Cheapest convection microwave

Convection ovens, also known as combination ovens, are the multi-taskers of the cooking world and are a godsend for people who don’t have a lot of space. They’re handy for a studio apartment, caravan or holiday home, or where a full-sized oven wouldn’t fit. In this review, we will be talking about the Cheapest convection microwave, cheapest combination microwave convection oven and cheapest over the range convection microwave options to buy.

They can also be a useful addition to full kitchens, if you think you could use more than one oven when cooking up a feast.

The pros and cons of convection

Pros

  • Convection microwave ovens combine two appliances into one. They can be used as a microwave, as an oven, and in combination mode (combining microwave, bake and even grill functions).
  • Can be very convenient, effective and fast, especially for high-temperature cooking such as roasts, pastries and pizza.
  • Quick to preheat, with oven temperatures up to 240°C.
  • Great for speedy reheating and crisping of pastry; melting and browning cheese toasts; and browning au gratins.
  • Suitable for a small family, they can accommodate a roast or a large pizza. There are models available with two shelf positions for multiple shelf cooking.
  • Convection microwaves are cheaper to run than an oven so there can be a considerable saving on energy costs.
  • They’re smaller than conventional ovens, and suitable for small kitchens, caravans and holiday homes.

Cons

  • They have smaller cavities than an oven so cooking is limited to one type of food at a time.
  • The oven cavity needs to be cleaned after each use as any grease or baked on residue will be baked on with the next use and be difficult to remove. It also slows down the microwave cooking time as it cooks the residue as well as the intended food.
  • They can be difficult to clean as most have stainless steel interiors. 
  • Cooking fatty foods in the convection oven splash onto the walls, baking on the residue overtime leaving grease marks that are difficult to remove.
  • There’s no bottom element, therefore there’s limited browning and crisping for any foods that require base cooking such as pastry, pies and pizza. Some models have a crisp plate that helps to brown and crisp the bottom of the food, but this still won’t give as good a result as an oven with a bottom element.

What to look for in a convection microwave

Visibility

A bright interior light and large transparent viewing window let you check your food as it cooks. No model we’ve tested has been particularly good for visibility.

Ease of use

Look for easy-to-use controls and good instructions on the display. The best ovens won’t require you to refer to the instruction manual.

Cleaning

Check there aren’t too many holes or gaps inside the oven, or seams and crevices on the outside that can trap food and grease. It can be hard to clean around exposed grill elements; some models have a grill element built into the roof instead. Stainless steel exteriors look good but can require extra attention to keep them free from fingerprints. Look for smooth easy clean coatings, or some manufacturers are introducing catalytic liners however they have limited coverage.

Size

Check to make sure your cooking dishes will fit in the microwave. The oven also needs clearance around the outside for ventilation – at least 5cm at the sides, 10cm at the rear, and 15–40cm on top.

Automatic functions

These prompt you to enter the weight and type of food and then automatically calculate the time required.

Quick boost/start

This starts the oven usually with the press of a single button. With most microwaves, the cooking time increases in one or half-minute increments if you press the button again.

Time adjust

This lets you increase or decrease the programmed time without stopping cooking.

Delayed start

Lets you program the oven to start cooking at a pre-set time. But don’t leave food too long in the oven if it might spoil.

Sensor cooking

Sensor programs take automatic functions one step further by measuring vapours emitted during cooking to control the cooking time.

Auto-programmed functions

For commonly cooked foods, you can be prompted to add the serve size or weight, and the oven will work out a cooking time.

Multi-stage cooking

Microwaves with this feature can be programmed to perform a sequence of functions, such as defrost, cook and then leave to stand.

Child lock safety

You can push a sequence of buttons to deactivate the microwave. 

Kitchen timer

Can be used to time other things such as boiling an egg.

Cooling fan

Many microwave ovens (both convection and regular microwaves) have a fan to cool the interior after cooking, but some are noisy. They can run for several minutes after cooking has completed, especially after using the oven.

Using a convection microwave safely

Convection cooking heats up the entire inside of the oven, so the appliance has to be insulated to prevent the exterior becoming dangerously hot. We find that the controls, door glass and handle do heat up more than with a basic microwave oven, but not dangerously so. These ovens are far better insulated than small benchtop toaster ovens.

Be careful removing cooked food as the inside of the oven door gets very hot in convection mode and may swing back onto your hand. Always use oven gloves and let the oven cool before cleaning the interior.

Also remember that while the oven interior is still hot from convection cooking, you should avoid using microwave-only cookware in it, as the cookware may be damaged by the heat.

