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Difference Between Microwave and Oven

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Are you confused over microwaves and ovens? Let's get rid of it once for all.

How is a microwave different from an oven?

Although microwave is just another type of oven, there are quite a few things that set them apart. From setup to the working procedure, both the appliances bag different aspects altogether. Microwave is generally one that uses electromagnetic radiation from the built-in magnetron to cook food comparatively quicker than the conventional ovens that use various heating elements. However, there is more to it. Walkthrough and gather a more comprehensive idea.

What is an Oven?

The term oven generally refers to a kitchen appliance in a broader sense. It is generally an appliance that takes up heat energy and uses the same for cooking and various other purposes. Ovens usually have five forms, namely conventional, convection, earth, gas, and microwave.

Cakes that bake in the oven

What is a Microwave?

A microwave, popularly known as a microwave oven, is an electric device that uses electromagnetic radiation to cook food. The appliance uses something called a magnetron which produces microwaves to move forward with the cooking process. Using a microwave is generally easier and holds down to brilliant cooking efficiency.

Ikea Microwave

Differences Between a Microwave and an Oven

The Setup

The microwave bags a magnetron that produces microwaves. The microwaves proceed through a series of actions that eventually help users to come up with cooked food. Meanwhile, in an oven, the heating elements are situated at the top and at the heating chamber's bottom end. It additionally features a grill and a fan.

Working Principle

When we talk about the working process in a microwave, the prime focus comes from the available magnetron.

In case you wonder what that is, well, it is a vacuum tube that helps in the production of microwaves. When a user passes electricity through the appliance, it initially converts the electrons into oscillating ones. From there, the microwaves produced get spread uniformly over the chamber with the help of a fan-like stirrer. Once distributed, the microwaves get reflected multiple times on the walls of the cooking chamber. With handy assistance from the turn-able plate at the bottom alongside the periodic wave motion, the food inside a microwave gets evenly cooked.

On the other hand, the oven comprises heating elements that heat up to eventually cook the food. The element available generally proceeds with the process of heating by simply converting the passed-on electric energy into the respective heat energy. The heat produced by the heating element converts the normal air into hot air in the cooking chamber. The hot air is then distributed over the chamber with a built-in fan. You'll find it at the center of the very backside of the oven. The food thus placed sits under continuous heat energy and gets uniformly cooked.


An oven gift a user multiple functionalities, from cooking to pottery, from forging to glassmaking. Microwaves, on the other hand, are widely used for cooking purposes only.

Cooking Nature

When we talk about the oven, in particular, the outside layer of the food is cooked initially, after which the heat passes inside. The cooking process initiates from the inner layers and then moves forward to the available outer layers for a microwave.

Cooking Time

Cooking time is a factor that widely depends upon the size and volume of food. However, considering the difference in working nature, get ready to cook food in one of the appliances comparatively faster.

When we have food of similar size and thickness, an oven takes more time to cook as compared to the microwave.

Energy consumption

The microwave consumes less energy when we compare the same thing with ovens. Although energy consumption as a factor varies from one model to the other, it has been observed that the amount of energy consumed by the oven is around three to four times more than what you can expect from microwaves in general.

Ease of Cleaning

Ease of cleaning is another factor that sets microwaves and ovens apart. Due to the presence of all the heating elements, cleaning an oven is comparatively challenging than a microwave. Additionally, with all the trays, grills, and other available pieces of equipment, you better get ready to invest some time in cleaning up your oven altogether. Featuring a clean, smooth finish, a microwave, on the other hand, can be seamlessly cleaned in no time.

Heating Duration and Reheating

As you might have already guessed, heating in a microwave is comparatively faster. Having said that, the entire scene with the reheating requirement is also a convenient thing with microwaves. Yes, ovens are also pretty good at it; microwaves promise a better result.

Grill and Bake

For everyone who's after grilling and baking, the oven is genuinely the better option. As we've already mentioned, the heating process in the oven process initiates from the available outer surface; for that matter of fact, grilling and baking are handy with ovens.

A piece of good news is, microwaves these days do feature a convection cooking element. Make sure you check that before buying if grilling and baking are a requirement.


Defrosting is an option that is generally unavailable for oven users. With that being said, opt for a microwave if you seek to deal with frozen food quite too often.

Comparison Chart: Microwave Vs Oven

SetupFeatures magnetrons that produce microwaves to heat up food and other elements.Heating elements are situated at the top and a heating chamber at the bottom
UsageCookingCooking, pottery, glassmaking, forging
Cooking NatureInner layer is cooked firstOuter layer is cooked initially
Cooking TimeLessMore
Energy ConsumptionLessMore
Ease of CleaningEasier to cleanA bit challenging
Heating DurationQuickerTakes comparatively more time
Grill and BakeComparatively a weaker option to deal with baking and grillingBetter Option
DefrostingBetter OptionWeaker alternative

Similarities: How a microwave is similar to an oven

Alongside a number of distinguishable factors, microwaves and ovens hold down to similar working purposes. Both "microwave" and oven are appliances built to apply heat to elements, usually food for cooking and making them edible. Again, the appliances sit similarly in the usual locality as both are found in the kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

🌡 Can an oven work as a microwave?

Considering the overall usage purpose, it is safe to say that users can sometimes use an oven as a microwave. Although the working principle is fairly apart, using the mechanism to heat your food and cook them is a genuine possibility.

🔌 What uses more electricity between a microwave and an oven?

In general, an oven is an appliance that consumes more energy as compared to a microwave. Having said that, it is evident that the former uses more electricity than the latter.


Suppose you've been dealing with difficulties while setting a microwave apart from an oven. In that case, this article is everything you need to go through right now. Here, we've talked about every element that plays the role of a differentiating factor in setting a microwave and an oven apart.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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