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What is a Convection Microwave?

A convection oven provides the best of both worlds: it gives you the thorough cooking of a convection oven but it does it with the speed of a microwave. A convection microwave uses a single fan to circulate heated air evenly though the microwave. This allows your food to cook as evenly as if it were in a full-size convection oven.

When you get a hybrid convection microwave, you can use it as either a microwave or a convection oven. This is in addition to using it as a combination appliance. It will brown your food – something a microwave cannot do on its own.

Pros of a Convection Microwave

There are a lot of benefits to having a convection microwave. Some of them may seem obvious. But for the appliance novice, they are not. Some people don’t know what a convection oven is, let alone a convection microwave.

Here are some of the pros of owning a convection microwave:

  • Cooking Speed – a convection microwave cooks much faster than a convection or conventional oven. There are two reasons for this faster cooking: (1) it uses microwave oven along with the convection oven and (2) the convection oven pre-heats the microwave like you would a conventional oven. This means the microwave is already hot when you put your food in there. It ends up cooking your food 3 times faster than regular cooking methods.
  • Tastes Better – Rather than cook food like a regular microwave, which cooks the food from the outside in, the convection microwave cooks your food from the inside out. This means the juices and flavors are cooked all the way through. Your food retains the original flavor that you sometimes lose with the microwave. In fact, a lot of convection microwaves have heat sensors that can modulate the heat while your meal is cooking so that it is cooked to perfection. You won’t lose any of the intended flavor.
  • Offers all cooking methods – With a microwave, all you are really doing is using microwave heat to cook your food. You can’t brown or roast anything. You certainly can’t bake a cake in a microwave. The convection microwave offers all of the following cooking methods:
    • Roast
    • Brown
    • Bake
    • Toast
    • Defrost
    • Broil
    • Crisp and
    • Steam

This means you can bake a cake one night and a roasted chicken the next!

As wonderful as a convection microwave may be, there are also some downsides. You want to make sure you understand the good and the bad before you spend your hard-earned money on a convection microwave, right?

Cons of a Convection Microwave

Nothing is perfect. No appliance offers everything you want without having a few drawbacks. This is also true of the convection microwave. It does offer a lot of benefits as we explained above. Here are a few of the cons of owning a convection microwave.

  • Size – the convection microwave is not as large as a conventional oven. You’re not going to be able to cook a Thanksgiving turkey in there. It is not really meant to replace your conventional oven.
  • Price – convection microwaves cost more than a regular microwave. But, this makes sense since it does so much more than a microwave. You’re paying for quality and convenience.
  • Limitations – There are some things that still cook better in a regular oven. You wouldn’t want to make scones or brownies in a convection microwave. They would cook better and taste better in a conventional oven.

Some Tricks to Cooking in a Convection Microwave

The thing about cooking in a convection microwave is that it’s neither an oven nor a microwave. It is a combination of both. Before you use it, read the instructions. That goes without saying. However, there are some other hints you need to know about a convection microwave. These tricks aren’t included in the brochure or instructions. Without them, it’s going to take a lot of trial and error before you become master of the convection microwave.

  • A convection microwave is not a microwave! It doesn’t just heat things up. It actually cooks them. Don’t use the convection microwave for popcorn or to heat up soup. Use it to cook. Make actual meals in there like chicken, casseroles and such.
  • Check cooking times for a convection oven – they are different. If you are following a box recipe or a recipe from a cookbook, look to see what the cooking times are for a convection oven. They are usually different than a regular oven because the microwave speeds up cooking times. If you don’t make the necessary adjustments, you are going to end up with food that is either under-cooked or dried out.
  • Always use the rack that comes with the convection microwave. You don’t want to learn the hard way to do this. If you put a dish on the bottom of the convection microwave, you are going to block the path of the air-flow. It is this stream of air that makes the convection oven work properly.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your regular pots and pans. A convection microwave doesn’t work like a regular microwave. It is okay to put metal and aluminum in a convection microwave. If you try to force your dishes into microwave safe dishes, they aren’t going to cook right. It defeats the whole purpose of buying a convection microwave.
  • Take advantage of the roasting feature on the convection oven. Although you can’t make a full-sized Thanksgiving turkey, you can still roast a turkey or chicken in there. If you use this roasting feature, you will be surprised to find that you bird is cooked perfectly all the way through in no time flat.
  • Experiment – Experiment – Experiment! – Don’t be afraid to experiment with your convection microwave. That is why you bought it after all. It isn’t just there to cook things faster. Be bold and try to make all sorts of different things in there. You will find out that you are a much better cook than you thought!

The Verdict

So, now that you know what a convection microwave is, it’s time to go shopping for your very own. Most appliance manufacturers offer a convection microwave in this day and age. They come in different sizes and models. Some are made to fit above your range just like a microwave were. Others are larger and can fit on a counter. It all depends on what suits your needs.

You won’t be limited to two choices: zap something in the microwave versus spend all day in the kitchen cooking and baking. It won’t be as much of a chore to make a cake now that you know you can do it quickly in your convection microwave. In fact, your food may even taste better. Without overcooking your meals in the conventional oven, you won’t have to worry about burning it or drying it out. Your family may thank you!

If you follow the above tips, you should be able to have some fun with your new gadget. Carefully think about the pros and cons to owning a convection microwave. Although, even the cons aren’t true cons. They really aren’t deal breakers. They are just things to take into consideration. For example, did you really expect to be able to cook a thirty-pound turkey in a convection microwave?

If you do decide to get a convection microwave, don’t decide to have it replace your appliances just yet. I would wait until you know what you can and can’t do with your new convection microwave before you put your microwave and conventional ovens at the curb.

Colin Matthews

Colin Matthews

Colin is an aspiring chef having completing his degree in culinary arts in California. His guilty pleasure is buying the latest & greatest (and sometimes, useless) in kitchen cookware and gadgets.

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