Microwave oven and grill

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What is the difference between Microwave, Microwave Oven, and Oven?

First off, the terminology issue.

So, can someone please clear up this fog? What’s the difference between Microwave and Oven and Microwave Oven?

“Microwave” is just short for “microwave oven”. Both terms mean the same thing: an appliance that uses microwave radiation to heat food. Cooking food in this way is called “microwaving”. An oven, on the other hand, has a heating element which heats the air inside, which then heats the food. Cooking food in this way is generally called “baking”, though there are a lot of other things (e.g. roasting) you can also reasonably do in an oven.

So if all you have is a microwave, then all you can do is microwave (not bake). And if you have an oven, then you can bake (but of course you can’t microwave).

There also exist combinations, which are capable of both microwaving and baking, i.e. they have a microwave emitter and a heating element. However, remember that in the US – and thus on much of the internet – something talking about a “microwave oven” likely does not mean this combination, but simply microwave heating. Names like “convection microwave oven with grill”, “combination microwave/oven” do refer to these combinations, though. I’ve also seen “speed oven”. You may sometimes have seen people referring to these combination microwave/ovens as a “microwave oven” (I think this may be common in Indian English), but that’s really just imprecise language.

Some sites say that a “microwave” is only for heating or re-heating cooked food. Whereas, in “microwave ovens”, you can microwave and bake. Is that true?

It sounds like in this statement, “microwave oven” is careless language, referring to a combination microwave and oven. (It doesn’t make any sense at all otherwise; the two things are the same thing, so of course you can do the same things in them.)

So the question is really, what can you do in a microwave vs an oven, or a combination microwave/oven?

It’s true that microwaves are mainly used for reheating cooked food, and it’s true that they can’t actually bake. However, they can do a lot more than reheat food; there are a lot of kinds of cooking besides baking. For example, microwaves are great at simmering/boiling and steaming, and it doesn’t matter if the food was cooked already or not. The recipes you’re talking about are probably mostly in those kinds of categories, but if you’re interested, How do I know if a food or recipe can be made in a microwave oven? discusses in a bit more detail what works in microwaves.

The big things that you can do with ovens but not microwaves are the things that actually need the steady dry heat of baking. You can’t bake bread or cookies or roast a chicken in a microwave. Microwaves hold in a lot of steam and don’t get terribly hot, so you can’t generally get things to brown or crisp up. They also don’t really hold a temperature like you need for baking, they just pump more and more heat into the food.

If you’re in the market for a microwave oven, but don’t really know how they compare to a conventional oven, this article is going to run you through the differences. From how they work, to how much they cost, to how they perform. We’ll look at their pros and cons and round things off with a general comparison between the two.

Let’s dive straight in and look at how they each work.

How Does a Microwave Oven Work?

A microwave oven is a cooking appliance that uses electromagnetic radiation from microwaves to heat and cook food. Microwaves are a type of electromagnetic radiation. They are shorter than radio waves and longer than infrared waves.

Microwaves aren’t just used for cooking. You’ll find them being used for radar, certain industrial tasks and communications amongst other things.

Microwave ovens use the heat from this electromagnetic radiation to heat only the food rather than the whole space inside it. The way they generate microwaves is with a special component called a ‘magnetron’. It sounds like one of the Transformers, but what it does is agitate electrons with a heated filament. This generates the microwaves needed to cook the food.

How Does a Conventional Oven Work?

Your bog-standard oven has the same purpose as a microwave but goes about it differently. Instead of using electromagnetic radiation, they may use metal elements, an electric current or wood as a source of heat.

With a conventional oven, you will find a temperature gauge, so you can choose which temperature you are going to cook at. Ovens will most commonly use a fan, also known as a convection oven, to evenly distribute heat. A conventional oven will heat up the chamber of the oven, rather than just the food itself. This will then cook the food inside it.

Pros

So, what are the respective pros of the microwave and conventional oven. We’re going to identify what is most appealing and beneficial about each.

Microwave

  • Microwave ovens are incredibly easy to use. You put your food in it, set the timer for how you want to cook it and that’s it. It’s this ease of use that makes it a consumer favourite.
  • Microwaves cook food much faster than a conventional oven. You won’t really need to microwave anything for longer than 10 minutes. There’s no need to preheat the oven and it cooks at full capacity from the moment it’s turned on. The food absorbs the radiation, so time and energy isn’t wasted on heating the space around it.
  • Microwaves are generally more affordable than conventional ovens. You can get some really basic models for less than £50 for example. They also don’t incur any installation costs and microwave ovens generally use much less energy more efficiently than a conventional oven does.
  • Microwave ovens are also more hygienic, easier to clean and use up less space.

