Difference Between Microwave and Oven?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: May 19, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Table of Contents

Difference Between Microwave and Oven?

Do you know the difference between a microwave and an oven? You might think they are the same thing, but they are quite different.

A microwave uses waves to cook food, while an oven cooks food with heat. Microwaves usually cook food evenly and quickly, while ovens take longer but can cook larger items.

So, which one is right for you? Let’s explore the differences between microwaves and ovens in more detail.

Which one was invented first? Microwave or Oven?

Microwaves were invented in the 1940s while ovens have been around since ancient times.  You might think that microwaves are newer, but ovens are the older invention by about 2000 years!  

Surprising? It is! Ovens were used by the Babylonians to make bread, and they used them for other purposes like making clay wares. But those ovens were different than what we see today. They were built from bricks and other heavy materials that could withstand the heat.

Microwaves came later and what popularised them was their use in the Second World War. They were used to quickly heat food for soldiers, and soon they became extremely common across homes as well. Toasters are another invention that came around with microwaves!

6 Key differences between a microwave and an oven


Ovens cook food using either conduction or convection, while microwaves use radiant energy. Ovens take longer to cook foods, while microwaves take minutes. Microwave ovens are good for heating leftovers and also thawing frozen items. They can also handle baking tasks faster than an oven.

An oven is good for deep and hearty meals like casseroles and roasts. Ovens can also handle tasks like toasting bread, baking cakes, etc.


Microwaves are inexpensive and easily available. Ovens tend to be more expensive but worth the investment as they last longer than microwaves. Both ovens and microwaves require regular maintenance and cleaning.

Power consumption

A modern oven uses anywhere from 2000 to 3000 watts, while microwaves range from 600 to 900 watts. Microwave ovens use less power as they heat up food quickly, but they cannot handle more than a couple of dishes at one time. Ovens are better for cooking multiple dishes at once, but their power usage is higher.

Food type

Ovens are ideal for cooking casseroles, roasts, and hearty meals like lasagna. They can also make excellent pizzas. Microwaves are best for heating up leftovers, thawing out frozen items, etc. They cannot handle baking tasks as an oven does.

Cleaning and maintenance

Both ovens and microwaves require regular cleaning. All models come with similar accessories like glass trays, drip pans, cooking racks, etc. Both ovens and microwaves require regular deep cleaning using soapy water. Ovens are tougher to clean than microwaves due to their size.

Hygienic and health benefits

Ovens can present a health hazard as they expose food to direct heat and smoke. This creates carcinogens and kills healthy bacteria in the food. These risks are low in microwaves as they do not use direct heat.

Both ovens and microwaves cook the food evenly, but ovens cook the outer surface more than the inner. Microwave ovens cook the food in both layers, so there is no such problem in them.

Which one should you buy?

If your family eats hearty meals and you need to cook multiple dishes at once, then an oven is best for you.

You can prepare roasts and casseroles in it easily. If you want your food quickly then a microwave is a good option. You can have cold or frozen items ready fast with it, and there is the added benefit of baking tasks being done in a jiffy.

Choose one that suits your need!

Precautionary differences between microwaves and ovens

There are a few things that you need to take care of while operating an oven. These are different when it comes to microwaves.


Ovens require more patience and time for cooking, but microwaves cook faster. If you are switching between the two types of machines, make sure you note down timings and settings for each type accordingly. Else, you must use care when removing food from an oven as it is very hot and may burn your hands.

Material of cookware

You can use most types of cookware in an oven. However, microwaves only allow the use of certain materials like ceramics, glass, and plastics. You cannot place any metal items in it or they will cause sparks.


As mentioned earlier, cleaning is easier with ovens. They have larger interiors and usually take less time to clean than microwaves. If you plan on cooking and baking heavy meals at home, then an oven is the best choice for you.

Cleaning a microwave needs more care than an oven. Ensure that you use proper microwave cleaning products and solutions to clean it thoroughly after every use.

Are microwaves lighter than ovens?

No, microwaves are slightly heavier than ovens. The range of weights varies depending on the size of the appliance and manufacturer model.

How long do microwaves take to cook food?

It completely depends on how big your meal is and on what setting you have chosen for cooking it. Generally, half a minute might be enough for some types of food. To be precise, I suggest that you read the instructions manual that comes with every product.

How many watts are microwaves?

On average, microwaves use around 1000 to 2400 watts of power. But some types use up to 3000 wattages depending on the size of the oven and functions offered by it.

Are microwaves more aesthetically appealing than ovens?

Not really. Both ovens and microwaves come in a range of colors, designs, and finishes to suit your kitchen design. You can choose from a wide variety when buying either product.

Final Thoughts

In summary, microwave ovens are highly convenient small appliances that can quickly cook food. Ovens are much bigger and take more time to operate, but offer more flexibility in cooking choices. Therefore, consider microwaves if you need your oven to clean up quickly in the kitchen.

On the other hand, if you regularly host large parties or need to bake food, then ovens are the only way to go.

Happy Cooking!

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