Microwaves let you prepare food quickly and conveniently at home; they’re more versatile than you might think. Not only heating and defrosting, but you can also find versions that grill, roast, and bake like a conventional oven. Of course, selecting the right microwave depends on your needs. To help you decide which microwave to buy, first think about how you’ll use it day-to-day, where it will sit, compare by type, size, and feature to find the best microwave for you.
Convection microwaves use a fan and a heating element to cook food. You can grill and brown food with these models, and they tend to cook more evenly. It’s possible to make Roti, naan, roast chicken, bake bread, cake, and cook various meals with a convection microwave. Go for a convection microwave oven if you need the widest range of functions. You can defrost, heat, roast, brown, crisp, bake, and prepare food using the same appliance, making it a smart space-saver for smaller kitchens, or use it as a second oven if you usually prepare large meals.
Grill microwaves offer the same features as solo microwaves, with the addition of an internal grill. This means you can brown and crisp food, as well as cook it, improving food texture and giving you yummier results. These microwaves allow you to grill not only meat and vegetables but paneer too. Both the grill and microwave functions can be used together or separately, giving you more flexibility when cooking.
Solo microwaves are also referred to as ‘standard’ microwaves or ‘microwave-only’ models. They’re ideal for simple tasks like reheating, cooking ready meals, steaming vegetables, and defrosting food. Choose a solo microwave if you primarily want to heat up and defrost food and don’t need extra features for more complex cooking.
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.
Many microwaves come with preset cooking modes, so you only have to press one button to cook a dish automatically. 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 food. Other common presets include baked potato, pizza, beverage, frozen dinner, and reheat.
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 to finishing off a dish or cooking something for which you’d prefer more direct heat.
A convection fan 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 heating is another option available on some high-end models. If you want to heat something at a 50 percent power level, most microwaves switch between 100 percent power and 0 percent power to average 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.