Steam Oven vs. Microwave: Differences & Which Is Better?

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The microwave and the steam oven are kitchen appliances that have made a big difference in modern cooking. They are both valuable members of your kitchens team and are time-saving, compact, and efficient. Though they may appear similar, the microwave and the steam oven differ in many vital aspects.So what are the differences between a steam oven and a microwave, and which is better?

The steam oven and the microwave differ in terms of purpose, use results, price, availability, and manner of functioning. The steam oven works with steam, and the microwave works with radiation. The microwave is about speed, while the steam oven is about the foods nutritional quality.

Since both the steam oven and the microwave can do similar things, we naturally assume they are more similar than different. The price difference between these two is quite significant, so why invest in a steam oven if you can get the same results with a cheaper microwave? To debunk this misconception, in the following paragraphs, I will explain the differences between the steam oven and the microwave and give you some valuable information on both.

Steam Oven vs. Microwave: Differences

Steam Oven vs. Microwave: Differences & Which Is Better? 

The steam oven and the microwave have similar purposes; you might even say that the concept is the same; however, their results and the way they work are entirely different. Both have been designed to revolutionize modern cooking, save time, and increase efficiency. Also, neither the steam oven nor the microwave requires adding oil or fat, meaning they are both directed at healthier cooking.


The main difference between the steam oven and the microwave is the purpose for which they have been designed.While the microwaves priority is speed, the steam oven is all about healthy cooking.

Cooking in the microwave will make food cooked faster, but the quality will be dubious, while the steam oven is both fast and healthy-cooking oriented.

Therefore, the microwave and the steam oven have different objectives in focus while producing seemingly similar results.


heat up from the inside out. On the other hand, the steam oven uses steam that creates a very high temperature inside the oven and penetrates the food cooking it on the inside and the outside simultaneously.The way they function is another crucial difference between the microwave and the steam oven. The microwave works by using high-powered radio waves that create motion inside the food molecules, causing the food to cook

Neither the steam oven nor the microwave needs to be preheated, and both of them can cook, heat up, and defrost food.

Quality of Food

The food cooked in the steam oven is delicious, retains its nutritional quality, isnt moist or too dry, and retains natural juices and oils, which means that you dont have to add any fat or oil while cooking in steam oven.

The food you cook in the microwave doesnt require added oil or fat, but it isnt as high qualityas cooked in the steam oven. The microwave rarely cooks the food just right, leaving it dry or excessively moist.

The steam oven can cook multiple types of food simultaneously, while the microwave doesnt have that ability. Even if you had several small pieces of food and the space wasnt a problem for you to cook them in the microwave, the tastes would still mix.

When cooking several different types of food in the steam oven, each food retains its flavor and doesnt taste like the other foods. This is because the steam circulates in the steam oven, while theres no such circulation inside the microwave.

Although you may do the same action in the microwave and the steam oven, say cooking a chicken, the result from the microwave would be hard and dry meat, while the steam oven will give you nicely cooked and soft meat with a crispy exterior.

In terms of nutritional quality, nothing beats the steam oven. Steam cooking has proven to be the healthiest way of cooking. However, given the shorter amount of time needed to cook in a microwave and the fact that theres no added fat or oil, you could say that the nutritional value of microwave-cooked food is good as well.

Due to high temperatures created inside the food (and the movement of the food molecules), some micronutrients are bound to diminish in the microwave. Thats not the case with the steam oven.


The microwave and the steam oven have very similar functions and uses.You can cook, defrost, and reheat in both of these appliances. However, the steam oven is more famous for cooking, while the microwave is more frequent use to reheat already cooked food.

This is because the quality of food is not the same, and the steam-cooked food in the steam oven is of far better quality. The taste is just right, the consistency is excellent, and the texture is well suited for the food in question.

The microwave-cooked food can be soggy or very dry, the flavor diminishes, and the nutritional quality is different too.


The price is another aspect in which the microwave and the steam oven differ by large. While the microwave has been around for quite some time, the steam oven is relatively new on the market, and therefore the microwave is much more affordable than the steam oven.

The steam oven, in turn, is much more expensive than the microwave, making it less available due to the steep price.

Is Steam Oven Better Than a Microwave?

The steam oven uses superior technology and is therefore superior to many other cooking appliances, including the microwave.However, the fact that the steam oven is superior to the microwave does not mean that the microwave is a bad or a low-quality appliance; it just means that the steam oven is the best cooking appliance available now.

However, that doesnt make the conventional oven bad either; as we know, we all use conventional ovens anyway.

So even though the steam oven is better, you can do a great job with the microwave too. However, when it comes to cooking, the quality of the food cooked in the microwave and the steam oven isnt the same.

Can a Steam Oven Be Used as a Microwave?

A steam oven can be used as a microwave; combined appliances called combi-steam ovens combine the microwave and the steam oven together, but you can use a regular steam oven as a microwave too.

The technology involved is, of course, different, but what you can do with the microwave, you can do with the steam oven. So warming up foo and defrosting, known microwave functions, can also be performed by the steam oven.

