Your guide to Convection Microwaves
Convection Microwaves are a versatile piece of cooking machinery. Heat, defrost, bake, roast, grill and sometimes steam, they do it all. If you’ve been in the market for a new microwave, read on and find out if a convection microwave is right for you.
What is a Convection Microwave?
A convection microwave combines the technology of a regular microwave with the heat and fans of a convection oven. The result is an appliance that can do everything a microwave can usually do like heat your noodles and defrost your meat as well as bake, roast, grill and (depending on the model) steam. Convection microwaves can cook your food in three different ways: the microwave setting, the convection setting and both together. The beauty of using the microwave and convection settings together is that you can cook food faster like you do in a microwave and still get crispy or browned food like you would in an oven.
|Combines two appliances in one, saving a lot of space in small kitchens.||Small size limits the amount of food that can be cooked at one time.|
|Convenience, efficiency and speed you don’t get from a normal oven alone (ie cook a roast in less time but still have the great oven taste and crispy outside).||Residue can be baked on so it needs to be cleaned frequently.|
|Can be cheaper to run than a regular oven, saving on energy costs.||No bottom element limits the browning and crisping on foods that require base cooking (baking, pizza).|
|Suitable for small families, small kitchens, caravans and holiday cabins due to small size and versatility.||Can be more difficult to clean than a regular microwave.|
What to look for in a Convection Microwave
You’re looking for functions which suit the way you want to cook your food. The basics are Microwave, Bake/Roast and Combination (microwave and oven working together). Some models come with Steam to steam vegetables and fish, and some will come with a Grill function for melting cheese, toasting and browning.
Look for pre-programmed menus to automatically cook a range of common foods, where you select the type of food and put the weight in and the machine calculates the time required.
Ease Of Use
Look for easy and clear controls and an easy to read display - you don’t want to have to constantly go back to the manual to cook dinner.
Also check for how easy it will be to clean and maintain the machine. Look for a cavity without too many holes, gaps, crevices or anywhere that food could be trapped. Consider the material the inside of the cavity is made of and where you’ll put the machine in your kitchen. You want to make sure you’ll be able to get in there and clean it regularly. Some models may have an exposed grill element and these can be hard to clean around.
Measure the space of where you’ll put the microwave so you’ll know it fits with at least 5cm clearance at the sides, 10cm at the back and at least 15cm at the top (refer to manufacturer specifications for each model for precise clearance indications). Your cookware also needs to be able to fit inside with the door closed.
Time adjustable (changing the time while the microwave is on), delayed start, sensor cooking, multi-stage cooking (microwave performs a series of functions like defrost then cook then warm), child lock, cooling fan, just to name a few. Sometimes extra features sound unnecessary and then we find we can’t live without them.
Tips on how to use
It’s easy to think of these as being microwaves, but remember that like an oven the inside of the cavity will get very hot so make sure you use oven gloves at all times and let the interior cool before cleaning.
One of our faves
Panasonic 27L Combination Microwave Oven NNCD58JSQPQ (View it here)
This model has a compact and slimline design compared to conventional convection microwaves, for more benchtop space. Space concerns might be part of the reason you’re considering a convection microwave so this is a big plus. The interior cavity is spacious for its size, with the fan being moved to the top rather than the back of the unit to make space for larger dishes.
- Programs: 29 Auto Programs with 8 pre-programmed auto menus for kids called the Junior Menu
- Size: 520mm x 395mm x 310mm
- Child Lock
- Combination cooking
- 6 Microwave Power Levels
- 3 Grill Power Levels
If you’re in the market for a convection microwave or even still just thinking about, come down to your nearest Bi-Rite and chat to one of our appliance enthusiasts to see if a convection microwave is right for you.