Ovens and microwaves are two different kitchen appliances that many people confuse. These two cooking appliances cook food in completely different ways.
In the convection oven, heat is generated by the top and bottom heating elements. Then, a convection fan is used to circular the hot air inside so that food can be cooked evenly. There are several types of ovens, including electric, gas, and wood ovens. Ovens are used for baking, roasting, or drying food.
In contrast, a microwave produces heat by vibrating water molecules in food, using electromagnetic waves. A microwave is usually used to reheat food and defrost frozen food. In general, they are more convenient and faster than ovens.
Oven vs. Microwave – Comparisons
|Physics||Heating element||Electromagnetic waves|
|Cooking||More versatile – baking, grilling, roasting, drying||Less versatile – mainly for reheating and defrosting|
|Taste||Better texture and taste||Less ideal|
|Main advantages||Can cook all kinds of food||Cook much faster|
|Main disadvantages||Slow to heat up||Not suitable for raw meat, thick food|
Since ovens and microwaves have different methods of heating up food, the main difference between them is what they can cook and how fast they cook.
Ovens are great for roasting meats, and baking cakes bread, and cookies. Convection ovens offer better temperature control too. Users can cook different types of food at specific temperatures and duration.
On the other hand, microwaves are usually used for reheating and defrosting food. And they are not effective on thick food and are very selective about the types of food which they can cook. For example, eggs and plain water cannot be directly heated in a microwave without extra precautionary steps to prevent explosions
Ovens need to be preheated and the heating process takes time too. In contrast, a microwave cooks immediately after it is turned on. And they heat food from the inside out which resulted in higher cooking efficiency. Electricity savings are up to 75% when compared with an oven.
Cooking green vegetables in the microwave is actually more healthy than cooking using a gas stove. Research showed that microwaving broccoli retains more sulforaphane(anticarcinogenic compound) than boiling or even steaming.
That being said, a microwave is not suitable for cooking thick food or raw meat. The nature of microwave cooking can result in uneven cooking and cold spots for raw chicken/meat, which can lead to food poisoning.
Taste and Texture
Food that is baked in the oven has a crispier texture than food that is microwaved. Although microwaves are not suitable for this purpose, an air fryer is a great alternative that is more convenient and faster than an oven for cooking small servings of crispy fried food. Cooking and baking improve the flavour of food as well. In general, for serious cooking, the oven is better than the microwave.
Overall, the oven is more versatile and can cook all kinds of food with better taste and texture. Microwaves are handy, and great for reheating food quickly for quick bites, but they have many limitations when it comes to cooking raw foods.
In the case that owning both appliances is not possible for you, then you may want to consider a microwave oven with a convection feature.