Conventional Oven

  • You can use a conventional oven to do many different things. You can bake, toast and grill as well as cooking. Microwave ovens don’t afford you the same choice.
  • One of the other main benefits of using a conventional oven is the temperature control. Different foods cook at different speeds or require certain temperatures. With microwaves, you’re normally only afforded a choice of vague heat settings from ‘Defrost’ to ‘Very High’.
  • A conventional oven that has a fan will also distribute heat evenly just like a microwave oven. This is important for the performance of your oven so can cook thoroughly and consistently.

With Microwaves available from a number of top brands, our range is here to bring speedy cooking into your kitchen for low prices. Free delivery available when you buy online today!

Take Me There

Cons

Now you know the positives of both microwave and conventional ovens, it’s time to take a closer look at their limitations.

Microwaves

  • Microwaves aren’t effective on thick foods. Whilst they have a very even heat distribution, they can’t cook foods that are around an inch thick or more. If you’re simply reheating something, it’s not so much of an issue. If you’re trying to cook meat, then it is. For instance, you shouldn’t cook a chicken fillet in the microwave.
  • There’s more potential for mishaps with microwaves. Some foods can explode in a microwave. For example, if you use your microwave to poach eggs. If you don’t have the right amount of water, it can cause a mini egg explosion. You can’t put any metals in the microwave as well. Metal reflects the microwaves and can cause sparks to fly or combustion. Most people are generally aware of that fact, however if you have children, you need to ensure that they are also aware of this.

Conventional Ovens

  • If your conventional oven doesn’t have a fan or convection setting, it is likely to heat unevenly. This can lead to an uneven cook.
  • Ovens generally take much longer to cook food than microwave ovens.
  • The largest downside of a conventional oven is its price, though. Ovens aren’t cheap by any means.

Microwaves vs Conventional Ovens

So, when we compare these side by side, how do they shape up? Really, you shouldn’t be choosing whether to get one or the other and these appliances are best when they work in tandem with each other. A microwave oven shouldn’t be your cooking method of choice, despite how convenient it is.

If you need a cooker, you should buy a conventional oven. Ensure that it has all the features you need. The price may be hard to stomach, but it’s a very worthy investment. And there are plenty of ovens and cookers out there that are very reasonably priced.

A microwave should then be bought separately. Together, they give you all the choice you need to cook. Whether you’re going for a quick and easy ready meal or need to defrost some meat that you forgot to take out of the freezer, a microwave oven is extremely handy to have. Its speed and convenience can’t be matched.

You’ll find all of our microwaves and conventional ovens in our cooking section. With Samsung Microwaves, Bosch Microwaves, Combination Microwaves and Microwaves Grills, there’s plenty of choice from top brands available on our website. Buy yourself a state-of-the-art microwave and save money with free shipping! We’ve got loads of different cooking appliances in all different shapes, sizes, colours and designs. Shop around and pick the best cooking solution for your kitchen whether that’s a hob, a built in oven or a range cooker. There’s plenty of choice with products from market-leading appliance brands like Rangemaster, Smeg, Bertazzoni, Bosch and many, many more.

  • Microwave Buying Guide
  • Do’s and Don’ts of Microwave Cooking
  • How to Responsibly Dispose of Your Old Microwave
  • Microwave Oven Problems
  • Microwave Ovens FAQ

How to buy the best combination microwave

Popular combination microwaves compared

We’ve tested all the latest Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Daewoo and Kenwood combination microwaves.

Here’s a quick summary of how some the more popular key models measure up on specs – including capacity, price and features.

Kenwood K25CSE16 combination microwave, £110

  • Maximum plate size: 32cm
  • Features: 10 auto programs, large digital display, in-built kitchen timer, multi-stage programming

This Kenwood comes at a budget price but still has 10 auto programs covering everything from pizza, potatoes and pasta, to vegetables, cakes and chicken, and multi-stage cooking. You’ll need the kitchen space for it though as it’s bulkier than most combi microwaves.

Read the full Kenwood K25CSE16 review to find out if it can cook well on the cheap.

Morphy Richards D90D combination microwave, £100

  • Maximum plate size: 29cm
  • Features: 11 auto programs, crisper plate, multi-stage programming

This cheap combi comes with a crisper plate designed to crisp up the bottom of your pizzas and pies. However, it’ll have to be a small one as it’s pretty cramped inside. We could only fit a 29cm dish through the door.

Read the full Morphy Richards D90D review to find out if it can cook a delicious dinner.

