If the "popcorn" and "30 seconds" buttons on your microwave are the only ones getting any action, you’re not alone. Convenient as they are, microwaves are
notorious for inconsistently heating food, so it’s no wonder many of us don’t actually cook with them. The best microwave convection ovens, on the other hand, make food that’s good enough to serve dinner guests. Think crispy potatoes, bronzed chicken, and cookies. (Really!) It’s important to do your research when shopping for a microwave convection oven, however, so here are some things to keep in mind.
Convection ovens work by
circulating super hot air with a fan, resulting in food that is cooked-through and crispy. This, combined with the speed of microwave cooking, is called combination cooking, and produces quickly-but-evenly-cooked and browned food.
For the most versatility, look for an oven that allows you to manually use each function, alone or together. Preprogrammed settings are designed to take the guesswork out of cooking common foods, so make sure they align with what you actually want to prepare.
Depending on the design of your kitchen, you can choose between countertop or over-the-range style ovens. The latter tend to be a bit larger and more expensive, but can free up valuable space. Lastly, make sure to read the fine print when shopping, as some manufacturers claim to offer microwave convection functionality, but are actually convection toaster ovens. (I have you covered here.)
best microwave convection ovens are a mealtime game-changer, and the top picks below will make you rethink microwave cooking.
The Best Overall: Toshiba EC042A5C-BS Microwave Oven With Convection Function
At first glance, this
microwave convection oven from Toshiba looks like a regular microwave. But thanks to some smart technology, it’s much more than that. The simplified control panel lets you seamlessly choose between using the microwave or convection oven functions alone or together for combination cooking. This is what gives moist-yet-crispy results when cooking foods you’d normally prepare in a standard oven — but much more quickly. With 1.5 cubic feet of capacity and a 13.6-inch turntable, you’ll have no problem preparing larger recipes in your own microwave and oven-safe dishware. The Toshiba has four auto-bake and four auto-roast settings for commonly made foods like frozen pizza, dinner rolls, and chicken breast. When using it as a microwave, a humidity sensor auto-adjusts the temperature and time to cook food precisely. Unlike regular microwaves that turn off after operation, the warm hold function allows you to cook food and keep it at serving temperature. One other bonus, the buzzer can be disabled if you want to cook something at the wee hours without disturbing anyone.
The Best Value: Daewoo KOC-9Q4DS Convection Microwave Oven
Similar in functionality to the Toshiba, but with slightly smaller cooking capacity and fewer programs, this
convection microwave from Daewoo is a great value at just $130. Offering three styles of cooking — microwave, grill, and convection — each can be used individually or in combination for versatile cooking. One of the most unique features of the Daewoo is the honeycomb design of the interior walls, whose reflective properties increase cooking performance by up to 15%. When using the grill or convection functions, an included rack elevates food to make sure heat hits every surface of your recipe (in other words, no more soggy pizza bottoms). For convenient cooking, the Daewoo comes with five auto-set programs for preparing pork, beef, chicken, fish, or vegetables. If you tend to cook foods that are fatty or prone to splatter, the built-in steam cleaning function is a great for cleaning debris that can stick to the interior of the oven.
The Best Over-The-Range Model: Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave
Despite the higher price tag of this
microwave convection oven from Sharp, it is considerably more affordable than many other over-the-range models. And when you consider the multiple ways it can be used, it pays for itself by virtually replacing your microwave and standard oven. The extensive control panel may take some getting used to (make sure to hold onto your user manual), and offers serious versatility for cooking. The microwave function has eight preset sensor cook settings, including reheat, popcorn, and defrost. When using the Sharp as a convection oven, choose between 12 pre-loaded settings, plus the option to use it to broil, roast, or bake. Though larger externally and heavier than a standard countertop microwave convection oven, the internal capacity is a conservative 1.1 cubic feet. However, you have the option to disable the turntable, meaning you can cook with many of your own oven-safe bakeware pieces, including rectangular casseroles that otherwise would not fit if rotating. The Sharp comes with two racks for cooking, and also has a keep warm function for holding food until you’re ready to serve your guests. Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle's editorial and sales departments.