Does a Steam Oven Brown Food?

Unless the steam oven has an integrated function to brown the food, it doesnt brown food.However, this isnt to say that the food is exactly the same color as it did before the steam cooking. Although browning is not much of a factor in other foods, it is desirable when cooking meat.

The meat will have a different color but wont have that mouth-watering golden brown shade we want. The steam oven doesnt have a broiling or grilling option, so the meat will be perfectly cooked, but still, it will lack color.

The meat in the steam oven is surrounded by steam equally. Its surrounded from all sides and is simultaneously cooked on the inside and outside, so theres no meat part more or less exposed to the steam. Theres no dry air to dehydrate and brown the surface, so the meat color wont be what we are used to.

Can You Put Plastic in a Steam Oven?

Generally, no, you cannot put plastic in a steam oven,though there are types of plastic designed to withhold high temperatures and considered safe to use in a steam oven.

The temperature in the steam oven is very high, 212 F (100 C). Moreover, the humidity level is 100% in the steam oven, so putting plastic inside, even the kinds that are advertised as safe, is a considerable unnecessary risk. Even if the plastic remains intact in the steam oven, there is still a chance that it will leak toxins inside your food and will contaminate your steam oven.

You can use metal trays, tin foil, and heatproof glass pans in your steam oven.

What Can a Microwave Do That a Steam Oven Can’t Do?

In terms of functions, the steam oven can do everything a microwave does- reheating, defrosting, and cooking. However, in terms of time, the microwave can be much more time-effective.

Therefore, if theres one thing a microwave can do that a steam oven cant, that would be reheating an entire meal in under a minute.The steam oven needs more time, while the microwave is a fast worker.

What Are Some Best Steam Ovens on the Market?

Since steam ovens are still new on the market, and theres a lot to learn about them and their functions, it is always good to have a pointer about what should good steam look like. Therefore, Ive selected some of the best steam ovens on the market as a starting point.

1. AUG Countertop Steam Oven

Check on Amazon

This is a multifunctional combined appliance from the premium category on Amazon.

2. Cuisinart Convection, Stainless Steel Steam & Convection Oven

Check on Amazon

This is in Amazons budget option.

3. Instant Pot Omni 18L Air Fryer Toaster Oven 7-in-1 Combo with Adjustable Toasting Levels

Check on Amazon

This is an Amazon bestseller, and although it isnt a steam oven, its an excellent multifunctional appliance.


Is a steam oven better with or without a microwave?

If speed is your primary concern, then a microwave will be your best option for reheating leftovers. This is especially true for frozen foods, as food can take a while to defrost in a steam oven. A steam oven, however, provides more even heating, and you have greater control over the cooking environment.

What are the disadvantages of a steam oven?

Steam Oven Cons:
Doesn’t have the browning, or grilling capabilities of conventional ovens.
Requires refills of the manual reservoir.
High price tag.
A countertop steam oven can be bulky.
Steep learning curve on using a steam oven.
Cleaning your steam oven can be a task.

Is it worth getting a steam oven?

Cooking with steam tends to be a healthier alternative than baking or frying in oil or fat. The natural textures, colours and flavours of the food are retained, as well as more nutrients and vitamins. It’s also faster, significantly reducing cooking time, particularly when preparing large quantities.

Which is more better oven or microwave?

Microwaves cook food much faster than a conventional oven. You won’t really need to microwave anything for longer than 10 minutes. There’s no need to preheat the oven and it cooks at full capacity from the moment it’s turned on.

Why would I want a steam oven?

“Steam ovens are great because they turn out healthier, more nutrient-dense food. The high heat of a traditional oven can destroy nutrients like vitamin C and folate. They are preserved via steam cooking. Because steam is a more moist way to cook, you can also skip the oils you’d need to use in a traditional oven.

Do professional chefs use steam ovens?

Unless it cooks your food with steam, that is. Professional chefs and bakers have been using steam ovens for years, but they’ve only recently started to gain traction in home kitchens. Manufacturers like Bosch, Miele, and Thermador all have models of their own, indicating this is more than just a passing fad.

Do you need ventilation by a steam oven?

Answer: Wolf Wall Ovens, Speed Ovens, and Convection Steam Ovens do not require ventilation. Exhaust or heat discharge comes out from the bottom front of the unit.

Do steam ovens make things crispy?

If you bake bread in a steam oven, you will be rewarded with a particularly crispy crust. Because regular “evaporation” makes it nice and moist, it rises while the heat gives it a crispy outer skin at the same time. Some appliances even have a special bread-baking levels.

How long does a steam oven last?

Like other pieces of cooking equipment, combi ovens have an expected asset life cycle ranging from 7 to 10 years, if operated and maintained properly. Here are four signs it might be time to replace a combi oven.

Can you cook pizza in a steam oven?

To prepare the pizza, first flour the solid steam oven pan. Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-inch circle and place on the floured solid pan. Top the pizza dough with desired sauce and toppings. Place the pan into the steam oven on position 2.

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