Do not get me wrong, microwaves are amazing and useful. They help me make microwave mac-and-cheese, popcorn, and mug cakes. However, when it comes to multipurpose uses, microwaves fall short in the toaster oven vs. microwave debate. Toaster ovens are amazing and so underrated. I love them and they are amazing when you only have an efficiency kitchen or are just too lazy to wait for a large oven to preheat.

Though I feel that toaster ovens beat microwaves when comparing the two, there are some instances where you just cannot compare them because at their core they are two different appliances. Here is the break down of uses between them so you know when to use each:

First Things First: What Makes Them Different?

cheese, milk
Annie Pinto

Toaster ovens and microwaves cook foods differently. Toaster ovens are quite literally small ovens. Meaning they cook foods by using a heating element and heat the food from the outside like an oven. This does take longer, but the risk of dehydrating your food is lower. Microwaves use microwaves that heat up all the water molecules at once, thus cutting down cooking time exponentially.

Browning, Toasting, and Crisping

toast, bread, wheat, sandwich, rye
Jocelyn Hsu

Amy Says Cook, a food blog, breaks down the differences in the toaster oven vs. microwave debate. When it comes to the simple tasks of browning, toasting, and crisping, toaster ovens win here. These are very specific tasks that are best when using oven appliance, because they require specific heat needing to be applied to the tops of food. Microwaves just cannot do that.

These tasks are vital when it comes to foods like bread and pizza. Microwaves will make your bread tough and not edible, so stick with your toaster oven for this one. You can throw pizza in a microwave, but it will also become tough if you are not careful, whereas, a toaster oven will keep your pizza cheese bubbly and your crust perfect.

Cooking and Reheating

sauce, meat, vegetable, tomato, pizza, pepper
Jennifer Cao

When it comes to cooking, it becomes food specific. You can make potatoes and frozen foods in both toaster ovens and microwaves just fine. However, when it comes to anything cheesy or warming foods, a toaster oven is a better choice. With a toaster oven you have the choice of temperatures and placement of racks which can assist you in cooking and reheating. Microwaves you have limited temperature choices (mainly low or high heat options) but from how they cook food, your risk of dehydrating your meal is still very high.

It is hard to compare the difference between the toaster oven vs. microwave, as in some instances you can only use one or the other. For example, you cannot pop popcorn in an oven. It just is not practical. Both are important appliances to invest in no matter which one you like more. It really comes down to your cooking needs on which one you need. Regardless, if you keep these guidelines in mind, you will know which one you need to use.