Steam Oven Vs Microwave – What’s The Difference?

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Most of us nowadays are looking for quick and convenient cooking options. For some people, this might mean turning to the microwave often.

There are a lot of different tools out there for cooking quickly or just cooking great meals if you know how to use them. 

From innovative appliances like the air fryer and the Instant Pot to other inventions like the steam oven or the microwave, it’s a good idea to understand how each of these works and what their differences are.

This will allow you to know what you need or don’t need in your kitchen and what appliance you should turn to for certain uses as well. 

What is the difference between a steam oven and a microwave? The most basic difference is that steam ovens use intensely heated steam to cook food quickly and effectively from the outside, whereas microwaves radiate water molecules within the food to generate heat, cooking the food from the inside out. 

In this guide, we will walk you through a complete overview of steam oven vs. microwave.

We will go over how each of them works, compare their cooking times, look at cost comparisons, and even talk about the end result you can expect with your food.

All of this will help you make an informed decision for your kitchen. Stick with us to learn how they compare to one another!

Steam Oven Vs Microwave

Steam ovens are still fairly new to the industry so there is a lot to learn. We’re going to pinpoint specific categories of interest and then break down the differences between these two appliances within each of those categories.

How They Work

The best place to start is the basics. This is really what will dictate the food you can expect in the end. Understanding how each of these appliances work is a vital part of understanding their differences as well. 


Let’s start with the microwave. More than 90% of kitchens have a microwave. This is because they are small, convenient, and typically affordable.

Microwaves are known for being quick and convenient while also being versatile. There are tons of options out there to choose from and they can be purchase to sit on the counter or be installed into cabinets and other locations in the kitchen. 

Primarily, most microwaves work the same overall but some have different functions or features than others. They also have different power levels and capabilities as well.

The microwave works by using high-powered radio waves. These waves are what cook your food so quickly.

The waves cook your food using radiation, which is why the microwave is built like it is, to keep the radiation contained. 

The microwave affects the food molecules, effectively heating them and creating thermal energy.

They can cook, heat, reheat, defrost, and more. Microwaves don’t have to be preheated and they also don’t stay hot as ovens do. 

Microwaves are compact so they don’t take up a ton of space and they usually are pretty easy to clean when cared for regularly. They are easy to understand and operate. 

Steam Oven

Steam ovens are about the same size as a microwave. There are some traditional ovens that actually have steam options but a true steam oven is built similarly to a microwave.

These have been around for years but they are becoming increasingly popular and have vastly improved over time. 

The steam oven combines radiant heat with superheated steam to prepare and heat your food. The use of steam provides a fully different approach that can sometimes be more effective and also healthier. 

Using steam, there is no need to preheat the appliance, much like a microwave.

There are different cooking modes that you can use and it operates almost like a microwave as far as simplicity and convenience, although it may take slightly longer. 

Here, the steam helps to effectively crisp up foods without pulling out all of the moisture, like a microwave does.

Cooking Time Comparison

When it comes to cooking times, the microwave is all about speed. It is quick and convenient and usually will cook or heat your food in a matter of minutes, and sometimes just a matter of seconds. 

The steam oven doesn’t require any pre-heating or anything like that and it is also quick and convenient. However, the steam oven will take longer overall than the microwave when you compare the two on cooking times

Steam ovens are quicker than traditional ovens for cooking but they are slower than microwaves so this is something to be aware of if time is of the essence. 

Ease Of Use Comparison

Both the microwave and the steam oven are incredibly easy to use. In this category, they are pretty even in competition.

While both can come in various options that include different features and sizes and styles, the end result is still something that is easy to use. 

Cost Comparison

The cost comparison of a microwave and a steam oven can depend on a lot of different factors. For example, you can get a cheap and simple microwave that costs somewhere around $50.

This is great if you’re on a tight budget or just need a quick approach. On the same note, there are microwaves out there with additional features and specific models that might cost $1,000 or even more! 

As you can see, there is a broad range of prices for microwaves.

Ultimately, you can find a nice microwave that is good quality and has good features for somewhere between $100-$200

The steam oven is quite a bit more expensive than the microwave. Typically, the average price range for a steam oven is somewhere in the range of about $2,000 – $4,000.

There are some high-end models that are closer to $8,000 as well. 

On the same note, you can find some simple countertop models that are closer to $500 as well. Ultimately, you can expect to pay quite a bit more for a steam oven, regardless of the type of model you are looking at. 

Food Results Comparison

When you compare how the food turns out in the end, you will quickly fall in love with the steam oven. The microwave isn’t known for producing quality results.

It’s quick and convenient but it has a tendency to dry foods out or make them soggy in the end. While you can do a lot in the microwave, the end result isn’t always awesome.

The steam oven, in comparison, produces much better results because of the use of steam. 

You can get crisp foods that are steamed. Your food won’t be soggy and it also won’t be dry in the end. You can also cook a wide variety of things, including baked goods, just like you might in the microwave. 


Steam ovens and microwave ovens are both very similar by design. Both can be incredibly convenient and there are certainly pros and cons to using either of these appliances.

In the end, they operate very differently but the steam oven is a clear winner if you’re looking for the best cooking results

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