The days of having multiple appliances to conduct different kitchen tasks are falling behind us with the innovation of appliances like the convection microwave oven that combines the functions of two appliances into one. A convection microwave oven offers the features of both a standard microwave and a classic convection oven and when shopping for a new major appliance like this, you want to be sure that it is worth the price.
Convection microwave ovens are great for small spaces and for those who need a standard microwave plus the ability to heat meals as one would with an oven, but in a shorter amount of time. The duality of its features can make it a versatile and worthwhile appliance to own.
When deciding whether or not a convection microwave oven is worth it, you should consider the size of your kitchen space and what you intend to use it for. While it is an innovative appliance, a convection microwave oven can be limited by its size and how many dishes you might need to prepare at one time.
What is a Convection Microwave Oven and How Does It Work?
A convection microwave oven is an appliance that combines the abilities of a standard microwave to quickly heat food with the option of browning and baking foods as one would in a convection oven. To quicken the cooking process but still give food a fresh homemade feel, you can program the appliance to switch from regular microwaving to convection oven settings to have the best of both worlds for one dish.
When it is on a standard microwave setting, it uses safe electromagnetic radiation (microwaves) to heat your food by causing friction between the water molecules present in the food. When a convection microwave oven is on the convection setting, it uses a heating element and a fan to blow hot air around the food for quick and even cooking.
Pros and Cons of a Convection Microwave Oven
There are a few factors to take into consideration when deciding if a convection microwave oven is best for you.
What are the Pros of a Convection Microwave Oven?
- Versatility to use it as either a standard microwave or oven for browning and baking foods.
- Ease of switching from microwave setting to convection setting for any dish.
- Compact and ideal for smaller spaces like small apartments, single living spaces, campers, second kitchens, and home bars.
- Using the convection setting means leftovers can be crisped and fresh tasting as though they just came out of the oven.
- The convection setting can bake pastries like cookies and pies or safely reheat savory foods like meat.
- Some models come with a double shelf option to prepare more than one dish.
- Can save on energy expenses because it is smaller and takes less energy to run than a full-sized convection oven and is less likely to release excess heat into your home.
What are the Cons of a Convection Microwave Oven?
- Not ideal for preparing large meals as it is roughly the size of a standard microwave.
- The inside of it may need to be cleaned out frequently if foods splash or splatter on the inner walls.
- The browning and crisping that can be done are limited to the top of your dish as convection microwave ovens do not have a bottom element like standard ovens do.
- Using this hybrid appliance can take some getting used to.
- You must be mindful of what type of cookware is used in each setting.
Who Should Buy a Convection Microwave Oven?
Because of their compact size, convection microwave ovens are ideal for those with less kitchen space or those who may not need to prepare large meals such as those who live on their own or have small families. They are suited to smaller spaces like dorms, apartment kitchens, campers, RVs, secondary kitchens, or bar setups.
If you find that you rarely cook, bake, or prepare large meals for many people, a convection microwave oven is ideal because it will save you money, space, and time during the odd time you do need to heat something with the convection setting.
Recommended Convection Microwave Ovens
FRIGIDAIRE Professional 30” Built-in Convection Microwave Oven
The Frigidaire stainless steel convection microwave oven comes with a microwave turntable and a rack that sits above it to allow for conventional baking and the preparation of more than one dish at a time. It also has a drop-down door giving it a modern look.
Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven
Also a stainless steel appliance, the Panasonic HomeChef 4 in 1 convection microwave oven can be used as a microwave, broiler, convection oven, and air fryer. It comes with an air frying basket, wire rack, microwave turntable, and a recipe book. This model is compact yet multi-functional.
Bosch 800 Series
This Bosch convection microwave oven has a stainless steel finish and features a quiet close drop-down door. It has touch controls for ease of use and speed options to allow for faster food preparation.
Convection Microwave Oven FAQs
Can You Put Metal in A Convection Microwave Oven?
Whether or not you can use metal in a convection microwave oven depends on the setting you will be using it on. Metal cookware should not be used if you need to use the microwave or combination cooking function. This is because the microwave setting uses radiation to stimulate the movement of water molecules in the food and metal pans prohibit the necessary radiation from reaching the food.
Using metal on the microwave setting can cause arcing in the oven, which refers to the sparks caused by the microwaves reacting with the metal as an antenna of sorts. Metal can be used, however on the convection oven setting as the appliance functions as an oven by using air movement with a fan and a heating element, effectively heating anything stored in a metal pan.
Can You Use Aluminum Foil in a Convection Microwave Oven?
Aluminum foil can be used very carefully on the microwave and combination settings in a convection microwave oven and can be used confidently with the convection oven setting.
READ THE USER MANUAL FOR YOUR SPECIFIC CONVECTION MICROWAVE OVEN.
If you are microwaving an item with aluminum foil it should not completely cover the food item nor should there be any loose bits of foil extending away from the food as this could cause arcing and damage to the microwave oven. This would be known as shielding, do not fully wrap anything with aluminum foil. Aluminum foil should be used sparingly and wrapped closely to the food item such as covering the end of a chicken drumstick for example.
Because the convection oven setting does not rely on radiation and instead uses a heating element and a fan-like a regular oven, aluminum foil can be used safely in this setting.
Please read your user manual for exact use on how such items can be used in different settings.
Do you need special cookware for convection microwave ovens?
While it is not practical or economical to buy two separate sets of cookware for both the microwave and convection settings, there are certain materials that are compatible with one over the other. For example, microwave-safe plastic takeout containers would be compatible with the microwave setting but not the combination or convection settings which would melt any type of plastic.
Because the microwave setting uses radiation to stimulate moisture particles in the food, any material that deflects this radiation like metal or foil will not be as effective at heating food and can act as an antenna which can cause arcing while the microwave is running.
Conversely, because the convection oven setting uses a heating element and a fan to circulate warm air to evenly heat food, cookware that is typically used in a regular oven can also be used on the convection setting such as metal, aluminum foil, silicone, etc… The convection setting should not be used with any plastic containers or wood as damage or fire could occur.
The best option for both settings is glass and ceramic cookware as heat from both the microwave and convection setting will not compromise food safety nor will it risk damaging the appliance. Glass and ceramic cookware are best used according to manufacturer guidelines to maintain the lifespan of the cookware.
Caution When Cooking with Ceramic or Glass
When baking with ceramic or glass, it is important to be mindful of the risk associated with drastic temperature changes. If you place refrigerated ceramic or glass pans into a convection microwave oven where it is suddenly hot, the sudden temperature change can cause either material to crack. In some extreme cases, this sudden temperature difference can cause glass to explode posing a significant hazard.
Likewise, glass and ceramic cookware should not be introduced to sudden cool environments or washed in cold water immediately after removal from a hot convection microwave oven as cracking or shattering can occur.
For best practice, allow ceramic or glass to warm to room temperature before placing it in the convection microwave oven and allow it to cool on a heat-safe surface slowly. It is advised to reduce cooking temperatures by 25 degrees Fahrenheit when cooking with glassware because of its ability to retain heat, to prevent food from becoming overcooked.
Convection microwave ovens are worthwhile for small living spaces and where small single course meals are more likely to be prepared than large ones. They are innovative in their combination of standard microwave capabilities and convection oven settings that keep food tasting as fresh as the day it was prepared. Their combination setting that allows food to be microwaved and then heated with the convection oven setting makes food preparation quick and efficient.