Panasonic NN-CT56JBBPQ combination microwave, £200

  • Maximum plate size: 35cm
  • Features: 24 auto programs, spacious, metric-to-imperial converter

If you’re looking for a combi with all the bells and whistles, this Panasonic comes with 24 auto programs to do anything from roasting beef (well done, medium or rare), rustling up a quick bowl of porridge to reheating flapjacks. There’s even a handy metric-to-imperial converter to help when entering weights. You can fit a huge 35cm plate inside – so it could be an ideal option for bigger households.

Read the full Panasonic NN-CT56JBBPQ review to find out if it’s worth splashing out for the extra features.

Panasonic NN-DF386BBP £250

  • Max plate size: 30cm
  • Features: drop down door, flatbed (no turntable), auto sensor cooking

This Panasonic has the look and feel of a convention oven, with its drop-down door and flatbed design. We could only fit a 30cm plate through the door, but as it doesn’t have a turntable you can get more in without having to leave room for dishes to rotate. It comes with auto sensor cooking and a handful of other auto programs – including a specific setting to defrost bread.

Read the full Panasonic NN-DF386BBP review to find out if it’s good enough to replace your oven.

Our combination microwave reviews

Whether you want a premium combi bursting with extra features and functions, or are just looking for a basic, cheap model, we’ve found Best Buys for every budget.

Head to our combination microwave reviews to compare all the latest models and filter by price to find the best for you.

If you’re not yet a member, you’ll need to join Which? to gain access to all our reviews.

Best microwaves 2020: These are the best you can buy

Originally a machine of convenience, the microwave oven is now an essential part of any kitchen.

Whether you want to just heat liquids quickly (or warm up cold food), or dive into more complicated cooking modes, you need the best microwave oven. In this ranking, we’re bringing you our top choices, so that you can find the model that best suits your needs.

  • Best for versatility: Panasonic NN-DF386
  • Best for value: Sharp R861SLM
  • Best for steam cooking: Panasonic NN-DS596
  • Best for ease of use: Sage Quick Touch Crisp
  • Best for features: Panasonic NN-CT585SBPQ

We’ve reviewed microwaves and combi ovens from all of the biggest manufacturers, and we’re happy to recommend five of them.

Out of the models that we’ve reviewed, two stand out. If you want the best cooking experience, mixing microwaving with grilling, the Panasonic NN-DF386 is the best model. If you’re on a tighter budget, the Sharp R861SLM is exceptional value for a combi oven.

How we picked the best microwaves

Microwaves fall into two main categories: standard microwaves, which use a form of radio waves to rapidly heat foot, and combi ovens that also add in alternative cooking methods, including conventional ovens and grills.

The former is useful for quickly heating foods and defrosting; the latter gives you a wider choice of cooking options, suitable for all types of food.

  • To test each type, we select a variety of food to cook, taking in baked potatoes, frozen pizza, defrosting bread and the like.
  • We also test any special programmes or features that each model has: some Panasonic microwaves, for example, have a Pana-crunch pan, which is designed to give you a crispy finish to your cooked food.
  • Usability is also exceptionally important, with many microwaves having indecipherably controls. We thoroughly test each microwave, rating it for the quality of its controls, and the options available.

1. Panasonic NN-DF386

A combi oven that can do everything a microwave can, plus create beautiful crisp food

Pros:

  • Excellent results
  • Lots of programs
  • Crisper pan

Cons:

  • Fairly pricey
  • Not the fastest we’ve tested

If you’re after an attractive, well-featured, do-it-all appliance then you won’t go far wrong with the Panasonic DF386. Sure, it might not be able to steam-cook like its sibling in this roundup, the NN-DS596, but this combination microwave-grill-oven cooks food brilliantly. It’s a little slower than some microwaves, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in precision.

The Panasonic NN-DF386 comes with the Pana-crunch pan and an enamel tray for use with the oven or grill, and has seven auto-weight programmes for popular foods: chilled quiche, frozen potato products, pastry items, chilled pizza, frozen pizza, gratin potato and gratin pasta.

You can even use the Sensor programmes without having to enter the cooking time, weight or power level before you hit start; the NN-DS596 just works it out for itself. Other great features we love include a clock, timer delay and child-safety lock.

  • Read our Panasonic DF386 review

2. Sharp R861SLM

A great value combination oven

Pros:

  • Good value
  • Cooks fairly evenly
  • Good-looking

Cons:

  • Vibrates, can be noisy
  • Flatbed is a little ugly
  • Deep

The most striking thing about the Sharp R861SLM’s design is its unusual pull-down door, which makes the appliance look far pricier than it is. Inside, the flatbed design with no turntable offers greater cooking flexibility, and a supplied wire rack and baking tray make handy vessels for a wide range of food and meals.

