Microwave vs Electric Oven
What to know

Microwave vs. Electric Oven: Which Is Better, and Why?

A microwave works better than an electric oven in terms of cooking speed but the electric oven can do more things than the microwave after you can get over the 10-15 minute preheating requirement. Read more to find out.

The electric oven or OTG (Oven, Toaster, and Grill) combo appliance mostly serves as a staple for many a suburban household, right next to the microwave. They both work as ovens but they have fundamentally different mechanisms of operation.

If you’re curious in regards to which is better, microwave vs electric oven, then keep on reading. Each appliance has their own respective benefits and drawbacks. In certain situations, an electric oven works better than a microwave and vice-versa.

Microwave vs. Electric Oven

A microwave uses microwaves (short-frequency radiowaves) to cook food by exciting the water molecules inside them to produce thermal energy care of friction. This allows the microwave to quickly cook anything within a few minutes, typically 1-5 minutes.

A conventional electric oven, in contrast, comes with an enclosed space with metallic elements sitting atop and below the grill. Powered by electricity, these heating tubes or heating elements heat up the enclosed space in order to cook, bake, barbecue, grill, or toast food.

You depend on the microwave for quick reheats of leftovers or cooking smaller portions of food like mugcakes. You depend on the electric oven for toasted bread, roasted chicken, meatloaf, barbecued pork, grilled beef, and many other dishes beyond the cooking ability of the microwave.

Electric Oven
Electric Oven

What is a Microwave?

Microwaves use electromagnetic energy emitted by a magnetron to cook food. They come in the form of short-frequency radiowaves that get absorbed by the food, which in turn excites the molecules of their water content to boiling. Unlike an electric oven, they don’t heat up the whole interior.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Microwave Oven that Best Fits Your Needs

They just use the bouncing microwave radiation to heat the food kept in it, cooking them in their own juices or water content. This makes them more electricity efficient compared to their oven counterparts.

What is an Electric Oven?

An oven works by using a heating element (located below the grills) to heat up food contained in its cavity or interior. It requires a preheating time of 15 to 30 minutes. If you have a convection electric oven instead, you can cut the preheating time down to 5 minutes instead.

OTG (Oven, Toaster, and Grill) combo electric ovens or toasters typically have heating tubes above and below the grill to allow you to toast bread or grill meats on both sides. They too preheat faster than the model that uses only one heating tube below the food.

Which is Better?

Microwaves shine when it comes to quickly cooking smaller food portions, making popcorn, or reheating cooked leftovers from the fridge. It takes more finagling from it to, for example, cook a decent quiche or taco, and maybe even paella or “fried” rice.

A typical oven that uses 1 to 2 kilowatts of power can cook more things but it takes longer (yet it’s all worth it). If you want to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, you depend more on the electric oven and use the microwave as the quick-heating assistant.

Electrical Consumption

The electric oven uses 1,000 to 2,000 watts of power but it doesn’t consume all of it during its operation. It wastes more electricity. How much it consumes depends on the thermostat temperature setting. It also relies on the size of the oven—bigger ovens consume more power.

Meanwhile, the microwave can go up to 1,000 to 2,000 watts of power too (especially the commercial ones), but it uses the power more efficiently. Some even allows you to choose different power levels. Other microwaves only have up to 700 watts or below power (the light-duty ones).

Safety Features

Microwaves offer more safety features than electric ovens. The exterior of an oven or OTG can get hot as the inside warms up during preheating. Meanwhile, the microwave body itself tends to remain cool until you’re cooking something for a long time (not recommended with a microwave anyway).

Food catches fire more often inside the electric oven (better wrap it in tinfoil or aluminum foil for safety’s sake) than inside the microwave oven (never use tinfoil with a microwave, it causes arcing or electrical sparks to form).

Interior Capacity

An OTG electric oven can have a capacity of up to 60 liters. In contrast, a microwave’s capacity can go up to 32 liters. For larger batches of food, you can depend more on the electric oven than the microwave. The turntable of the microwave can also limit its interior space (up to 1 cubic foot or less).

Larger dishes might not fit inside even the biggest of microwaves at that. Also, because of the limitations of microwave cooking, you can’t exactly bake a cake there or even a tray of cookies. You need a mug to make your brownies, cookies (more like cookie dough), and other goods.

Unique Challenges

Although microwaves come with various benefits like taking ice-cold food and warming it up in a minute or two, it does come with unique challenges. You can’t microwave a grape, it turns into plasma. You can’t microwave unmarked plastic containers, it leaches BPA into your food when heated.

You also can’t microwave metal or tin foil because it causes arcing or electrical arcs and sparks to form. In contrast, you need metal and tin foil to assist your electric oven cooking. However, in turn, you need to preheat your oven for up to a half hour every time to cook anything inside of it!

Microwave Alternative?

If you don’t have a microwave, you can use your electric oven as your alternative microwave. Sure, it’s not as quick-heating as a microwave oven. Yes, it requires preheating times that might seem like forever to get started. However, it reheats leftovers without drying them out.

Just be careful not to overcook or overroast anything, you will end up with charcoal if you forget to take out your meatloaf or turkey out of the oven, even if it’s electric instead of gas-powered. It’s also a piece of cake to bake a pretty cake inside this oven type compared to a microwave oven.

Further reading: 35 Simple Microwave Recipes You Can Try at Home (Ultimate Guide)

What Else You Need to Know

Long story short, while the conventional oven requires more preheating shenanigans and cleaning, it can do much more than the average microwave. On top of defrosting frozen food, quick-heating of cooked leftovers, boiling water, and simple cooking, the electric oven can also bake and cook.

If you bought the OTG variant of the conventional oven, you could also toast bread and grill meats to your heart’s content. However, the speed by which microwaves can heat up food and drink makes it a kitchen mainstay for the simpler kitchen tasks.

References:

  1. Abhishek Jain, “Microwave Oven vs. Conventional Electric Oven: a comparison of technology and efficiency“, Bijlibachao.com, April 22, 2016

 

Through the years, the microwave oven has become a standard appliance for all homes. It is safe to say that there is no home without a microwave oven. If you are looking for a microwave oven that best fits your needs, You find the right website.

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