Microwave vs Toaster Oven (OTG) – What’s the Difference?

A microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves, namely microwaves for cooking and heating food.

On the electromagnetic spectrum, microwaves lie in between radio waves and infrared radiation. 

Toaster ovens are electric ovens that cook food by heating electric coils inside them.  Toaster ovens are also called OTG.

You can cook, toast, grill, and bake small quantities of food quite easily in a toaster oven. 

To understand the difference between the two, allow me to give you a brief understanding regarding both the appliances.

All about Microwaves and Toaster Ovens

For a long time, ovens have been an indispensable part of our lives. We need them to cook and bake our food.

With advancements in modern technology, many appliances have come up in the market to make cooking easier.

Toaster ovens and microwaves are appliances that have been introduced to save our time, effort, and energy. 

How does a Microwave work?

The first version of microwave came into existence using radar technology in 1947 by Percy Spencer.

Toshiba EM131A5C-SS Microwave Oven with Smart Sensor, Easy Clean Interior, ECO Mode and Sound On/Off, 1.2 Cu. ft, Stainless Steel

It was huge and required a lot of electricity to operate. It was used for commercial purposes. 

The modern version of countertop microwave ovens was developed in 1967.  It used microwaves to heat food. 

Once you switch it on, it will pass microwaves at the food. These microwaves get absorbed easily by the fat, water, and other contents of food.

As the food molecules absorb the microwaves inside, it heats up. 

The heat travels from inside the food to outwards, heating the entire food within minutes.

You must have noticed this while trying to warm frozen meat. Within few seconds, the inside part gets warm and the whole meat takes quite some time to heat up entirely.

Here’s something for you to remember: The microwaves get reflected by metal. If you try to cook food in metal cookware inside the microwave, the waves will get reflected and food won’t cook properly. 

That is why the inside body of the microwave is made up of metal to help reflect waves. 

Glass, ceramic, and plastic do not absorb microwaves. 

Microwaves are compact and portable. You can easily fit them over the countertops or in one corner of the kitchen. 

They are quite energy efficient compared to traditional ovens and stovetops. 

Microwaves are economical in the long run. When used right, they provide you many years of quick feasts and fast heating services.

You can heat and cook small portions of food in a microwave within minutes. however, they are not so helpful when it comes to making food crispy, toasting, and roasting.

Also read: Why Do Hot Dogs Spark in the Microwave?

How does a Toaster Oven works? 

Toaster ovens cook food by heating coils inside with electricity.  They come with a removable baking tray and rack.

BLACK+DECKER 4-Slice Toaster Oven with Natural Convection, Stainless Steel, TO1760SS

Think of them as smaller versions of a traditional oven with a front door. 

Most of the toaster ovens available in the market can bake, toast and grill. They are also known as OTG (oven, toaster, and griller). 

Toaster ovens fit well on any kitchen countertop as well as any corner platform of the kitchen.

All it needs is electric sockets having 220V 60Hz. You can find these commonly available in all American homes. 

You can choose your cooking preferences from baking, broiling, roasting, toasting, heating, etc. You can also set the temperature and time according to your dish requirements.

A toaster oven can be used for just about anything except boiling. It is useless when it comes to cooking rice and other meal preparations requiring a good boil.  

Also read: Best Microwave Air Fryer Combo

The Differences Between Microwave and Toaster Oven

Now that we have understood the workings of both the appliances, let us move forward with the difference between the two : 

Energy Consumption 

When it comes to energy consumption, an oven uses more electricity, around 1500 watts. 

A microwave takes up quite less energy and works on 700 watts and above up to 1300watts. 

So when it comes to energy efficiency, a microwave wins hands down. 

Both of them run on electricity and are plug-and-use appliances.

Food Results 

Both toaster ovens and microwaves can be used to heat food. However, the difference lies in their functionality. 

Microwaves have a quick heating ability making them an excellent choice for reheating, defrosting, and cooking small food portions. 