The standard features include buttons to select the time in 10-minute, one-minute and 10-second increments; defrost by weight or time; plus the ability to select cooking method by microwave, grill, oven or a combination of the microwave with one of the others.

There are six auto menu functions available with a button’s press: jacket potato, pizza, rice, oven chips, cake, and roast chicken. A further seven functions offer auto reheat, beverages, vegetables, soup, grilled bacon, grilled fish pieces, and roast beef/lamb.

The only fault we found with the Sharp R861SLM is its tendency to vibrate and make noise while it cooks. That can be a little annoying, but if you’re in the market for a decent-sized microwave, grill and convection oven, its features and premium looks far outweigh that negative.

  • Read our Sharp R861SLM review

3. Panasonic NN-DS596

A handy microwave that also handles steam cooking

Pros:

  • Steam oven
  • Large capacity
  • Crisper pan

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • A bit bulky

The Panasonic NN-DS596 is a feature-packed microwave-grill-oven combi that also handles steam cooking. It’s perfect for anyone who frequently finds themselves short of oven space, or simply wants the convenience of a microwave with some bonus foodie features.

With a large capacity of 27 litres, plenty of smart programmes for popular foods, and a rectangular, full-width tray that slides into the appliance like an oven shelf, the NN-DS596 offers more than simply a way to heat your lunch soup. You can cook or defrost by time or weight, steam-cook in combination with the microwave or quartz grill to keep food moist, and heat food from the bottom up with the bundled ribbed cooking pan – or the Pana-crunch pan, as Panasonic calls it.

It isn’t the cheapest combi option on the market, but it’s a contemporary and high-end appliance that you’ll rely on for quick and easy meals for years to come.

  • Read our Panasonic NN-DS596 review

4. Sage Quick Touch Crisp

A very easy-to-use microwave with tonnes of features

Pros:

  • Foodie options
  • Intuitive controls
  • Crisper pan

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • No oven

The Sage Quick Touch Crisp is every bit the smart, sophisticated kitchen appliance we’ve come to expect from Sage. The feature-rich microwave-grill combi comes with a slew of settings to precisely cook everything from pasta and grilled cheese to vegetables and roasted nuts. In short, it’s foodie heaven – if you’re able to fork out £349.95 for the privilege.

The Quick Touch Crisp’s main settings are for straightforward cooking: a Smart Cook/Grill, and Smart Reheat or Defrost. Selecting one these from the microwaves screen leads you to written menus to select the food type, and the possibilities are almost endless. To make life a little less complicated, there are ten hidden shortcut buttons inside the door for your favourite programmes, grilling and more.

You also get a clever 290mm Crisper Pan on legs that folds down for grilling and folds away when you want the pan down low for general microwaving tasks. Plus, there’s Sage’s popular ‘A Bit More’ button, which does exactly what you’d expect.

While this is clearly an appliance designed for the keen cook, kitchen novices shouldn’t be put off. The Quick Touch Crisp is bustling with features, but it’s simple and intuitive to use, and could well be the making of nervous and inexperienced chefs.

  • Read our Sage Quick Touch Crisp review

5. Panasonic NN-CT585SBPQ

A well-featured, full-size microwave combi oven

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.Panasonic NN-CT585SBPQ 27L 1000W Digital Convection Microwave Stainless Steel in stock £219.95 Buy Now Powered by trusted reviews

Pros:

  • Compact yet large capacity
  • Doubles as an oven and grill
  • Fast combination cooking

Cons:

  • Short power cable
  • Food needs turning very regularly when grilling

If you’re after a full-sized, well-featured combination microwave, oven and grill that doesn’t swamp your workspace, the Panasonic NN-CT585SBPQ will prove the perfect fit. With a brushed stainless steel finish, solid design and responsive buttons, this unusually compact microwave makes light work of the full range of cooking tasks.

Its six power levels can be controlled precisely, rather than just switched on and off, thanks to its built-in inverter – and its powerful grill does a stellar job of crisping up food. It’s so powerful, in fact, that you’ll need to turn food frequently, but we have no complaints about its efficiency. Defrosting, too, is much better than with most other microwaves at this price point.

Other notable perks include a scrolling text “operation guide” that reminds you how to use the microwave. This is useful, but once you’ve got the hang of the controls, you can turn it off. Add to that a wire rack for grilling and an enamel tray for grilling and baking, and you have one of the best packages around for £200.

  • Read our Panasonic NN-CT585SBPQ review

How to choose the right microwave?

