If you're confused about whether to buy a new toaster oven or a microwave for your kitchen, you've probably stumbled upon the right article. The battle of toaster oven vs. microwave is a tough one, primarily because both are usually utilized for the same purpose, i.e., reheating and cooking food. However, they also differ from each other in a lot of ways.

In this article, I will show you a detailed comparison between Toaster Oven and Microwave based on their utility, operations, functions, energy efficiency, cooking time, capacity, and so on.

Read more: 5 Best Microwave Toaster Oven Combo Reviews

Toaster Oven vs Microwave: Let's get started!

Toaster Oven vs Microwave: Comparison Table

Microwave Oven
Toaster Oven
Countertop Convenience
Larger and takes up more space
Lighter and more space-saving
Energy Efficiency
How it Works
Uses electromagnetic waves
Uses top and bottom heating elements
Overall safer
Greater risk of burns
Best Uses
Defrosting and reheating
Browning, crisping, toasting and keeping food warm
Cleaning and Maintenance
More tedious
Quick and easy
$40 to $500
$20 to $300

More comparison:

Convection Oven Vs Toaster Oven: Detailed Comparison

Air Fryer Vs Toaster Oven: What’s The Difference?

Toaster Oven vs Microwave: The Differences


1. Cooking Method

Toaster ovens make use of infrared radiations that are produced by an electric current that runs through the coils. There may one of multiple coils. The coils generate heat that warms up the entire of the machine and cooks your dish inside out. Due to this direct heating of the toaster oven, the food comes out brown and crisp!

A microwave, on the other hand, releases electromagnetic waves throughout the oven. This heats the water in the food that further generates heat to cook the food. However, unlike the toaster oven, food cooked in a microwave is neither brown nor crisp.

Ps: I would go for a toaster oven here.

2. Energy Efficiency

In terms of energy efficiency, the microwave has the upper hand over the toaster oven. Approximately, a microwave consumes around 700-1300 watts while a toaster oven uses around 1300-1800 watts. To be more precise, a toaster oven consumes half the conventional oven's energy, while a microwave consumes a third of it.

Nevertheless, both of them are more efficient than a conventional oven and also show less difference in this case.

Ps: The answer is clear here; microwave will save you a few bucks when energy consumption is concerned.

3. Cooking/Heating Time

As you'd know, a toaster oven features direct heating, which implies a longer cooking time. The heat must not be too high, as that would result in burning the outside. It should be high enough to cook food. However, you can easily adjust the level of heat. While at low heat, it also keeps the cooked food warm.

On the other hand, a microwave operates much faster. The water molecules evenly heat the food all at once at an incredible speed. However, the rate of speed is affected by the wattage of the appliance. Higher wattage implies faster cooking.

Ps: Although slower, I would go for a toaster oven because as per my personal experience, the oven-cooked food remains hot for a longer time than that of a microwave.

4. Browning & Toasting

As the name suggests, Toaster ovens are great for toasting and browning; however, microwaves lack in this regard. Microwave ovens aren't built with toasting or browning skills.

Ps: Again, the toaster oven wins here for me.

5. Crispy Cooking

Yes, another win for toaster ovens! Toaster ovens deliver delicious and crispy food, but on the other hand, microwaves are yet to be introduced with this capability.

Ps: Toaster oven is the best option here.

6. Cost

A toaster oven may cost from $30 to $200 depending on their features. Some models only serve the basic purpose of reheating food and cooking certain dishes. The costlier models feature larger capacity and have advanced features like convection.

On the other hand, microwaves may cost from $50 to $500 (including installation charges). The models differ in terms of cooking settings, sizes, and wattage.

7. Installation

The majority of the toaster ovens and microwaves today are countertop models and don't require any installation. However, professional installation becomes necessary if the appliance is to be mounted within or under the counter.

Microwaves can be difficult to install as they are usually heavy. Similarly, installing an under-the-counter toaster oven is also a tough task. Special hardware is needed to protect the cabinet from receiving any heat from the oven. To save countertop space, it is advisable to install the microwave over a stovetop. However, you'll need to choose the correct size that would fit the area. There must also be some room left to access the stovetop burners.

Ps: Toaster ovens are easy to install for me.

8. Maintenance

Maintenance and cleaning is an unavoidable task for any kitchen appliance. Regular cleaning is important for hygiene purposes, but it also prevents the smell of the formerly cooked food from mixing in with the current dish.

A toaster oven is usually a bit harder to clean than a microwave. In the case of a toaster oven, you're required to clean the heating elements, the glass door, a crumb pan, and a wire rack. This must be done regularly and carefully. However, when it comes to the microwave, you can grab a sponge, soap, and water and start the cleaning process! The majority of the microwaves include removable crumb trays, so you can remove them and wash them properly in the sink.

Ps: For a change, the microwave is easy to maintain and clean.

9. Countertop Space

Toaster ovens are much lighter than microwaves. Hence, it takes up less counter space, and it becomes more convenient to accommodate a toaster oven in the kitchen than a microwave.

10. Capacity

Toaster ovens are usually considered better than a microwave when it comes to accommodating larger foods. However, the capacity usually varies across different models of both of the appliances.

Toaster Oven vs Microwave: Which Is Right For You?


We hope that now you have a better idea of both the appliances and can make a clear distinction between the two. Both toaster ovens and microwaves are so similar, yet so different!

Lastly, in this battle of the toaster oven vs. microwave, the toaster oven is a clear winner, according to us! It is the best choice considering the cooking options, durability, countertop space, and overall comfort. However, if you only need something to heat water or sometimes frozen food, the microwave will do the job at an amazing speed. We suggest that you go for the one that suits best for your preferences and requirements.

Talya Davis Talya Davis

Talya, like all members of the HomeDesignX team, is enamored by all things related to cooking and eating. She’s written cookware articles for numerous publications before working with her lifelong friend Jessica to create their very own website on cookware.

She's currently writing a book on induction cooktops, and enjoys making clean, vegan meals for her family.

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