Mini Oven Vs Microwave (which to choose)

Microwaves and mini ovens are around the same size and look very similar, so it’s easy to confuse the two. However they perform completely different functions. On the surface these two appliances look very similar, and unless you have an extremely large kitchen, you’ll probably only have space to fit one or the other. If you’re not sure whether to buy a mini oven or a microwave, keep reading.

What’s The Difference Between A Mini Oven And A Microwave?

Mini ovens (toaster ovens) use a completely different cooking process to microwave ovens. It’s this different way energy is used to cook food which makes these appliances so different. 

We’ll get into specifics below but to summarise, mini ovens do better cooking foods with a low moisture content whereas microwaves utilise the moisture content in food to cook it.

What Is A Mini Oven?

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A mini oven is a counter top electrical appliance that uses infrared radiation which is produced by coils that have an electric current running through them. The heat generated by these coils heats the interior of the oven and cooks the food from the outside in, just like a conventional oven. The cooked food will be cooked thoroughly on the inside and brown on the outside.

The coils heat food directly (like a grill) so it’s possible to toast food which is impossible in a microwave. Some mini ovens have two separate heating coils, one at the top and one at the bottom. Others just have the top coil which is why they are sometimes called toaster ovens. 

Foods that cook great in a mini oven include;

  • Toast
  • Pastries (reheated)
  • Crispy bacon
  • Turkey and chicken
  • Pizza
  • Roast potatoes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Jacket potatoes

For much more information on mini ovens read our article entitled 18 reasons to buy a mini oven here.

What Are The Pros Of A Mini Oven?

The advantages of the mini oven include;

  • Can Be Packed Away When Not In Use – Mini ovens are small and light enough to be stored away in a cupboard when not in use to free up some counter top space.
  • Can Be Used To Keep Food Warm – As the mini oven works in a similar way to a conventional oven, it can be used to keep food warm without over cooking it
  • Relatively Inexpensive – Mini ovens are affordable, with some models costing around £35
  • Easily Fit Into A Small Space – As the mini oven is relatively small and needs no external vents, it can be placed and used in small spaces

What Are The Cons Of A Mini Oven?

The disadvantages of the mini oven include;

  • Can’t Heat Up Liquids – Due to the way the mini oven works, it is an inefficient way to heat up liquids. It would be like trying to boil water in an oven
  • Only One Rack – Mini ovens only have one rack to cook on, which limits the amount of food you can cook at one time
  • Can Dry Food Out – Mini ovens cook using a dry heat which can dry out foods – totally remove the moisture content from food
  • Not Too Good At Defrosting – Mini ovens can’t really be used effectively to thaw or defrost foods
  • Only Good For Small Quantities Of Food – As the mini oven only has one rack, it can only cook a small amount of food at one time

What Is A Microwave?

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A microwave is a countertop appliance which uses electromagnetic waves to heat the water inside the food. The heated water molecules create the heat that cooks the food from the inside out. The food will never brown or crisp on the outside. 

Microwaves are great for heating water, milk or any liquid in a short time. In fact any high liquid or fat content foods cook quickly in a microwave.

Foods that cook great in a microwave include;

  • Frozen Foods
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Cheese Based Foods
  • Reheating Leftovers
  • Reheating Stews, Soups etc
  • Popcorn

Want to find out more about microwaves? Click here for our article entitled microwave vs microwave oven


What Are The Pros Of A Microwave?

The advantages of the microwave include;

  • Easily Defrosts Food – Microwaves have a defrost program which quickly and safely defrosts food
  • Easy To Clean – Microwave ovens have easy to clean surfaces and a removable turntable which is dishwasher safe
  • Multi Functionable Appliance – Microwaves are capable of cooking many foods at different settings
  • Fast Cooking Time – As microwaves pass through the food, they heat it up from the inside which shortens the cooking time
  • Does Not Burn Food –  Due to the way it cooks, a microwave cannot burn food to a crisp like a mini oven can

What Are The Cons Of A Microwave?

The disadvantages of the microwave include;

  • Inability To Toast – Due to the way it cooks, the microwave cannot brown or toast food
  • Has A Tendency To Dry Food Out – Microwaves cook by heating the moisture in the food, which can lead to over drying the food
  • Sometimes Makes Food Soggy – If the food is overcooked, it can become soggy

Which Is Better: Mini Oven Or Microwave?

They both have advantages and disadvantages for example foods like lean meats and breads don’t cook or heat too well in a microwave and are often tough or overly chewy after being heated in one. Whereas mini ovens are not so good at defrosting foods, making popcorn or heating liquids.

Microwaves cook foods far quicker than a mini oven but cannot keep foods warm in the same way as a mini oven can. Some mini ovens have two hobs on top of the oven which can be used in the same way as a conventional hob which makes them far more versatile.

However there are some microwaves available which have grills. These are called combination microwaves and allow you to microwave and grill your food giving you the best of both worlds.

Mini Oven Vs Microwave Price Comparison


The prices of both these appliances are dependent on a number of factors. With mini ovens, it tends to be the oven size that decides the price. Whereas with microwaves it depends on the wattage.

Mini Oven Price

The average cost of a mini oven is around £35 to £180 depending on the size, make and model.

Microwave Price

The average cost of a microwave is around £55 to £255 depending on the watts and functionality.

Should I Buy A Mini Oven Or A Microwave?

Whether you should buy a microwave or a mini oven depends on a number of factors. Mainly based around your lifestyle. If you enjoy eating toasted or roast foods then you’ll probably be better off with a mini oven. On the other hand if you tend to cook more fatty foods, or foods with a high water content and want your food cooked quickly, then a microwave will probably suit you better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a mini oven the same as a microwave?

A mini oven is not the same as a microwave, they both cook foods in a different way. The microwave uses microwaves which pass through the water content of the food and heat the water up, cooking the food on the way. A mini oven uses infrared radiation from coils with electricity running through them. Microwaves are best for cooking foods with a high water or fat content and mini ovens are best for cooking foods which have a low moisture content like breads and cakes.

Can you bake things in a mini oven?

You can bake things in a mini oven. You can also grill things and roast things in a mini oven.

Is a mini oven better for you than a microwave?

No, foods cooked in a mini oven are not better for you than foods cooked in a microwave. Due to the speed and process of cooking foods in a microwave, foods lose less nutrients when cooked in a microwave compared to a mini oven.

Can you bake bread in a mini oven?

You can bake bread in a mini oven.

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