What type do I need?

A basic microwave oven uses electromagnetic radiation to heat food and items only. These models can be quite cheap, and are useful for heating and reheating items rapidly, or for defrosting. They’re not particularly versatile, and some foods can be a bit soggy after being cooked in a standard microwave.

A combi oven is a microwave that also has alternative cooking options, giving you more flexibility. A conventional oven lets you cook as normal, while microwaves with integrated grills can be good for crisping up food. Some have all three options. Many of the posher microwaves can combine cooking types, starting with microwaving, for example, before finishing off with the grill or oven.

What power should I go for?

The power rating in Watts, is a useful measure for microwaves. Simply put, the higher the power setting, the quicker your microwave can heat items.

Typically speaking, the highest setting is for reheating beverages, while the lowest can help rise dough or soften ice cream; the power levels in between are for defrosting up to more gentle cooking. A 750W microwave is the minimum you should buy, but an 850W or 1000W model gives you more flexibility.

Your microwave’s manual should have a settings guide to help you choose the right option. And, many microwaves have built-in programmes that set everything automatically, such as a defrost option where you just have to enter the weight of the meat that you want to thaw.

What else should I look out for?

Cheaper microwaves still use a turntable inside, which reduces the size of dish that you can use. Look for a model with a flat bed if you want to use larger cooking dishes. Look for ccessories in the form of wire racks and baking trays, and a larger range of cooking

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Panasonic NN-DF386BBPQ Microwave Oven

Panasonic NN-DF386BBPQ 3-in-1 Combination Microwave Oven, 1000 W, 23 Litre, Black, 23 liters

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Home Technology Editor Starting life on the consumer PC press back in 1998, David has been at the forefront of technology for the past 20 years. He has edited Computer Shopper and Expert Reviews, and once wrote a book on ho…

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How to buy the best convection microwave

Convection ovens, also known as combination ovens, are the multi-taskers of the cooking world and are a godsend for people who don’t have a lot of space. They’re handy for a studio apartment, caravan or holiday home, or where a full-sized oven wouldn’t fit.

They can also be a useful addition to full kitchens, if you think you could use more than one oven when cooking up a feast.

On this page:

  • The pros and cons of convection
  • What to look for in a convection microwave
  • Using a convection microwave safely
  • Combination cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Installation
  • Cost

The pros and cons of convection

  • Convection microwave ovens combine two appliances into one. They can be used as a microwave, as an oven, and in combination mode (combining microwave, bake and even grill functions).
  • Can be very convenient, effective and fast, especially for high-temperature cooking such as roasts, pastries and pizza.
  • Quick to preheat, with oven temperatures up to 240°C.
  • Great for speedy reheating and crisping of pastry; melting and browning cheese toasts; and browning au gratins.
  • Suitable for a small family, they can accommodate a roast or a large pizza. There are models available with two shelf positions for multiple shelf cooking.
  • Convection microwaves are cheaper to run than an oven so there can be a considerable saving on energy costs.
  • They’re smaller than conventional ovens, and suitable for small kitchens, caravans and holiday homes.
  • They have smaller cavities than an oven so cooking is limited to one type of food at a time.
  • The oven cavity needs to be cleaned after each use as any grease or baked on residue will be baked on with the next use and be difficult to remove. It also slows down the microwave cooking time as it cooks the residue as well as the intended food.
  • They can be difficult to clean as most have stainless steel interiors.
  • Cooking fatty foods in the convection oven splash onto the walls, baking on the residue overtime leaving grease marks that are difficult to remove.
  • There’s no bottom element, therefore there’s limited browning and crisping for any foods that require base cooking such as pastry, pies and pizza. Some models have a crisp plate that helps to brown and crisp the bottom of the food, but this still won’t give as good a result as an oven with a bottom element.

What to look for in a convection microwave

Visibility

A bright interior light and large transparent viewing window let you check your food as it cooks. No model we’ve tested has been particularly good for visibility.

Ease of use

Look for easy-to-use controls and good instructions on the display. The best ovens won’t require you to refer to the instruction manual.

Cleaning

Check there aren’t too many holes or gaps inside the oven, or seams and crevices on the outside that can trap food and grease. It can be hard to clean around exposed grill elements; some models have a grill element built into the roof instead. Stainless steel exteriors look good but can require extra attention to keep them free from fingerprints. Look for smooth easy clean coatings, or some manufacturers are introducing catalytic liners however they have limited coverage.

Size

Check to make sure your cooking dishes will fit in the microwave. The oven also needs clearance around the outside for ventilation – at least 5cm at the sides, 10cm at the rear, and 15–40cm on top.

