Convection Oven vs. Toaster Oven vs. Microwave – Which Is Better?

Our team independently selects, reviews, and identifies the best products. We may earn affiliate commissions on purchases made from links on this page. Learn more

Are you shopping for a new oven but don’t know which one to get? A lot of people would recommend a traditional oven, but what if you aren’t doing much baking and you don’t have much space? Read our comparison of each oven below, and find out which one suits you the most.

Convection ovens, toaster ovens, and microwave ovens are great alternatives to traditional ovens. They can reheat your food, keep it warm, help you cook your meals, and even defrost your food for you. Find out the pros and cons of each one as well as what you should get depending on your cooking needs.

Convection oven

Convection ovens have a system that allows hot air to circulate through the oven and thus heat your food. This is done through a fan and an exhaust that run to spread the heat evenly so it doesn’t leave any cold spots and you can enjoy nice hot food.

Often, those who can’t get an oven (because they don’t have the space or don’t do much baking anyway), opt for a convection oven instead. It can brown your food quickly and evenly while keeping the inside moist. A lot of people also prefer convection ovens to microwaves as this allows you to bake and roast your food and even dehydrate some items.

Pros

  • Convection ovens are great for busy families or people with a full schedule every day. This is because of how fast it heats up.
  • Convection ovens can get very hot, but they also work well for reheating food or keeping it warm for a longer period of time.
  • Convection ovens come with a fan that allows them to heat your food evenly and maintain the same temperature throughout. You don’t have to worry about temperature fluctuations or hot and cold spots, unlike traditional ovens which can make it difficult to bake your food evenly and will require you to turn around your pan from time to time.
  • You don’t need to worry about your food getting burned. Whether you place it at the center or on the sides, your food will cook evenly throughout.
  • Even if you put several dishes (as long as they fit) into your convection oven, each dish will still be baked evenly. This is unlike traditional ovens that, the more food you put in, the more the temperature drops.
  • Cooking with a convection oven is a lot cheaper as it cooks your food quickly. It doesn’t run for as long as traditional ovens, and will make your electricity bill come out cheaper.

Cons

  • If you’re thinking of baking more “sensitive” kinds of foods, like flans and soufflés, the fan can end up ruining the shape. It might be better to use a traditional oven to bake these instead.
  • Sometimes, breads and cakes won’t rise as much when you bake them in convection ovens because of the fan. If you are planning to do some baking, get a model that allows you to turn the fan off.
  • If you put in too many dishes at a time, it can end up blocking the fan, preventing it from working effectively. It’s best to check first how many dishes it can handle before cooking everything all at once.
  • If your fan or the heating element gets broken, you’ll need it repaired or replaced. It’s best to factor in this additional cost in your budget, even if you might not yet need it at the moment.

Convection oven and microwave combo?

A convection oven and microwave combo is an appliance that serves as both a convection oven and a microwave. You’ll be able to roast food, bake dessert, cook dishes, heat leftovers, and more. For some brands, you can even grill your food.

This kind of appliance combo is a great option if you don’t have much space and need both a convection oven and a microwave. They are also cheaper to run, so if you’re looking for a cost-saving appliance, you’ll be happy with something like this.

One example of a great convection oven-microwave combo is the Galanz SpeedWave which features both a convection oven and a microwave. You’ve got 10 cooking programs, such as bake, air fry, roast, convection, microwave, defrost—all to help you prepare your favorite meals for family and friends.

If you need a microwave to help you thaw frozen food faster, you can do it with this. If you want your food broiled and baked without direct heat, the heated air that circulates throughout the convection oven will cook your food fast and evenly. If you’re preparing delicious dishes for guests, the Galanz SpeedWave is also built in such a way that will combine convection and microwave cooking to cook your food fast without sacrificing texture and taste.

Toaster oven

Toaster ovens aren’t as popular as microwaves, nevertheless, you will find some households use them to heat food. They work pretty much like convection ovens by creating an environment that will heat anything you put in it.

