What is a convection microwave oven and why should you have one in your kitchen?
I’ve explored the answers to these questions and a few more. Keep reading to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of owning a microwave convection oven.
So what is a convection microwave oven? A microwave convection oven combines the traditional cooking method of a regular microwave with that of a convection oven. Heat is created both by microwaves and a heating element which is then circulated around food by a fan. This heats food quicker and allows it to be browned, baked and crisped.
So in a nutshell there you have it. There is of course more to it than this though.
I have gone into more detail about what you can cook with a convection microwave and how much you can expect to pay for one. I’ve also detailed the advantages and disadvantages of using a convection microwave over a regular microwave.
What Is A Convection Microwave Oven?
Regular Microwave Cooking
There are so many different types of microwave ovens available to buy today. As I said above, quite simply a convection microwave oven takes the technology used in a regular microwave and combines it with the technology used in a convection oven.
This effectively turns your microwave into an appliance that doubles up as an oven in your kitchen.
This existing technology I am talking about in a regular microwave is the creation and use of microwaves to cook food. If you wish to know more about this in detail then read my post on solo microwaves. I will describe this technology briefly below.
Microwaves used to cook food are created by something called a magnetron. These microwaves were originally used for radar technology in World War 2, but have since been used to cook food.
The magnetron sends electrically charged particles in between two things called cathodes and anodes. Underneath the magnetron runs a very powerful magnet. The job of this magnet is to attract the electrons and change their course.
These electrons then fly around in a circular direction and pass over small holes or cavities. This give the magnetron its official name of a ‘cavity magnetron‘.
As the electrons pass over these cavities they start to resonate or vibrate. When this happens microwaves are created. These microwaves are then fired into the cooking chamber of the microwave oven by something called a waveguide.
They then bounce around inside the microwave, reflected off the surfaces.
Convection Microwave Cooking
Adding the convection element to a microwave then changes things further. A regular convection oven combines a heating element with a fan to circulate hot hair.
The oven creates hot air, which is then circulated around the oven by a fan, and then out through an exhaust system.
This helps the food to cook faster, as the heat is blown directly onto the food, rather than just sitting around it.
How Does A Convection Microwave Oven Cook Food?
A convection microwave oven cooks food by combing both of the elements that I described above. Firstly it uses microwaves in the same way a solo microwave does.
Once the microwaves are passed into the cooking chamber of the microwave, they bounce around inside the cooking compartment. When you add food or liquid to be cooked, they absorb these microwaves as they fly around.
The microwaves then excite water molecules in the food or liquid. This causes heat to be generated. This heat is what then cooks the food. Food is cooked from the outside in, with the last part of the food receiving heat being the very inside.
Food high in water content will be cooked more quickly due to there being more water molecules to excite.
Adding the convection part to the microwave further enhances this cooking process. As the heating element is used, and the fan turned on, the heat created is circulated around the food.
As the hot air is blown directly onto the food, it is heated up even more quickly. This allows for more even cooking temperatures. It also allows you to brown and crisp food in a way that a regular oven does not.
What Can You Cook In A Convection Microwave Oven?
The beauty of a convection microwave oven is that you can cook all of the things you would do in a solo microwave.
You still have the ability to heat, reheat and defrost food. You can still use it to make fluffy rice, cook pasta dishes, heat up soup and make perfect scrambled eggs.
As well as this you can also add many things that you would cook using a regular convection oven. With the added ability to brown and crisp food, a convection microwave oven is much more versatile than a regular microwave.
Below are just a few ideas of things you might like to try cooking with a convection microwave oven:
Roasting A Chicken
It is entirely possible to roast an entire chicken in a convection microwave. Combining both heating elements means that it will be cooked throughly on the inside and nicely browned and crisped on the outside.
While you could heat up a pizza in a regular microwave, it would not cook it how you would like. The pizza would be largely soggy and at the very least least not firm. With the addition of a rack in a convection microwave you can easily cook a pizza to be nice and crisp.
Ok so this is not a food, but an entire cooking approach. You can however easily use a convection microwave to bake a range of things. Making cakes using just a convection microwave is entirely possible due to the extra heat and cooking style of the appliance.