Automatic functions

These prompt you to enter the weight and type of food and then automatically calculate the time required.

Quick boost/start

This starts the oven usually with the press of a single button. With most microwaves, the cooking time increases in one or half-minute increments if you press the button again.

Time adjust

This lets you increase or decrease the programmed time without stopping cooking.

Delayed start

Lets you program the oven to start cooking at a pre-set time. But don’t leave food too long in the oven if it might spoil.

Sensor cooking

Sensor programs take automatic functions one step further by measuring vapours emitted during cooking to control the cooking time.

Auto-programmed functions

For commonly cooked foods, you can be prompted to add the serve size or weight, and the oven will work out a cooking time.

Multi-stage cooking

Microwaves with this feature can be programmed to perform a sequence of functions, such as defrost, cook and then leave to stand.

Child lock safety

You can push a sequence of buttons to deactivate the microwave.

Kitchen timer

Can be used to time other things such as boiling an egg.

Cooling fan

Many microwave ovens (both convection and regular microwaves) have a fan to cool the interior after cooking, but some are noisy. They can run for several minutes after cooking has completed, especially after using the oven.

Using a convection microwave safely

Convection cooking heats up the entire inside of the oven, so the appliance has to be insulated to prevent the exterior becoming dangerously hot. We find that the controls, door glass and handle do heat up more than with a basic microwave oven, but not dangerously so. These ovens are far better insulated than small benchtop toaster ovens.

Be careful removing cooked food as the inside of the oven door gets very hot in convection mode and may swing back onto your hand. Always use oven gloves and let the oven cool before cleaning the interior.

Also remember that while the oven interior is still hot from convection cooking, you should avoid using microwave-only cookware in it, as the cookware may be damaged by the heat.

Combination cooking

Combination mode – using convection and microwave cooking at the same time, and maybe the grill as well – can speed up cooking and give very good results.

It is suitable for:

  • roasting meats, poultry and vegetables
  • baking fish, casseroles, and potato and pasta bakes
  • cooking cakes, pastries and slices

Metal cookware can be used during combination mode. However, some metal utensils may cause arcing if they come into contact with the oven walls or racks.

Cleaning

  • Ensure the oven has cooled slightly before cleaning. Unlike a standard microwave, the sides of a convection microwave oven can get quite hot after use.
  • Do not use caustic cleaners, abrasives or harsh cleaners or scouring pads. Never spray oven cleaners directly onto any part of the oven.
  • To clean the interior, wipe out with warm soapy water. For heavy soiling, a bowl of water can be heated until boiling, then left for a further 30 seconds to a minute. The steam will collect on the walls and soften the dirty marks so the oven can then be wiped clean using washing-up liquid. For stubborn residue, a non-scratch scourer can be used.

Installation

Built-in models

  • All built-in models must have a trim kit and be installed by a qualified electrician.
  • Can be integrated within a kitchen to streamline with other integrated appliances. They’re usually installed in a 600mm wide cavity and sit flush with the surrounding cupboard units.
  • Can’t have a rear wall behind the oven as this will reduce air flow and restrict ventilation and air intake outlets.
  • Great for smaller kitchens as they save on bench space.

Freestanding/benchtop

  • Can only be installed as freestanding; they can’t be built-in or placed in a cabinet.
  • Need to be placed on a stable flat surface to limit noise and vibration.
  • Feet on the microwave help to keep the unit stable on the bench.
  • Should not be placed where heat and steam are generated (for example, next to a conventional oven).
  • Don’t place heavy items on top of the unit.
  • Don’t cover or block any of the vents at the back of the unit – this is where the hot air escapes, and blocking the vents could cause the unit to overheat and malfunction.
  • Take up valuable bench space.

All convection microwaves ovens require at least 10cm clearance at the sides, approximately 15cm at the rear, and 15–40cm on top.

Cost

Convection microwaves typically cost from $160 to $1000 and up to $4000 for built-in deluxe models (not including installation).

A microwave/toaster oven combo allows you to bake without firing up a traditional oven, which can save time, money and prevent your kitchen turning into a hot box.

What is the best convection microwave? Our top pick is the Cuisinart CMW-200. We love the multi-stage cooking capabilities that make short work of what can otherwise be a complicated process. The convection roast and fast bake modes work well and this model helps simplify time spent in the kitchen.

In this guide, we will compare microwave models in our table and convection microwave reviews to help you find the best microwave toaster oven combo for you and your kitchen.

Top 7: Best Microwave Convection Ovens

Page Contents

Convection Microwave Reviews

1. Cuisinart CMW-200 Convection Microwave

The Cuisinart CMW-200 offers some of the best programmable features of any of our picks.

