Difference Between Oven and Microwave?

I have finally got my shack. My kitchen is small, and I plan to fill it with a few essentials.

I wonder if the oven is better than the microwave oven? Or will the microwave oven fulfill my needs? 

Although I love to cook, it isn’t possible to cook fresh food every day after work. On busy days, I mostly resort to reheating, defrosting frozen foods, and heating leftovers.

I decided to find out the difference between a regular oven and a microwave oven.

Note: The term Microwave is short for Microwave oven. Both refer to the same appliance.

Difference Between Oven and Microwave Oven 

The significant difference between the oven and the microwave is the heating technique. 

The microwave oven has two magnetrons on either side that produces electromagnetic radiation. These magnetrons generate energy to heat food. 

In an oven, the heating elements are present inside the wall of the oven. These heating elements heat up through an electric current. The heat generated is then radiated to the food. 

If I were to describe the major difference in one line, microwaves use radiation while ovens use radiated heat to cook food.

Allow me to show you a peek into the workings of both the ovens before we proceed towards the differences.

How Does an Oven Work?

In an oven, electric current is passed through tubular heaters (also known as the heating elements).

As they light up, heat is radiation towards the food. The inside of the food gets cooked through heat transfer from the outside surface to the inside.

Just like the sun, the radiated heat cooks food and eventually dries the moisture in the food. 

If you leave food for a long time, it will crisp and shrivel out. This happens at a faster rate inside the convection oven as the fan blows hot air all around.

The ovens differ in the arrangement of their parts. A standard oven will have the heating element in the upper and lower section.

A convection oven will have a heating element in the backward section along with the fan. The fan helps to distribute heat equally inside the oven cavity. 

How Does a Microwave Oven Work?

A waveguide inside the microwave directs the energy of the microwave radiation to the food.

GE 3-in-1 Countertop Microwave Oven | Complete With Air Fryer, Broiler & Convection Mode | 1.0 Cubic Feet Capacity, 1,050 Watts | Kitchen Essentials for the Countertop or Dorm Room | Stainless Steel

This energy gets transferred at the microscale level resulting in increased motion of molecules inside the food generating heat. 

All of our food has water molecules inside it. When they get exposed to radiation, the energy increases inside them.

The waves are made up of electric and magnetic waves that are rapidly changing directions (2,450,000,000 times per second).

The changing field rocks the water molecules back and forth. This friction creates heat causing food to get heated from the inside. In simple terms, the whole food cooks simultaneously. 

There is a slight drawback to this working principle. As the radiation moves in a specific direction, there can be hot or cold spots in your food.

If you look at the peaks and valleys of the radiation, these are places of great energy transfers.

The distance between the peaks and valleys represents the cold spots. You can find this if you try to melt the cheese inside the microwave.

If you keep the food in a microwave for a long time, it will turn soggy. This is because of the water molecules turning into steam inside the chamber.

Also read: Are Old Microwaves Safe To Use?

The Major Differences in a Glance 

Let us take a glance at the differences between the oven and the microwave oven

Characteristic Properties Oven Microwave Oven 
Source of Heat Electric current, Gas Magnetron 
Standard Construction Built-in and movable. They can be small or big. A toaster oven is smaller than a microwave.Movable, small in construction
Heat generation Heating elementsElectromagnetic waves
Standard Cooking Features Cooks thoroughly. Cooking styles include Baking, Roasting, Grilling, Reheating, Broiling, and caramelizingThere are chances of hot and cold spots in cooked food. Cooking styles include Reheating, Cooking, Defrosting, Simple baking, and heating liquidsLimitations A convection oven cooks more thoroughly compared to a regular oven.The food may develop hot and cold spots in thick meats
Capacity Large Capacity.  A standard oven can be 60 Litres to 70Litres. The capacity differs depending on the brand modelIt is small and compact. A microwave is available at 17L,20L, 23L,25L,28L,30L, and 35L.
Material Enamelled, stainless steelCoated, stainless steel
Power 1000W-3000W 700W-900W
Temperature Can be adjusted to 250CDetermined by the power level. Unable to adjust independently
Time Takes a long time to cook food. Preheating time can be 15-20 minutes.Food gets cooked quickly. It needs only five minutes of preheating time.
Cost Costly. The price begins at 500 dollars for a standard convection ovenCheaper compared to ranges. You can get an average microwave for 50 dollars.
Cleaning Time May take longer depending on the model, space, and racks.Quick clean-ups compared to the standard ranges

There are many different models in the market. There are ovens with a microwave feature.

Microwave ovens are also available with convection and grilling features.

These features enable the microwave to give out oven-like cooking results.

Some manufacturers have made a single appliance from ovens and microwaves. Let us see one such example.

Different Types of Ovens and Microwaves

Nowadays you can find many models available in the market.

Let us look at the different types of ovens and microwave ovens. 

Types of the Oven 

There are two different types of ranges depending on the source of power. A regular gas-powered oven and a modern electric oven.

Another type of oven is a convection oven that helps to cook food with the help of a fan. 

Then there are specific types of range depending on the food results. One such example is the toaster oven.

A multipurpose higher-end model of the toaster oven is the OTG (oven, toaster, grill).

Types of Microwave Ovens 

There are three types of microwave ovens.

  • Solo microwave ovens
  • Convection microwave ovens
  • Grill microwave ovens.

As the name suggests, a solo microwave has only the most basic function. It lacks advanced features and works for heating, reheating, defrosting, and quick cooking. A solo microwave oven is the cheapest appliance in the microwave oven range.

