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Oven vs microwave – Can’t decide which to get for your kitchen? Don’t know the difference? From the outside, they’re starting to look pretty similar in the market.

You may already know that a microwave cooks faster but are there any other benefits over a regular oven? Which one is safer, for instance?

Find out in this post! So you can potentially save some money (and space in your kitchen!)

Difference Between Microwave And Oven

There are many types of ovens. And a microwave oven is a type of oven. But although both kitchen appliances cook food by heat, a microwave oven uses radiation while an oven relies on a heating element (and a fan).

An oven can be built-in and much bigger too. But they take longer to cook (including the time to preheat them).

Furthermore, an oven can do a lot more (e.g. roasting, grilling, baking) than a microwave oven can! Thus, they are more expensive!

Roasting A Chicken In An Oven
Roasting A Chicken In An Oven – photo credits to Ashim D_Silva (Unsplash)

How An Oven Works

Heat needs a medium to cook food. For ovens, that medium is air.

So the heating element in a gas or electric oven is usually at the bottom since hot air rises. Keeping the door of the oven closed prevents the hot air from escaping.

This is the fundamental function of a conventional oven.

The addition of a fan (i.e. convection oven) can make this method of cooking more uniform. By evenly distributing heat inside the oven.

How A Microwave Oven Works

Do you know why a microwave oven is so fast at cooking?

Unlike with a regular oven, a microwave transfers heat to food particles directly via microwaves.

If that’s hard to picture, think about how radios transmit information (i.e. radio waves) – it’s almost instant! Because these waves travel at the speed of light!

And microwaves are like shorter radio waves. A magnetron in the microwave oven converts electricity into these microwaves.

Cooking With A Microwave Oven Is Fast
Cooking With A Microwave Oven Is Fast – photo credits to Lisa (Pexels)

The inner construction of the microwave oven is intentionally reflective to keep the microwaves bouncing around until your food is evenly cooked.

PS: There’s no difference between a microwave oven and a microwave (microwave oven vs microwave)!

Oven Vs Microwave (Pros And Cons)

Budget

You don’t need us to tell you which is cheaper.

Unless we’re comparing toaster ovens to microwaves. Then the price of the oven is much cheaper!

Average Price Range:

  • Toaster Ovens – RM100-300
  • Microwaves – RM300-900
  • Ovens – RM1500-6000

Ease of Installation

Microwave ovens don’t need installation. Unless you want to incorporate them into a sleek designer kitchen with its own dedicated shelf.

Built-in ovens however, are made to be inserted in to a cavity (i.e. fitted). And you best leave the installation to the professionals. You don’t want to break your brand new oven!

Microwave Oven And Oven Fitted In A Cavity
Microwave Oven And Oven Fitted In A Cavity – photo credits to Max Vakhtbovych (Pexels)

Ease of Maintenance

The size of a microwave oven is already an advantage in this regard! It’s easier to give your microwave an occasional wipe down inside and out, to prevent a built up of food and sauces!

You can also stick a bowl of diluted vinegar into the microwave and heat it up to steam clean the oven!

Getting Pizzas Ready In An Oven
Getting Pizzas Ready In An Oven – photo credits to Stefan C. Asafti (Unsplash)

For larger ovens, it can get really messy with frequent use. And there are trays and shelves to clean besides the inner cavity of the oven.

And you have to check the condition of the gasket from time to time! Gaskets will wear out over time resulting in a less efficient oven!

Speed Of Cooking

Speed is a major difference between a microwave and an oven! The former only takes minutes (or less than a minute) to reheat food.

While an oven can take as long as 10 to 40 minutes, depending on the recipe you are following!

Size

With the exception of a toaster oven, ovens are larger than microwave ovens!

So you have to double-check that your kitchen has space for a full-sized oven before you get one! Don’t forget that needs to be a gap all around the oven for adequate ventilation too!

A Microwave Oven Is Much Smaller Than An Oven
A Microwave Oven Is Much Smaller Than An Oven – photo credits to Curtis Adams (Pexels)

Cooking Versatility

There’s no question that a microwave has limited uses. While baking potatoes and even cakes and brownies with a microwave oven is possible, you may not end up with the desired results! Or a crispy/ flaky crust!

On the other hand, you can use an oven to reheat food like a microwave. And grill or roast meats, bake casseroles, cakes, cookies, bread, and pastries!

Toasting Pastries Is Quick And Convenient With A Toaster Oven
Toasting Pastries Is Quick And Convenient With A Toaster Oven – photo credits to Zen Chung (Pexels)

Heat Distribution

Both an oven (the type with fans) and a microwave oven are capable of cooking your food evenly.

Health

Of course with the use of radiation, it’s easy to doubt if microwave ovens can really result in healthy food! Especially over long term use.

But in reality, microwaves are “healthier” than ovens!

A Microwave Oven Helps To Retain More Nutrients From Food
A Microwave Oven Helps To Retain More Nutrients From Food – photo credits to Hakim Santoso (Pexels)

Why?

No matter how you cook your food (e.g. stove, oven, microwave, etc), it will partially break down. The longer you cook it for, the more it breaks down.

And since microwave ovens take an incredibly short time to cook food, your food retains more nutrients than if you were to use an oven instead!

Safety

There’s one golden rule you have to remember when using microwaves! You can never ever use metal cutlery or crockery. Or even aluminium foil in a microwave oven! Or ceramic ware that is not microwave-safe!

Because that could lead to a fire or explosion! Sometimes, there will be food explosions if your setting is too high. And plastic containers and wrappers will melt if they’re not rated microwave-safe!

Beware Of The Safety Rules Before Using A Microwave
Beware Of The Safety Rules Before Using A Microwave – photo credits to cottonbro (Pexels)

Either way, best to be on the safe side. And stand further away from the microwave oven to avoid absorbing radiation too! Yes, microwave ovens emit radiation (contained inside). But so does your cell phone!

This safety concern doesn’t apply to conventional or convection ovens. Notice that the provided shelves and trays are usually of metal! While the turntable in a microwave oven is of glass!

Conclusion

There’s more to the oven vs microwave oven debate than meets the eye! Microwave ovens aren’t as bad as they seem. And ovens are a lot more useful than we think they are!

In fact, if you don’t mind waiting longer for your food to cook, you could get along fine with just an oven!

We actually have separate lists for the best oven and best microwave oven if you want to see models that we recommend!

Janice

Janice is the editor for BestBuyGet.com. Wanted to be an author as a kid, got a D in English (First Language), but somehow now a content writer with an engineering background. Bakes, does yoga, plays the piano, reads, and most other introverted indoor hobbies. Also an active volunteer at Zero Waste Malaysia.