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With so many options for cooking appliances these days, it can be tough deciding what is best for your needs. There are Two options for you- speed ovens and microwaves. While they both use electromagnetic waves to cook food quickly, there are some key differences between the two. This article will compare speed ovens and microwaves to help you determine which is the better fit for your kitchen.
What is a Speed Oven?
A speed oven combines a microwave and regular oven into one appliance. It uses both convection heating technology and microwave energy to cook food incredibly fast—up to 3-5 times faster than a regular oven.
Speed ovens heat up rapidly and can reach temperatures from 150-500°F. They have interior fans that circulate hot air around the cavity, allowing food to cook evenly. The combination of convection and microwave cooking means that speed ovens can brown and crisp food much better than a microwave alone. Many models also have broilers in them for melting, browning, and crisping.
Speed ovens are great multi-taskers. You can bake a casserole, roast a chicken, broil steak, toast bread, warm leftovers, and reheat a cup of coffee all in one appliance. They are ideal for people who want faster cooking times but don’t want to compromise quality by using just a microwave.
What is a Microwave Oven?
A microwave oven uses microwave radiation to quickly heat and cook food. Microwaves are a type of radiation that we cannot see or feel. They are between radio waves and infrared waves on the electromagnetic spectrum. Microwaves can’t pull electrons from atoms, unlike strong radiation.
When microwaves interact with food molecules, it causes the molecules to vibrate rapidly, generating friction and heat energy. This allows the microwave to heat and cook foods very quickly—often much faster than conventional ovens.
Microwaves only heat the outer layers of food, so heat gets transferred inward as the outer molecules vibrate against each other. This is why microwaved food can sometimes end up unevenly heated.
Microwaves are best for reheating leftovers, defrosting foods, melting butter or chocolate, and cooking foods that need short cooking times like popcorn. They are not well-suited for tasks like browning, crisping, or achieving a roasted texture.
Key Differences Between Speed Ovens and Microwaves
Speed ovens can cook most foods 2-5 times faster than a conventional oven. However, they are not necessarily faster than a microwave.
Microwaves provide the fastest cooking times for reheating foods, boiling water, defrosting, and popping popcorn. For small amounts of food, a microwave can’t be beaten for speed
However, speed ovens catch up for larger food items that take 15 minutes or more in an oven. Roasting a whole chicken or baking a casserole will be much faster in a speed oven than a regular oven. When cooking times start getting longer, the speed oven’s convection technology gives it an advantage over a microwave’s speed.
Browning and Crisping
One of the biggest advantages of Speed ovens is their ability to brown and crisp food nicely. The hot air circulation crisps up pizza crusts, chicken skin, steaks, pastries, French fries, and other items beautifully. You can also get caramelization on roasted vegetables and meats.
Microwaves simply cannot brown or crisp food nearly as well because they only heat the outside layer of molecules. You may get a little browning on highly concentrated areas of fat or sugar due to caramelization, but the textural differences will be minimal. Foods cooked solely in a microwave tend to come out pale, limp, and soggy.
Speed ovens can reach blistering hot temperatures between 300-500°F. This high heat allows baking, roasting, broiling, and other techniques that depend on high dry heat.
Most Microwaves max out at about 300°F internally. This works for gentle heating tasks but cannot recreate the complex chemical reactions induced by high heat.
Speed ovens use convection to circulate dry air and remove moisture as food cooks. You’ll get a better concentration of flavors and textures more like a regular oven. The convection fan also ensures consistent cooking and moisture levels.
Microwaves tend to cook food without removing moisture, since the inside of the appliance doesn’t get hot. This can make microwaved meats like chicken or fish come out rubbery and steamed versus nicely browned.
Food Quality and Taste
Speed ovens produce food with a taste and quality similar to a full-size oven, unlike microwaves. You’ll get nice caramelization on meats and vegetables, crisp crusts on foods, and even baking with rising when using the convection setting. The food has the same taste as food baked in the oven.
Microwave food is associated with a more rubbery, soggy, uneven texture and less developed flavors. However, modern microwaves have come a long way and can produce good results with foods that take well to microwaving. Just don’t expect complex roasted or baked flavors.
For larger households that cook bigger meals or use larger bakeware, a Speed oven’s extra capacity could be beneficial. You can roast a 20-pound turkey in a big speed oven but likely not a microwave. For singles or couples, a compact microwave may work just fine.
Microwaves and speed ovens come in a range of sizes, but microwaves typically have less interior capacity. Average microwaves range from 0.5 to 2.2 cubic feet, while speed ovens are usually 1.5 to over 3 cubic feet.