Top Features

  • 1000-watt Convection Microwave
  • 12-inch Rotating Glass Turntable
  • Modern controls with 9 presets, grill function and multi-stage cooking
  • 3-year limited warranty

The coolest thing about this unit is that it can be programmed for multi-stage cooking. You can set it to defrost on low power, heat on high power, then brown using the oven with a single sequence of button presses. This feature alone sets this unit above the rest.

Its grill feature seems to be a clever renaming of the microwave and oven mode combo, but the functionality is the same as other convection units.

The oven has a variety of special modes, including Convection Roast and Fast Bake that automatically modulate the temperature of the oven to make your cooking experience easier.

Cuisinart recommends 3 inches of free space at the sides and back of this unit and 12 inches of vertical headspace, so you’ll have to keep this in mind when measuring your counter space.

If you’re looking for a microwave with toaster that has convenient, programmable cooking modes, the Cuisinart CMW-200 convection microwave is definitely worth considering.

2. Samsung MG14H3020CM Countertop Grill Microwave Oven

Samsung’s microwave features innovative cooking routines and smart options to cook your food without you guessing cooking times or power levels.

Top Features

  • 950-watt Convection Microwave
  • Grilling Element and Ceramic Plate for crisping food
  • Ceramic Enamel interior
  • Shiny Black Mirror finish

The grill plate is especially handy as it reflects heat from the broiler back at your food, giving this unit a much closer simulation of an actual grill than its competitors.

Simple dial-a-temperature, preheat notification, and timed shutoff help make the oven easy to use.

The interface for this microwave is somewhat confusing. The microwave is “smart” and the preset modes take a food type, weight, and cooking type (microwave, oven, grill, etc.) as input.

After some calculations behind the scenes the Samsung MG14H3020CM comes up with a cooking time and power level. This is great except that you don’t know how long your microwave will want to cook things for.

With a slightly lower wattage, things may take a bit longer to cook, but the difference is negligible. It compensates for lack of power by being generous in size, with a 1.4 cubic foot capacity.

Aside from what it can do, this model is exceptionally attractive. The black mirror finish gives it a super-sophisticated, sleek look, and surprisingly, finger prints marks aren’t really an issue – it’s easy to keep clean inside and out.

If you’re looking for a convection microwave with a grill and oil-less fryer mode, the Samsung Countertop model might be one to consider.

3. Sharp 900W Convection Microwave Oven

This Sharp model is a roomy unit that offers sensor cooking and a variety of convection modes.

Top Features

  • 900-watt Convection Microwave
  • Sensor controlled programmable cooking
  • 15.4″ turntable with two metal racks

Sensor cooking allows you to put food in the microwave, press a button or two, and then wait patiently as the microwave adjusts the cooking time and temperature to match the food that you put in.

Because this unit is only 900 watts, it makes cooking times a bit longer than a 1000-watt unit. Realistically, this will only affect you by increasing the time it takes to boil water by thirty seconds or so.

Another issue to consider is that the turntable has a rather under-powered motor and is supported by plastic gears. If you’re cooking heavy food, try to use the racks instead to prevent strain on the turntable and gears.

This Sharp unit is a simple convection microwave with innovative roast settings and another unit worth consideration.

4. Panasonic NN-SN686S Microwave with Inverter Technology

Panasonic’s patented inverter technology is designed to provide a steady stream of power at any temperature setting, which helps your food to be heated evenly and consistently all the way through.

Top Features

  • 1200-watt Convection Microwave
  • Inverter Technology for even cooking
  • 14 Preset Auto Cook menu items

Panasonic offers a mounting kit for your cupboard, similar to an over the range microwave. If you elect not to use this option, be sure to leave adequate space around your oven to safely dissipate heat.

While other microwaves only have two modes of microwave cooking (“on” and “off”), Panasonic’s Inverter technology allows this microwave to actually cook at 30% or 50% power.

Normally, when you adjust the power level on your microwave, it simply pulses between on and off every several seconds to heat food more slowly. Panasonic claims that by heating on a lower power level the entire time, their microwaves can cook food more evenly.

While this feature is very nice in a traditional microwave, it’s somewhat less novel in a convection model. In a convection microwave, you can simply turn on the fan and put the oven on low to assure even distribution of low heat.

There’s no need to memorize numbers or codes, you just press a few buttons and follow the instructions on the display. This model also has a turbo defrost, keep warm feature, quick-minute timer and delayed start feature.

