Microwave vs Oven Reheating

Christen da Costa Profile image

Written by:

Updated August 19, 2022

If you’re shopping for the best microwave oven, chances are you want to prepare some leftover or frozen food. In almost every American kitchen, you will have a choice between an oven-warmed meal or microwaved food. Even if you’re only doing some quick reheating, the method you use matters. Microwave heating isn’t always the best choice, and you may want to use a conventional oven instead. So, if you’re interested in basic reheating tasks, read on to learn whether microwave vs oven reheating is ideal.


  • Microwave cooking is the quickest option and is best for small quantities of food.
  • A toaster oven or traditional electric oven is best for low-temperature oven-baking large amounts of food.
  • Go with a microwave for small reheating jobs, but save your oven for more severe amounts of leftovers.

Comparing Reheating Food in a Microwave vs an Oven

The main difference between a basic microwave oven and the traditional or toaster oven is cooking time. Microwave ovens require a shorter cooking time because the microwave’s electromagnetic radiation agitates the water molecules in our food. That said, microwave heating isn’t perfect, and it can sometimes result in a mushy, rubbery, or unevenly cooked meal.

Insider Tip

Remember to transfer your food from any microwave-safe plastic containers if you plan on placing your leftovers in a toaster oven.

Ovens bake food using dry heat from the heating element located at the bottom of the oven cavity. The radiant heat inside the stove slowly warms your leftovers, leaving fried foods and breaded treats as crisp as they were the first time you cooked them. Some units also use an extra heating element for broil settings. You can add a built-in convection microwave for quicker baking, but you need to check your microwave width vs the cutout width for a stellar fit.


While we have a complete guide comparing the taste of microwaved food vs. oven-baked food, we should include a few details here. Preparing your food in an oven will likely result in a better-tasting product. Microwaves can make food mushy due to the way they affect the water molecules. Additionally, convertible vents and recirculating microwaves can also clear the air from cooking smells when using the stove or oven.


If you want crisp food, like leftover fried or roasted chicken, you should reheat it in your oven. That said, if your microwave has additional features or is a convection microwave oven, you may like the results. Keep in mind that if you want a softer texture or just want to boil water, you want a microwave.


While popular opinion might differ, there is no proven health risk to using a microwave. In addition, because the cooking time is shorter, microwaving a meal preserves some nutrients better than other cooking methods. That said, you won’t suffer a significant loss of nutrients either way. Moreover, using a microwave to defrost and cook is faster and more convenient.


Never cook raw meat in a microwave. It will heat your food inconsistently, and you will run the risk of food poisoning.


How much does a steam oven cost?

A steam oven is priced similarly to other countertop kitchen appliances, like microwaves or a toaster oven. For a basic model, you should expect to spend about $300 to $500, and premium countertop models cost up to $1,500.

Is it cheaper to use a microwave or an oven?

It isn’t energy efficient to use a traditional oven for heating liquids or small quantities of food. That said, if you are making roast chicken for your family, you should use a regular oven. The energy savings of both methods depends on the amount of food you want to prepare.

Can a microwave be used as an oven?

You can use a microwave oven instead of a traditional oven, but only if you have to. For example, you never want to cook raw meat in a microwave. A conventional microwave cannot heat raw meat to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria.

STAT: A US Department of Energy survey found that Americans with an Associate’s degree use their convection microwave the least out of any other educational group at only 3 percent. (source)

Christen da Costa Profile image