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Is a toaster better or the best microwaves?
Curious about the difference between a toaster oven vs microwave? They may be the same shape, but these kitchen devices don’t have much else in common. Here’s why they are different, and why that matters when cooking the foods you love! The Cuisinart CMW-100 – Best Small Countertop Microwave is not going to be the same as a toaster oven. Don’t worry, you can still keep up your search for the best toaster. Or, take a look at our Gaggenau 200 series motorized drop down oven review for a full-scale oven.
Microwaves and toaster ovens don’t just have different names, they are also very different devices with completely separate heating methods. Throw the best slow cooker into the mix, and the ways to simply heat your food are practically endless. Compare this with our Panasonic Flashxpress toaster oven review to determine which is right for you. This means they cook foods in unique ways. Really, except for their size, they are difficult to compare at all. Here are the basic scientific facts:
Okay, enough science. What does this mean for your foods? Let’s take the toaster oven first. The direct heat these units emit can produce certain combustion reactions – in other words, they can actually burn food. That’s good news! It means that you can caramelize surface sugars for foods like scones or pastries. It also allows you to brown or toast foods, something a microwave just can’t do – this also has an impact on meats, which can be browned or crisped in a toaster oven but not in a microwave.
The downside is that this method of heating is almost always going to be slower than the microwave, because the heat has to work slowly from the outside without burning your food. On the plus side, this also makes it easier to turn the heat down and keep food warm for long periods, something a microwave can’t really do. If you’re wondering how to reheat foods in toaster ovens, well, you need to turn the heat on low and wait – which means extra preparation time. Smart ovens can make this process easier.
A microwave, meanwhile, does better with foods that have high water content…like heating up tea. However, it also does well with foods that trap water, specifically various fats. That’s why microwaves can still do a good job of heating up cheese and other very fatty foods, or foods with trapped moisture. They are also very capable at defrosting or cooking frozen foods, which is why so many microwaves come with that handy defrost button. However, foods without much water (particular breads) fare poorly in the microwave, where they grow tough and stale. A similar problem happens with meats that have low fat content like chicken or your Thanksgiving turkey.
Let’s drill down to more specifics. What sort of foods work well with a toaster oven, and which favor a microwave instead?
You may be wondering, “Are toaster ovens healthy, though? What about microwave radiation?” It’s time to take about microwave and toaster oven health risks.
Are toaster ovens safe? Yes – except for the common danger of burns. Because these little ovens use exposed heating elements, they present no more danger than a traditional oven range, even when turned up. Of course, you need to be careful with countertop models, because if they accidentally fall then they could burn your floor or start a fire, something microwaves are a less likely to do.
Microwaves, on the other hand, do produce microwaves, which can be dangerous. However, this is rarely a problem. Microwave doors are designed to keep microwave radiation levels in the vicinity of the unit down to safe levels. If your door is damaged, you may want to call in a contractor who can use a radiation sensor to make sure levels remain safe. Otherwise, you don’t need to worry, especially for the effects it may have on food. Just don’t microwave styrofoam.
Both models present some small danger of electrocution though, so keep water and pets away from the cords!