In this article we will be comparing Steam Ovens and Microwaves to help you decide which one of these cooking devices suits your needs.
What is a Steam Oven & How does it work?
Steam Ovens have been rapidly growing in popularity, they are as their name suggests ovens that use hot steam rather than hot air to cook food.
Steam ovens use the oven’s heat to convert water into steam, the water is sourced from either a manual reservoir or can be connected to your plumbing system.
Most steam ovens work by siphoning water from a small water tank into a built-in boiler, heating it to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and releasing the steam into the oven to cook or reheat food.
Steam ovens are most often used in professional restaurant or bakery settings where speed and perfection are demanded of cooking results.
What is a Microwave and How does it work?
Microwaves have been a staple in homes around the world since the 1960s. It is essentially an appliance that cooks food by means of high-frequency electromagnetic waves called microwaves.
The small, boxlike oven works by raising the temperature of food by subjecting it to a high-frequency electromagnetic field. The microwaves are absorbed by water, fats, sugars, and certain other molecules in the food, whose consequent vibrations produce heat. The heating thus occurs inside the food, without warming the surrounding air.
Steam Ovens Vs Microwaves
In comparing these two appliances we will focus on comparing these aspects of both to determine which of these is best at:
- Which One is Faster (microwave)
- Healthier (steam oven)
- Taste (steam oven)
- Type of food that can be cooked (steam oven)
- Reheating (microwave is quicker but steam oven taste better)
- Price (microwave)
- Size of appliance (depends on the brand and model but microwaves are generally smaller)
- Ease of Use (microwave)
- Easy to clean (microwave)
- Defrosting (steam oven)
Which One is Faster
In comparing cook time, a microwave oven will cook and reheat faster than a steam oven. A plate of leftovers will take 10 minutes to reheat in a steam oven but 3-4 minutes in the microwave. When it comes to being fast at cook/reheating, a steam oven still doesn’t compare to a microwave’s quick cook time.
However, a steam oven works faster than using a conventional oven for the same job, cutting around a third to half of your cooking time on average.
Which One is Healthier
Cooking with steam ovens at high heat retains more nutrients than say using a microwave. This is because a steam oven destroys fewer nutrients in foods as compared to a microwave. The microwave cooking itself doesn’t destroy nutrients, as many believe but overcooking your food does, which is most likely to take place in a quick heating microwave.
Also, the use of steam helps lock moisture into whatever food is being cooked or reheated, eliminating the need for extra oils and fats to keep food moist.
Taste of Food
The taste of food is better with a Steam oven rather than a microwave. With a Steam Oven food retains more nutrients as well as taste, texture, and flavor. While microwaved food tends to dry out easily as the moisture within the food is heated and evaporates out, a steam oven continually adds extra moisture.
Type of food that can be cooked
Steam ovens are better at cooking more variety of foods than a microwave. Foods that can be made in a steam oven range from vegetables, eggs, rice, chicken, pasta, curries, oatmeal, porridge, fish and, so on.
However, a steam oven cannot brown or roast foods, in order to do that you will need a combination steam oven or a regular oven. The combination of a steam oven can cook any variety of food by steaming as well as baking and roasting like a conventional oven.
The microwave is still king of quick reheating. But while the microwave is quicker when reheating leftovers some people prefer the quality and taste of food reheated in a steam oven. Also, the microwave heats food in an uneven manner, unlike a steam oven that heats foods in an even method. Also a steam oven is capable of reheating different food simultaneously unlike the microwave.
Steam ovens are very expensive especially Combination Steam Ovens when compared to microwaves. There are some smaller countertop steam ovens that might be cheaper compared to the combination oven. But even the countertop steam ovens are more costly than the microwave. So if you are on a budget a microwave might be the best fit for you.
Size of appliance
Microwaves are generally smaller than steam ovens especially combination steam ovens. Whilst you can buy large countertop steam and combination steam ovens, you just may not have the workspace for this in your kitchen so it must be a factor in deciding what to purchase.
Ease of Use
One of the reasons why microwaves are so popular is not only because they are affordable but also they are very easy to use. Microwaves are generally easier to use than a steam oven. Steam oven takes a bit of time getting used to and some trial and error to figure out the best cook time for your dish.
In terms of cleaning, a microwave is more low maintenance than a steam oven. A steam oven will need to be properly wiped down after every use, or it may develop a unpleasant odor that may also affect the taste of future foods that will be cooked.
The good news is that many higher end steam ovens come with a setting to self-clean, which you can run regularly.
Steam oven defrosting is slower but more even than microwaving. It is mild on your meat so you won’t end up with meat that’s partially cooked by the time it’s defrosted all the way through.
General thoughts Steam Oven Vs Microwave Oven
In deciding which of these two appliances was better, we came to the conclusion that both had their merit, depending on what you were looking for in the appliances.
If you want an appliance for the sole purpose of reheating rather than cooking, save your money and get a microwave. Microwaves reheat food quickly and are easy to use and clean, smaller in size, and won’t break the bank.
But if you are looking for an appliance that cooks a large variety of foods in a tastier, quicker, and healthier way than a regular oven or microwave, a steam oven is your choice.
Now if you want to try out a Steam Oven I recommend Cuisinart Countertop Steam Oven. It is the brand that I use and is one of the most widely sold steam Ovens, you can click here to see the current price of it on Amazon.