Let’s face it – perfectly cooked foods, like what you would get at a good restaurant, are not usually cooked in a regular microwave. After all, most people would consider microwave-cooking for either leftovers, frozen meals, or melting butter. If you’ve ever tried to cook a raw piece of chicken in the microwave, for example, you might find it to be rubbery and pale. Though a traditional microwave may not work well to cook your thanksgiving meal, the main reason most people own one is the convenience. Cooking foods in a microwave oven is quick and easy.
A traditional microwave oven works great for defrosting and quickly heating leftovers. But they lack the ability to provide a high level of quality for cooking foods. Roasting and baking, for example, are foods that are generally best made in an oven. Better yet, a convection oven.
If only there was a way to get the convenience of a microwave oven with the high quality/even cooking of a convection oven… Enter the convection microwave oven.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best convection microwave oven options on the market. We will also cover the core features to consider and common questions regarding these appliances. Let’s dig in!
Quick Start: Top Picks and Navigation
Before we get into what a convection microwave does and the benefits, let’s get down to business. We’ll start with a couple of our favorites. Further down, we’ll do a deep dive on several great convection microwave ovens.
Overall Favorite Convection Microwave
Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven: The Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven is an absolute beast. It’s core features are air fry, bake, broil and microwave. With these 4 capabilities you can cook just about anything to perfection. We’ll cover this in greater detail later.
Best Budget Convection Microwave
Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Countertop Microwave Oven: For those on a budget, the Toshiba EC042A5C-SS is the perfect alternative. It comes with 1.5 cu ft of cooking space. It has an easy to use keypad with the capability to use as a convection oven, microwave oven or combo mode where you utilize both functionalities. Best of all, it’s very affordable! Again, we’ll do deeper dive on this model below.
- Convection Microwave Ovens 101
- Best Convection Microwave Oven Reviews
- How To Choose A Convection Microwave Oven
Convection Microwave Ovens 101
A convection microwave oven is not your run-of-the-mill microwave. Traditional microwave ovens generate waves that excite molecules in food as the food rotates in the appliance. On the flip side, a traditional oven uses a heating element that cooks foods more slowly and evenly. Convection technology kicks it up a notch and circulates hot air for a superior cooking experience. Combine this all and you have an all-in-one cooking powerhouse!
Convection microwave ovens offer more versatility and higher quality food than a regular microwave. Let’s look at why.
What Makes Up Convection Microwave Ovens?
Three core functionalities are needed for convection microwaves. There must be a heating element, basic microwave technology and convection technology.
A microwave convection oven contains a similar heating element you would find in an electric oven. This is what allows food to crisp up when cooking.
When you think of roast foods, roast meats or a whole chicken as part of a dinner, it is generally something that would be cooked in a regular oven because the heating element has a much more favorable effect on the food than a microwave can produce.
What does convection mean? In the context of ovens, it is simply the circulation of hot air. By circulating the air inside of an oven, it keeps the air temperature more consistent on the surface of the food being cooked.
Heat circulation is important because when you place something in the oven, the food is actually cooling the air in the oven and the surface of the food may not maintain an even temperature. But convection moves that cold air away ensuring even cooking.
Microwaves have an element called a magnetron that generates waves. The microwave energy causes molecules in food to vibrate and create heat. This technology differs from regular ovens in that the waves can easily penetrate the food and heat the inside more quickly. Whereas, a regular oven heats from the outside first, then inside.
Common Microwave Convection Oven Features
Aside from the general “microwave mode” the best convection microwave ovens have additional features that allow you more control over the way you cook. Here some features you’ll come across and their benefits.
Probably the most important feature of a convection microwave is the convection mode. Each model may differ in the way that convection is turned on. Some have a mode called “Convection Bake”. Others may have sections of controls that are dedicated to convection such as “Bake” or “Roast”.
Regardless of how the modes are labeled, this important ability to circulate air within the chamber of the microwave oven is what helps produce food that looks and tastes like it just came out of a traditional convection oven. Convection cooking produces a high degree of quality.