They aren’t as fast as microwaves or convection ovens, but they are good for small batches of cooking if you don’t want to turn on your oven. You can also heat up and keep some dishes warm before a meal.

Pros

  • Toaster ovens work well if you want your food to be brown and crispy, as compared to microwaves that are more for just heating your food. Because the inside of a toaster oven is hot, it doesn’t make your food rubbery the way microwaves tend to do.
  • You can easily adjust the heat level in a toaster oven and allow it to heat your food or keep it warm over some time.
  • A toaster oven marries the function of a toaster and a microwave so you don’t have to get both appliances.
  • Toaster ovens are small and light and very easy to move, as compared to microwaves and convection ovens that tend to be bigger, bulkier, and heavier. You don’t have to worry about finding a lot of space to store it and you can easily squeeze it into a little corner on your counter.
  • You don’t have to get extra plates or cookware for your toaster oven. As long as it’s oven-safe, it’s safe to use in your toaster oven.

Cons

  • You have to be careful when you’re using your toaster oven because it can become really hot when in use. Even the outside can be really hot, so make sure you don’t touch it and burn yourself. Keep rags and towels away from the side so they also don’t accidentally catch fire.
  • It can be a bit hard to clean the inside of toaster ovens, especially as the whole inside of it heats up when it is on. Make sure it is thoroughly warm before you clean it and keep your children away from it as much as possible.
  • Toaster ovens don’t really do a good job of thawing out frozen food, unlike microwaves.
  • If you’re looking to cook food in a toaster oven, it often requires a much longer cooking time. This process ends up drying out your food and making it tough to eat.
  • In terms of energy efficiency, toaster ovens take a lot more time to heat up or cook your food, which could increase your monthly electricity bill.

Microwave oven

Microwave ovens are pretty popular appliances in people’s homes. They are used to quickly heat food, especially for those who have no time to cook. This is done by heating the water molecules in your food by using electromagnetic wavelengths. The result of this is a food that is easily heated up uniformly, meaning every part is heated evenly and you don’t have hot and cold spots in your food.

Microwave ovens are great to have if you want to quickly heat leftover food or even cook food with high water content. They also do a great job defrosting food quickly. They can’t toast food the way convection ovens and toasters do, but they do a good job if you want to heat liquid items and get food on the table.

One of the best features of a microwave is it’s size. You can even get mini microwave ovens that fit perfectly in a kitchen cabinet, or directly on a countertop.

Pros

  • Microwaves are good at heating up just about anything from lukewarm coffee to a plate of leftovers.
  • Microwaves are good at defrosting just about anything.
  • If you want to cook or reheat leftovers, microwaves can do that very quickly, especially if you don’t have much time and want to get your food on the table fast.
  • A microwave’s body doesn’t get hot, so you don’t need to worry about burning yourself if you accidentally touch it while it is on.
  • They are easy to clean and fit just about anywhere, even in small kitchens.
  • You will rarely burn your food in a microwave.
  • Microwaves take less time and energy to defrost, heat, or cook food. If you’re concerned about time management or even wasting energy or minimizing electrical costs, a microwave is a good appliance to have.

Cons

  • If you use plastic containers for the food you heat up in your microwave, there’s the risk of the plastic from the chemicals spreading into your food. This is why it’s best to only use microwave-safe items for the food you are heating up.
  • Unlike convection ovens and toaster ovens, microwaves can’t roast your food or make it crispy and toasty. Most likely, what you also heat in the microwave will end up rubbery or soggy.
  • Microwaves are good for heating smaller batches of food than larger ones. If you have family or guests over, it isn’t an ideal way to cook food.
  • If you happen to put a plate or bowl that is larger than the middle plate of the microwave, it might not be able to heat your food evenly.
  • It can sometimes be challenging to control the temperature of your food as well as the microwave itself.
  • If you want to cook food using your microwave, there’s a chance that you won’t be able to get all the flavors to blend the way you want them to. Sometimes, your food won’t end up evenly seasoned.
  • Quality microwaves tend to be expensive. While there are some budget-friendly microwaves, they tend to be smaller and do not have as many features.

