Microwaves or ovens are quite helpful in the kitchen as they let us cook, bake, re-heat or defrost the food quickly without any mess.
However, most of the people are unaware of the fact that – microwave and oven are not same. Although we may use them interchangeably, both are different.
You need to know the differences between them before making the purchase.
Check out this ultimate guide provided in this article to understand the difference between these two and their functionality.
Let us get into the discussion.
What is a Microwave Oven?
A microwave oven also called a microwave, is a type of oven that uses microwaves to cook or heat food.
How Does a Microwave Oven Work?
The microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves called microwaves to produce frequency. When water, fat, or sugars in the food absorb this frequency, it stimulates the heat and ultimately warms the food.
These microwave ovens run only on electricity and do not require any additional setup.
What is an Oven?
An oven is another cooking device that comes like an enclosed chamber specially used for baking, heating, and drying.
How Does an Oven Work?
Unlike microwaves, an oven uses electricity to produce heat directly inside the insulating chamber. It consists of a heating element inside the device. When electricity passes through the heating coils, they get heated and produce hot air in the oven. This warm air gets circulated inside the appliance and heats the food.
Ovens are basically of two types – conventional and convection. Although both look similar from the outside, they differ internally. That said, the generation and dispersion vary for each type.
1. Conventional Oven
A conventional oven is a traditional or regular oven that has two heating elements located on the top and bottom of the device. It also has a multi-rack to place the food. These ovens can be either gas or electric. When you run the appliance, the heating elements get heated and distribute this heat throughout the food place in the oven rack. Thereby, it cooks the food inside.
2. Convection Oven
A convection oven has a fan and an exhaust system that help in circulating the warm air across the appliance. This facilitates the even circulation and distribution of hot air and further maintains a consistent temperature inside. The advantage of using a convection oven is that you have the flexibility to cook on multiple racks without any fear of overcooking or undercooking. Even the convection ovens can be either gas or electric.
What are the Differences Between a Microwave Oven and an Oven?
Let us learn the differences between a microwave oven and an oven from the following table. This comparison will enable you to distinguish between the duo and let you know which method to use for a specific type of cooking.
Microwave Oven Vs. Oven
|Mode Of Operation||The microwave oven usually runs on electricity.||The oven runs on either electricity or gas.|
|Working Mechanism||The microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves called microwaves to produce frequency.||An oven works by generating heat directly inside the appliance using heating elements.|
|Efficiency||Microwave ovens are less efficient when compared to ovens.||Ovens can cook food quicker than microwave ovens.|
|Cooking Capacity||Microwave ovens are smaller in size than the ovens and hence have a limited cooking capacity.||Ovens are larger than microwave ovens and hence, cook more food in less time.|
|Time taken for Cooking||The microwave oven cooks slow. However, they can heat up the food faster.||Ovens cook the food faster and easier than microwave ovens.|
|Heat Distribution||Microwave ovens help in the even distribution of heat.||The gas oven does not distribute the heat evenly. Electric ovens, on the other hand, allow even distribution of heat.|
|Reheating||Microwave ovens are the best option when it comes to reheating.||Ovens can heat the food effectively when done in large quantities.|
|Large Dishes||You cannot cook large dishes in a microwave oven.||Ovens are the ideal option for cooking large dishes for various servings.|
|Small Dishes||You can cook small portions and small dishes effectively in a microwave oven.||Cooking small portions of food in an oven is a sheer wastage of electricity and time.|
|Cleaning||Cleaning a microwave oven is significantly easier than the oven.||Cleaning an oven is not an easy feat and consumes more time.|
|Quality||Microwave ovens tend to leave cold spots when heating the food.||Ovens allow cooking top-quality food.|
|Temperature Control||Managing temperature is automatic in most microwave ovens. However, depending on the model, you may have to change the temperature accordingly.||You can easily manage the temperature in almost all the models from the oven.|
|Used For||You can use a microwave oven mostly for heating and making popcorn.||You can use an oven for various cooking activities like cooking, baking, grilling, roasting, caramelizing, etc.|
|Versatile||A microwave oven has less versatility when compared to ovens.||Ovens offer great versatility than microwave ovens.|
|Portable||Since microwave ovens are smaller in size, they are easily portable.||Ovens are usually larger than microwave ovens. Hence, they are not easily portable.|
|Price||Microwave ovens are less expensive than ovens.||Ovens are very costly when compared to microwave ovens.|
Let us have the comparison in detail. We will discuss each point mentioned in the table and then give you a verdict on which appliance is the best.
1. Mode Of Operation
Let us start our comparison analysis with how these appliances operate.
The microwave ovens use electricity to operate.
On the other hand, you will find ovens that run either on electricity or gas.
2. Working Mechanism
Let us move on to the working mechanism of both appliances.
A microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves called microwaves to produce frequency. When water, fat, or sugars in the food absorb this frequency, it stimulates the heat and ultimately warms the food.
Contrary to the above, an oven works by generating heat directly inside the appliance with the help of heating elements. When electricity passes through the heating coils, they get heated and produce hot air in the oven. This warm air gets circulated inside the appliance and heats the food.
Let us move on to the next crucial parameter for distinguishing a microwave and an oven.
The efficiency of microwave ovens is less when compared to ovens. Moreover, the efficiency of the device keeps decreasing with the increase in size.
Ovens have greater efficiency in comparison to microwave ovens. They can cook food quickly and easily than their counterparts.
4. Cooking Capacity
Let us talk about the cooking capacity.
Microwave ovens have a limited cooking capacity because of their small sizes. You can find bigger sizes in these appliances easily in the market. However, the larger the size is, the less efficient they tend to be. Moreover, the larger variants may even leave cold spots.