A convection microwave has an embedded fan. The fan enables the microwave to cook a variety of dishes quickly and thoroughly. It is the most expensive of the microwave ranges. 

A grill microwave has an advanced feature that enables it to grill food efficiently inside the oven cavity. It can do what a solo microwave can, with the additional benefit of grilling food.

A grill microwave range is cheaper than a convection microwave oven, but expensive compared to solo ranges.

Speed Oven 

A speed oven is a microwave with elements of convection and broiler brought together. It is a compact and smaller version of a standard convection oven. 

Since it has all the features of both of the ranges, you get a convection fan at the back, a broiler at the top, and a magnetron on either side just like a microwave. 

Speed ovens are created as one new appliance – a combination of a fully functional microwave with features of a standard convection oven.

This two-in-one function eliminates the need for a microwave or a convection oven. One example is the Miele brand of speed oven which has gained a lot of popularity here in the US. 

My Choice – Oven and Microwave

Here I have listed down my favorite models from both the oven and microwave ovens. 


This microwave oven gives you the additional feature of broiling, and air frying through its convection mode.

GE 3-in-1 Countertop Microwave Oven | Complete With Air Fryer, Broiler & Convection Mode | 1.0 Cubic Feet Capacity, 1,050 Watts | Kitchen Essentials for the Countertop or Dorm Room | Stainless Steel

Due to the convection feature, you can try your hand at multiple cooking methods. For more information regarding the product, visit the amazon link here.


This is a convection oven with packed features such as air frying, toasting, grilling, etc. 

Cuisinart TOA-70 Convection AirFryer Toaster Oven with Grill, 1800-Watt Oven with 8 Functions and Wide Temperature Range, Large Capacity Air Fryer with 60-Minute Timer/Auto-Off, Stainless Steel

You can grill meat and vegetables,  and toast your oven slices. It also gives you the option to air fry for crisp and golden meals.

You can also broil and bake your favorite recipes. It offers you next-generation cooking with one appliance taking care of all your food needs.

For more information regarding the product, visit the amazon link here

The Good Things About Oven and Microwave Oven

Let us look into the pros of the oven and the microwave oven 

Pros of the Oven 

Ovens are versatile cooking appliances. If you look at the regular oven with a stovetop, you get an added feature of burners. You can broil, bake, grill, roast, toast, and heat food.

The burner of the stovetop above gives you an added advantage of boiling eggs, boiling water, making rice, and cooking food in general.

You can enter the temperature setting to the last degree in an oven. In the case of the microwave oven, there are only specific power ranges you can work around.

Any regular oven will take care of your large turkeys, family gatherings, and bulk cooking. It has a large capacity of  60-70 liters. 

Pros of the Microwave Oven 

The Microwave Oven gives you a speedy and easy option. You don’t need a lot of space. It is more compact in design.

You can quickly press desired power function and forget about supervising the cooking process.

You also don’t have to worry about switching the appliance off in time. You can defrost, reheat, heat beverages, cook food and lightly bake inside the microwave.

A microwave offers you preset advanced cooking functions. You don’t have to enter the power or time.

Just choose from the preset cooking recipes and it will begin to cook automatically adjusting the power and time duration.

You can heat beverages and reheat food in minutes. The maximum preheating time is five minutes.

You can also defrost food and consume it immediately with a microwave oven. An oven will require you to thaw the frozen food and after that, it will take comparatively longer to cook or heat the food.

If you are a small family or a single person, a microwave oven would be an ideal choice. The maximum cooking capacity in a microwave is 35 liters. 

A microwave is affordable compared to an oven. It is also easier to clean and maintain a microwave. All you need is a cloth to wipe away the crumbs.

Cons of Ovens and Microwave Ovens

Before deciding which one to buy, allow me to take you quickly through the cons of both ranges

Cons of the Oven 

  • There is a certain risk involved in gas ovens. You need to go through a learning curve before becoming an expert.
  • The ovens are expensive 
  • They can be bulky. The built-in ovens require quite a bit of space
  • You cannot defrost and heat tea and coffee in the oven 
  • The cleaning process is time taking due to the large space and multiple racks.

Cons of the Microwave Oven 

  • A microwave oven is not suitable for a big family as it cannot cook a lot of food in one go. 
  • A basic version of the microwave oven lacks advanced features like grilling, roasting, and baking.
  • Food cooked in a microwave oven can have hot and cold spots.
  • According to research, a microwave oven is hazardous to human health. It can cause brain damage, cancer, emotional instability, and decreased hormone production in the human body.


Both an oven and a microwave oven are equally efficient for everyday cooking. The oven is more versatile, while the microwave is more convenient and fast.

If you are looking for a quick appliance for defrosting and reheating leftovers, tea/coffee, light cooking, and baking, go for a standard microwave oven. 

If you are looking for an appliance that can offer you more freedom when it comes to cooking styles- choose an oven.

I would suggest you get a convection oven to speed up cooking time. You can roast, bake, grill, toast, and even caramelize food in a standard oven.

There are different types of ovens and microwave ovens available in the market.   Don’t forget to go through the pros of both ranges before choosing the one for you.

If you are looking for the best of both worlds, I would strongly urge you to get the speed oven. This has combined features of both the microwave and the oven. It will give you the option of trying a variety of recipes cooked in different styles. 

The sky is your limit. Choose wisely for joyful cooking and hot food every day!

Other articles you may also like:

I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on cookeryspace.com. In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!