It is an appliance to go for instant food. New microwaves can handle two to three pieces of meat and small pizzas efficiently in less time. 

Toaster ovens need to be preheated and are slower compared to a microwave. However, they are an excellent replacement for conventional ovens and give great cooking results. 

You can fry, bake, roast, crisp, broil, and reheat food in them. You can slow cook, dry meat, grill turkey, and bake a pizza easily with a toaster oven.

They give you a wide range of options for browning, roasting, broiling, toasting, and making food crispy.  

Cooking Capacity 

Toaster ovens are quite versatile and available as large, medium, and small. They offer a good space to cook for the whole family in one go or go solo. 

Microwaves have a smaller cooking capacity compared to toaster ovens. They are small in size and more compact. 


Both the microwave and the toaster ovens are mostly at par in the market. The price goes up with included intelligent features and operations. 

Toaster ovens can be a tad costly if they have pre-installed programs, user-friendly features like a light display, an LCD, air frying, etc.


A microwave has digital controls for temperature and time so you can set them to the perfect second. They come with an easy-to-operate control panel.

A toaster oven has analog controls that need to be rotated. You can never set the timer or temperature to the exact requirement. 

With massive competition, the manufacturers are coming up with digital control panels for ovens as well.

Cooking Time

A microwave is a quick and instant appliance. You can cook, heat, and defrost within minutes. The food molecules absorb the electromagnetic waves instantly and heat up. 

A toaster oven takes up more time to cook and heat. It needs to be preheated just like a conventional oven.

So when it comes to cutting down the cooking time, the microwave oven does the job efficiently. 

Heat Distribution 

A toaster oven uses the heat from electric coils to cook food.

The part near the coils gets the maximum heat so the heat is not evenly distributed. Ovens do not have fans for equal distribution of heat.

This weak point can be easily overcome by preheating the toaster oven. 

Microwaves give you even heat distribution within minutes. This is because the microwaves are absorbed by the food molecules and turned into heat.

Also read: Can You Microwave Ziploc Bags?

Limitations of Microwaves and Toaster Ovens 

Microwaves work wonderfully well for small portions and instant heat. They cannot be used for crispy browned and roasted food. 

In other words, a microwave cannot replace the features of a toaster oven. However, a toaster oven can perform all the functions of a microwave.  

Metal cookware must not be used inside a microwave as metal reflects the waves away from food. The cookware used inside should be microwave safe and fit into the microwave dimensions.  

Studies have shown microwaves to be hazardous to human health. According to studies, microwaves alter food and cause permanent damage to health. 

Toasters cannot cook quickly. They require time and patience to effectively heat up.

With an uneven heat distribution, defrosting can be quite slow. It lacks a fan and cannot be used for foods requiring boiling like rice etc. 

A toaster oven can get hot. You need to use oven mitts and maintain a safe distance while taking out food. 

You should also not keep flammable items near the oven to avoid the risk of fire. 

Final Words

I hope you have understood the differences between the two and it helps you make the right choice.  According to your preferences and needs, you can easily prioritize.

With scientific advancements, you can operate both the appliances from wifi or your phone.

Some of them come with voice-activated functions, a safety child lock, etc making them easy and simple to use. 

After cooking, you need to manually open both the appliances and take food out. Both are designed to help you be versatile in cooking options. They bring flexibility and unique flavors to your meals.

If conventional cooking is your style, opt for the toaster oven. With excellent heating elements and incredible cooking options, you can’t go wrong. 

If all you need is instant food, reheat food, and defrost frozen meats then go for a microwave. 

If you are health conscious, there are a plethora of reasons why I would suggest you ditch the microwave and choose the toaster oven. 

Remember a toaster oven can execute all the functions of a microwave ( although a lot of time is needed compared to a microwave).

But a microwave cannot be substituted for a toaster oven.

All the best!

Other articles you may also find useful:

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!