in, countertop, and microwave hood combination models.

This allows you to choose the best option based on your kitchen layout and preferences. Regardless of your choice, it is essential to consult a professional for proper installation, especially if you opt for a built-in or over-the-range microwave.

Cleaning and Maintenance

When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, microwaves are generally easier to clean due to their open interiors.

Most models come with a removable glass tray that can be wiped down with a damp cloth and mild detergent.

Toaster ovens, on the other hand, require more attention to their removable components and crumb trays.

Toaster oven replacement might be necessary if proper maintenance is not followed.

Keeping your toaster oven clean is essential for maintaining its performance and preventing potential hazards, so be sure to clean it regularly with a damp cloth and mild detergent.

Safety Precautions

Both toaster ovens and microwaves require proper usage and care to ensure safety.

For safety toaster ovens, it is essential to keep children and pets at a safe distance while the appliance is in use. Also, be cautious when handling hot items and always use oven mitts to prevent burns.

Microwaves also require safety precautions, such as:

  • Using oven mitts when handling hot items
  • Keeping the appliance out of reach of children
  • Being mindful of heating materials that can cause sparks or fires, such as styrofoam, some plastics, foil-wrapped leftovers, or accidentally leaving a fork inside

Following manufacturer guidelines and being aware of potential hazards can help you use your microwave safely and effectively.

Cost and Energy Efficiency Comparison

Toaster ovens and microwaves have different initial and operational costs, as well as varying levels of energy efficiency. Understanding these differences can help you make a more informed decision when choosing the right appliance for your needs.

We’ll analyze the costs and energy efficiency of both appliances in the next subsections.

Initial Costs

Toaster ovens generally have a lower starting price compared to microwaves, with basic models available for under $50. However, toaster oven costs can go up to $200 or more, depending on the size, features, and brand.

Microwaves, on the other hand, can range in price from around $60 to $500, depending on factors such as:

  • size
  • wattage
  • brand
  • materials used

When choosing between a toaster oven and a microwave, it is important to consider your budget and the desired features of the appliance.

Operational Costs

The operational costs of toaster ovens and microwaves may vary depending on factors such as wattage, frequency of use, and electricity rates.

Toaster ovens typically consume around 1200 to 1800 watts per hour and can cost between $0.15 to $0.22 per hour to operate, while microwaves use approximately 800 to 1200 watts per hour and cost around $0.12 per hour of use.

While the difference in operational costs may not be substantial, it is still essential to consider these expenses when choosing between a toaster oven and a microwave, especially if you plan to use the appliance frequently.

Energy Efficiency

Microwaves, especially convection microwave ovens, are generally more energy efficient than energy efficient toaster ovens due to their faster cooking times.

The quicker heating process of microwaves reduces the amount of energy consumed during cooking, which ultimately results in lower energy bills.

Toaster ovens, while less energy-efficient than microwaves, still offer greater cooking control, allowing you to achieve desired results with more precision.

Depending on your cooking preferences and priorities, you may choose to prioritize energy efficiency or cooking control when deciding between a toaster oven and a microwave.

Choosing the Right Appliance for Your Needs

Now that we’ve explored the key differences, cooking capabilities, and costs of toaster ovens and microwaves, it’s time to decide which appliance best suits your needs.

Consider the following factors when making your choice:

  • Your cooking preferences
  • Your kitchen space
  • Your budget
  • Your energy efficiency priorities

We’ll discuss when to select a toaster oven or a microwave in the upcoming subsections.

When to Choose a Toaster Oven

Opt for a toaster oven if you value even heat distribution, crispy results, and a wider range of cooking options.

Most toaster ovens are perfect for toasting, baking, and browning foods, as well as reheating small dishes. Their compact design also makes them an ideal choice for those with limited kitchen space.

When you compare toaster ovens to microwaves, keep in mind that they may take longer to cook food, but they offer more control over cooking time and temperature, allowing for better precision when cooking various dishes.

When to Choose a Microwave

Choose a microwave if you prioritize.

  • Quick cooking
  • Reheating
  • Defrosting tasks
  • Energy efficiency

Microwaves are ideal for busy individuals who need to prepare meals or reheat leftovers in a short amount of time.

While they might not offer the same cooking versatility as toaster ovens, microwave ovens are still a valuable addition to the range of kitchen appliances for those who value speed and convenience.

Toaster Oven vs Microwave - Insane Deals


Both toaster ovens and microwaves have their unique advantages and drawbacks.

Toaster ovens offer greater cooking versatility, even heat distribution, and crispy results, while microwaves excel at quick cooking, reheating, and defrosting tasks with energy efficiency.

Consider your cooking preferences, kitchen space, budget, and energy priorities when choosing between these two appliances. Ultimately, the right choice depends on your unique needs and preferences.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is toaster oven better than microwave?

Overall, a toaster oven is not necessarily better than a microwave. Depending on what task you need done and the types of food you’re heating, one may be more suitable than the other.

For example, if you’re looking to heat up a frozen pizza, a toaster oven may be the better choice. It will give you a crispier crust.

Can a microwave replace a toaster oven?

No, a microwave cannot replace a toaster oven as it cannot deliver the same quality of toast.

However, if you are working with limited countertop space, a convection microwave may be an acceptable compromise for faster toast making.

What is the disadvantage of oven toaster?

The main disadvantage of an oven toaster is that it produces less even results than traditional ovens due to the lack of convection heat throughout the entire appliance.

This can lead to uneven cooking or browning.

What are the main differences between toaster ovens and microwaves?

Toaster ovens use direct heat to cook, while microwaves use electromagnetic waves. This results in different levels of heat and cooking times, making them ideal for different types of dishes.

Toaster ovens are great for baking, roasting, and toasting, while microwaves are better for reheating leftovers and defrosting frozen foods. They both are.

Which appliance is more energy-efficient?

Overall, microwaves are more energy efficient compared to traditional ovens due to their faster cooking times.