A microwave is renowned for quickly heating food and drinks by having its magnetron-produced radio frequency waves with the water molecules inside them. This is in contrast with a conventional electric or gas oven, which requires preheating in order to work properly with conductive heat to bake food.
With that in mind, what’s a convection microwave? Why is it considered the best of both worlds when it comes to conventional ovens and microwave ovens?
What is a Convection Microwave?
A convection microwave combines the key features of two prominent kitchen appliances—the microwave’s ability to heat food quickly and the convection oven’s ability to cook something with convection heat—in one appliance.
Functionally, this allows your otherwise ordinary microwave to have a setting that allows it to roast and bake foods that it’d normally just make hot by cooking it with its own water content.
Further reading: What Does a Microwave Convection Oven Do?
How Does the Convection Microwave Oven Compare to Other Microwave Types?
Here are the different types of microwaves, with convection microwaves being just one of them.
A convection or combo microwave oven offers the quick heating of microwaves along with the cooking features of grills and ovens (specifically convection ovens). They utilize heat and fans in order to cook, bake, and roast various food types.
The convection microwave also has two modes—regular microwave and pseudo conventional microwave powered by heat-distributing fans.
This is the simplest microwave type and it’s usually the smallest microwave type as well. It’s capable of heating, reheating, simple cooking, and defrosting. It’s made to accommodate 1-2 people in a household or apartment.
It’s usually quite compact with 0.7 cubic feet capacity and 700 watts of power on average.
As for the grill microwave, it’s the type of microwave with a grill attachment and grill mode. The grill enables you to expand the heating abilities of your typical simple or solo microwave with outside heating, roasting, and grilling care of a heating element.
The over-the-range microwave was developed in order to make better use of the space occupied by the range hood. In essence, an OTR microwave is placed in that spot above the gas range stovetop to serve as both a microwave oven and as the hood vent of your kitchen.
What are the Capacities and Sizes of Convection Microwaves?
Convection microwaves can be 13 inches to 16 inches in size. You can also avail of them as heavy-duty models about 2 feet wide and deep.
0.3 Cubic Feet to 0.8 Cubic Feet
This capacity can fit in small plates, mugs, bowls, mugs, and ramekins as well as measuring cups. It also accommodates oven-safe yet petite chinaware dishes, as well as compact high-temperature food, pans measuring ¼ and ⅙ sizes
0.8 Cubic Feet to 1.0 Cubic Feet
Appropriately enough, this mid-sized capacity range fits mid-sized microwaveable containers, bowls, and plates. It also houses most high-temperature food pans measuring ½ and ⅓ sizes. This is the microwave size for microwave-safe plastic takeout containers.
1.1 Cubic Feet to 1.6 Cubic Feet
This heavy-duty capacity range for microwaves fits most standard-sized plates, dishes, pans, and similar containers. They can also accommodate family-sized dishes as well as full-sized high-temperature food pans and oven-safe plastic muffin trays.
Convection Microwave Buying Guide
Thanks to the versatility and small size of the convection microwave oven, they’re an excellent choice for RVs, apartments, and kitchens. In light of the capabilities of this device, here’s what you need to know in order to shop for the right one for you and your needs.
How a Convection Microwave Works
A convection microwave works by separating the microwave function from the convection oven function. Its microwave function is able to heat or cook food with radio frequency waves. Its convection oven transforms the appliance into a convection oven.
It includes a fan and heating element that evenly distributes the heat throughout the unit. It also requires preheating like a conventional microwave while under this mode. This thusly allows you to bake, roast, broil, and grill food that you can’t do with a standard microwave function.
You can alternate between two modes to quickly cook foods faster than a standard electric oven.
The Benefits of a Convection Microwave
Obviously, a convection microwave is more versatile than a stovetop, conventional oven, or microwave. It’s even better than a convection oven toaster exactly because it has a quick-cooking microwave mode instead. To wit:
- The food is cooked more evenly.
- Cook your food evenly inside out.
- Convection mode allows more cooking options.
- Microwave mode halves or cuts down heating time.
- Racks allow you to microwave multiple dishes at the same time.
- Best of both worlds microwave and oven to ensure faster cooking times.
- Reduce kitchen appliance footprint, allowing for more compact RV-style microwaves.
- Brown or crisp food with the convection mode and cook quickly with the microwave mode.
How to Use a Convection Oven
Follow the basic guidelines below to maximize the effectiveness of a convection microwave as well.
- Microwave Mode: The microwave mode is best used to shorten cooking times and reheating cold food. You can microwave prepackaged meals, frozen vegetables or meats, popcorn, and leftovers.
- Convection Mode: The convection mode allows you to cook items for a longer time period. This includes baking pizza, bacon, and baked goods as well as roasting meats and vegetables. It’s capable of crisping or browning food as well.
- Combo Setting: Getting a combo convection microwave allows you to cook items quickly via microwave while achieving a crispy outer layer in a convection oven. Monitor the food and cook in increments to avoid burning or overcooking.
- Accessories: Premium hot air circulation can be achieved by utilizing the convection microwave’s round convection rack and bakeware with lower sides.
- Warnings: Don’t use metal items while under the microwave or combo mode. Use them only in convection mode to prevent arcing and sparks.
Even though these guidelines should apply to most convection microwaves, every item and model differs in one way or another. Some of them have air fryer modes included, for instance, thus they follow a separate set of rules.