Some models have a sensor cook mode which monitors the temperature and humidity of food and adjusts the cooking times and cooking power settings as the food warms up. Food in a microwave oven gives off steam as the water molecules get excited. The sensor help judge how much longer and at what power the food needs to cook optimally.
In order for sensor mode to work at it’s best, you’ll need to enter the type of food being cooked and the weight.
Keep Warm Feature
Not quite ready to serve what you just made? The keep warm feature allows you to maintain just the right amount of heat to keep your food warm until you’re ready to serve it up.
Over The Range Models
Free up counter space with an over the range model. It has become common to place a microwave over the range instead of a basic range hood. Why not make things more versatile over the range by mounting a convection microwave? These models will differ from countertop microwaves in that they can be mounted to the wall and have a hood light to light your stove top. Otherwise, features will be similar between countertop and over the range versions.
You just can’t beat the crisp, satisfying flavor of air-fried food. Well, perhaps frying in oil tastes the best, but an air fryer is healthier since your food isn’t submersed in oil.
Air fry mode in a convection microwave works similarly to a standalone air fryer. It circulates hot air around the food, creating crispy results. It is similar to convection cooking, but at a higher temperature. This works great for things like french fries, wings or nuggets.
Looking to toast, brown or crisp something? You could turn to your regular oven to get the job done. But convection ovens with a broiler feature allow you more convenience by not having to turn on your whole large oven to broil something small or quick.
Steam Cleaning Function
Cooking can get messy sometimes. Whether you’ve got splatters from cooking casserole dishes or maybe even an entire chicken, you’ll need to keep your convention microwave clean. Some models offer a steam cleaning functionality which helps release baked-on spills and splatters so you can more easily wipe them away and keep the interior like new.
Inversion (Power Settings)
Inversion in a microwave oven allows the user to control the strength of the magnetron that heats the food. This comes in handy when defrosting food, especially, since you don’t want the microwave on full blast to thaw something. It’s also helpful if you want to control the cooking power to take more control over the heat of food while warming/cooking.
A growing number of appliances these days have the capability of being controlled via phone or smart device. Convection microwaves are no exception. Convection microwaves equipped with WiFi enable you to control certain functions of the microwave oven from a distance or even when away from home.
Looking for an easy way to get a nice grill finish on your food, but don’t want to grill outside? Some models feature a built-in grill rack. This can come in handy if you like grilled food but want the convenience of a microwave.
What To Consider Before Buying a Convection Microwave
So far we’ve covered how a convection microwave functions and some of the features you’ll find in different models. But before you go and purchase a convection microwave, you’ll want to put on your analytical hat for a minute. By assessing the following key aspects of your upcoming purchase, you’ll be happier with your purchase.
An important consideration is how much the convection microwave oven can fit. Deciding what foods you plan to cook and how much at a time is the best way to determine what interior capacity you require.
Common capacity ranges are:
- Under 1 cubic foot
- 1 to 1.5 cubic feet
- 1.6 to 1.9 cubic feet
- 2 cubic feet and above
Generally speaking, if you are looking to use the microwave for basic needs and smaller portions, you’ll want to stay closer to the 1 cubic foot capacity. If you plan to frequently make roasts or have a need for larger meal preparation, then you will want to look at the larger capacities around 2 cubic feet.
Convection microwaves are not much different in appearance than a regular microwaves. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have options! There are a lot of finishes to choose from. Here are just a few options
- Stainless steel
A quick search yields quite a lot of options. Just keep in mind that stainless steel, black and white finishes are the most common. So you will find the most options and models to choose from if you stick with the common colors.
Where do you plan to keep your convection microwave? There are two main options to choose from. Countertop or over the range.
Countertop microwaves are probably the easiest option to buy and start using because there is minimal setup and installation. But the downside is that it takes up precious counter space. And if you happen to have a kitchen with little space, you may want to consider a range convection microwave.
Uses and Frequency of Use
Considering your cooking needs is crucial. Model features vary widely, so it’s important to know your needs and look for options that provide the features you need. For example, are you looking for a steam cleaning function to make cleaning easier or is it more important to you to have the air fryer option? Weighing out the various options will help you make a solid decision.