On the other hand, ovens have a higher cooking capacity. Since these appliances are larger than microwave ovens and have larger compartments, they cook more food in less time. That said, the ovens eliminate the need for cooking in batches for larger servings.
5. Time taken for Cooking
The next distinguishing factor is the time taking for cooking.
A microwave oven cooks food slowly. However, it can heat the food faster.
As opposed to the above, ovens cook food faster and easier than microwave ovens. Irrespective of the type of food you are cooking, these appliances cook faster than their counterparts.
6. Heat Distribution
Heat distribution is yet another crucial factor for comparison.
A microwave oven helps in distributing the heat evenly throughout the appliance.
Coming to the ovens, the gas oven does not distribute the heat evenly. Electric ovens, on the other hand, allow even distribution of heat.
Let us move on to the reheating aspect.
Microwave ovens are the best option when it comes to reheating. These appliances remain unbeatable in this aspect. Since the food is already cooked thoroughly, you do not have to worry about raw meat. They can do the job quickly and efficiently.
Coming to the ovens, even they can heat the food effectively. However, the only downside is that when you are reheating food for single servings, you are heating the entire appliance. If you are doing the same for larger quantities, this device is the better option.
8. Large Dishes
Let us discuss about preparing large dishes in these appliances.
We all know that microwave ovens are smaller in size and hence have a limited cooking capacity. That said, you cannot cook large dishes on this appliance. Moreover, they can leave you with cold spots if you try cooking food in large quantities.
Ovens are larger in size than microwave ovens and have larger compartments. Hence, they are the ideal option for cooking large dishes for various servings. You do not have to cook in several batches for large servings.
9. Small Dishes
Let us now talk about preparing small dishes in these appliances.
Because of its size, a microwave oven is ideal for cooking small portions of food and small dishes effectively.
When you are cooking food for a single serving in an oven, you will have to allow the device to reach a high temperature and then keep the food inside. Cooking small portions of food in an oven is a sheer wastage of electricity and time.
Let us come to the cleaning aspect.
Cleaning a microwave oven is significantly more easier than the oven. After you finish cooking, take a damp cloth to wipe off the inside of the appliance easily and effortlessly. Besides that, it does not have a rack. That means, it requires fewer efforts for cleaning.
On the other hand, cleaning an oven is not an easy feat. It is a tedious process, requires more effort, and consumes more time. As the first step, you will have to allow the device to cool down first. Only after it reaches the optimal temperature, you can get started with the cleaning process. Moreover, you will have the food stuck in a lot of places, including the nooks and crannies. This makes cleaning even more difficult.
Let us now talk about the quality of food cooked in both the appliances.
Microwave ovens only heat the food. They do not and cannot perform other activities like caramelizing and browning. Moreover, they tend to leave cold spots when you do not stir the food while heating.
On the other hand, ovens allow cooking top-quality food like the restaurant-style. They caramelize, brown, or crisp the food effectively.
12. Temperature Control
Managing temperature is yet another considerable factor for determining which appliance is the best.
Most microwave ovens have automatic temperature management. However, depending on the model, you may have to change the temperature accordingly.
Contrary to microwave ovens, you can easily manage the temperature in almost all the models of the oven.
13. Used For
Let us see the best way of using a microwave oven and an oven.
You can use a microwave oven mostly for heating, boiling water, and making popcorn. This appliance is ideal only for heating purposes. They heat the food faster when compared to conventional ovens.
You can use an oven for various cooking activities like cooking, baking, grilling, roasting, caramelizing, etc.
Versatility is yet another key determining factor.
A microwave oven is less versatile when compared to ovens.
Ovens are known for versatility. Both conventional and convection ovens offer great versatility than microwave ovens.
Let us talk about the portability feature of both devices.
Microwave ovens are smaller in size, and hence, they are easily portable.
On the other hand, ovens are usually larger than microwave ovens. Hence, they are not easily portable.
Let us move to price, the crucial determining factor.
Microwave ovens are less expensive than ovens. Even a top-end model would cost you less, i.e., about Rs. 2500.
Ovens are very costly when compared to microwave ovens. The basic or an average model of an oven would come at a higher cost than the microwave oven.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly option, it is better to go for a microwave.
Can I Use My Microwave As An Oven?
You can use your microwaves as a substitute for ovens, sometimes. However, it is entirely dependent on the foods you are choosing to use in the microwave oven. Not all foods work well in this appliance.
A microwave oven is limited to certain foods. For example, it is not recommended to cook raw meat in a microwave. It will result in either overcooking or undercooking. By the time the center of the meat gets cooked, you will have the exteriors burnt and dry. Moreover, these appliances are not capable of killing harmful bacteria that could be lingering in the raw meat. In such cases, an oven is the best option.
You can always use a microwave oven for cooking something that is stirrable. You can cook many boxed casserole recipes in this appliance. Similarly, you even cook some large dishes that you normally do in the oven. But remember that it will take more time to cook when compared to the microwave.
To conclude, both a microwave oven and an oven are essential cooking appliances. But which device you need the most is entirely dependent on your cooking practices, frequency of cooking, baking, and heating. I hope this article helped you gain complete insights into what ovens and microwave ovens are.
The working mechanism and distinguishing factors highlighted in this guide should help you in making an informed decision. Now that you know everything about these devices, choose the best option that you need the most. Let us know in the comments below which appliance you would opt for and why.
If you have any questions or need more information, please feel free to reach out to us. We would like to answer all your queries at the earliest. Do not hesitate to share your feedback with us by adding your inputs to this article. If you feel that we missed out on any points, do let us know that, as well. We would love to hear and learn from you.
Stay healthy and stay safe!!!