While the inverter means this microwave toaster oven has some pretty unique functionality, it’s also more difficult to repair in the event that it breaks. Be sure to investigate warranty options because the one year default may not be enough.

This is the most powerful model reviewed; with 1200 watts of power, your food will be ready a lot more quickly, but the inverter technology saves it from feeling “nuked.” No more overcooked edges and raw centers!

If you’re looking for a convection microwave that allows precision temperature control for both the oven and microwave components, check out the Panasonic NN-SN686S microwave oven combo.

5. LG LCSP1110ST Counter Top Combo

Update: Originally, we reviewed the LG LCSP1110ST microwave toaster combo which included a pizza oven. Since then, this model has been discontinued.

This wasn’t a true convection microwave because the oven unit was entirely separate from the microwave unit which led to some unique advantages and disadvantages.

Top Features

  • 1000-watt Microwave Oven
  • EasyClean Oven Coating
  • 1400W Pizza Oven

The oven unit was a small “pizza drawer” that slid out from below the microwave. While it was small vertically, it was more than large enough for a 12″ frozen pizza, a cookie sheet, or a couple of sandwiches.

SEE ALSO: Best Microwave Drawers

Because the oven was small, you didn’t need to worry about preheating; it heated up very quickly and evenly. This also meant that you were free to use the microwave while you baked.

For example, you could warm up extra sauce while a pizza baked or boil water for tea while you made cookies.

One of the major draws to this convection microwave was the ability to use both cooking modes in tandem.

We loved the two units combined and hope that another manufacturer will bring back a similar unit.

6. Emerson 1000W Convection Microwave Oven

Top Features

  • 1000-watt Microwave Oven
  • Grill Feature and Removable Grill Rack
  • Nine Preset Cooking Options
  • Time and Weight Defrost Programming

Cook your food however you want; the Emmerson Convection Microwave Oven offers convection, microwave and grilling capabilities.

This model doesn’t have extra bells and whistles, but does a fine job of the basics. Food cooks evenly, there’s instant start mode and no confusing extras.

The touch pad control is simple to use and the LED display clear and bright.

If you’re using the oven to defrost, you can quickly and easily enter the food’s weight. The oven will calculate the correct time and power – or you can manually set these variables yourself.

The glass turntable is rather heavy and operates a tad slowly – this model is also somewhat louder than others reviewed; if you’re looking for a whisper-quiet unit, give this one a miss.

The Emerson Convection Microwave Oven has generous capacity, at 1.5 cubic feet. It’s a good, standard model, attractive in black with stainless steel trim and handle. If you’re after a reliable machine that covers the basics and gives you plenty of cooking options, this might be the one for you.

7. GE Profile Countertop Convection/Microwave Oven

The GE Profile Countertop Convection/Microwave Oven is a higher-end model that will add a dash of style to any kitchen.

Top Features

  • 1000-watt Microwave Oven
  • Convection Roast Option
  • Stainless Steel Interior
  • Broiler Feature
  • 2 removable racks

If you have limited kitchen space and are looking for a model that takes up a little less room, this should fit the bill. At only 13-inches high, it should be able to squeeze into some tight areas.

Bear in mind, however, that you may compromise on cooking area inside. Although the specs say 1.5 cubic feet interior, by the time you take into account the turntable and trays, you don’t have a lot of room to move.

This model does extremely well as a microwave; the 1000 watts provide fast cooking times and there’s even a sensor cooking mode which cleverly reads the humidity of your food to figure out when it’s done.

GE have included all the little extra features you might need, such as the ability to turn the display on and off, mute the beeps, and of course, there’s the simplicity of an “add 30 seconds” button.

When it comes to the convection capabilities, however, you may find this oven lacking. There are both bake and roast modes, which can be handy for smaller projects, but overall this convection oven struggles to reach the correct cooking temperature.

Using the convection mode can be frustrating, and your food may take considerably longer than anticipated to cook.

This GE convection microwave combo will suit those looking for a more compact model to fit a smaller space in the kitchen. It’s attractive and works well as a microwave. If you’re planning to rely heavily on the convection capabilities, you may be disappointed.

Final Thoughts

Convection microwaves come with all the electronic control amenities you would expect in a modern microwave but the biggest attraction is the combined cooking methods.

You can use the microwave to quickly heat up your food as the oven preheats, then take advantage of the fan to circulate air while it sits in an oven, browning the outside.

Finding the best convection microwave for your kitchen is a matter of determining what you need and seeking options available.

The versatile Cuisinart CMW-200 Convection Microwave beats out the other models reviewed here simply because it has so many functions and options, all packaged together in an attractive oven that is simple to operate and a pleasure to cook with.