Microwave and convection oven combo?

 Toshiba EC042A5C-BS Countertop Microwave Oven with Convection

If you’re looking for a microwave oven that has a convection oven as well, check out the Toshiba Microwave Oven and Convection. It has several features in just one appliance, including auto-baking, defrosting, and roasting. It even comes with a built-in sensor that detects the humidity of the food so it can adjust the time it will take to cook the food and the temperature so it doesn’t burn your dishes.

It’s easy to clean, easy to use, and even has an energy-saving ECO mode which switches it into standby power so that it saves up on energy and expenses. The auto-bake menu lets you bake pizza, muffins, biscuits, and more. The auto-roast menu can cook beef, chicken, pork, and more.

A microwave and convection oven combo is a good appliance to get if you know there are some days when you want to cook great dishes and there are some days when you are busy and want a dish that won’t take much time to cook.

Comparison: Convection oven vs. toaster oven vs. microwave

If you’re thinking of only getting one of these three appliances, you need to take into consideration what you need them for and how much you are willing to spend. Here are some important factors when it comes to getting a new oven:

1. Cost

One of the biggest factors in determining which one you should get is the cost of the appliance. Toaster ovens are the cheapest (you can get one for as low as $30)  while microwaves and convection ovens are on the pricier side.

Winner: Toaster oven

2. Size

How much space do you have? How much food do you need to cook? Toaster ovens are the smallest in size with the microwave coming up close. You need to remember, however, that the smaller the appliance, the smaller the quantity of food you can heat at a time.

Winner: Toaster oven or microwave

3. Capacity

If you want to heat or cook large batches of food for family and friends, convection ovens are good to have. They are big and can heat up just about anything easily and quickly. Microwaves and toaster ovens are often smaller in size and can’t heat up so much at the same time.

Winner: Convection oven

4. Ease of use

Sometimes, you just want to put your food in the oven, push a few buttons, and heat it without it being too complicated. If this is what you’re looking for, it might be best to get a microwave. All you have to do is pop in the food and wait for it to heat up. You don’t have to worry about your food burning or overheating.

Winner: Microwave

5. Versatility

If you want to cook various kinds of dishes or even roast chicken and grill some meat, you won’t get to do that with just a microwave or toaster oven. You need something that will allow you to cook your food in various ways, which is what a convection oven does. No matter how small this appliance may seem, it can work wonders and create several dishes for you and your family to enjoy.

Winner: Convection oven

6. Maintenance and cleaning

If you want to use your appliances for a long time, you need to maintain and clean them regularly. As compared to both the toaster oven and the convection oven, the microwave is the easiest and safest to clean. You just need a rag to wipe down the inside.

Winner: Microwave

7. Installation

While you can get a countertop microwave or convection oven, there are some that are only built for cabinets. If that’s the case, you might need carpentry skills or someone who knows how to do that. If you want something that you will just put up on your counter, go for the toaster oven.

Winner: Toaster oven

8. Safety

When you use a toaster oven or a convection oven, it tends to heat its surroundings as well, even the outside. This can be hazardous, especially if you have curious children around. If that’s the case, you have to keep an eye on them while you are cooking. Microwaves, on the other hand, don’t heat up on the outside even while they are cooking or heating your food.

Winner: Microwave

Final verdict: Which type of oven is better?

It depends on you and what you need.

You know your kitchen best. You know what kinds of meals you need to prepare, you know how much space you have, and you know the food preparation time you need. There’s no one oven that is better than the other so before you make your choice, determine what your cooking needs are and get the one that suits it best.

If, however, you need to get more than one of the above and only have enough space for one, get a convection oven and microwave combo, or at the very least, a convection oven. Toaster ovens are good at reheating simple meals and toasting bread, while a microwave’s main purpose is to reheat pre-cooked food and defrost frozen food. A convection oven, on the other hand, will help you do actual cooking and baking. You’ll be able to do a lot more with it, especially in terms of heating and cooking your food.