Can a toaster oven serve as a substitute for a microwave? In this blog post, we will guide you through various cooking methods and dishes that can be prepared using a toaster oven, and compare them to microwave usage. Let's embark on this culinary exploration!
We have also crafted an in-depth blog post that compares the key distinctions, features, advantages, and disadvantages of each appliance discussed in this article: Toaster Oven vs Microwave. Check it out if you're curious.
Although a toaster oven can offer convenience as an alternative to a microwave, it may not always be the optimal choice.
Toaster ovens excel at toasting bread, baking, and roasting small items.
However, when it comes to rapidly reheating your food, a microwave remains the superior option.
Reheating & Defrosting
1. Reheating Pre-Cooked Foods
When it comes to reheating pre-cooked foods, a microwave oven is the preferred choice.
- A microwave can quickly heat up food due to its high power, making it ideal for reheating leftovers or defrosting frozen meals.
- A toaster oven takes longer and may not be able to heat up food evenly, resulting in parts of the meal that remain cold.
2. Defrosting Frozen Foods
A microwave is also the preferred choice when it comes to defrosting frozen foods.
- In microwave, the high intensity energy and short cooking time helps thaw your food quickly and safely without drying it out or turning it rubbery.
- A toaster oven may not have the same power as microwaves and may take longer to defrost food, possibly resulting in unevenly thawed food.
When it comes to reheating leftovers or defrosting frozen meals, a microwave is still the superior option over a toaster oven due its high power capabilities and quick cooking time.
However, for baking and roasting small items, a toaster oven can provide an even heat distribution that will result in succulent meals.
1. Sliced Bread
A toaster oven excels in toasting bread, while a microwave cannot do this.
- In a toaster oven, the heat is more evenly distributed than in a microwave, making it ideal for toasting as it will be brown and crunchy on the outside but still soft and fluffy on the inside.
- A microwave is unable to evenly toast bread as it heats up too quickly and can cause your bread to become soggy with steam or hard dried instead of crispy.
2. Buns & Bagels
To heat buns and bagels swiftly, an ideal solution is to use a toaster oven. Its quick and efficient performance ensures a deliciously warm and crispy result.
- In a traditional toaster oven, by concentrating the heat on the top and bottom of the bagel, you can achieve a delightful crispness without the risk of burning. You have the flexibility to customize the temperature and timing to suit your personal preference for the perfect bagel.
- In a microwave, it will heat your buns and bagels, but they will not have the same crunchy texture as a toaster oven.
The most optimal way to achieve perfectly toasted waffles is by using a toaster oven.
- In a toaster oven, The concentrated heat ensures faster and uniform heating, resulting in a perfectly toasted waffle without burning or sogginess.
- In a microwave, waffles in a microwave tend to become soggy due to the excessive use of steam, making it difficult to get that crunchy texture waffles are known for.
The toaster oven is perfect for toasting sliced bread, bagels, waffles, and other petite baked goods.
However, when it comes to defrosting, reheating, and cooking large items, a microwave is still the winning choice.
Pizzas and baked breads require more time and heat to cook properly. This is where a toaster oven can be a better choice than a microwave.
- Toaster ovens provide precise temperature control and, especially when your toaster oven is also a convection oven, an even dispersal of heat, which is perfect for baking a delicious pizza.
- Microwave cooking tends to be problematic: food may cook unevenly. The microwaves can also dry out the crust and leave your pizza less than desirable.
2. Casserole, Tortilla & Lasagna
Toaster ovens are a better choice for dishes such as casseroles, tortillas, and lasagna.
- All toaster oven models can reach higher temperatures than microwaves and cook your food more evenly without creating hotspots that can burn or dry out the dish.
- A microwave cannot bake your dishes properly as it does not reach the high temperatures necessary to achieve a golden-brown crust. This often results in an unevenly cooked dish that is either burnt, soggy or dry.
3. Cakes And Pastries
Toaster ovens work best when baking cakes and pastries due to their even heat distribution and adjustable temperature settings.
- Toaster ovens are designed to provide uniform heat which means that cakes and pastries are baked evenly. Convection baking is even better, provided your toaster oven has a convection fan.
