Having a huge kitchen that can accommodate all the appliances that you can ever dream of is a luxury that not everyone can afford. In most cases, people have to make do with the space that they have and choose appliances that will take up less space and serve multiple purposes. This is where the toaster oven vs microwave debate comes in.

toaster ovens vs microwave ovens

Toaster ovens and microwaves are a great addition to any kitchen, but especially smaller ones, like in apartments, dorms, or RVs. Both of them have their own unique set of features and benefits. So, which one should you buy? In this article, we will pit toaster ovens against microwaves in a battle of the appliances to help you figure out which is the right one for you.

What is a toaster oven?

A toaster oven is a small, electric oven that is designed to toast bread and bake simple food items. It usually has a capacity of 0.3 – 0.6 cubic feet and can accommodate a pizza or a small casserole dish. Toaster ovens have become popular in recent years because they are more energy-efficient than regular ovens and take up less space

How does a toaster oven work?

Toaster ovens work just like any other oven, by using heating elements to cook food. The heating element is usually located on the top and bottom of the oven, which allows for even cooking. Toaster ovens also have a timer, so you can set it and walk away without having to worry about your food burning.

A toaster oven has many advantages over a conventional, full-size oven: it takes up less space, it is more energy efficient, heats up faster, and is easier to clean.

What is a microwave?

A microwave is a small, electrical appliance that cooks food by using electromagnetic waves to heat it up from the inside out. Microwaves are popular because they are very fast and convenient. They are great for reheating food and for cooking simple things like popcorn or oatmeal.

How does a microwave oven work?

Microwaves work by using electromagnetic waves to create heat. The microwaves bounce around inside the oven and react with the water molecules inside food causing them to heat up, which cooks it from the inside out.

Microwaves vs Toaster Ovens: Differences

Toaster ovens are somewhat similar in appearance, but there are some key things that set them apart. Let’s break down those differences:


Toaster ovens are generally smaller than microwaves, although both come in a range of sizes. The size of the toaster oven is usually defined by slices of bread. Most toaster ovens can accommodate 4-6 slices of bread at a time. The dimensions of a 4-slice toaster oven are approximately 16″ L x 11.5″ W x 8.5″ H, while a 6-slice toaster oven is slightly larger at 18.5″ L x 13″ W x 9.5″ H. Microwaves, on the other hand, are usually sold by their cubic feet. The average size of a microwave is 0.7-1.2 cubic feet, but it can be as large as 2.0 cubic feet. translated to inches it comes down to 17.25″ L x 10.75″ W x 16.5″ H for a 0.7 cubic feet microwave and 24″ L x 18″ W x 14″ H for a 2.0 cubic feet one.

Cooking Method

Toaster ovens cook food like a regular oven, by using heat to cook it from the outside in. Microwaves, on the other hand, cook food from the inside out using electromagnetic waves.

Cooking Time

One of the main advantages of a toaster oven is that it can cook food faster than a regular oven. This is because the heat is concentrated in a small area, so it doesn’t take as long for the food to reach the correct temperature. Microwaves are even faster than toaster ovens, because they cook food from the inside out. So, if you’re looking for a quick meal, a microwave is the way to go.

microwave cooking time

Energy Efficiency

Toaster ovens are more energy efficient than regular ovens, but they are not as energy efficient as microwaves. This is because toaster ovens use less power overall, but they still need to preheat before cooking. Microwaves do not need to preheat, so they use less energy overall.

Installation and Maintenance

Toaster ovens and microwaves are both easy to install and maintain. Both are available in countertop models and ‘over the range’ models that can be hung underneath your cabinets. The doors on the toaster oven open downwards, while the doors on the microwave open to the side, so have this in mind when planning where to put your appliances.

Microwaves are easy to clean, as most come with a removable glass tray, making the interior easy to wipe down. Some microwaves have a self-cleaning cycle that can be activated with the push of a button. Toaster ovens usually come with a removable crumb tray that can be washed in the dishwasher.


Toaster ovens and microwaves are both safe to use, as long as you follow the instructions. Toaster ovens can get hot on the outside, so it’s important to keep children and animals away from them while they’re in use. Microwaves are safe to use as long as you don’t put anything metal, or tightly sealed, in them.


Toaster ovens and microwaves are both relatively inexpensive appliances. Toaster ovens start at around $30, while microwaves start at around $60. Depending on the size, features, and brand, the price can go up to $200 for a toaster oven and $500 for a microwave.

Toaster Oven vs Microwave: Cooking Options

As we said before, the cooking process is very different for toaster ovens and microwaves. You can cook anything in both, but the results are going to be different. The microwave is designed for quick cooking, so it’s great for reheating and defrosting, but you would be surprised by the actual meals you can cook in a microwave.


Toaster ovens are designed for toasting bread, while microwaves are not. Toaster ovens have a setting that allows you to cook the bread evenly on both sides, while microwaves do not. If you’re looking for perfectly toasted bread, a toaster oven is a way to go.

cooking in toaster oven vs cooking in microwave


You can bake in both toaster ovens and microwaves, but the results are going to be different. Toaster ovens will give you food that is baked with a crispy crust, while microwaves will cook the food from the inside out. When it comes to baking, the toaster oven takes the win.

Reheating and Defrosting

Reheating and defrosting is where microwaves shine. Microwaves are designed for quick cooking, so they are the best option for reheating and defrosting food. Toaster ovens can also reheat and defrost food, but it will take longer.

Which one should you buy?

Now that we’ve compared toaster ovens and microwaves, you might be wondering which one you should buy. The answer depends on what you’re looking for.

Chose a toaster oven if…

…you like well-toasted bread and you like to bake.

Chose a microwave if…

…you’re looking for a way to prepare a quick meal or you want to reheat and defrost food.

That’s it! You now know the difference between toaster ovens and microwaves. We hope this guide was helpful and that you’re one step closer to finding the right appliance for your kitchen.