Toaster Oven vs Microwave: Which One is For You?

Toaster Oven and a Microwave

When setting up your kitchen, you’ll need a few appliances to help with cooking, baking, defrosting, and reheating food. The two most common appliances for these jobs are the toaster oven and the microwave. While they have many similarities, there are key differences between the two.

In this article, I’ll examine the differences between a toaster oven and a microwave, so that you can choose which kitchen appliance is best for you!

Difference Between a Toaster Oven and a Microwave

When choosing between a toaster oven and a microwave, you’ll need to consider the functionality and cooking time of each appliance. Other factors you should review are price, size, energy efficiency, and maintenance. 


Toaster ovens offer a wide range of functions including baking, toasting, and broiling. More expensive toaster ovens will come with even more options like defrosting and even rotisserie. 

Most meats and vegetables can be cooked in a toaster oven. Pizza, garlic bread, and other dough-based products also fare well with this appliance. Toaster ovens even work well for cooking smaller batches of muffins, cookies, and other baked goods.

A toaster oven is great for keeping foods warm once they have been cooked. Reheating liquids, like tea, coffee, or soup, is not recommended in a toaster oven. Defrosting can be done in toaster ovens that have that specific function.

Microwaves are ideal for reheating foods that aren’t dough-based. Foods like pizza or bread tend to get soggy or chewy when put in the microwave. Meats, vegetables, casseroles, stews, and pasta all reheat well with this appliance.

When you need to reheat a cup of coffee or bowl of soup, the microwave is ideal. This appliance can also be great for defrosting frozen foods like meat.

Microwaves cannot brown or crisp foods, so they are not suitable for broiling or toasting. If you are making foods that demand a crispy texture like chicken wings, a microwave isn’t the best choice.

Cooking Time

In almost every case, the microwave will reheat and cook foods faster than a toaster oven will. The downside to this is that microwaves do not heat foods as evenly as a toaster oven does. 

With a microwave, you may find that parts of your food are steaming hot while others are still cold. A toaster oven takes longer to heat foods but provides a reliable, even heat.


Toaster ovens and microwaves are fairly comparable in price, at least when it comes to basic models. A simple toaster oven can be found for around $35 and microwaves generally start at $45 for a small, basic appliance.

With increasing size and functionality, prices will increase. Toaster ovens that have multiple functions like rotisserie can cost upwards of $100-$150. Larger microwaves are also priced at around $100 and up.


Both microwaves and toaster ovens range in size, from small countertop options to larger versions. A small microwave can measure 17 by 14 by 10 inches, while a larger one can be 24 by 19 by 14 inches.

Toaster ovens can be as small as 16 by 13 by 8 inches, with larger models as big 16 by 15 by 14 inches.

Energy Efficiency

Compared to a traditional full-size oven, both microwaves and toaster ovens are more energy efficient. Toaster ovens tend to be less energy efficient than microwaves for two reasons. First, the microwave uses less energy to operate, and second, microwaves are typically used for a shorter period of time.


A microwave is generally easier to clean than a toaster oven. The removable turntable can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher while the inside of the appliance is wiped out.

Toaster ovens can be kept cleaner by always using a tray instead of placing food directly on the rack. Food that gets burned onto the inside of the toaster oven makes it harder to clean. Luckily for you, I wrote a detailed guide on cleaning a toaster oven. Make sure to check it out in case you need help cleaning your kitchen friend.

Is a Toaster Oven Better Than a Microwave?

Since toaster ovens and microwaves offer different functions, the best one for you depends on your cooking habits. Microwaves are best for reheating foods including liquids and for defrosting. Toaster ovens are better for cooking and baking foods.

Toaster Oven Pros & Cons

Heats food evenly.Takes longer to cook food.
Keeps food warm.Not ideal for defrosting foods.
Offers more functions like broiling and toasting.Not ideal for reheating beverages or soups.
Pros and cons of a toaster oven.

Microwave Pros & Cons

Can make popcorn.Cannot toast or broil foods.
Good for defrosting frozen foods.Heat is not distributed evenly.
Can reheat soups, beverages, and other liquids.Can make some foods soggy or chewy.
Pros and cons of a microwave.

Is There a Microwave Toaster Oven?

Yes–a combination microwave toaster oven is another option to choose from. These appliances use microwaves, heating elements, and a convection fan so that you can have the best of both options.

So, Toaster Oven or a Microwave?

If you’re looking for an appliance that will let you cook, bake, and broil, you’ll want a toaster oven. Particularly for people who don’t have a full-size oven, this appliance is the best choice. 

If you already own a full-size oven, the better choice would be a microwave. This will allow you to easily defrost and reheat foods.

Do Toaster Ovens Use Radiation?

Toaster ovens use infrared radiation that is produced when electricity activates the heating coils. This radiation is safe for both the food and the person operating the toaster oven.

Is a Toaster Oven Healthier Than a Microwave?

Both toaster ovens and microwaves are healthy options for making food. The FDA recommends that microwaves should not be used if they are damaged or don’t close properly. They also recommend people do not stand in front of a microwave for long periods of time.

Larry Flynn

Hi everyone! My name is Larry Flynn and I've been working in the kitchen appliance industry for decades. From manufacturing to retail and everything in between. My latest hobby is running this website, where I share all the knowledge I gathered throughout the years in the industry. I also run a small toaster repair shop in downtown NY, and collect vintage toasters.

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