It is entirely possible to cook a baked potato in a regular microwave. However, if you like a crispy skin then you won’t get this by using a solo microwave oven. Most people will tend to give it a quick blast in the microwave followed by some time in the oven to achieve this.
In a convection microwave oven you can do both. You can use the traditional elements of the microwave combined with the hot air of the convection element to both quickly cook and crisp a baked potato.
How Much Does A Convection Microwave Oven Cost?
Is is clear that a convection microwave oven is way more than just your average regular microwave. It is effectively combing both a microwave and a convection oven.
You can therefore expect to pay quite a bit more for a convection microwave than for a solo microwave.
If you are serious about cooking and baking, or don’t have the money to change your oven for a convection oven, then maybe this appliance is the right one for you.
This Toshiba EC042A5C-SS pictured below is at the lower end of the range of convection microwaves available on Amazon. It does however come with a ton of great reviews, and is well worth the money.
This stylish Dacor DMW2420S convection microwave pictured below is at the other end of the price range. It can be used as a countertop microwave or as a fitted built in microwave.
What Are The Advantages Of A Convection Microwave Oven?
There are so many advantages to having a microwave in your kitchen. I do know people who get by without them, but not many.
For the purposes of this post I am discussing the advantages of a convection microwave oven in comparison to a regular microwave.
I have also written a post solely about the advantages and disadvantages of microwave ovens in general if you want read more about this.
Faster Cooking Times
Due to the combined elements of cooking with a convection microwave, you can heat and reheat food much quicker than with a regular microwave.
For this to be the case you need to combine both the regular cooking ability of a microwave with the convection element. It is possible to use these both on their own.
More Even Cooking
With the convection element in use, you can expect more even cooking of your food. Not only is it cooked by the microwaves generating heat, but the convection element circulates the warm air around the food too. This give a more even cooking experience.
Multiple Dishes At Once
With the addition of a rack in the convection microwave, it is possible to cook more than one thing at once. You can cook on the turntable while you have another dish cooking on the rack above.
Larger variety Of Food Options
With the ability to bake and crisp food, there are a ton of extra options available for you to cook in a convection microwave. Being able to bake is such a great addition with this appliance, and if you just have a regular oven, this will give you another option for this.
Cheaper Than A Convection Oven
Ok so this is not strictly an advantage over a regular microwave. It is still an important advantage of buying a convection microwave if you don’t own a convection oven.
Buying a convection microwave, as long as you don’t go for the top of the range model, will definitely be a cheaper option than buying a convection oven.
Saves On Using Two Appliances
With a convection microwave, you only need to use one appliance where you may need to use two if you don’t have one. As it combines the functions of a microwave and a convection oven, you can use both when cooking with the one appliance.
Disadvantages Of Convection Microwaves
Again these are only the disadvantages of buying and using a convection microwave in comparison to a regular or solo microwave.
Faster Cooking Times
Weird that I have this down as an advantage and disadvantage right? If you are not used to how quickly a convection microwave cooks food, you are probably going to overcook things at first.
It will take a few attempts for you to figure out the right cooking time for different foods. Over time you will get used to this and instinctively know how long you should cook different foods for.
No Bottom Element
In a convection oven you will have a bottom heating element to brown and crisp the bottom of foods too if needed. Due to the build of a convection microwave there is no bottom heating element. This means it may be more difficult to brown or crisp the bottom of anything you cook.
Difficult To Clean
A convection microwave can be more difficult to clean than a regular microwave. Most of the insides of convection ovens are made from stainless steel and this can be quite difficult to get clean.
Also if you are cooking a wider range of foods that may be more fatty, this adds extra grease to the inside of the appliance.
It is true that you can expect to pay quite a bit more for a decent convection microwave than you will for a regular microwave.
What it does give you is a versatile cooking appliance that gives you so much more in terms of cooking options. It is also going to be cheaper than buying a convection oven.
So there you have it. The answer to the question what is a convection microwave oven?
This appliance combines the traditional cooking method of a regular microwave oven with a convection oven. It circulates hot air around the food being cooked, allowing you to both brown and crisp food.
It will cook food quicker and more evenly. A convection microwave oven will cost more, but is worth it if you are prepared to spend the time using it properly.
I hope this helps you if you are looking to choose a different type of microwave for your kitchen.
If I’ve missed anything please feel free to add it in the comments below. Thanks for reading.