To get the best results possible with this appliance type, refer to the user manual for more details such as cooking tips and troubleshooting advice.
Types of Convection Microwave by Usage
Regarding commercial-grade convection microwave units, they come in the following subcategories.
- Light-Duty Microwaves: This 1 to 1.1 kilowatt (or weaker) microwave can be used 50 time or less daily.
- Medium-Duty Microwaves: A medium-duty microwave is capable of being used 150 times daily and has a power level of 1.2 to 2 kilowatts.
- Heavy-Duty Microwaves: The fastest cooking yet most expensive commercial-grade microwave type. It has 2 kilowatts or more of power. It can also be used 200 times a day. Ideal for use in the busiest of restaurants.
Key Features of Convection Microwaves
Here are the key features to look out for when it comes to convection microwaves.
- Power or Wattage: The microwave’s power in watts is an important buying consideration since it determines how fast your microwave convection appliance cooks food. The higher the wattage the more evenly the food cooks and the faster it gets cooked.
It’s worth paying extra for more power. The power level or wattage of a microwave can be as little as 600 watts to as high as 2 kilowatts or more. However, as the wattage of the microwave increases so does its size. You need to decide when the wattage is too much.
Usually, a 700-watt yet compact convection microwave is a serviceable enough unit even though it cooks slower than its 1 kilowatt counterpart. Why? It has a convection function that aids in making the undercooked food properly cooked, crisped, or browned.
- Capacity: The capacity of a microwave is usually (but not always) proportional to the power. It ranges from 0.6 cubic feet to over 2 cubic feet. Usually, a 0.6 cubic feet microwave has a power level of 600 watts. Ditto a 0.7 cubic feet microwave with 700 watts of power.
Other times, you have slight anomalies like a 1 kilowatt microwave with 1.2 cubic feet of capacity. However, the capacity size doesn’t stray far from the power. When comparing models, go check the interior height and size of the racks along with the capacity specs.
- Size and Footprint: How big should your microwave be overall, from the inside capacity to the outside dimensions? It depends on how much counter space you have to spare. For people who live in small apartments or in trailer park RVs, you might have to buy a mini microwave.
This allows you to have extra space for your other devices while at the same time not overloading your vehicle’s electric or solar battery with powerful appliances running at the same time. Get one you can fit at least a dinner plate inside.
Take into consideration you’ll need to cook or reheat every day (types by usage) as well. You can save space by availing of over-the-counter or built-in convection microwaves as well. Make sure there are 2 inches of clearance around all sides of the cabinet when buying a built-in.
- Simple Controls: The simpler the controls of your convection microwave the better because it allows you to operate it at a glance. Get a unit with dials or knobs so you can easily use them by knob turning a la the classic or retro microwaves of yore in the 1950s to 1970s.
If you do opt for something a bit more sophisticated, like a microwave with a touchpad or touchscreen, read the manual carefully. Learn to use the pre-programmed settings to simplify cooking or meal prep at the push of a button.
After all, what’s the point in getting a more complicated microwave with a keypad and presets if you’re not going to take full advantage of them like you would with your smartphone’s millions of settings?
- Auto Sensor: You can prevent yourself from burning or overcooking your food by investing in an auto shut-off humidity sensor. This device monitors vapor content or humidity levels inside the microwave interior.
If it gets too steamy, it adjusts the cook time thusly or shuts the microwave off altogether before it could burn your meal to a crisp. This is also true for convection mode but it can only do so much because the lingering heat can overcook the meal if you don’t remove it quickly.
- Timer and Presets: The timer shown on the LCD digital display can be set with your convection microwave’s keypad or through the Add 1 Minute or Add 30 Seconds button. The timer ostensibly keeps you aware of how much longer before your food is cooked.
They also prevent overcooking along with your auto sensor. Meanwhile, presets or preprogrammed memories can save the settings you used to cook, say, meatloaf so that next time you cook the same type of meal, you can retrieve the same exact setting for accuracy.
Should you go from a standard microwave oven or a convection microwave oven? Most people with smaller kitchens prefer the space-saving versatility of a convection microwave oven over a solo microwave.
If you’re going to avail of a compact microwave or even a full-sized you might as well get one capable of cooking food on top of heating food for simple cooking, reheating already cooked food, and defrosting frozen food. With that said, here are our top convection oven picks.
Panasonic and Toshiba
The Panasonic NN-CD87KS HomeChef and the Toshiba EC042A5C-BS Convection Microwave are the best and second-best overall among the multitude of convection microwaves we’ve tested and approved. They stand out because they epitomized what a convection microwave is all about.
For example, the Panasonic HomeChef is a 4-in-1 deal that’s not only a convection oven but also doubles (quadruples) as an air fryer, broiler, and inverter microwave.
It offers the ability to bake, broil, or air-fry your cakes, muffins, and cookies as well as various dishes. What’s more, air fryers are a hot commodity in 2020 and 2021, so why not include that and a convection microwave in your purchase?
The Toshiba Convection Microwave is exclusively a convection microwave that specializes in microwaving and convection oven baking. It comes with a convection mode, smart sensor, LCD display, 1.5 cubic feet capacity, 1 kilowatt of power, 10 power levels, and black stainless steel construction.
- “What is a Convection Microwave Oven?“, MayTag.com, Retrieved June 10, 2021