What is a Convection Microwave? How it Differs From its Traditional Counterpart

microwave oven on the countertop and 2 dishes in a ceramic plates in front of it
Most people have microwave ovens in their kitchen and enjoy the convenience. However, some people might prefer a convection microwave to a traditional model. You might wonder, then, what is a convection microwave?

What Is a Convection Microwave?

If you're looking for a convection microwave, the first thing you might ask is, "What is a convection microwave?" Basically, a convection microwave is an appliance that combines two common kitchen appliances. These would be a convection oven and a microwave.

A convection oven is a lot like a traditional oven. It heats up your food but in a slightly different way. Unlike a conventional oven, it doesn't have any heating elements exposed, and it uses fans on the interior to recirculate the heat that the oven generates.

You probably haven't thought that much about how a microwave actually works. Many people have them in their kitchens and just take them for granted. However, microwaves heat food by using non-ionizing radiation, meaning that molecules inside the food absorb energy from the microwaves generated by the appliance to heat up.

The modes

Learning what a convection microwave can do is a big part of learning the answer to the question, "What is a convection microwave?" Convection microwaves can give you three different modes. It can neither function as a microwave only, convection cooker only, or some combination of the two.

This comes in handy because there are times when a microwave works better and times when a convection oven would work better.

If you want to reheat food or pop popcorn, it would probably be best to use it as a microwave. However, if you're going to brown, crisp, bake, or broil anything, the convection cooker mode is what you need to accomplish this.

If you're using convection only, you should keep in mind that it'll take a little bit longer than microwave mode. However, it'll produce food that's more pleasing to your eyes and taste buds. Many people use the combination mode, so they can take advantage of the energy and speed of a microwave and crisping and browning that you can only get with a convection oven.

So, what is a convection microwave? It's an appliance that can function as a regular microwave but has an excellent convection capability also.

How a Convection Microwave Works

You need to know how a convection microwave works to have a true answer to the question, "What is a convection microwave?" As you already know, there are features that a convection microwave has that a traditional microwave doesn't.

How convection works

A convection microwave heats your food in a different way than a traditional microwave would. While a regular microwave heats the inside of your food, a convection microwave works to heat the outside as well.

You've already asked, "What is a convection microwave?" To truly have an answer to that question, you need to know what convection is. Simply put, convection is the natural circulation of heat that's created by differences in temperature between two areas.

In a convection oven or microwave, the heated area within the appliance is distributed and circulated using a fan. This makes it so that the hot air is blowing on to the food, rather than simply surrounding it.

Typically, this makes it so that the food cooks more quickly. Moving air can cause heat transfer to happen more rapidly. This is why the moving hot air in a convection oven or microwave heats your food more quickly.

In a typical traditional oven, the heat rises to the top. Because of the fan in a convection oven, the heat is distributed evenly throughout the interior. This makes it so that anything that you have in that oven will be cooked evenly.

If you want to learn more about convection, there are plenty of books on the topic.

How a microwave works

While convection cooking heats food up from the outside in, microwaves heat it from the inside out. Microwaves use radiation for cooking your food. They channel heat energy right to the molecules inside your food, causing the molecules to act in ways that ultimately warm up the food from within.

Microwaves

Technically, you call the appliance a microwave oven. Microwaves are what the appliance utilizes to heat the food. A microwave is a type of electromagnetic wave, similar to the ones that go through the air from radio and TV transmitters.

Microwaves are patterns of magnetism and electricity that go through the air at the speed of light. These are actually the shortest possible radio waves. They carry quite a bit of energy.

In fact, microwaves can be harmful to human beings. This is why these ovens are usually surrounded by metal boxes that don't allow the waves to escape and actually touch your skin. However, as long as you use it properly, you shouldn't worry, because microwave ovens as they normally operate are very safe.

How microwave ovens work

Inside the microwave oven, there's a microwave generator. This is a magnetron. It takes electricity from the power outlet and converts it into microwaves.

Then, the magnetron transfers these waves into the chamber that holds the food. The food is on a turntable, spinning around, which is how the microwaves can penetrate it evenly. The microwaves bounce off of the walls in the chamber.

Once the microwaves reach the food, they penetrate it. As they penetrate the food, they cause the molecules within to vibrate more quickly. Since the faster molecules are vibrating, the hotter they become, the food becomes hotter until it's ready.

If you want to learn about electromagnetic waves, there are books on this topic.

Convection Microwaves vs. Traditional Microwaves

When reviewing convection microwaves, consider the convection oven vs. conventional oven debate and keep in mind that convection microwaves have the capabilities of a traditional microwave. In addition, they have convection capabilities. However, it might help to compare and contrast the two, just to see if a convection microwave would be a good investment for you.

A traditional microwave uses one heat component to cook food. It generates microwaves, which penetrate the food and cause it to cook from within. In contrast, a convection microwave, when in convection mode, will circulate hot air via a fan to bake and cook the food inside.

Convection microwaves have quick cook times and can create brown, crisp final products. Traditional microwaves don't really do as good of a job with this.

With a traditional microwave, the microwaves cause the food to essentially steam and lose flavor. Convection microwaves, in contrast, bake the food and tend to retain flavor within it.

Because of all the capabilities that a convection microwave has, it's more expensive than a traditional microwave.

Advantages of a Convection Microwave

You should be familiar with all the advantages that come with a convection microwave to understand the answer to the question, "What is a convection microwave?" Convection microwave ovens come in different sizes and volumes, and with varying sets of features.

Better for time crunches

Better taste

So versatile!

But it's not all good...

Stick a Fork in It; It's Done!

convection microwave in the kitchen

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Now, you have a better idea of the answer to the question, "What is a convection microwave?" You know that it's a device that can really come in handy when you're trying to cook different types of food. It gives you the advantages of both convection cooking and a microwave.

If you want both the speed of a microwave and the great results that come with convection cooking, a convection microwave just might be for you. It's great to have all the options that this type of appliance gives you. A convection microwave will also cook your food more quickly and evenly than a traditional oven will.

So what is a convection microwave? It's a useful, versatile appliance that gives you the ability to reheat leftovers, cook a great meal that's brown and crisp on the outside, and essentially do whatever you want when it comes to preparing your meal. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this is probably an excellent investment for you.

Have you ever used a convection microwave oven for cooking? What do you think of our answer to the question, "What is a convection microwave?" Let us know by leaving a comment!

Featured Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

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