Combination cooking

Combination mode – using convection and microwave cooking at the same time, and maybe the grill as well – can speed up cooking and give very good results.

It is suitable for:

  • roasting meats, poultry and vegetables
  • baking fish, casseroles, and potato and pasta bakes
  • cooking cakes, pastries and slices

Metal cookware can be used during combination mode. However, some metal utensils may cause arcing if they come into contact with the oven walls or racks.

Cleaning

  • Ensure the oven has cooled slightly before cleaning. Unlike a standard microwave, the sides of a convection microwave oven can get quite hot after use.
  • Do not use caustic cleaners, abrasives or harsh cleaners or scouring pads. Never spray oven cleaners directly onto any part of the oven.
  • To clean the interior, wipe out with warm soapy water. For heavy soiling, a bowl of water can be heated until boiling, then left for a further 30 seconds to a minute. The steam will collect on the walls and soften the dirty marks so the oven can then be wiped clean using washing-up liquid. For stubborn residue, a non-scratch scourer can be used.

Installation

Built-in models

  • All built-in models must have a trim kit and be installed by a qualified electrician.
  • Can be integrated within a kitchen to streamline with other integrated appliances. They’re usually installed in a 600mm wide cavity and sit flush with the surrounding cupboard units.
  • Can’t have a rear wall behind the oven as this will reduce air flow and restrict ventilation and air intake outlets. 
  • Great for smaller kitchens as they save on bench space.

Freestanding/benchtop

  • Can only be installed as freestanding; they can’t be built-in or placed in a cabinet.
  • Need to be placed on a stable flat surface to limit noise and vibration.
  • Feet on the microwave help to keep the unit stable on the bench.
  • Should not be placed where heat and steam are generated (for example, next to a conventional oven).
  • Don’t place heavy items on top of the unit.
  • Don’t cover or block any of the vents at the back of the unit – this is where the hot air escapes, and blocking the vents could cause the unit to overheat and malfunction.
  • Take up valuable bench space.

All convection microwaves ovens require at least 10cm clearance at the sides, approximately 15cm at the rear, and 15–40cm on top.

Cost

Convection microwaves typically cost from $160 to $1000 and up to $4000 for built-in deluxe models (not including installation).

The best microwave convection ovens are a mealtime game-changer, and the top picks below will make you rethink microwave cooking.

Cheapest convection microwave

1. The Best Overall: Toshiba EC042A5C-BS Microwave Oven With Convection Function

Toshiba EC042A5C-BS Microwave Oven With Convection Function$197|AmazonSEE ON AMAZON

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.

2. The Best Value: Daewoo KOC-9Q4DS Convection Microwave Oven

Daewoo KOC-9Q4DS Convection Microwave Oven$130|AmazonSEE ON AMAZON

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.

3. The Best Over-The-Range Model: Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave

Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave$537|AmazonoSEE ON AMAZON

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, includingreheat, 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.

How to buy a microwave

This buying guide is what you need if you’re looking for a new microwave.

Your Pizza Rolls deserve a good microwave. This countertop wonder, whose origins date back to the 1940s, is probably one of the most frequently used appliances in your kitchen thanks to its ability to reheat food fast (and cook a mug cake or two). There are a variety of options when it’s time to select a microwave, so we’ve broken down the options you have when you’re ready for a new microwave.

Location

The first decision you need to make about a new microwave is where in your kitchen you want to put it. The location affects the price, features, size and installation of the appliance. You have three main options:

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Countertop

This is the most common type of microwave. They generally cost less and are significantly easier to install than other models. Just find a spot on the counter for it to sit, plug it into an outlet and you can use it right away.

The biggest issue with the countertop microwave is how much space it needs. If you have limited room on your countertop, you may either want to look at the smaller countertop models available, look into placing your microwave on a small cart, or consider another style of microwave.

Price: $40 to $700

External dimensions: From roughly 10 by 18 by 14 inches for compact models to roughly 14 by 24 by 20 inches for larger models

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

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Some of GE’s stoves and over-the-range microwaves are connected via Bluetooth.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Over-the-range

You install this style of microwave above your range, which will save you some counter space. These models have vent systems that take the place of the oven hood and lights to illuminate your cooktop.

Price: $190 to $1,300

External dimensions: Usually wider than countertop models, about 16 by 30 by 15 inches

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

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Sharp

Built-in

Built-in models that you place among custom cabinets or paired with built-in, full-sized wall ovens are the most high-end (aka expensive) types of microwaves. Some microwaves in this category are even designed specifically as drawers with a compartment you pull out for your food.

