A microwave oven and a toaster are two kitchen essentials that most of us can’t do without. Both can reheat leftovers and cook food.

The two appliances are very useful to have around the kitchen. But must you have both? Not necessarily, especially if you have a small kitchen and trying to save on space.

The main difference between a microwave and a toaster oven is that a microwave is more energy-efficient than a toaster oven. Toaster ovens use more energy, usually between 1,200 and 1,800 watts, while microwaves use 700 to 1,300 watts.

We’ve discussed more differences between the 2 appliances in this post to help you decide the one to buy.

But before that…

A Comparison chart of Microwave Vs. Toaster Oven

FeatureMicrowaveToaster Oven
Cooking timeFaster cooking timeCooks slower than a microwave
Energy efficiencyHighly energy-efficientConsumes a lot of energy
Cleaning and
Quick and easyMore tedious
SafetySaferGreater risks of burns
CostA little expensiveAffordable
Countertop convenienceTakes up more spaceMore space-saving

How Does a Microwave Work?

Microwave vs Toaster Oven

Microwaves cook food by exposing it to electromagnetic waves. The waves are produced in the oven by a magnetron and reflected within the unit’s cavity, where your food absorbs them.

The microwaves cause water molecules in the food to vibrate and produce heat that cooks the food.

How Does a Toaster Oven Work?

A toaster oven is, in simple terms, a combination of an oven and a microwave. It is designed to fit on the kitchen counter, and many users use it to reheat leftover foods or make a quick toast for breakfast.

It has toasting abilities that enable you to brown your bread and roast seeds such as sesame. Also, since it’s an oven-type appliance, you can bake and defrost food in it.

Comparing a Microwave and Toaster Oven

Difference Between Microwave and Toaster Oven

Cooking Process

Microwave ovens cook by producing microwaves that heat water in your food. And as the water molecules warm up, they produce enough heat to warm and cook food to perfection.

However, because of this heating element, a microwave oven cannot crisp or brown the exterior of your food like a toaster does. On the upside, it can quickly heat liquids such as coffee and tea.

The cooking process in a toaster oven is entirely different. This appliance uses infrared radiation (passed through coils) to heat the oven’s interior and make it hot enough to cook food.

And since the heat is directed straight to your food from the coils, it produces the toasting/browning effect that leads to the perfectly browned and crispy food a microwave can’t produce.

Cooking Options

Both the microwave and toaster oven share some similarities when it comes to the cooking options. The 2 can help you with lots of your daily cooking needs.

However, as aforementioned, a toaster oven is good for foods you intend to bake, toast, or crisp like pizza or French fries. It can also roast almond and sesame seeds if your recipe calls for it.

On the other hand, microwave ovens come in handy when you have time constraints. It will help you prepare frozen and liquid-based meals faster.

Cooking Time

Microwaves cook faster now that water molecules in the food heat simultaneously. The process allows faster cooking of all the food, unlike in a toaster oven, which takes more time to heat up.

Energy Efficiency

Always be on the lookout for an Energy Star certified logo when shopping for any appliance for your Home. Items certified by Energy Star use less energy than those without the certification.

Of the 2 appliances, the toaster oven uses more energy than a microwave. It also cooks slower than the microwave and will therefore cost you more.


The difference between the size and capacity of the two appliances is quite tricky. This is because sizes vary from one brand to another.

The way of determining the sizes of the 2 is also different. Since toasters are mostly used for toasting bread, their capacity is categorized as a 2-slice,4-slice, or 6-slice model. The size ranges from 16” x 8” to 20” x 10”

The size of microwaves is categorized by wattage and cubic feet. The cubic feet reading can vary from 1.4 cu. ft to 2.0 cu.ft and wattage from 700 to 1200 watts.


Before purchasing any kitchen appliance, you need to consider how safe it is for you and your family to use it around the kitchen.

Well, a microwave oven is very safe to use. All you need to do is ensure that you’re using microwave-safe containers. Metals can have bad reactions, while some plastics can melt and contaminate your food.

The biggest safety concern for toaster ovens is the heat. These appliances get really hot and thus the need to be extra careful when cooking. Avoid touching the surface when cooking and placing it near flammable materials.


Microwaves are very easy to clean as they come with a removable glass tray. All you need is a wet cloth or towel to wipe down the interior.

With a toaster oven, it’s not all that easy. The appliance has a crumb tray and wire rack that you need to clean from time to time. And while cleaning, ensure that you don’t expose the coils to moisture or water.


Most toaster and microwave models require no installation. You just place it on your countertop, and you are good to go.

You can choose to install the appliance if you want a permanent kitchen fixture. And for the best results, get a professional to help you install the unit for you.


Microwaves have a price range of between $60 and $250, depending on the capacity and wattage of the unit. Features such as advanced settings also affect the price of a microwave(today’s deal on Amazon).

Toaster ovens are the cheapest(check price on Amazon). The most basic model can go for $35 for a 4-slice and $55 for a 6-slice model. Conventional toasters can even cost you $200.

Frequently Asked Questions

01. Can I bake in a microwave oven?

Yes. You can bake in a microwave oven that comes with a convection mode. Such microwaves behave just like any regular oven meaning that you can bake cakes, cookies, and even bread.

02. Is the food cooked in a microwave safe?

Food cooked in a microwave is very safe for consumption. Microwave-heated food doesn’t become radioactive hence safe.

03. Does microwaving remove food nutrients?

Not at all. There’s nothing about microwaves that can damage your food. In fact, it can actually preserve nutrients.
Think of processes like boiling and cooking food in an oven. Boiling tends to leach out soluble vitamins present in your food into the cooking water. Cooking food in an oven takes a lot of time and exposes your food to higher temperatures.

04. Can I use a toaster oven like a regular oven?

You can use a toaster oven like a regular oven. However, this will depend on the model since not all are cut out for the task.

05. Does a toaster oven use a lot of electricity?

A toaster oven uses more electricity than a microwave. The typical power consumption of a toaster oven is 1,200 to 1,400 watts when in use.


Microwave and toaster ovens are great kitchen appliances that you’ll love having around in your kitchen. However, you don’t need to have both because you’ll most likely end up using one most of the time.

To ensure that you get the best, consider your family’s needs, the food you often prepare, your budget, and things like energy efficiency.

Get a toaster oven if you are looking for an appliance that will help you roast, bake, and perform other functions that a large conventional oven can. But if all you want is an appliance that will help you warm and reheat food faster, go for a microwave oven.

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