Microwave Cooking Time vs an Oven

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Updated August 19, 2022

If you’re shopping for the best microwave oven, you may wonder how the cooking time stacks up against a conventional oven. While both cooking methods will heat frozen foods and healthy meals alike, which kitchen appliance delivers a faster ready meal? While we know microwave heating generally has shorter cooking times, that doesn’t entirely represent the issue. So, if you want to know the crucial details on microwave cooking time vs an oven, read this guide.


  • Microwave ovens have generally shorter cooking times than standard ovens.
  • While it takes longer, the oven can cook raw meat and make crisp baked goods.
  • Use a microwave for water-based recipes, but stick with an oven to make meat-based or fatty food items.

Which Cooks Food Better: A Conventional Microwave or an Oven?

With advances in food technology, the microwave cookbook has expanded to include select baked goods and meats. When it comes to flavor and texture, however, if you’re wondering what is better than a microwave, the oven might be the top choice.

Insider Tip

Ensure that your containers are microwave safe before using them in your microwave oven. If not, your container might melt and ruin your food.

The most significant difference between the two appliances is how they heat your food. The microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves to excite the water molecules in food, which cooks your food. You can quickly heat most foods under the standard power setting with microwave-safe plastic containers. Your appliance’s inner cavity might change the direct heat capacity, so read our guides on ceramic vs. stainless steel microwaves or porcelain vs ceramic microwaves to see your best option. Additionally, if you want power options, check out our article on lightwave ovens vs microwaves.

Conversely, the modern oven uses either gas or electricity to power heating elements on the top and bottom of the cavity. In addition, some electric oven models offer alternative cooking methods like steam or convection for alternative or faster food preparation. This also includes defrosting and cooking in a microwave.

So, just how do the two compare?

Cooking Speed

Direct microwave exposure prepares food faster than a standard oven, but it depends on the type of food you want to make. While a microwave might leave particular food moist, an oven might be better for some recipes. For example, even if it isn’t faster than a microwave, save your oven for cooking raw meat or chicken if you want even cooking.


The microwave can make a fantastic dish, but it cannot offer the diverse textures of oven-based recipes. In addition, unless you have a convection model, you cannot reliably make baked goods or roast meat or poultry. Nevertheless, while it depends on what you’re cooking, oven-cooked food generally tastes better even though it sometimes takes longer than a microwave.


Some people take issue with radiation from microwaves heating their food, but you shouldn’t be concerned. In addition, studies show that microwaves leave more nutrients in food than other cooking methods. So your baked foods may taste better, but they are not healthier.


Do not heat cooking oil in your microwave. It will become scalding, and the microwave might ruin the flavor.


How to convert microwave time to conventional oven time?

Converting oven recipes to microwave cooking is a simple formula. First, multiply the microwave cooking time by four and set your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit to replicate the high-power microwave setting.

How does a convection microwave work?

A microwave convection oven combines airflow circulation and electromagnetic radiation to cook your food. The microwave energy prepares recipes in the same way a traditional model does. Still, you can switch to convection baking to crisp the surface of the food. Lastly, some convection microwave ovens allow for a combination of convection and conventional cooking.

How to safely clean a microwave?

Use soapy water and a soft cloth that won’t scratch the interior cavity of your microwave. If you need extra help, heat a cup of water in your appliance for one minute to loosen any stuck-on food.

STAT: According to the USDA, over 90% of US households own and use a microwave oven. (source)

Coby McKinley Profile image