Steam Oven Vs. Microwave: What’s the Difference?

Perhaps you are familiar with a microwave oven but have not dealt with steam ovens before. Well, a steam oven, as the name implies, cooks food with hot steam rather than hot air. The steam oven basically turns water from a manual reservoir or a connected plumbing system into steam.

The main difference between a steam oven and microwave is their mode of heat transfer. The former uses steam while the latter uses electromagnetic waves to cook. For a steam oven to work, you will need a built-in water reservoir. Alternatively, a direct connection to an automatic water supply can also be used.

Comparison between Steam Oven and Microwave Oven

Feature Steam Oven Microwave Oven
CostExpensive than a microwave ovenCheaper than a steam oven
Health and safetyIt has no health hazards associated with itIn case of radiation leakage, it
can lead to illnesses like cancer
Food tasteProduces tastier resultsThe taste of food is altered
Ease of useTakes time to learnIs easy to use
SizeMost are larger than microwave ovensSmaller than steam ovens
hence saves space
Easy to cleanCondensation inside the oven
makes it hard to clean
Easy cleaning since it is
less messy
Food varietyIt can cook more varieties of food
than a microwave oven
Is limited to some food
Fast defrostingDefrosting is faster than
in a microwave oven
Defrosting is slower than
in a steam oven
Time-savingIt is not as fast as a microwave ovenFaster than a steam oven
hence saving time

How Do These Two Types of Ovens Work?

Steam Oven Vs. Microwave

Most steam ovens cook or reheat food by siphoning water from an in-built boiler or small water tank. Then they heat it to 212 degrees Fahrenheit releasing the steam into the oven. Steam ovens are most commonly employed in professional restaurants and bakeries. In these institutions, culinary outcomes must be perfected quickly.

On the other hand, a microwave is simply a device that cooks food using microwaves which are high-frequency electromagnetic radiation. It works by exposing food to a high-frequency electromagnetic field, which raises the temperature of the meal.

Water, lipids, carbohydrates, and a few other components in the meal absorb the microwaves, causing vibrations that create heat. As a result, the heating takes place inside the meal rather than in the surrounding air.

Is The Microwave Oven Being Faced Out by The Steam Oven?

Although steam ovens are more costly than microwave ovens, documented sales indicate that more homes are acquiring the former. Microwave sales have been slowly declining over the last decade while steam oven sales are increasing year after year.

Manufacturers are also working round the clock to come up with cheaper and better countertop steam ovens(check latest price on Amazon). This will enable many homes and restaurants to acquire or incorporate a steam oven into their cooking appliances.

Which of the Two Ovens Is Ideal for Your Home?

Steam ovens are ideal for preparing fast and healthful meals and side dishes. They are an excellent alternative to microwave cooking, not just because they save time. As a matter of fact, they are a terrific alternative when planning a kitchen renovation or replacing an existing oven.

Pros and Cons of a Steam Oven


  • Cooking time is shorter
  • Popular and beneficial for healthy cooking
  • Improved meal flavor
  • Several types of food can be prepared at the same time
  • Can cook a variety of foods
  • Food is uniformly heated without being dried out
  • Reduce the danger of burning by using wet heat


  • It is expensive
  • It takes up a lot of room, especially in countertop models
  • Condensation makes the oven dirty frequently
  • Not for all meals, especially those that need to be browned or crisped
  • To use a steam oven, the cooking times must be reduced
  • Learning curve is strict hence hard to operate

Pros and Cons of a Microwave Oven


  • Saves time
  • Saves energy
  • Preserves nutrition and retains water content in the cooked food
  • Easy to operate since it is automated
  • Microwave cooking uses less oil than traditional cooking hence possibility of  low-fat meals
  • It takes up less space
  • It will assist in the rapid defrosting of any frozen materials
  • It bakes meals simply and cleanly


  • It is potentially harmful to one’s health in case of a radiation leakage which can cause cancer and other illnesses.
  • Food texture, color, and flavor are altered.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you roast vegetables in a steam oven?

Yes. Even before the outsides are blackened, steam-roasting vegetables guarantee that the interiors are supple, creamy, smooth, and velvety. The veggies’ exteriors will caramelize and brown once you remove the foil and expose them to the oven’s dry heat.

Can you cook pizza in a steam oven?

Some steam ovens are big enough for a 12-inch pizza or casserole dish. They also turn on automatically and do not require any preheating or defrosting. Food may be steamed, roasted, baked, or reheated with this appliance.

Can you heat a cup of coffee in a steam oven?

Countertop steam ovens can be used to reheat leftovers. Some homes choose to forego using a microwave oven entirely. A steam oven, however, cannot be used to reheat a cup of coffee.

Can a steam oven be used for baking?

Of course yes. Food can be baked, roasted, or grilled, and leftovers can be defrosted and reheated. The humidity prevents the dish from drying out, resulting in a better end product.

Can you reheat food in a steam oven?

The steam oven’s reheat mode gently rehydrates food using steam and hot air. You can reheat any food that can be reheated in the oven, on the stove, or in the microwave. However, do not reheat drinks or other liquids.

Can you cook popcorn in a steam oven?

Microwave ovens are now largely used for warming meals and popping popcorn. Almost everything you’d cook in a regular oven will turn out well in a steam oven.

Can you use aluminum foil in a steam oven?

Aluminum foil may be used to cover the oven trays that come with the steam oven. Cooking with aluminum foil is safe as long as it does not come into contact with the oven cavity.

Can a steam oven replace a microwave oven?

It takes around 15 minutes for your food to warm in a steam oven. This makes it an ideal replacement for a microwave for reheating non-frozen meals.

Is a steam oven better than a microwave?

With steam, you’ll get faster cooking (albeit slower than a microwave). You will also get superior flavor and texture, and a more equal heating approach.

Can you cook bread in a steam oven?

When steam is used at the start of the baking process, the bread becomes crispier on the outside. This is because the steam (or water in this case) in the oven, generates a moist surface. This aids in uniform baking.


Clearly, each of these appliances has great potential. It solely depends on what you were seeking for in an appliance.

Save your money and acquire a microwave if you only want an appliance for reheating rather than cooking. Microwaves reheat meals quickly, are simple to use and clean, are compact and are inexpensive.

A steam oven, on the other hand, is a device that cooks a wide variety of meals in a way that is tastier, faster, and healthier than a standard oven or microwave.

When you buy something through our affiliate links, we earn a commission without you having to pay extra.