Which convection microwave is best?

Most microwaves can’t effectively cook much more than a mug cake. Instead, they reheat leftovers or quickly melt foods, such as butter for your current recipe. A convection microwave changes this. It can be used to bake and broil foods just like a full-sized oven. Some of the more feature-rich models can even air-fry foods.

The best convection microwave is the Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven. It can perform any task you need it to and it has a spacious interior and 1,000 watts of power.

What to know before you buy a convection microwave

Size and capacity

Convection microwaves have two dimensions to consider: exterior size and interior capacity. More often than not, one of these being larger doesn’t mean the other will be large too.

  • Size: The size you can or should purchase is only limited by your counter space. When measuring your countertop to find your limitations, remember to add a few inches to the back and sides for proper ventilation space. Keep enough space in front for the swinging door.
  • Capacity: Capacity restricts how much food you can cook at once. Most convection microwaves have higher capacities than standard microwaves, and those measurements are given in cubic feet. The smallest is rarely less than 1 cubic foot, and the biggest usually top out at 1.5 cubic feet — though there are always rare exceptions.

Wattage

A convection microwave’s power is given in watts, just like standard microwaves. Lower wattages will cook food slower and less evenly, so you should prioritize a microwave with at least 1,000 watts. Most convection microwaves have wattages between 700 and 1,500. Better microwaves will let you adjust how much wattage you can use for cooking smaller or more sensitive food.

What to look for in a quality convection microwave

Presets

Presets are the easiest way to cook the most commonly microwaved foods. They make it so you don’t have to Google how much power and time a given food needs, and you won’t have to manually punch in that power and time. The most common presets are popcorn and pizza, but many convection microwaves also have presets for baked potatoes and roast chicken or vegetables.

Cooking modes

The best convection microwaves include more cooking modes than just microwave, convection and microwave/convection. The most common additional modes are air frying and broiling, but some are also able to grill. It’s important to note that you’ll need appropriate accessories for air frying and grilling — a wire basket and grilling rack, respectively — but most microwaves with these cooking modes include them.

Humidity sensor

Humidity sensors take some of the guesswork out of cooking by adding or subtracting to the total cooking time based on the moisture in the food and the oven, preventing accidental overcooking.

How much you can expect to spend on a convection microwave

Convection microwaves are more expensive than standard microwaves, typically starting around $100-$150 with basic models topping out around $250. The best countertop models can reach $500, while built-in models can cost more than $1,500.

Convection microwave FAQ

Can I use metal in a convection microwave?

A. Possibly. It depends on if the microwave has a convection-only setting. This setting only uses heating elements, just like a standard oven, so aluminum takeout containers and metal baking trays are safe to use. Some convection microwaves use microwave and convection heating simultaneously with no way to turn off the microwave portion. These are just as incompatible with metal as a standard microwave. A quick way to tell if a convection microwave is safe for metal is if it includes metal accessories, such as a wire air fryer rack. If so, you’re good to go.

Do recipes intended for a standard oven need to be adapted for use in a convection microwave?

A. Typically yes, though not by much. Despite having less power than a standard oven, convection microwaves have drastically less space to heat. This makes their heating more focused on the food rather than the air around it. As such, many recipes need to drop their heat and timing requirements. Heat usually drops no more than 25 to 50 degrees, but timing doesn’t have an easy generalization, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on your recipe.

What’s the best convection microwave to buy?

Top convection microwave 

Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven

Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven

What you need to know: This model can do it all.

What you’ll love: The four functions are standard and convection microwaving, air frying and broiling. It has a 1.2-cubic-foot capacity and an easy-to-clean interior. It includes the accessories you need to cook, such as a wire rack, an air fryer basket and an enamel drip tray.

What you should consider: If the start button is accidentally pressed, it will begin sensor cooking mode, even if there’s nothing inside for it to cook.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top convection microwave for the money

Toshiba Countertop Microwave Oven with Convection

Toshiba Countertop Microwave Oven with Convection

What you need to know: This model is basic but excellent and affordable.

What you’ll love: It has a variety of special features, such as a power-saving ECO mode, smart cooking sensors, child safety locks and sound off/on for late-night snacks. It has a large 1.5-cubic-foot capacity and 1,000 watts of power.

What you should consider: A few consumers had issues with the upper heating element not functioning as it should. It takes up a large amount of counter space.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Cuisinart 1.2-Cubic-Foot Convection Microwave Oven

Cuisinart 1.2-Cubic-Foot Convection Microwave Oven

What you need to know: This model is perfect for convection grilling, thanks to an included grill rack.

What you’ll love: It’s packed with preset cooking modes, including popcorn, roast chicken, baked potato, cake and pizza. It can also keep foods warm at low settings and has a memory mode to save time on repetitive tasks. It is BPA-free and includes a recipe book.

What you should consider: Extended use of the convection setting causes the exterior to become hot. A few consumers had issues with their microwave breaking down within a few months.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals. 

Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.