Fast kitchen appliances seem essential to modern-day meal preparation, but you must decide between an infrared oven vs a microwave oven. These appliances reduce the time it takes to produce a meal exponentially. However, your kitchen appliance choice depends heavily on the type of food you prepare since the best microwaves and infrared ovens feature heating elements designed for specific uses. Whichever device you choose, the heating element also affects the texture of the food, and sometimes it affects the taste. For other function choices, you may consider a microwave vs an induction stove.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Infrared ovens and microwaves heat food quicker than conventional ovens, reducing the overall cooking time.
  • Infrared ovens offer a high-efficiency option for cooking meals, but microwaves also provide an efficient method.
  • Microwaves stay cool throughout their usage, while infrared ovens create heat throughout the device.

Differences Between Infrared Ovens and Microwaves

Infrared ovens and microwave ovens both shorten the overall meal preparation time by heating food quickly and efficiently. However, their heating elements differ greatly, sitting on opposite ends of the spectrum of wavelengths. As a result, they vary significantly in safety, efficiency, and potential uses. As a result, the model you choose alters your food’s taste and mouthfeel (texture.) You could consider an infrared microwave combination model to more widely use one appliance when cooking or baking. You may also consider a microwave oven vs a toaster oven for various cooking methods.

Insider Tip

Infrared microwaves heat food 75% faster than electric or gas ovens.

Heating Elements

Microwaves emit minuscule electromagnetic waves, also known as electromagnetic radiation, that affect and agitate water molecules in food. As this agitation occurs, the energy converts into heat, cooking food from the “inside.” On the other hand, infrared ovens use infrared waves, also referred to as infrared radiation, to make a meal, and this light is outside the visible light spectrum. Some of these ovens have been designed with multiple heat zones in mind. If you have an infrared microwave, the device uses infrared radio waves, sometimes combined with microwaves or convection, to warm ingredients.

Cooking Time

Infrared radiation ovens warm and heat food faster than a conventional oven, either electric or gas. This difference applies to any type of infrared cooking, including grilling. For example, if you choose an infrared grill instead of a propane grill, you cut your cooking time in half. Meanwhile, a microwave oven offers users the ability to reduce the time to create meals from an hour or more to just a few minutes. Combining these two methods further eliminates time from your recipe.

Efficiency

The way infrared ovens utilize waves on the electromagnetic spectrum results in increased energy efficiency, partly due to the quick cook times. These ovens heat faster than a conventional oven as well, further eliminating some of your energy usages. Similarly, microwave ovens provide more efficiency than conventional ovens, which stems from the cooking time and the fact that the device does not need to preheat.

Safety Concerns in Microwaves and Infrared Ovens

​​Meals prepared at high heat, like those prepared using infrared radiation, contain higher concentrations of carcinogenic compounds. At this time, research does not show a correlation between infrared grilling and cancer. Additionally, the infrared oven heats more than a microwave does, causing potential risks when taking food out of the oven. Microwaves do not heat anything but the food being made, but infrared ovens heat the inside of the compartment as well.

Warning

Infrared ovens dramatically heat up, so you should be careful when removing food from the inside.

F.A.Q.S

What is the difference in operating cost between an infrared or convection oven?

An infrared oven costs less to operate than a convection oven because the oven heats and cooks quickly. Some infrared ovens also feature convection.


Can infrared radiation harm the oven operator?

Yes, you could be harmed by the heat when you remove food, so be careful how you handle it.


What is an infrared microwave?

An infrared microwave uses infrared light to heat food, but it is the same size and shape as a conventional microwave. Some infrared microwaves use microwave heating and infrared light together.



STAT: Due to their expense, microwave ovens were initially used in institutional kitchens, but by 1986 roughly 25% of households in the U.S. owned one. (source)

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