Also consider how often you’ll be using the convection microwave oven. If you plan to use it for dinner preparation every day, you’ll want to consider maybe a higher end appliance. But if you plan to only use it occasionally, you might be happy with a more simple option.
Once you’ve decided on the features you’d like and special considerations like capacity and uses, you are ready to dive in.
Best Convection Microwave Oven Reviews
As with many types of kitchen appliances, there is a variety of convection microwaves to choose from. Some come with basic function capabilities, while others are extremely high-tech and can provide a slew of functions. Let’s take a look at the best microwave convection ovens.
Best Countertop Convection Oven
The Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven is a true powerhouse in the kitchen. This 1.2 cu ft. stainless steel microwave has the capability to microwave, air fry, convection bake, and broil to cook foods just right.
The air fry mode works by circulating hot air around the food. If you haven’t made food in an air fryer before, watch out because you might fall in love. I mean, who doesn’t love crispy, browned fries or nuggets!? You just can’t get those results in a regular microwave oven.
The convection bake mode allows you to use this unit as a second oven. With its ability to heat up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s perfect for roasting or baking. And if you are looking for an oven with broiling capabilities, this will not disappoint to get the perfect crisp you’re after.
HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Features
This Panasonic countertop microwave oven is not only reliable but it has the most commonly used features. With the ability to air fry, bake, broil and microwave, there is a ton of versatility in this unit.
Let’s look at some of the other features. It has an easy-clean interior (not to be confused with steam clean function). This means that the interior is stainless steel. Which is easy to wipe down and keep clean. And if you have kids in your home, you may appreciate the safety lock and silent mode. This keeps your kids safe and unbothered by the noises a regular microwave makes.
Sensor cooking is something Panasonic countertop microwave ovens do very well. The sensors in the microwave will keep track of the temperature and moisture to help ensure the food is cooked well.
Lastly, this is a countertop microwave, but can be converted to built in. If you are looking to convert this to an over the range convection microwave oven, you’ll need to install the optional trim kit (NN-TK81KCS), which is sold separately.
HomeChef 4-in-1 Pros and Cons
- Commonly used features come with it, reducing the amount kitchen appliances you need.
- Sensor cooking makes well-cooked meals (and defrosting) easier.
- Smaller footprint to take up less space on your countertop (22”W x 13.4”H x 17”D) .
- It does not have a keypad like a traditional microwave oven, so you may need to follow the instruction manual the first time you use it.
- The buttons may be hard to read for some.
Best Over-The-Range Convection Microwave Oven
If you prefer to have a microwave over your stove, then why not have that microwave double as an second oven? The Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave is our top pick for an over the range convection microwave.
This 1.1 cu ft. 850-watt stainless steel microwave is not only visually appealing but provides the core functionality you need. The convenience of having a convection microwave oven directly above the stove is amazing. If you have a roast in your main oven and need to bake some potatoes at another temperature, all you need is to look above the range!
Sharp R1874T 850W Features
Though it may not have specific add-on capabilities that make it stand out, this model keeps things fairly simple and does it well. If you will be using your convection microwave oven to brown, bake, broil, crisp or roast, then you will find this to be a perfect addition to your kitchen.
In addition to the cooking capabilities, this has a built-in exhaust fan and hood light. So if you are accustomed to a regular range hood and considering moving to an over the range convection microwave, you won’t lose out on the light and fan that you regularly use.
Low and high racks also come with this model. This makes it easier to bake or cook different foods.
Sharp R1874T 850W Pros and Cons
- Easy-to-use keypad and controls.
- Made specifically for over-the-range placement.
- Equipped with hood light and fan.
- Not as many model features as other options.
- May be too small if you are looking for an option to cook large meals regularly.
Best Value For Money
The Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Countertop Microwave Oven is a straight forward option that delivers a lot of bang for your buck. The microwave keypad is easy to use and offers three settings for microwave, convection, or a combination of both. On top of that, it offers the ability to sensor cook foods or defrost to perfection.
Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Features
This model is 1.5 cu ft. 1000 watt model has a black and stainless steel finish. It features a humidity sensor to sensor cook. And the convection function is, of course, part of the package deal. And if beeping noises are a nuisance in your home, this model provides an option to turn off sounds!
Please note that it is a countertop option, so if you are looking for something to go over the range, this is not the model for you.
Though this model may be light on features, it is affordable and tough. So if you need a solid convection microwave oven and don’t want to break the bank, this is the model for you.
Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Pros and Cons
- Easy to operate.
- Performs well.
- Has a spacious 1.5 cu ft. capacity.
- Lacks some of the features of more expensive options.
Best Large Capacity Convection Microwave
If you have high expectations, the Panasonic NN-SD975S Countertop/Built-In Cyclonic Wave Microwave with Inverter Technology, 2.2 cubic ft. won’t let you down. It has temperature options for defrosting, reheating, and more.
Panasonic NN-SD975S Features
No matter the temperature level you choose, the Cyclonic Wave operates according to a function that circulates the heat using a precise, 3-D wave method; this allows for more complex food textures. And with keep warm and sensor cooking features, this offers some great flexibility.
Also, the microwave oven features patented Inverter Technology, delivering a constant stream of energy no matter the temperature level the food is being cooked at. Regardless of the meal you are preparing in the oven, it will be cooked evenly from the edges to center.
Best of all, thanks to the efficient and effective heating of the Panasonic NN-SD975S you will enjoy foods that maintain more of their natural nutrients and flavors.
Panasonic NN-SD975S Pros and Cons
- The cyclonic inverter circulates air for optimal cooking.
- Key pad and controls are easy to understand and use.
- The model is not “fully stocked” with features like some other models.
Best Convection Microwave With a Grill
The Cuisinart CMW-200 Convection Microwave Oven with Grill is a smaller microwave convection oven, but it still delivers exceptional results. With up to 1000 watts of power, your food will be cooked quickly and evenly.
Cuisinart CMW-200 Features
The dark tinted glass window gives it more a modern look, and the stainless steel interior helps absorb odors.
You will also find that this convection oven is very simple to sanitize and clean. The touchpad controls make the oven very simple to operate, and you can enjoy choosing between two defrost functions, allowing you to defrost according to weight or time.
The Cuisinart CMW-200 1.2-Cubic-Foot Convection Microwave Oven with Grill comes with a 3-year warranty and is extremely lightweight.
One of its best features is that it offers single and combination settings — use it as a microwave or as a convection oven; this gives you an unlimited number of cooking options.
Cuisinart CMW-200 Pros and Cons
- Smaller footprint for those with less countertop space.
- Easy to operate.
- Affordable compared to other options.
- Lacks the sound on/off feature.
How To Choose The Best Convection Microwave Oven
Still struggling with choosing the right option? Choosing a convection microwave oven comes down to cost, size, and functionality.
If you have spent some time looking at options already, you know that the best convection microwave ovens are not cheap. But there is a reason for that. These appliances really pack a lot into a small appliance. So the question is, how much are you willing to spend? By first setting your limit on your budget for this purchase, you’ll eliminate options that are outside of your price range. Or on the flip side of that, if you are looking for a high end option, then try to eliminate some of the lower cost options.
Beyond cost, take into account how much food you need to fit inside of the microwave convection oven and your available counter space. If you plan to make a roast for a family of 6 on a regular basis in the microwave oven, then you should really consider some of larger options. I would look particularly at the options around 2 cubic feet for capacity. But with the large capacity comes a larger footprint. So make sure you have the space you need to accommodate the appliance.
Lastly, take some time to really think about what you need the convection microwave oven for. Will you be using it to just heat frozen pizzas and leftovers? Or do you plan to bake cookies and cook full-blown meals with it? Look carefully at the features on the options you like most to ensure you don’t get a model that offers more than you need. You also want to be sure you find an option that doesn’t offer less functionality than you need.
Finding the option that is just right is possible. Just consider your budget, the size of microwave you need and what functionality you need. Once you have determined those 3 aspects you’ll narrow down your options and be on your way to well-cooked meals from your new convection microwave oven.