- Microwaves do not produce enough heat for baking these items properly. The uneven distribution of heat can cause your cakes or pastries to be overcooked in some parts while still raw in others.
A toaster oven can be used for baking and toasting small items, a microwave is still the superior option for rapidly reheating and defrosting food.
However, if you are looking for something that can do more than just heat up your food, then a toaster oven may be the better choice.
1. Roasted Vegetables
Roasted vegetables can be cooked in both a toaster oven and a microwave, but the methods differ and the outcome of a microwave roast may be below your standard.
- In a toaster oven, the dry heat of the toaster will evenly cook your vegetables until they are brown and crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.
- In a microwave, you will need to add some liquid such as oil or water before cooking. The moist heat of the microwave will cook your vegetables but they will not be as crispy nor have that signature roasted flavor.
2. Roast Meats
When roasting meats, a toaster oven is always the preferred choice.
- A microwave, due to its high-powered energy, will cook meats too quickly and unevenly.
- A toaster oven's lower temperature and even heat distribution ensures that your roast meat is tender on the inside yet crispy on the outside.
3. Roasted Seafoods
Toaster ovens are the best option, provide even heat distribution, which means that your seafood will be cooked evenly.
- In a toaster oven, the intense heat ensures that each piece is cooked evenly and quickly. The smaller area also helps keep in moisture and prevents dryness, and rubbery.
- A microwave will not be able to achieve the same level of doneness or texture as a toaster oven.
While a toaster oven can be an alternative to a microwave, it is best used for roasting small items such as vegetables and seafood. It is also ideal for toasting bread and bagels, baking pizzas, cakes and pastries.
When it comes to heating liquids, quickly defrosting, reheat or heat food however, the microwave excels due its size and power capabilities.
Grilling & Broiling
1. Grilling & Broiling Chicken
Utilizing a toaster oven to grill or broil chicken offers a convenient and time-saving method for cooking smaller portions of poultry.
- In a toaster oven the concentrated heat ensures that chicken portions cook rapidly without the risk of burning or becoming dry, resulting in quick and succulent cooking.
- A microwave will take significantly longer to cook due to the lower intensity of heat, and will lack that delicious grilled flavor.
2. Grilling & Broiling Steaks
When it comes to grilling or broiling larger portions of meats such as steaks, a toaster oven is an optimal solution.
- In most toaster ovens, the higher temperatures will help bring out the flavor of your steaks and provide a delicious grilled texture.
- A microwave will take longer to cook, resulting in an unevenly cooked steak that is either burnt or soggy.
3. Grilling & Broiling Seafoods
When it comes to grilling and broiling seafoods, a toaster oven is the best choice.
- In a toaster oven, the intense heat ensures that seafood will cook quickly and evenly. This helps preserve the moisture and prevents dryness, resulting in a succulent meal.
- A microwave will take longer to cook your seafood and may result in over cooked or rubbery pieces.
When it comes to grilling and broiling meats and seafood, a toaster oven reigns supreme.
- Unlike a microwave, a toaster oven can achieve the perfect level of doneness and texture.
- Its intense heat ensures quick cooking while preserving the natural moisture of your food.
Tips & Tricks
- Preheat your toaster oven for 10 minutes before use. This will ensure that it is up to the right temperature and ready for cooking.
- Place your food on a baking sheet or in an oven safe dish to prevent any direct contact with the heating elements of your toaster oven. This will also help maximize heat distribution.
- Cover your food with foil for the first part of cooking. This will ensure that it doesn’t dry out or burn before being cooked through.
- Use a timer when baking or toasting items. A toaster oven’s high heat can cause items to brown too quickly, so be sure to keep an eye on them while in the oven.
- Clean out your toaster oven regularly as burnt pieces of food can accumulate quickly. Use mild soap and warm water for best results.
Ultimately, each of these two appliances has its own unique strengths, and the suitability depends on the intended purpose of use.
- A toaster oven may be the better choice overall. It offers superior results when it comes to roasting vegetables, meats and seafoods as well as baking cakes and pastries.
- For quick reheating or defrosting of food however, a microwave is still the go-to option.
Not surprisingly, in many kitchens you will find both countertop ovens.
We trust that this article has assisted you in determining the most suitable appliance for your requirements. Enjoy your culinary adventures!