Toaster Oven Vs Microwave Oven: Which Should You Cook In?

It can be overwhelming sometimes with the number of supposed kitchen necessities. Even relatively inexpensive tools and appliances can become cumbersome in the valuable storage and counter space they take up. This can lead to a standoff between appliances for kitchen dominance to find out who stays, and who goes.

Choosing to hold onto a toaster oven or a microwave may be one of these dilemmas for example. Both seem to accomplish the same task of cooking and reheating food. So, do you really need to have both?

While their purpose is similar, both of these appliances are actually quite different in the way they function and so will cook or heat food differently. According to Abt, microwaves work by sending electromagnetic waves to move throughout the chamber, which in turn heats up the water molecules inside the food. Toaster ovens, on the other hand, heat elements lining their interior chamber that then radiate heat onto the food's surface (via Healthy Kitchen 101). These differences are extremely important because they influence the way that your food is going to be cooked. While both get the job done, it depends on what you prefer that makes the biggest difference.

Toaster ovens bring more flavor to leftovers

Both toaster ovens and microwaves can quickly heat food, but when it comes to flavor the toaster oven takes home the prize (via Abt). Because of the dry heat radiated by the coils, toaster ovens can crisp and even caramelize your food. This adds a ton of flavor to the final product, and microwaves can't achieve the same effect.

Toaster ovens still have their flaws though. Because they have several different components — glass door, cooking tray, crumb tray, interior — they have a lot of different aspects that need to be cleaned (via Fixr). Microwaves usually consist of just a glass table and the interior walls. They can even be steamed and wiped down quickly for easy cleaning (via Chicago Tribune). Toaster ovens are also much slower to heat up and cook the food (via Abt). It can take time for the coils to be adequately heated before they start radiating heat. They also cook through the surface meaning that they have to cook at a low heat to avoid burning the surface of the food while leaving the insides frozen. They also can't heat or cook liquids as easily or safely as a microwave will (via Fixr).

So, if you mostly need to reheat pizza, meats, or toast sandwiches then look no further than the toaster oven. But, if you're looking to reheat soups and stews often, are in a hurry, or just hate cleaning, then the microwave is the way to go (via Chicago Tribune).