Steam Oven Vs Microwave – What’s The Difference?

What is the difference between steam ovens and microwaves? The primary difference between steam ovens and microwaves lies in their cooking methods. Steam ovens use heated water vapor for cooking food quickly from the outside, while microwaves generate heat by releasing water molecules within the food, cooking it from the inside out.

We are all seeking quick and easy cooking solutions. For some, this could mean turning on the microwave frequently.

Many tools are available for speedy cooking or making delicious meals if you know how to utilize these tools.

From the latest appliances like the air fryer or the Instant Pot to other inventions like the steam oven and the microwave, It’s important to know how each functions and what the differences are.

In this article, we’ll guide you through an overview of a steam oven and microwave.

Steam Oven Vs Microwave

Microwave and steam oven in the kitchen. Credit: Unsplash
Microwave and steam oven in the kitchen. Credit: Unsplash

With steam ovens gaining popularity, it’s essential to understand their distinctions from microwaves. This article will examine specific categories of interest and evaluate the differences between these two appliances.

Grasping the basic functioning of steam ovens and microwaves will help determine the range of dishes you can prepare. Recognizing their operations is crucial for understanding their unique features.

How The Microwave Functions

Microwaves are prevalent, with over 90% of kitchens housing one. These appliances are compact, generally affordable, and offer quick and efficient cooking. They come in various styles, including countertops and built-in models.

Though microwaves operate similarly, they possess distinct features and functionalities. Their capacities and power levels also differ. Microwaves employ high-power radio waves to cook food rapidly. By generating radiation, these waves cause food molecules to heat, producing thermal energy.

Microwaves are versatile, allowing for cooking, heating, defrosting, and reheating. They don’t require preheating and aren’t as hot as ovens. Compact and easy to clean, they are user-friendly appliances.

They are very useful for defrosting frozen foods fast – for example, microwaving frozen vegetables or frozen fries.

How The Steam Oven Functions

Steam ovens are roughly the same size as microwaves. Though traditional ovens can have steam options, a genuine steam oven is specifically designed. Steam ovens have been around for a while but have gained popularity and improved over time.

Steam ovens combine radiant heat and superheated steam for cooking and reheating food. This method is efficient and healthier compared to microwaving. Like microwaves, steam ovens don’t require preheating.

With various cooking options, steam ovens provide convenience and ease of use, similar to microwaves. However, they may take slightly longer to cook. Like microwaves, steam ovens can create crispy food without removing all moisture.

Cooking Duration

When prioritizing speed, microwaves are the go-to option. Their fast and convenient nature allows food to be cooked or warmed in mere minutes or even seconds.

Steam ovens, though easy to use and not requiring preheating, take longer to cook food compared to microwaves. While more efficient than traditional ovens, steam ovens are slower, which should be considered when time is critical.

User Friendliness Comparison

Both microwaves and steam ovens excel in simplicity and ease of use. Despite the numerous options, features, styles, and sizes, both appliances remain user-friendly.

Cost Comparison

The cost of a microwave or steam oven varies, depending on several factors. For example, a basic microwave may cost around $50, while more advanced models with extra features can reach $1,000 or more.

Generally, a quality microwave with desirable features falls within the $100 to $200 price range.

Steam ovens, on the other hand, are more expensive. Prices typically range from $2,000 to $4,000, with premium models reaching nearly $8,000. However, basic countertop models can cost less than $500.

Ultimately, a steam oven will likely be more expensive, regardless of the specific model chosen.

Food Outcome Comparison

Examining the final food results, the steam oven quickly becomes a favorite. Microwaves, while convenient, don’t always yield the best outcomes. They can quickly cook food, but sometimes leave it dry or soggy.

Although microwaves can cook various dishes, the end results may be less than ideal.

Read also: Can You Microwave Food Twice?

Conversely, steam ovens provide better results due to their steam-cooking method. Foods cooked in a steam oven maintain their crispiness without becoming overly moist or dry.

Steam ovens are versatile, allowing you to prepare a range of dishes, including baked goods, similar to a microwave.


Is A Steam Oven Better Than A Microwave?

Steam ovens and microwaves serve different purposes in the kitchen, so it’s hard to say which is better. Steam ovens are great for cooking healthy, flavorful meals with moist heat, while microwaves are ideal for quick reheating and defrosting. If you are looking for a versatile appliance that can cook a wide range of meals, a steam oven may be a good investment.

Can A Steam Oven Be Used Like A Microwave?

A steam oven can be used to cook many of the same types of food as a microwave, such as vegetables, fish, and rice. However, steam ovens tend to take longer to cook food than microwaves, so they may not be as convenient for quick meals or snacks.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Steam Oven?

While steam ovens have many benefits, they also have a few disadvantages to consider. Steam ovens can be more expensive than conventional ovens or microwaves, and they may require additional maintenance and cleaning. Additionally, steam ovens may not be able to brown or crisp food in the same way as other cooking methods.

Is It Worth Getting A Steam Oven?

Whether or not a steam oven is worth getting depends on your cooking needs and preferences. If you value healthy, flavorful cooking and have the budget and space for a steam oven, it may be a worthwhile investment. However, if you only cook basic meals or have limited kitchen space and budget, a steam oven may not be necessary.


When you compare the steam oven vs microwaves, they share similarities in design and can both be quite useful. Each appliance has its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

They operate differently, with steam ovens emerging as the clear winner for those seeking the most satisfying cooking results.

Did you find this guide helpful?
Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.

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