Microwaves are convenient, but they aren’t the best way to get your food crispy. Pop a piece of bread into the microwave and it’ll get hot but stay floppy and untoasted. This means that a lot of people see microwaves not as cooking or toasting appliances but as convenient tools for reheating leftovers, thawing frozen food, or cooking microwave popcorn. However, the convection microwave oven may just change the way you see this common kitchen appliance. Learn more about what convection microwaves do and which specific models are the best available on the market so you can make an ideal purchasing decision.
How are Convection Microwaves Different?
Convection cooking is a principle that circulates warm air at ideal temperatures in a cooking compartment to provide even heating and much faster cooking overall. This principle makes convection ovens quite attractive to those who value convenience in the kitchen and it’s the same principle that applies to convection microwaves. Unlike conventional microwaves, which simply use microwave technology to provide heat, convection microwaves use circulating hot air and microwave technology together to create a super fast and convenient cooking method.
For example, you could cook frozen lasagna in a convection microwave and get the crispy brown edges each time and top you’d get in a convection oven, but it’ll be thawed and bubbly much faster. If you cooked the same frozen lasagna in a conventional microwave, you wouldn’t get as much, if any, browned crispy bits, and it probably wouldn’t be heated through evenly, either. You could then pop it under the grill should you have one, but this takes up more time and space. As you can see, convection microwaves combine the best features from both convection ovens (not regular ovens) and conventional microwaves.
One thing to keep in mind with convection microwaves is that their unique functionality can cause some operational differences you should be mindful of. For one, some plastic that is ordinarily safe for microwaves will not be suitable for use in a convection microwave. Anything that can melt in heat will likely melt in one of these microwaves due to the presence of hot air. Additionally, the interior of the microwave itself may get hot in a way conventional microwaves may not.
Do I Need a Convection Microwave?
Convection microwaves unquestionably add convenience and culinary versatility to the kitchen, but they’re usually more expensive and may require more active monitoring during cooking due to their ability to quickly cook and brown food. However, the speed with which convection microwaves can cook food beats both convection ovens and standard microwaves, making these appliances extremely appealing.
If you already have both a microwave and a convection oven, you may not need a convection microwave unless you frequently cook small dishes in your convection oven. A convection microwave isn’t usually a suitable substitute for a convection oven because these microwaves have the less interior capacity. You probably aren’t going to be able to use your convection microwave to cook a turkey, for example.
Inverter vs. Convection
You may see some microwaves with inverter technology listed in the same space as convection microwaves. Though the two features are functionally similar, they are not the same.
Inverter technology is a feature through which a microwave will operate at a consistent temperature according to the power setting you choose. While most standard microwaves without inverter technology allow the user to select a specific power setting, they provide different power levels by cycling the microwave power on and off. Inverter technology allows for true power control without cycling, which provides even heating and better cooking experience overall.
However, this is not the same as convection cooking as inverter microwaves still only use microwave technology to provide heat. Inverter microwaves may include a convection feature, but this isn’t always the case. So, if you’re looking for a convection feature in specific, make sure the microwave you choose explicitly offers this feature.
Best Convection Microwave Reviews
This sleek over-the-range convection microwave delivers exactly the kind of reliable performance and thoughtful features one might expect from a trusted culinary brand like KitchenAid. With 1000 watts of convection cooking power that can reach 425 degrees Fahrenheit and 1.9 cubic feet of interior capacity, the KMHC319ESS is a powerhouse of a microwave.
Helpful additional features include an interior rack that allows for dual-level cooking, a feature that introduces an unprecedented level of convenience for most people who’ve used microwaves before. Other convenient features include a steam self-clean feature to keep the microwave’s interior free from caked-on buildup and a keep-warm feature that competes with your full-size oven for convenience. This ultra futuristic microwave even has a sound-sensitive popcorn feature that responds to the sound of kernels popping to stop the cooking cycle and avoid burning.
Samsung MC12J8035CT If you’re looking for a countertop convection microwave, the Samsung MC12J8035CT may be your best bet. With 1.2 cubic feet of interior capacity and 1,650 watts of cooking power, this microwave isn’t massive, but it is large enough to accommodate larger food such as roast chicken and small-medium-sized pizzas.
One unique feature that makes this convection microwave oven special is its Slim Fry air frying setting, which allows you to cook up crispy fried foods such as French fries or even fried chicken without deep-fat immersion. It also boasts a durable and easy-to-clean ceramic enamel interior that will look great through heavy use. The minimalistic black design on this microwave will look great on your countertops, too.
Mid-sized at 1.0 cubic feet and featuring 1,000 watts of cooking power, this isn’t the biggest or most powerful convection microwave on the block, but it does its job well if you don’t plan on doing any serious high-power cooking with your microwave. In addition to its convection and warming-tray capabilities, this GE convection microwave has a clever recessed turntable feature that allows your food to rotate while cooking without taking up too much space in the microwave’s cooking compartment.
Though it’s designed as a countertop model, this convection microwave from GE has an optional trim kit you can use to convert it to a built-in, freeing up more space on your countertops. The PEB9159DJBB also comes in several different colors, including black, white and stainless steel, a handy design feature that will make it even easier to integrate into your kitchen.