Price: $500 to $5,000 and up

External dimensions: This varies widely depending on type, and drawers tend to have more depth than countertop or over-the-range models, hitting about 15 by 30 by 26 inches

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

Size

It’s important to find the right-sized microwave that will meet your food needs and fit in the space you have for it. First, you want to measure the counter or other space where you plan to put your microwave. Then, measure the height, width and depth of any model you’re considering to find out if it will fit on your counter top, over your range or in a custom spot. The external dimensions can vary a lot, from 10 by 18 by 14 inches on the smaller side to 14 by 24 by 20 inches on the larger side.

Then there’s also the internal capacity, which can range from less than 1 cubic foot to 2 cubic feet or more. There doesn’t seem to be any set rule for how internal capacity correlates to size (like 1 cubic foot = small, 1.5 cubic feet = medium, etc.), but here’s an attempt to break it down:

Compact: Under 1 cubic foot

Midsize: 1 to 1.5 cubic feet

Full-size: 1.6 to 2 cubic feet

Extra-large: More than 2 cubic feet

Most microwaves are somewhere around 1.4 to 1.8 cubic feet. Still not sure which size you need? If you’re out shopping, bring in a plate or bowl from home that you plan to use often to make sure that it fits inside the microwave.

Still in doubt? Measure everything, take notes and check with your appliance retailer for help deciding what would work best. For over-the-range and other built-in models, you most likely won’t be the one installing your new microwave, so you can always avail yourself of their expertise.

Wattage

Microwave wattage equals power. In general, the higher the wattage, the faster and more evenly your food will cook. Most microwaves sit somewhere between 600 to 1,200 watts. Larger, more expensive microwaves tend to have a higher wattage, so this is a price and size consideration that can strongly influence microwave cooking performance.

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This GE microwave has scan-to-cook tech via a related app.Chris Monroe/CNET

Features

Many microwaves share common functions. Here are some microwave cooking essentials: cook time, defrost, power level and timer. Each one requires your direct input, but they are usually very easy to set. Most microwaves have touch panel controls and a rotating carousel to spin your food for more even cooking.

Default settings

Many microwaves come with preset cooking modes so you only have to press one button to automatically cook a dish. For example, many microwaves have a “popcorn” button that will cook your bag based on factory settings. This can be handy for common dishes you heat in the microwave, but you’ll have to figure out if the microwave’s default cook times work for your own food. Other common presets include: baked potato, pizza, beverage, frozen dinner and reheat.

Broil

Manufacturers are increasingly including features in microwaves that mimic what we see in full-size ovens, such as a broiler. This is a good addition for finishing off a dish or cooking something for which you’d prefer more direct heat.

Convection

A convection fan that’s built into the back of a microwave oven circulates the heat around the food to cook things more quickly and evenly. (Many new full-size ovens come with at least one convection fan.) However, microwaves with convection fans are generally more expensive than those without.

Inverter technology

Inverter heating is another option available on some high-end models. If you want to heat something at a 50 percent power level, most microwaves actually switch between 100 percent power and 0 percent power to average in at 50 percent power. This doesn’t yield great results if you want to heat something on a lower heat and achieve an even result. So, some models now use inverter technology, which maintains a consistent 50 percent power. That way, you can poach salmon, make a fluffy omelet, etc.

Other advanced features

In addition to new heating technologies, higher-end models usually have more presets than just the basic pizza, popcorn and baked potato standard. Some use moisture sensors to detect food doneness. And we’ve started to see models include LED lighting on the interior.

“Smart” technology, i.e. options that connect microwaves to the internet and other products, aren’t as widespread in microwaves as we’ve seen in other kitchen appliances. However, we’ve seen GE Appliances include Bluetooth technology in some of its over-the-range microwaves. This connection, which GE calls “Chef Connect,” pairs the microwave with compatible GE ranges so the light and fan beneath the microwave automatically turns on when you turn on a burner.

More options

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Will the June Intelligent Oven become the next microwave?Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Other small appliances have started to make a case for forgoing the microwave, such as steam ovens that use water to cook for more moist heating or the basic toaster oven that mimics a full-size stove. These options promise to cook more effectively than a microwave, but it might take longer to reheat your food.

Smart countertop ovens have also started to become an option. The June Intelligent Oven uses facial recognition technology to identify food and cook it automatically, and the Tovala Smart Oven will scan packaged meals for automatic cooking, including frozen meals from Trader Joe’s. These options are promising, but the technology is too new to determine whether or not these will become kitchen staples.

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