Ease of Use
Speed ovens have more settings and modes to learn, though they aren’t overly complex for those used to a traditional oven. Cleaning a speed oven is about the same as a regular oven.
Microwaves generally win for simple ease of use with preset buttons and quick timers. You just push a button and walk away. For Cleaning microwaves just need a quick wipe down.
Microwaves are significantly cheaper than speed ovens. You can buy a decent microwave for $50-100, while speed ovens start around $200 and go up to $1000+ for high-end models. Make sure to account for installation costs too with speed ovens.
Keep in mind that Speed ovens can replace several other appliances like toaster ovens and traditional ovens. That makes them more cost-effective for those with tiny kitchens. microwaves give you good value for simple cooking tasks.
Speed ovens allow for a streamlined, built-in look like a regular oven. Microwaves are often bulky standalone units, though you can buy built-in models. Speed ovens just look a little sleeker in a modern kitchen design.
If you care about how your kitchen looks, check out the design options. Both microwaves and speed ovens come in finishes like stainless steel, black, white, or even colorful hues. Choose whichever matches your overall kitchen decor best.
Other Factors to Consider
Are you primarily reheating leftovers or cooking full meals? Microwaves work best for snacks and small portions.
Types of food
Don’t expect a microwave to perfectly roast meats or bake bread. Stick to food that microwaves do well like popcorn, oatmeal, or thawed frozen meals.
Check that any model you buy has enough power (wattage) for the quantity of food you’ll be cooking.
Size and capacity
Consider what quantities you normally cook and how much interior space you’ll need.
Models with inverter technology
These provide more even cooking and gentler defrosting in microwaves.
Speed ovens offer presets for roasting, baking, broiling, etc. Pick a model tailored to how you’ll use it.
Microwaves offer great value for the money. Speed ovens are an investment but may be worthwhile for avid home cooks.
Which Is Better for You? Speed Oven vs Microwave
For most households, having both a microwave and full oven makes sense – you get the speed of microwave heating alongside the versatility of regular cooking. However, if you have to choose only one, here are some general guidelines:
Microwaves are ideal for:
-College students and dorm rooms
– Studios, tiny homes, or kitchenettes
– Offices and breakrooms
– Reheating leftovers
– Defrosting foods quickly
– Popcorn, oatmeal, frozen meals for one or two
Speed ovens are better for:
– Frequent cooks who want faster cooking
– Families cooking large meals
– Home chefs who want good browning/crisping
– Households that need multiple appliances
– Baking, roasting, broiling
– Cooks limited on space
Take a close look at each appliance’s size, capacity, power, settings, price, and visual appeal. Think about your typical cooking needs – do you predominantly reheat leftovers or cook full dinners? Size up how much space you realistically have in your kitchen.
If you love throwing elaborate dinners but have a tiny galley kitchen, a compact speed oven could be perfect. Frequent microwaving of frozen meals or steaming vegetables would get old fast. But apartments with bigger kitchens and families may get more versatility from a microwave/oven combo.
Remember, speed ovens cook faster, and that’s a good thing. The convection technology can boil water, bake cookies, roast chicken, broil steaks, and toast bread far quicker than conventional methods. For cooks who use their ovens every day, speed ovens make a significant difference.
Whichever option you choose, both speed ovens and microwaves have a place in the modern kitchen. Speed ovens are innovations that make home cooking quicker, easier, and available to everyone. Improving the tools we use to make delicious food at home is always a win.
Q: What is the main difference between a speed oven and a microwave?
A: The main difference is that speed ovens use both microwave energy and convection heating, while microwaves only use microwave energy. This allows speed ovens to cook food much faster than a conventional oven and also brown and crisp food better than a microwave.
Q: Which appliance has a larger capacity?
A: Speed ovens generally have a larger capacity than the average microwave. Speed ovens range from 1.5 to over 3 cubic feet, while microwaves are usually 0.5 to 2.2 cubic feet.
Q: Can you bake in a microwave?
A: Microwaves are not well-suited for baking. The lack of dry convection heat means microwaved baked goods will not rise properly and will have a dense, rubbery texture. Speed ovens can bake goods like cakes, cookies, and breads.
Q: Can speed ovens replace a regular oven?
A: For most households, speed ovens can effectively replace their main oven. They roast, bake, and broil just as well while offering faster cooking times. The main limitation is capacity for very large meals.
Q: Which is easier to use?
A: Microwaves generally offer quicker, simpler operation with preset buttons and timers. Speed ovens have more settings to learn but are not overly complex, especially for those accustomed to traditional ovens.
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